Thursday, December 16, 2010

Final Project.

Final Project... Wedding Cake.
Theme.... Winter Wedding
Must haves..... Monogram, Flowers
Limits... must be stacked and on a cake drum

They gave me the instructions and I gave them this....

I recreated my friend's flower necklace in gumpaste. 

This last picture is of my cake on display, ready for graduation tomorrow.  Some of you may be wondering what the "W" stands for as my monogram.  That stands for Westin.  It is the future wedding cake for Michael Westin and myself.  Michael Westin maybe be a fictional character from the T.V. series Burn Notice, but hey a girl can dream.

I can't believe tomorrow is graduation day.  I remember the night before college graduation... packing.  I packed all night and finally fell asleep on my bare mattress.  I woke up to my Mom calling me telling me she was going to be at my place in 15 minutes.  I jumped up and ran past the boxes to my bathroom mirror.  My face had the pattern from the mattress across my cheek, and my mascara had smeared down to coke addict status.  I reached for my face wash... packed.  Urgh!  I checked the shower for some body wash... packed.  Sleep deprived, running late, and desperate my brilliant mind grabbed the dish soap from the kitchen and began scrubbing.  I remember the apple green scent being intoxicating as I thought to myself, "graduation morning is so much better in the movies".   Well now I'm graduating from cupcake school, but this time I'm going to get graduation morning right.  I will shower this time, set an alarm, and even do something extraordinary like... eat breakfast.  I've come a long way since my college years.

I know what you are thinking... graduation?! *heavy breathing* but that means! * hyperventilating* "that your blog will be over!" *code blue* Stay with me, don't go to the light.  This isn't the end yet.  When it is the end, I will let you know.  But I will rip it off fast like a band-aid.  You wont be expecting it.  You can eat a pan of brownies, cry a little, and then move on with your life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sweet Sixteen.

So the last post "frankenfinger" has been moved.  I don't want to horrify you guys every time you would like to come to my blog.  If you for some reason feel the need to look at the pictures again, they are now under the tab "my thumb. 

Haley and I finished our sweet sixteen cake just in time today! Chef Nicholas called times up and I was gluing down the last letter of "happy birthday".  The rules were that it had to be a sweet sixteen cake, with a 10 inch bottom, and a 6 inch round top.  After a long list of ideas, Haley and I decided on a ladybug themed cake.  The hardest part was keeping the design from being too childish.  We had several wonderful cake ideas for a 4 year olds birthday, but we had to tweak the design to make it appropriate for a sweet sixteen cake. The cake is covered in fondant, but the decorations are all made out of a mix between fondant and gum paste.  Tomorrow I start my final project.... my wedding cake.  It will be three tiers, and it has to be a winter wedding cake.  We have a whole week to finish it, but time seems to fly by in the kitchen.  I am happy with my design, but we will see if I can pull it off!  Wish me luck!     

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sculpted Cake.

While y'all were finishing off your Thanksgiving left overs I was building this cake!  This cake was so complicated that we worked with a partner to finish it in time.  You may wonder how we are able to get cake to sit at a 45 degree angle...  a lot of PVC pipe. There is a PVC pipe that goes up through the trunk, the soccer ball, and through the center of the sailboat.  Then there is a second PVC pipe that goes through the center of the bear.  In the end we held our breath, and it all came together wonderfully! 

This is my partner Eva.  Together we rocked out this cake.  Not only was she a great partner, but she provided me with hours of entertainment to make this week go by smoothly.  Thanks for the laughs Eva!    

Meet Teddy Krueger.  While we were making the bear we had to first make all the pieces to assemble.  Well when you have arms and legs lying around, and you are trying to name a teddy bear, only morbid names start to come to mind.  

 This cake was especially exciting to make because my family is a huge sailing family.  I've been sailing with my Dad since I was a little girl.  I have many fond memories that have sailing tangled in them.  Well, you can guess the name of our boat.  My Dad named it after his real love.  It's my beautiful mother's middle name. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rainy Thoughts.

