Tag Archive | cake

11/3/16

I actually wasn’t going to write anything today, not only because it’s pretty late and it’d take hours to get you up to speed on what I’ve learned these past couple weeks (which I’ll get to some other time), but right now, I’m in a mood. Not an angry-rant-type of mood (that was earlier), but in the middle of a minor depressive episode. I never used to have these until after college; I’d be sad, sure, but still functioning.

You’d think that depression is like being stuck in this super deep hole with no way out, but it’s a little more cruel than that. The way I see it, depression/anxiety is like being in that same hole, only it’s not as deep. You can see a little bit of what’s happening above ground; there’s a swarm of people hustling about, minding their own business, constantly running into each other, but never stopping to offer their hand to help you up. Because the hole is literally just that deep: you can’t get out yourself, but with someone else’s assistance, you’ll make it.

I had Intro to Production & Bakery today, which is six hours long, but at least the stuff we do there is fun. Today, we baked a simple, white cake. It was really sweet, I got 18/20 on it, which was the score I gave myself, but Chef agreed and logged it in his grade book.

It first started when one of my classmates was concerned with how my buttercream (the icing to my cake) turned out, but I knew that I just needed to chill it for five minutes, tops. Because I didn’t completely know what I was doing, I was irritated enough that I was, once again, going to be one of the last to move on with their cake from the icing stage. What definitely made it worse was my classmate was a little more worried about my icing than I was, which made me even more anxious. Adding fuel to the fire, you know? I mean, I appreciate that the person cared, truly, but the panic in their voice just wasn’t what I needed right now.

About an hour later, I was doing something in another part of the kitchen and just had to pause for a minute. That’s when I realized that I was drowning. Call it dramatic, but that’s the best way to describe my mood: drowning. I mean, chances are, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way in that kitchen, but that’s my truth right there. Call it drowning, being stuck in that semi-deep hole; that was how I felt.

To top off my bittersweet, emotional cake, since it was just the two of us, Mom said I could pick up ingredients on the way home and make dinner. It wasn’t going to be too fancy, just the copycat Noodles & Company recipe, without the chicken and done half-recipe. Mom agreed to that, but then she got worried that it’d be too much for me, so she backed out and wanted me to pick up a pizza instead. I said, okay, how about Little Caesar’s since it’s on the way from the culinary building to my car? She didn’t like it, so she wanted me to pick up Round Table pizza.

Is this a selfish act though? Listen to this: I don’t like Round Table, but since Mom didn’t like Little Caesar’s, I figured the most obvious answer was the pasta. I ended up telling her that if she wanted pizza, she should order for delivery since I just wanted to go straight home. That was the point where my mind was all jumbled up and I would’ve felt better with some culinary therapy, but Mom obviously didn’t want the pasta that night so she settled for ramen noodles. (Actually, she ended up just eating the cake. According to her text anyway.)

So now I’m here, expressing emotions that not all chefs feel, but sharing my feelings anyway. One of my best friends, who goes through these in more serious bouts, calls it anxiety. I didn’t see it before; I thought it was just a small chunk of depression (I’ve had it when it was really serious), but I think the hole is deep enough for me to finally understand why he’d consider it more anxiety-driven.

I don’t know what my lesson here is, to be honest. To tread carefully when you see that one of your classmates might be in “that” mood? To understand that while you may be the one in the bad place, stifle yourself so you don’t take it out on others?

I don’t understand these feelings, which I suppose is what mental illness does: it makes you feel horrible for no reason at all. Nothing triggers you, but you know that if something else happens, minor or not, you might do something you’ll regret. The only thing I know 100% is I have to wait. As a writer, I’m just documenting everything, which, I guess, is the biggest reason why I’m telling you all this. Time doesn’t completely heal all wounds…it just makes things better until the next time your guard is down.

But anyways, sorry for the negative energy. I’m not trying to bum you out. I just felt like some of these things needed to be said. Like you needed to know that depression and anxiety go away through time, no matter where you are.

Right after my classmate gave me their spiel of worry about my icing, my body told me to just get out of that situation. I thought I needed to get something, but I think it was really my gut telling me to walk away and get some air. I didn’t leave the room per se, but I needed air from somewhere that was not in that negative zone.

I suppose the official lesson here is, if you get to that point in any situation, walk away and take a breather. You’ll better within minutes, even if you think that whatever you’re emotionally responding to is very minor.

Well, break an egg, everyone!

Here’s a photo of the first official cake I’ve ever made (in the professional setting)!

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4/17/16

 It is time. For the final step.

Last time I wrote with icing, my dad told me to practice it on a plate first before proceeding to the actual pastry, which is the best tip a baker could receive, if they’re going to design cakes everyday. Why? Today, after one fat “Happy” on an everyday plate…I had to go to the store to find something skinnier. Then, I saw that they had one of those caps that made the icing smaller, so I bought a set of those instead, since my mom told me we didn’t have any. As soon as I returned home, I applied the shrinking cap and practiced once with it on the plate. Beauteous.

So here is the very final product of this nearly-24-hour journey:

 Perfect. It now looks like Hagrid from Harry Potter made it. (“Happee birthdae Mommy.” I’m looking at a screenshot of the cake right now. That’s how he misspelled it, I promise.)

You’d think you’d remember that icing is edible, even if it’s used on a practice plate. Yum… Frosting is the best. (Icing is frosting, right? Just used for writing? That sounds about right.)

I found the easiest way to write with icing is if you clench up both fists around the tube. (I suppose that’s why the pros do it.) Since my right hand is my writing hand, I preferred having that closer to the tip, to give off the feeling that I was writing with an ordinary pen. Like a child would with a crayon, at least. Then, stand directly above the pastry and begin. (I’m 4’11”, so you could imagine how childlike I looked, still standing on my tippy toes.)

By the way, always a good idea to tie your hair up. Not only when you’re baking, but with cooking as well. Don’t want to shed in your own food. You’d think it was common sense, but people shed unknowingly all the time, so they don’t think about it. You don’t have to go as far as using a hair net, just keep it back; make sure it stays up and out of the way.

Oh, and yes, I intended on dotting the “i” with a heart. Did that translate? At all?

I suppose that’s it for today. We’re going out for lunch and dinner, so not much cooking for me to do there. Except maybe applying more salt to my meal or something. And not even that counts. My work here is done.

Besides eating it, of course. Apart from “the frosting was way too sweet”, there were zero complaints. We spent the day with my older sister who said that red velvet cake was her favorite, which was why she was excited about dessert. All anyone could have was a single slice, because “the frosting was way too sweet.”

When she asked what made the red velvet red velvet, she guessed, “Food coloring?” I thought about all the ingredients and said, “Yeah, actually. That’s the only part of it that’s red.” Other than that, it was your typical cake–except probably more moist, which was intended–except red.

So I’d say this cake thing was a success! 🙂 Something to think about though is how to have the same texture for the frosting, but with less sugar. Is there a way to figure that out? There were two whole cups of powdered sugar. (Although I might have added a little more than that because I didn’t want to make a huge mess by flattening the mountain that formed in the measuring cup…yeah, that’s why there was so much. Let’s go with that.)

Overall, I think the biggest issue was probably the frosting. Instead of using butter, I substituted oil. Because of the slippery texture, it was difficult to cover the entire cake. Clumps kept sliding around; it was so annoying.

The second biggest mistake was forgetting to grease and flour the cake pan before pouring the leftover batter. I managed to save it though by putting it on top of the successful half (although in this case, it was more like the successful 2/3).

Before I officially sign off for the night, here are a couple of photos of what the cake ended up looking like on the inside: