A Passion for Frosting

Everyone in their lifetimes…no matter how long or short, falls in love. That love may differ with the special recipients of that love but falling in love is almost inevitable. Some fall in love with a person, a pet, a vehicle, nature, et cetera.

And at a very young age, I fell in love with baking. All I hoped and dreamed for was to bake…to bring joy to people’s lives and seeking my deepest passion. I remember how excited I would get as a child using an Easy Bake Oven to bake mini cakes or brownies. I honestly felt as if I was a real pastry chef by creating these small edible creations. And as I got older, I became more passionate about my love for baking. I was fascinated by all the desserts that I could learn about and gladly bake. I remember the first time that I made a cake…it was from a cake mix but I was so proud of myself for pursuing such a new territory in my baking journey. As time goes on, I tend to obsess over the baked goods that I will create in the future especially for major holidays or events like Christmas, Graduations, Birthdays, or other sentimental days. I become so filled with anticipation of how the finished product will look or be, much like I did when I was younger. When I finally made my first cake, I was most excited to frost and decorate it. I was able to use a variety of different colored frosting, small candies, and sprinkles to decorate my cake. It was the most amazing experience to finally be able to decorate a cake that I baked with little help from anyone else. And though, my decorating job was not exactly the work of Buddy Valastro, I was still satisfied with my decorating skills at the time given it was my very first attempt at decorating a cake.

But since then, I have had the honor of learning how to properly decorate cakes with an array of different decorations options such as fondant, gumpaste, nonpareils, frosting, airbrush, sugar work, or modelled chocolate. Still, one of the most satisfying things in the baking world is having the ability to frost a cake. The intricate precision is immaculate and the decorations help to create the most appealing masterpiece. The perfect sharp edges that looks so professional as well as the smooth appearance and texture of the frosting that further elevates the overall precision of the cake. There are so many necessary tools that are readily involved in the production of properly frosting a cake. The most used tool is an offset spatula because it allows for continuity in smoothing out all sides of the cake with more agility as it contours to the shape of the cake unlike the straight spatula. But depending on the frosting used for the cake, other options may be needed in order to ensure that your cake has smooth edges like heated the offset spatula before using it by dipping it in hot water then drying it before allowing it to slightly melt the frosting to smooth the texture or edges.

However, there is a new tool that is solely intended to smooth out the frosting on cakes in an easier manner. It is essentially a device that wraps the cake by an angle and smooths the frosting in a quicker and more efficient way. It is a product made entirely of plastic and it’s capable of applying frosting to any cake up to eight inches in height; it is called the ProFroster which only costs $25. Watch below to see how this amazing gadget works effortlessly.

Comment below with your thoughts about this device being readily used in the baking world.

Piece of Cake

If you are like me, then you have had your fair share of cakes…whether it be a Black Forest Cake, an Angel Food Cake, an ice cream cake, or the traditional birthday cake. The first thought that enters my mind when I think of cakes is the layered cakes with overly sweet American Buttercream wedged in between the layers of cake that may have a sentimental message written on top of the cake to commemorate a special event such as a birthday as well as a specific amount of candles to represent the age in which that person is turning on that particular day.

The French word entremets literally means “between servings” and would usually consist of a small dish between courses in French cuisine. It would mark the end of a serving of numerous courses. Now, it is a term that is readily used in the pastry world, an entremet is a cake that is multi-layered mousse-based with various texture contrasts and varying complementary flavor concepts. There are entremet cakes that are traditional to the French pastry cuisine but it varies significantly from the cakes that are readily available in America.

The most important element of entremet cakes is the proper use of food pairings in which the contrasting textures and flavors being utilized still correlate to one another so it will offer a well-balanced mouthfeel. These food pairings can vary from coconut and mango, passionfruit and white chocolate, or chocolate and raspberries.

Entremet cakes are visually appealing as they can take on a myriad of shapes such as domes, pyramids, squares, rounds, et cetera. Typically, the different combinations involved in the production of an entremet cake include a balanced taste concept such as sweet but tangy in flavor but it also means a textural difference which consists of a mousse layer or gelee layer paired with a praline layer or meringue layer to have both a balance of crunch and smooth textures to better satisfy the palate.

a raspberry entremet cake

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

I had the amazing opportunity of creating my own entremet cake, to be able to concept the flavors and textures that I wanted to pair together in order to create a well-balanced cake. I decided to make an entremet cake that had a bottom layer of a dacquoise meringue which is a typical egg white based meringue with chopped almonds and hazelnuts combined into it; that was then topped with a hibiscus coconut mousse that was then topped with a thin layer of genoise cake that was soaked with a coconut rum simple syrup. This was then topped with a layer of mango gelee and coconut mousse and then a thin layer of raspberry gelee. The entire cake was delicately wrapped with a joconde cake which is an almond based cake that was patterned with pink stripes.

