Friday, January 30, 2009

Lemon Meringue Cake

I never get tired of lemon...especially baking with it. Homemade lemon curd has firmly maintained a high position on my list of favourites, spread straight on cake layers so you that it's super tart and sweet. Yum. A couple of weeks ago I baked the lemon meringue cake from the Tartine cookbook to indulge a little (more) for my birthday. The cake baked up really well - light, moist and fluffy - and was especially tasty after it was smothered in the lemon curd, blueberry preserves, and meringue.

This was my first time using a chiffon cake recipe. Instead of butter, the recipe calls for oil, and the eggs are separated with the dry ingrediants being combined with the yolks first. The whites are then whipped and folded into the rest of the batter. When I pulled it out of the oven, it was super poofy, and after resting about 10 minutes it deflated to an even, flat top.

Cutting, filling...

Slathering on the meringue...

It's just like toasting marshmallows...

Gobble gobble...

There you have it. I've been baking other things, but just not been that good about taking photos and blogging. There are still a few outstanding knitting FOs that haven't been blogged, too. January has come and's been a busy month with bakery interning, getting all our move-related stuff in order, and visiting Toronto for the lunar new year. Things at the bakery are going well - with the winter being a slow season, I'm only spending about 8-14 hours there each week, which is not much. I'm hoping it picks up. Today I graduated beyond cupcakes and am now decorating the 4" bridal sample cakes. We successfully got our PA drivers licenses, registered our car and completed the inspection and emissions testing, changed our car insurance, and figured out all our bills and services.

I won't be going anywhere for a while, so hopefully blogging will pick up again!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2,000 Cupcakes Later...

This Friday was my first day in the pastry kitchen: a tiny little room with just enough room for two, a convection oven, two big stand mixers, a small table mixer, one big work bench, a little metal cart, a sink...and that's about it. Tiny! I set up and got ready to pipe icing on cupcake samples for the Pennsylvania Bridal Show this weekend.

Five hours, a ton of Swiss meringue buttercream, and 2,000 mini-cupcakes later:

A sampling of my hard work on display. :) It doesn't actually take 5 hours to pipe these, but I had to make many many trips back and forth to the storage unit, fold about 20 large boxes, put all the cupcakes away, and clean up. My arms were throbbing all Friday night...

I think I'm going to really enjoy this internship...the pastry chef does some really, really great stuff. I watched her decorate a 5-tier wedding cake in all buttercream in just 4 hours, with etched snowflakes and silver ribbons and everything, all the while dealing with constant interruptions on the phone, making the buttercream for my cupcakes, getting me set up, and running about to prepare for a bridal show.

I was invited to stop by the bridal show so that I could check out our stand, as well as scope out what the other bakeries/competitors were doing. The cakes I've uploaded in this post are an assortment of what I saw at the show, in no particular order, including some from our bakery.

I forgot what bridal shows were like! Vendors shoving pamphlets and coupons in your hands, giving you free cake samples, models parading around in gowns, pimped out SUV stretch limos... There was even roasted pork loin and chocolate fountain samples. It smelled pretty good, but I was full of cake by the time I got to the other food.

Some of the gumpaste work was just amazing, so realistic! Lots and lots of free samples...I pinched a few for D on the way out...

You know, it's funny when I look back to when D and I got married - I wasn't the least bit interested in choosing a fancy cake! In fact, we had the plainest cake imaginable. Who would have thought I'd be learning to make these elaborate, massive things one day?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Porom Beret

Ooh, I jumped on the beret train. They are everywhere. I finished in December, before we moved and wore it around a few times before it got packed away. I have only just rediscovered it during the unpack. It's Brooklyn Tweed's Porom Beret. A very nice pattern indeed, and the photos, as usual, are beautiful.

I knit it with Knitpicks DK Swish in Nutmeg, which is also a heathered colour, and might I just say I am really liking it. So far, I've knit the Ducky Cardigan and another baby sweater, and this is my third project using it. I haven't tried throwing it in the washing machine yet, so I don't have a review on its performance in the wash. Nonetheless, I am planning to buy more of this in the future - inexpensive, soft, and pretty colours.

It's snowing over here, and I'm hiding out at home today, doing some more knitting. I'm gradually starting to feel the quilting motivation returning, but so far it hasn't been enough to reign me in to actually start anything. I've been thinking about quilts a lot though, does that count? Thanks to my mommy for the early b-day gift which was spent on books at - I just got Last Minute Patchwork & Quilts, Confetti Cakes, the Bouchon cookbook, and Breadhitz (recommended by Devon), so I've got lots to keep me going for a while. As I type, I am waiting for English muffins to rise. I had no idea they could be cooked/baked in a cast iron pan! Those are for breakfast tomorrow. Hope they turn out. I went to a wedding show today, for work, so I have a few pictures of that to post soon. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Daina Mittens

A finished project to show you! The Daina mittens are finally complete. This was my first fairisle project, and when I started them I was knitting a bit too tight, so the gauge on the two mittens are a little different. Of course, the second one fits a lot better, but I didn't have the heart to rip out all that strand work. Plus, this was the stickiest yarn (Knitpicks Palette) I have ever used and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have survived a ripping.

Pattern: Daina Mittens by Tuulia Salmela
Yarn: Knitpicks Palette in Black, cream and cloud
Needles: US2 dpns

I started these sometime in October, finished them in early December, and then they sat in my knitting pile forever waiting to have the ends woven in. It's always like that eh?