Before we left for Thanksgiving break we learned about quilling, and brush embroidery. Quilling is a technique where you wrap strips of gum paste into shapes using a special tool. You can then arrange those shapes to make large shapes. I know... pretty intense, try and keep up. Then brush embroidery is a mixture of piping and brushwork. You pipe a double line of royal icing, then you use a wetted brush to pull the icing into the center of your design. The end result is a piped design that resembles embroidery.

It's hard to believe that I only have three weeks of cake school left. This week we are working on sculpted cake, next week a sweet sixteen cake, and then our final wedding cake project. I will be excited when my wedding cake is completed, then I can stop stressing about my design. But it will be equally tragic, because it will mean cake school is over. It's not just cake school ending, it's leaving my loved cake school friends, and the end of another chapter in my life. But it's not the end yet, so I can just procrastinate that for later.

When I walk home at night I sometimes think about something deep and profound, but the other 98% of the time I'm thinking about something retarded. I missed my express train home today, so I had to walk the 6 or 7 blocks to the further train. Of course it was pouring train, it always is when I miss my train. This guaranteed I would be nice and damp for my final walk home. So while I was walking I could feel the rain dripping down my cheeks. I started thinking "wow... it's like I'm crying... but I'm not even crying". *Pause* *my neighbors are yelling and I want to hear this* Ok where was I... Oh yeah then I started thinking "what if the rain drips into my ears, into my headphones, and electrocutes me. It's a direct line to my brain, would I die? Or just get briefly shocked?" While I was thinking, I slipped on a devilish leaf and right onto the pavement. Well I just laughed at the universe "black jeans sucker! can't tell they're wet at alllll!". Well it still got the last laugh, it was dirty rain water, so it felt like a fine grade of sandpaper in my jeans. That's when I like to play the "that would've suck more" game in my head. I'll give you an example... I could have fallen on some little girl's cat and killed it... that would've sucked more. Or... I could have fallen into quick dry cement and had to choose between my jeans or getting up... that would've sucked more.

I hope everyone had an amazing Turkey day. I'm thankful for foods that are orange. I am all about the carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie when it comes to the big feast fest. I got in as much time as I could holding my beautiful baby niece, and tried to be as lazy as humanly possible. I was successful, and it turned out to be a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm gonna go call my Gram now. It's her birthday! Happy Birthday Gram!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bon Voyage.

Don't forget your train case when you leave for your Thanksgiving journeys! Also don't forget your trampy hot pink lipstick, your compact, and your handkerchief. These last two days we made this cake and I loved making it! The moth orchid was a little stubborn, but this cake actually came together quite smoothly. You are probably wondering what the "B" on the handkerchief is for. Well that stands for Bea Collins. The finest Grandma anyone could ever ask for. Love you Gram!

So last Saturday Julia and I decided that we needed to start crossing off items from our "things we must see before we leave Chicago" list. Of course one major item on the list was to visit a food venue. Apparently you cannot leave Chicago without standing in line at Hot Dougs to try some of their delicious gourmet hot dogs. We had heard rummors of the line, but we figured it must have been exaggerated. Nope, we waited in this line for an hour....

Then we were almost to the front of the line when Julia was like "ahhh... no way!" She pointed to a sign that said "Cash only!" I never carry cash! That way when a homeless person asks for money I can say "sorry I don't have any cash", and not feel shady for lying. I ran to go find an ATM, but it seemed unlikely since we were in a mostly residential area. Well three blocks later, siting angelically on the corner was a no-name bank. Score! I ran back and Julia and I ordered not one... but four hot dogs! We couldn't decide, so we tried all the ones that sounded delicious. Not mention an order of duck fat fries. Not gonna lie, they tasted like normal fries, but now we can say we tried them. The rumors were true, they were amazing... and filling. 18 hours later, I was hungry again.

So on the way to meet Julia I stepped off onto a crowded train platform. Never have I seen a train platform so full, and I was trying to look over the crowd to see what was going on. I started thinking about what it might be... someone jumped in the tracks... fire drill... the escalator broke and everyone is confused on how to exit. Wrong. The Holiday train! Chicago decorates a train in Christmas lights every year. They even take out a center car for Santa's sleigh (complete with reindeers). Then while you're on the train Elves hand out candy canes. Now you can share in the joy...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Petit Fours.

