Tag Archives: baking

The Secret Ingredient – In-Depth Post #4

Well another two weeks have gone by and my baking endeavour continues. Jumping right in to de Bono’s work, he talks about how listening is one of the most important aspects of learning, and if done well, you can obtain much greater value out of what the person is saying. I have definitely found myself listening much more than talking in the first few weeks of my mentorship. I have been trying to pay attention to all the details and fully understand what my mentor is saying.

Through all the pieces I have been picking up during my mentor sessions over the past few weeks, they seem to be forming a single picture as they come together, a secret ingredient you could say. But this ingredient may not be what you expect. From all the intricate designs of icing, and complicated recipe steps, the secret ingredient is the most simple of all.

What I have gathered so far as the key to baking, is that it is not solely your knowledge or skills in the area, but rather your creativity and joy for baking.

Once you have these, you can make anything; the possibilities are endless. Your creativity will take you to the next level, and the touch of a perfect cake is really the touch of the heart.

Continuing, while I have only been saying a little, a lot of what I have been saying is questions. Expanding on this, using de Bono’s two types of questions, fishing and shooting, I have mostly been asking shooting questions. Some of the questions I will ask are things like “Is this the right shape/size/thickness?”. I generally ask these questions to confirm and check on the techniques I have been taught, and am practicing, to ensure I am executing them correctly.

One question that I asked using a multiple choice format was “Do you flip them because they are thicker or because there is more in them?” I used this when we were removing some cookies from the oven to flip before putting back in for a second time facing the other way. I found this question format very useful as it digs even deeper into the topic and in this case caused my mentor to further explain the process. Her answer to my question was actually neither of my two suggestions, which gave me even more reason to have asked the question. As I hadn’t thought of the answer she gave me myself, this gave me more knowledge of why we were doing this. Her answer was that we were actually flipping them to create a more crunchy texture of the cookie, as they were a biscotti style.

Additionally, while spending time with my mentor, our conversations often trail to other topics. This past visit, while waiting for our latest batch of cookies to bake, my mentor told me some tales of her childhood in Croatia. It was very interesting to hear about the different way of life and it gave me a new perspective on some of the things we do here. I again asked some basic questions that spurred more in-depth discussions and explanations.

I am hoping to spend some time this weekend to do some baking of my own and try out some of the techniques my mentor has been teaching me. It should be interesting to see if I can execute the skills without her guidance.

I have been taking photos of all our recipes to keep track of everything we do, and also for practice myself. I may try some of these or try out some of my own. Further to what I talked about earlier on the secret ingredient, her recipes are all written out in hand. She has rewritten them her own style and in very basic form. This allows her to make as she goes, or should I say, bake as she goes, bringing out creativity in every dessert.

I am hoping to capture some of my own baking creativity and bring it to life in some of my own pieces very soon! Brining to life that picture puzzle of the secret ingredient.

P.S. Oh, and sorry, I wasn’t able to capture any pictures of my desserts this time around as they seem to have all magically disappeared somewhere.

Cracked Open; In-Depth Post #2


Picture above: some of me and my mentor’s baking from my first sessions with her.

Well, after a few weeks in the goings, I have successfully obtained a highly skilled mentor and begun learning some useful techniques of baking. You could say I have officially ‘cracked open’ my project, and a few eggs!

I met with my mentor for our first official meetings this past Saturday and Sunday, and we got right down to business working on some baking. So far, my mentor has been teaching me the different techniques and skills and then getting me to try them under her supervision. We’ve done this in the form of baking; she will prepare the first few cookies(for example) and then proceed to guide me in making the next few. Even in the short amount of time we have spent together, I have learnt tons, and I am strongly enjoying our baking time.

In terms of relating our first session to Edward de Bono’s How to Have A Beautiful Mind, it may not be quite as straightforward.

While meeting with my mentor, I tried to keep track of our conversations and everything she was saying in my head. I agreed with many different concepts and tools she explained to me that seemed highly useful in their respective desserts or tasks. I hadn’t heard of all of them before but they seemed like great solutions to simple problems that you may run into while baking. Some of these problems include her suggestions to melt chocolate in a bowl placed in a pot of boiling water on the stove, as opposed to in the microwave. This technique prevents burning the chocolate and also allows you to have greater control of the temperature and keep a close eye on it as it melts. Another handy trick, was to ice a small ring of icing around the edge of the cookies using a  piping bag before icing the entire surface. This acts as a barrier to prevent the icing from overflowing onto the edges of the cookie later on. You must let the ring harden before icing the rest so that it is firm when applying the rest of the icing. All of which I strongly agreed with and seems very logical.