I love the picot pretty. But a pain to sew down. I avoided having to sew by just folding it over and doing k2tog when I started the mitten portion. Still, on tiny needles, it was kind of a pain.

The inside of the mitten - not bad for a first time fairisle.

And there you have it! It's nice to finally blog about some knitting again. I have another finished beret to show you so it won't be long before another post!

In other news, today is our 5th day of 'real' life in Bethlehem. D started work on Monday and moved into his shiny new office, and I helped him unpack some books and things to get settled in. We have otherwise been trying to get all our utilities and services set up, which takes a while. Yesterday we got our Lehigh ID cards, which lets me use the gym I think, and get 15% off at the school bookstore. We now have the biggest variety of insurance ever - car, tenant, life, health. Tomorrow we go to deal with the car plates and new licenses.

One of the strangest things I have experienced so far is setting up garbage and recycling service. Unlike in Toronto, waste disposal services are not provided by the city. There are a zillion little private sanitation companies, small-business style, that you set up an account with just like getting a phone or something. Ours is run by a couple who have been doing it in the neighbourhood for years. Each house can choose a different company, which is also weird - doesn't that mean there are endless garbage trucks stopping in during the week to pick up? Anyway, it makes you think twice about how much garbage you throw out, cuz it isn't cheap!! $96 for 3 months! But that's if you have 4+ bags each week. I went with the more sensible option of buying a book of 10 'bag tags' which you attach every week to your trash, and it should last about 8 weeks. I will never take Toronto garbage service for granted again!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy News on the Cake Front

I got the position, yippee!

Starting this Friday, I'll be interning at a specialty cake shop that makes some absolutely amazing, beautiful cakes. I won't say where, for privacy's sake, but this place is definitely up there with places like Confetti Cakes and Charm City Cakes. What's nice is that it's only about 25 minutes away from home, instead of a 2-hour commute.

I'll be doing a lot of the baking, which I am very excited about - strange to get excited about convection ovens and mixers, but I am. I have been wondering what all the fuss is about with commercial equipment. Hopefully I won't lose a finger or anything.

Apparently, there are 3000 cupcakes awaiting icing on my first day...yikes.

Wish me luck!

Happy 2009!!

Happy New Year folks! Hope you all had a lovely, restful holiday and are getting back into the swing of things.

Cardinal in the holly bush in our backyard!

The past month has been crazy, hectic - but plenty of fun, and it was great being able to spend time with so many people. I know I haven't been blogging any new crafts, but I've been stockpiling a few for the new year. Thanks for checking in over the holidays though, it was nice to see that my daily hits hadn't completely gone down to zero. I promise to have crafts soon.

Lehigh Canal

Something I've been enjoying in blogland this past week are New Year's related posts - some are writing their reviews of 2008, some are making new resolutions for 2009. I've never been good at making resolutions, much less stick to them (I admit I have been one of those "I'll start working out" people - that usually dissolves before the month is out), but I do like the idea of compiling a list of things I'd like to work toward. A goal list, if you will, that I can go back to when I'm feeling like I need some direction. First though, here's my Year in Review.

**Knitticrafty 2008 in Review**

  • February: My first part-time job at a private practice; we went to Cleveland for D's birthday; I started doing more baking. Knits: Shetland Triangle, started the Sweetheart Socks.
  • March: I started working at the bakery and was loving it; I came close to quitting the private practice job a few times; baked my first few loaves of bread.
  • April: I started taking a jewelry class. Knits: Cherry Cardigan, Shetland II. Nothing that exciting seems to have happened as I didn't blog a lot that month...
  • June: I finished my big jewelry class project; came back from Europe; visited friends in Toronto; baked a heck of a lot; Knits: started the Pomotamus socks III
  • July: I started working as a freelance cake decorator for a second bakery; learned how a wedding cake is assembled; bought a bike and rode it around a lot; discovered El Arapezo in Pearl Alley; practiced a lot with rolled fondant.
  • August: Our big trip back home to Toronto and Deep River; lots more baking. Knits: ducky cardigan, socks.
  • October: I was promoted to being an assistant pastry chef; I tried knitting fairisle and entrelac for the first time; went to Z and Ken's wedding in upstate New York; Gatsby started mellowing out; I made French Macarons for the first time; I also bought my first stand mixer.
  • November: My last month at the bakery; we got ready to move; I made a practice wedding cake; I bought a nifty culinary torch; we found a house to rent in Bethlehem (this time I didn't twist my ankle); we visited a culinary school in Philadelphia.
  • December: Jay and Sonja threw us a goodbye party; Devon made us this awesome cake; we moved to Bethlehem; my cousin Baryl came to visit; Dom's parents came for Christmas; our visa got approved; and I was called for my first interview at a nearby cake shop.
Things I want to do in 2009:

1) Intern at a cake shop, and learn how to use commercial equipment and scale recipes
2) Take Toba Garrett's Cake Decorating courses at the ICE in NYC
3) Take a bread making course
4) Travel to Asia
5) Make a quilt
6) Try to become a licensed counselor in Pennsylvania
7) Plan a trip to reunite our Columbus friends
8) Take advantage of unlimited calling in the US and Canada on our phone plan
9) Volunteer for a mental health organization
10) Try not to strew clothing all over the place in my bedroom, and use the nice closet instead.