The Trend of the Meat Cake

diced red meat slabs on a cutting board with onions

Image by: Andrey Bodrov

Today, food has become so modernized these days and the traditional foods that were widely accepted are evolving. America has always and continually been inclusive of those cuisines and traditions from other countries. Many food practices that are being utilized and have gained such popularity in the United States have generally been adopted from other reginal areas. These new practices have allowed the normalized traditions in America especially in terms of food to be differentiated and more modernized with the latest trends that are being accepted. In Japan, they have created an entirely new way of celebrating birthdays. Gone are the days of birthday cakes that were sheet cakes frosted with insanely sweet and colorful amounts of frosting. Today, many are surprising their loved ones either friends or family with a modernized and savory version of the birthday cake which is the meat cake. It has changed the entire dynamic of cakes as there are not many versions of savory cakes that have become so popularized, accepted, or trendy in the culinary world.

a birthday meat cake with roses made out of red meat

Image by: jasonklapston

In the Japanese cuisine, they take the most expensive and best cuts of meat in order to uniform them into a cake-like shape. The cakes can be tiered or shaped in a particular look such as to look like a flower. Then it is usually decorated with an array of different vegetables that will complement the meat such as peppers, asparagus, or broccoli. Typically, the cake is made out of different versions of beef with the most expensive being the aged wagyu. But there are variances of these particular cakes styles that cake use different cuts of fish, poultry, and other meats such as veal or pork. When a meat cake is presented, it is usually reminiscent to that of a traditional birthday cake where there is a gathering of friends and family as the celebrated person is able to see their cake for the first time. Then, it is treated just like that of a typical frosted birthday cake in which the person gets to blow out the candles. And, afterwards, the meat is generously cooked and prepared in a way in which the person desires it.

Comment below on different and interesting cakes that you have either eaten or would like to eat in the near future.

The Smorgasburg of 2016

Smorgasburg graced Brooklyn this weekend and showcased different foods from all over the world in one place for all those who were eager to try them. Unfortunately, I could not attend but I found many new and interesting foods that were being sold there this year in particular. This set up allows vendors to share their products or even use visitors of Smorgasburg to be taste testers to newest creations.

One of the newest innovative desserts is one that is severely time sensitive that must be eaten in half an hour. This dessert is called the raindrop cake, which literally looks like a raindrop, but if not eaten quickly it will turn into a puddle of water. It is constructed by way of agar, a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. Yet, the dessert tastes similar to water but has more body and texture. It is usually paired with other small sides to eat along with the cake.

a raindrop cake on a wooden plate

Image by: Huffington Post

The video shows how to make the newest dessert; it is simply amazing to see how the cake is constructed in a way unlike any other. I want to eventually try this cake, I find it to be super interesting and I wonder how it taste in its own complex yet simplistic way to appeal to anyone’s palate.

Many spectators felt that the foods here will eventually be sold readily in America and will be the next food craze but I wondered what really creates a food craze. And what really makes people want to wait in lines for hours just to try these foods? Many believe that it is due to the bragging rights that come with the hype of these trending foods. It is awesome to be able to understand their notions but still it is further explained by using the term, mob psychology, because if something is being sought after then everyone begins to become envious of that particular item and wants to be able to have that experience as well. We as people naturally can become obsessed over a phenomenon that everyone wants to be a part of because it gives us some sort of popularity status because we are part of a trend.

Comment below to name a food that you have always wanted to try or a dessert you recently tried that you think should be the next food trend.

CUE Conference with “The Buzz”

a decorated cake made for "The Buzz" team

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

Last week was the Coordinated Undergraduate Education (CUE) Conference which is an annual event that was held at City College of New York this year. The theme of the event was used to show the catalyst for change to engage for impact within CUNY. The conference explores the innovations, collaborations, and actions in undergraduate education that will prepare global citizens for the 21st century. And I was gladly able to attend the conference on behalf of the Openlab “The Buzz” bloggers team. I was so honored to be chosen to represent the team since the conference conflicted with many of the other bloggers’ schedules; I felt a certain responsibility to the fellow bloggers as well as the Openlab team. The conference was amazing as we were able to share the benefits of having a internet based haven for all Citytech students to not only use academically but for recreational interests as well. Honestly, the Openlab has been a great asset to me to complete specific class projects and to be able to connect with my peers. Through the daily struggles of school and balancing it with all the other happenings in our lives, it truly allows us to connect to our peers who are experiencing similar collegiate lives.

an edible camera

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

Being a hospitality management major and my aspirations of becoming a pastry chef, I instantly felt a need to bring a dessert to the meeting which was used as a preparation to the conference. I continuously thought about what the best appropriate dessert to represent the Openlab’s success would be and I eventually decided on a cake. As always, I wanted the cake to have a certain complexity to it. So, after making the cake and decorating as well as crafting the other pieces with the help of my sisters, we delivered the cake on the day of the meeting, unfortunately, late. But the cake was an absolute hit and received such great feedback. Everyone was captivated by the realistic appearance of the cake with its added features and began taking numerous photographs with their mobile phones. As a pastry chef, that is one of the most fulfilling moments of making a dessert, is to simply see the reaction that it causes to all of you as I enter the room with this edible masterpiece. The cake took about three days to put together which was pretty short notice yet it came together really well. The cake truly evoked the sense of the Openlab’s “The Buzz” not just by the logo but by connecting to the bloggers with the camera to appeal to the photo-bloggers and the tablet to appeal to the other bloggers. The cup of coffee was originally a joke as my sisters and I were joking about how drinking coffee is almost an essential to our lives and it was simply added to the cake. And although it might sound crazy the whole cake and all of the side pieces were all entirely edible.

a themed cake with an edible coffee cup and tablet

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

I would just like to say thanks to Jill Belli, Jody Rosen, Andrew Mckinney, Scott Henkle and all of those from the Openlab for inviting me into the Openlab family. It was a pleasure to speak on behalf of “The Buzz” team and I am truly happy to have such an encouragement when it comes to my blogs as well as being truly understanding and attentive to not only my major but all of the other bloggers, it simply shows us how much you care about all of our work. And to the fellow bloggers, I appreciate how truly connected we are despite only meeting a few times; I look forward to reading your future posts and love when you comment on mine. We are all a part of a big family of something that is truly special and I am in awe of how far the outreach has been, I cannot wait to see what the future holds not only for us but for the Openlab after we graduate and others have their chance to begin sharing with the college on this amazing haven.