I'm sorry but Emily is unable to write the blog post today.  After eating several thousand petit fours she went into a sugar coma.  Doctors say she is stable, and they are prescribing water and self-control. 

Lemon Tart and Fresh Fruit Tart

Hazelnut Cherry and Cinnamon Cakes

Chocolate Fondant Cakes

                  Exotic Cake                                             CanelĂ© de Bordeaux

Green Tea and Strawberry White Chocolate Cups &
Dark Chocolate, Coffee, and Whipped Caramel Chocolate Cups

Almond Bread

Chocolate Diamants, Piped Bourbon Vanilla Viennese Sablé Cookies, &
Pistachio Poppy Seeds Cigareetes

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

French Pringles.

This week we are back with Chef Sebastien and our new instructor Chef Kristen.  We are learning Petit Fours, which are basically mini pastries.  Each day we have been working on a number of different recipes, the majority of which I will show you on Friday.  At the beginning of the week we made the batters for this lovely treat, and we have slowly been baking them off during the week.  Their proper name is a tuile, and they are a crunchy treat that you can flavor almost anyway you like.  The ones shown above are coconut, and orange chocolate.  When we were learning to make them Chef Sebastien was trying describe what they are like to us silly Americans and he said, "they are kinda like..." and I shouted out "pringles!".  He smiled and said "NO Emily... zeh our nOt like pringuuuls".  haha Could I be any more white trash?  You have to admit though... they sorta do look like pringles.  But, these are French pringles, so they are MUCH better tasting.

Baking is incredibly therapeutic.  Mostly because you have to stop thinking about everything else, and concentrate on what you are doing.  If you are concentrating on a football game while slicing something, you will slice your fingers off.  Don't pull a Chef Scott.  If you are daydreaming about your weekend, you stop whisking fast enough, and make scrambled eggs in your batter.  You get the picture, you have to concentrate.  I'm too immature for meditation, therapy is too expensive, so baking is the best way to hit the "off" button on my brain and tune out the world for a few hours.  Then, best of all, you have something delicious to eat afterwards.  Less talking, more eating.  I should've been a therapist. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baby Girl.

I'm loving the fall colors...

I was so busy last week having fun, that I forgot to tell you what I was doing! My friend Allison came to Chicago to visit me!  I seem to be a gypsy lately, always moving.  Well my friends always say, "oh my goodness, I'm totally going to come visit you".  Yeah... never happens.  Except for Allison.  She said and meant it.  One day she emailed me that she wanted to come visit, and then two hours later she was asking me which flight she should book.  She came on the coldest weekend I've experienced in Chicago, but that didn't stop us from touring 89% of the city.    She even came to my school for a tour, and joined me in class!  Life would be so bland if it wasn't for friends like Allison.

Now it's time for you to meet anther person.  For the past two weeks I've had a new instructor.  Chef Mark Seaman, who is an incredible cake decorator.  We have loved him as an instructor because he sets such a mellow tone in class.  He constantly would say "it's just cake".  Take 18 girls, a majority of which are perfectionist, and teach hard skills that they need to try for the first time.  It gets intense and frustrating, so it's nice to have the reality check.  I love this picture because I caught him mid-laugh.  We were making fun of how creepy he looked wearing a nylon on his hand.  You have to do that in order to strain the royal icing for stringwork.  He said it was nothing in comparison to having to go to the store and order 96 pairs of panty hoes.

So the cake we did this week was designed so that we could learn how to pipe stringwork.  It was a baby shower cake, but really we were just focusing on the piping.  It took us two days of piping strings in order to get a very small section.  Normally this would go all the way around the cake, but we didn't have time.  I would explain what stringwork is, but it is so much easier just to see it. 