As for disagreeing and differing, there’s not nearly that much, in fact, there isn’t really anything I can think of that I disagreed or differed with my mentor on. The reason for this is that I highly respect my mentor and her extensive knowledge of her craft, and in all honesty, everything she advised me of seemed perfectly logical to my mind as well. I have hardly any experience in this area of skill, so I might not be able to tell if she was doing something incorrectly, but at this point, I am focused and appreciative of building a strong mentor to mentee relationship and developing greater knowledge in the area. Maybe later down this in-depth road I will encounter something I can’t quite wrap my head around, but for now, it all seems amazing. At points in our conversations I did make attempts to bring up different solutions or paths for which we could take when making a certain part of a dessert or treat. For example, when she explained her secret ingredient(which I don’t want to expose) for making the icing shiny, I asked if it would affect the icing in any other way if you were to not add that ingredient. She answered saying that the only real effect on the icing is its appearance, which I then agreed with and understood. I suppose you could say that was a slight differentiation in our views on the future but I was really just unsure and asking for further information on what could occur.

Overall, my project is going very well. Our class integrated essay also proved very useful for me to gain more knowledge of some basic baking skills. I have been enjoying what I’ve been working on with my mentor, both baking and intaking, and I am looking forward to what is to come in the near future. Now what’s next on the menu?

The Beginning: In-Depth Endeavour #1 – Start Your Ovens; On Your Pots, Get Set, Action!

Feast, or should I say, treat your eyes to some of the desserts I might be making. Treat your mind to the life skills being learned. And treat your heart to the purpose and heart which baking presents.

Photo Credits: Wikipedia
Photo Credits: Cook 13

Over the break I watched a movie with my family released this past summer, titled The Hundred Foot Journey.

Picture Credits: Wikipedia

At first, I was left with great satisfaction and joy from the film, as I thoroughly enjoyed it for many reasons, but after some time, I realized the passion and heart that goes into cooking, that I had gained further knowledge of through this film.

The film takes place in a small French village in the south of France, where an Indian family attempts to open an Indian cuisine restaurant one hundred feet across the road from a Michelin-starred classical French restaurant. The two restaurants initially begin as rivals, and as one could expect, the owner of the French restaurant is not happy to have competition. The story continues, building further similarities with the classic Shakespearean tale, Romeo and Juilet, as the young chef of the Indian restaurant and the sous-chef of Le Saule Pleurer, the French restaurant, fall in love. However, unlike the Shakespearean tragedy, all ends well, and the two communities come together, accept, and welcome each other.

The story obviously revolves around food, but the passion and love for cooking and cuisine is what drives the characters towards their goals throughout the plot. Along with other key messages, this movie showed me how much heart and passion cooking and baking can really involve, and what meaning they can have.

When I have taken HomeEc at school before, and done some basic cooking and baking at home before, I have always taken pride in my work and enjoyed the  experiences. I have often wanted to further explore the area and really learn about the art of cooking and, in this case, baking. So as I have been interested in baking and cooking before, I decided to explore the desserts area specifically for various reasons. First of all, I am a highly picky eater. In cooking, and baking, it is very important to be able to taste the foods that you make , so I figured I would be absolutely fine tasting my cuisine if I studied desserts. Desserts, and baking, are also a very useful skill to have, as they can be used in many situations and could come in handy in many future situations.

Skills in the kitchen and using equipment properly and safely, are skills that can help me all throughout life, and will have a great impact in the future. Desserts can also be useful when preparing a dessert or treat for guests or a party, or when made in quality, can be an upgrade to an average bake-sale. However, for this project, I will be looking into more advanced styles of desserts, and attempting to explore and make some European style desserts and treats.

I am hoping to gain mentorship from my amazing baker neighbour, who has outstanding talent and ability in baking various European style treats, and desserts. Though I know my neighbour fairly well, and the idea is to expand on existing circles in the community, I am still planning on having her as my mentor, however I will be reaching out to one or possibly more businesses or other groups/experts in the field for experience and possibly further mentorship.

I have yet to talk to my neighbour about this proposal, as I have been extremely busy with the crazy start back at school and flash of a start to 2015! Hopefully this works out and I can get set up very soon!

For this project, I am planning on taking out practice sessions with my mentor on a semi-regular basis, as well as practicing skills and recipes learned on my own. As previously stated, I will also be attempting to gain further experience and knowledge from additional mentors or experiences in the community. Through this project, I also hope to gain some more knowledge about desserts in general and possibly some of the history that revolves around this infamous course.

I am still waiting to confirm many of the details for this project, as I am somewhat unfamiliar with the challenges or difficulty of what I plan to undertake, and the area in general. Once I have more information, hopefully in the next week, I will be able to more closely revise some of the more specific guidelines and plans for the project, such as how many different recipes I plan to learn, and the amount of assistance I will need.

As for now, maybe not eggs just yet, but I shall get cracking!