Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Hot Hands" & Buttercream

Today, I'm going to talk about my struggles of having "hot hands".
Last night was day two of my Cake Techniques & Design class, loving it so far by the way. Our project was to mask, cover and pipe simple borders to the Genoise cake that we created the first meeting, using French Buttercream. For those who are not familiar with French buttercream, it is very rich and "buttery" type of frosting.  Personally, I love it because I love anything with butter, but some people think it's very heavy. So as I was icing and smoothing out my cake and getting it prepped for borders, I was reminded once again on why working with buttercream is my least favorite thing when it comes to cake decorating. Some people, who are lucky enough are born with normal temperatures in their hands, while others like me are born with unusually hot hands that can literally melt butter in a matter of seconds. My challenge begins as soon as I start holding a piping bag filled with buttercream. Having hot temperature in your hands dissolves and melts the buttercream faster, thus making it hard for the decorator to create the shape. In my case last night, I couldn't create a simple shell border and rosettes. I expressed my frustration to the chef and was glad to know that it can be controlled and that I am not the only one who has this kind of problem. So being that I learned something new, I'd like to share some tips for you guys out there who go through the same problem as I do when using buttercream.

1.) Use gloves- Rubber gloves (those used for food prep) can act as a barrier to prevent heat from transferring to the piping bag, I'm also going to try putting the gloves on the fridge or freezer first to make it cold.
2.) Prepare multiple piping bags and switch it around. This may seem like a task but switching around bags will ensure that you are not transferring all the heat in your hands in just one bag.
3.) Try to wash or run your hands with cold water or ice before touching a piping bag.
4.) If the buttercream starts melting put it back in the fridge for a couple minutes.
5.) If all else fails...pray.

Hope this helps, happy decorating!


***Photos are for reference only and do not reflect my actual work***
Monday, March 18, 2013

First Step

" The only way to make your dream a reality is to wake up..." I don't think there's a better way of saying this.
Today is my first day back to school, last time I went was for my Bachelor's back in 2009 and it does feel like it's been that long. This time around, I'm going to learn Cake Techniques & Design at the International Culinary Center here in NYC. This is my stepping stone towards my dream of one day owning my own cake shop. My perspective in life has changed so much from the time I graduated, up to this day. The June back in 2009 would probably be content on sitting in the office, sorting papers and taking orders from anyone, as long as I get paid. As of today, I still work in an office, sort papers and I still don't mind getting paid, hey I have bills to pay! But, I do feel like I have grown and learned how important it is to do what you love and of course love what you do. People say work shouldn't feel like work when you love what you're doing and that's exactly how I feel when I'm decorating or baking cakes. What used to be just an occasional hobby really turned out to be my passion. It all started out as a trip to a local Michaels Arts & Crafts store with Peter, my then boyfriend now husband, I saw a flyer for a cake decorating class and I thought about enrolling but never did. During my birthday, Peter gave me a certificate for a level 1 class in cake decorating, I guess he sensed I needed a little push to actually start something for myself. Needless to say, I was obsessed with the class. I enjoyed it so much that I took the next two levels of the course. I went to Michaels every weekend spending my hard earned money from sorting paperwork in cake supplies. I found my new toy store besides Sephora! I did cakes for friends and family on the side and I'm thankful that I had willing parties to try out my cakes. My cakes of course, without the formal training are works in progress...lopsided, cracked fondant, you name it, it happened to me. But every cake project I had, made me appreciate the craft more and I've grown to love it so much. I specifically enjoy seeing people's faces when they see the work that I put in, even though it's not perfect I can sense that they appreciate the time that I invested in creating those cakes and to me that is the most rewarding part of the process. I finally realized that this is what I really want to do, I want to create beautiful cakes to make people happy. The process is long, labor intensive, time consuming, patience is constantly tested and sometimes frustrating but for me it is all worth it.   I also acknowledge that I have to be better and I cannot be mediocre, I have to be good or even great at what I do. I'm my own worst critic, I want everything that I do to be perfect and I'm never satisfied with the work that I put in. That's why I finally decided to invest in formal training which takes me back to this present day, March 18, 2013...this is it folks, I'm taking that leap of faith to take my dream one step closer to reality. When I contemplated on being an attorney before, my LSAT books gained so much dust and I only opened it once; My law school applications were left blank. This is a different story, when I finally had the go and extra push from my family to enroll for Cake Design I completed my application within a week. This is how much I want this. I've invested so much time and money on this and I want to make this experience count. I'm nervous and excited and I don't know what to expect but all I know is, this whole experience will be worth it and I can't wait to share my progress with you all.