If you notice the piping is not touching the cake.  Pretty cool huh?  Well I'm glad you like it because it was SO frustrating.  While I was in class I felt like I was in time out.  I had to sit on my stool and work until all my stringwork was done.  I would feel myself staring to get antsy, scooting around on my chair, glancing around the classroom, and staring at the clock.  I felt like a high schooler with ADHD, who just drank fifteen Red Bulls.  I had to keep reminding myself that I flushed my savings to learn these skills and I should probably focus, but it was torture for me.  Imagine getting right up in the cake's face, then squeeze your piping bag until the icing comes out of a hole the size of a hydrogen atom.  Next you have to be really careful as you pull the string of icing out because if you are too rough (as in you exhale or simply swallow) you might... oops too late you broke the string.  Now pick up your wet brush, wipe it off and start again.  Also when you bring the end of the string to the bridge, be careful, because if you break that fragile bridge of icing then you will loose all of your previous strings.  It takes a very patient and delicate person to be able to master stringwork.  Considering my toddler personality and my ogre hands... I don't think I have any natural ability for stringwork. 

So yesterday was my half-birthday!  I just absolutely love my half-birthday, probably even more than my actual birthday.  In my world, nothing bad ever happens on November 12th.  It is a day that happens to be awesome for no apparent reason.  I will let you in on why half-birthdays are so stupendous.  You don't have to feel bad if your Mom or significant other forgets to say "happy half-birthday".  Why? Cause no one says "happy half-birthday", that's not even a saying.  Your best friend doesn't feel pressured to take you out for dinner, and your lover doesn't have to drop all of their grocery money for the month on some gift.  Better yet, they don't have to stress out for a day because the most sentimental gift they can think of is a new toaster.  You aren't a year older, only six months.  See, you're barely half-way.  You now don't have to eat that box of donuts because you are still the same age.  Calm down.  On your half-birthday everything is just better.  The postman waves at you, cars slow down and say "after you", maybe even random strangers will hi-five you.  Best of all, you can do whatever you want.  All you have to do is include the words... "because it's my half-birthday".  Then make a face like "duh".  "I'm going to order the left side of the menu, maybe even eat the menu, cause it's my half-birthday".  "I think I'm going to stay up till 3 am watching Goonies, while wearing Star Wars pajamas, cause it's my half-birthday".  "I think I'm going to go to the gym, just to eat a donut in the front loby, then leave, cause it's my half-birthday".  Whatever it is, you go and do it.  For my half-birthday I slept in, used up most of Lake Michigan for my morning shower, went to class where they happened to serve us all chocolate cake (coincidence, I think not), then I caught a cab to meet some fellow cake girls to see the comedian, Dane Cook.  When I got home, I drank a huge glass of chocolate milk and thought about how much half-birthdays rock.  Here we are at the show... 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Man Cake.

So everyone kept calling this the "man cake".  Solely because it is the first celebration cake we've made that isn't drenched in girly stuff.  It's much cooler in real life though.  You can't tell in the picture but there are other geometric shapes pressed into the surface of the chocolate fondant.  So happy birthday... men. Go flex your muscles, eat some steak, and take a look at this cake!

The only train story I have today is about me.  I was the idiot that everyone went home and told their significant others about.  I'm gonna keep this short because it's still fresh and slightly embarrassing in my mind.  I got onto my last train home and both my hands were filled with items.  My shoes have ZERO traction on them and the train made a sudden jerk.  I slipped forward, but since my hands were full I had nothing to break my fall except for.... my forehead.  I pretty much head-butted the metal wall of the train, and it kept me balanced just long enough to get my foot back in place.  This lady jumped up and asked if I was ok, then she started rubbing my forehead.  Yeah I don't even need to tell you that that was awkward.  For those of you who know me, don't worry I'm still just as graceful as ever.  I've got to go to bed now, I have a stage early tomorrow morning at Fritz Pastry.  Yaaay! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

First Wedding Cake

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but God made an even better combination then men and women.  It's chocolate and peanut butter.  You'd think you couldn't make chocolate any better, but you can.  Just add peanut butter.  Every time I get a recipe with chocolate, I'm only thinking about how I can add peanut butter.  Well today on the train this guy was pulling Reese's Peanut butter cups out of his pocket, which hello... are my FAVORITE!  I think he knew they were my favorite, because he was slowly unwrapping them and shoving them in his mouth.  He had huge pockets because he must have pulled out at least six.  I didn't consider him to be an attractive man, but the more he pulled out those peanut butter cups, the cuter he got.  Soon I started wondering how long I would have to flirt with him to get him to share one.  (By share I mean.. devour and he'd never see it again)  Then I started feeling like a bad person, because if ya think about it, that's just a lesser version of prostitution.  I'm sure Reese's Peanut butter cups has been the gateway drug for many prostitutes.  Understandable, because you now know, there is nothing better than chocolate and peanut butter.  

So normally I'm not a fan of the color teal.  It is normally paired with pink, and then we are dangerously teetering on the boarder of "bad 80's prom night".  Well, leave it to Chef Nicholas to transform teal into a workable color for a beautiful wedding cake.  This is my first official wedding cake.  It took us all last week to assemble, so hopefully I will be able to speed up that process in the future.

So Haley and I are partners for our birthday cake project.  We have to make a two-tier birthday cake with a partner for a class project.  This was horrifying to wonder who my partner might be, but I lucked out to the Nth degree!  Haley is amazing, personality and talent wise.  We decided today that we ought to start designing our cake.  We could wing it on game day, but then it would definitely end up being shaped like some sort of food item.  See, not only are Haley and I both freakishly tall for girls, but we are also fat girls at heart.  She knows what it's like to be a 750 lb. woman trapped in a quasi-healthy-extremely-tall girl's body.  Needless to say we easily bonded, and our birthday cake is going to be saaaweet.

Walking home tonight, I was sorta in an annoyed mood and I had no way of relieving it through a healthy medium.  Music wasn't working, I was too tired to run, and if I screamed I'd probably scare the neighborhood kids.  I resorted to stomping on leaves like a four-year-old throwing a tantrum.  It was actually super relieving.  Every time I would see a crunchy leaf, I would slam my red sneaker on it so hard.  Then I would twist my ankle, just to be sure it was completed smushed into the pavement.  This kid was sitting on his porch and he looked at me like "lady... you've got issues".  I didn't care though.   I was having too much fun smashing every leaf between my house and the train station.  I just can't stand seeing people go through hard things.  I wish it was me instead.  Not because I'm a good person, but because I'm so selfish I can't stand to watch helplessly.  If I scrape my knee, it stings.  But if my nephew runs to me with his tears and his scraped knee it just burns!  He would look at me with those tear-filled blue eyes, begging me to take the pain away.  I hated that all I could do was kiss those sweet tears away and promise him better days.  They always tell you about how everyone in life falls down and scrapes their knee.  But what they don't tell you, is that you have to watch everyone around you fall and scarpe their knee too.  That's just jacked up.  I'm gonna leave y'all on that uplifting note.  Don't worry though, even if you not only scrape your knee, but fall flat on your face... I'll be there for ya.. armed with band-aids :)  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I'm pretty glad that Halloween is over.  I inherited the trait of talking to strangers from my Dad.  Except he does it in a smooth, friendly way interacting with others in his world.  I do it in a janky, awkward way that normally gets me in trouble.  Halloween was the worst this year. Example..

"Hey I'm loving your costume..."
*confused look*
"I wish I could get my hair to do something like that... is that a wig?"
"no.... and I'm not wearing no costume lady"
"oh... sorry uhh.."
*awkward silence*

Well now that Halloween is over, I have apparently become one of those obnoxious people that celebrates Christmas way too far in advanced.  Here is the Winter Wonderland cake we decorated this week.  I must admit though that I absolutely loved decorating this cake.  I couldn't help squealing every time we made some adorable little animal.  Even Mr. Snowman got to me when I was placing the little holly berries on his hat.  So cute! Take a look....

So when I'm walking home at night I always pull my hood on and tuck all my hair up in it.  I'm pretty tall, so I figure if there is a creeper lurking in the bushes, he will just think I'm a dude wearing tight jeans.  But tonight I was walking home and this girl was walking up ahead of me.  I suddenly realized I might be scaring her.  She may have turned around and thought I was a dude wearing tight jeans.  My plan backfired, I felt like yelling out "Don't worry I'ma girl!" But that might have scared her more.  Oh that reminds me...  yesterday morning I had just gotten into the city and I heard this guy scream "I just can't get these voices out of my head!" I know exactly how you feel buddy, it's called your thoughts.  I love Chicago.  So now it's time for you to get a cup of hot chocolate, wrap up in a snuggie, and looks at these pictures.  Almost like Christmas.