Living with wanderlust.

Most days I have my head in the clouds about traveling. It's getting even worse.

Spending my weekend in the ocean helped. Vilano Beach sometimes makes me feel like I'm not in the country, with the orange crunchy shell floor and aquamarine seas. I like to leave the shells in my hair so I can be a secret mermaid in Orlando. By Monday night, I cave and shower.

I should be paying attention in classes.. and I am, somewhat, well, I am making A's atleast. But all I can think about is finding a hollow island cave and enjoying foreign cuisine that's so spicy I have to slam my glass of water (or beer) which in turn only covers my sunburnt lips with hot sauce extending the pain. ...You know what I'm talking about. I have perpetual wanderlust, I'm not sorry. But it is important to live each day as it comes. Today we made fruit tarts with pate sucree crust and lemon curd filling. I would make it for a spring/summer dinner party. Which makes me want to throw a dinner party next time I'm in St. Augustine..... hmmm.... stay tuned on that one.

Moving along, here are my little fruit tarts. Pate sucree, or sugar cookie crust, lemon curd filling, fresh fruit with a simple syrup glaze... too good looking to eat! But I picked one apart when I got home. Shocker.

Here is a rough batch of my darling cream puff swans. Usually they're dusted with a kiss of confectioner's sugar. I gave all mine away, they don't travel well.

Mid-size cream puffs. Makes me think of a mid-size sedan.. ew. These are delicious. Covered in chocolate ganache and filled with vanilla bean pastry cream.

Be careful if you make pastry cream at home.... you might want to pipe it right into your mouth instead of filling the cream puff. Don't confuse these cream puffs with profiteroles, they're filled with ice cream and are equally thrilling. Now you won't confuse them. I've got your back.

Ooo Creme brulee'... so many people like creme brulee'. They think it's decadent. I like it because it allows me to play with fire. Yes, I will use the largest blowtorch you have. These tasted like vanilla custard candy crack. Don't you love it when white girls refer to crack?

More creme de la creme... up close and personal.

Cheesecake. This one was especially exciting. I subbed 2/3 of the cream cheese with marscapone. You Italians and foodies know what's up. I was drooling and I can't eat dairy.... but I'd get sick for this one. Orange zest, chocolate ganache swirl, and oreo cookie crust. Heavy as a pillowsack of bricks. That's New York style.

Lastly, a dessert that makes its own sauce. If you guessed flan.. Wrong. It's creme caramel. Orange creamsicle creme caramel. It really tasted like the popsicle. Getting so classy in the kitchen with white plastic plates.

Only 2 more weeks left in my basic pastry and baking class. We're working in groups of 4 to produce a sweets table full of petite fours. Alice in Wonderland is the theme for our group. Trying to sway more toward the creepy/weird Alice Through the Looking Glass, not new fun and cartoonish. I want to get some eclair caterpillars in the there and freakish acid flowers.

Alice in her Wonderland and myself consumed by wanderlust.... 


Spring cleaning and what not...

Spring in Orlando is humid enough to be summer, and thus far I haven't done too much cleaning. Cleaning doesn't have to be throwing away junk or using so much bleach on your kitchen floor that your eyes burn and drip with tears uncontrollably...It can be more of an inner cleaning, a mental renewal, and a time to focus on goals. I have never understood New Year's resolutions- do you know how hard it is to drag yourself to the gym or not have an extra generous portion of homemade coconut chocolate ice cream when everyone is covered in layers and generally miserable? Not happening.

With that said, I'm a big fan of starting good habits one at a time, and being a (future) pastry chef, I don't have any choice but to work out 5-6 times a week hard. I'm spring cleaning my attitude. I just got a job, typical food and bev in a high traffic area near the convention center. Am I psyched about telling our guests all about our enticing "starters" or "perfectly cool" cocktails? No. Do I like money? Yes. Do I want to own a bakery in the tropics soon? Yes. So Taylor, get to work. There was once a time to be lazy and daydream on the beach and surf twice a day. That time is over... for awhile.

This past week was all about quick breads. I was especially thrilled to bake biscotti, which was a regular treat my beautiful grandmother used to make for the family. We dabbled in muffins, banana bread, pie, danish butter cookies, and biscuits.

Day 1: Danish butter cookies with fruit filling. I didn't actually take this picture until I got home, and they might have been tossed around in the car a bit. Orlando traffic. Fail. However, quite scrumptious.

Day 2: Biscotti means to bake twice. First you bake the dough in a log, then slice it and bake it again. Vanilla almond with orange essence, drizzled in chocolate.

Day 3: Biscuits.... I will never buy biscuits again. This was not only extremely easy, but the technique created biscuits that were tender and flaky and HUGE. These are roasted garlic and cheddar biscuits. Next time I'd probably do sage and cracked pepper biscuits, maybe with a sharper cheese.

Day 4:  Apple pie. This was another common treat my grandmother made for every holiday. She taught me the lattice crust back in the day, what kind of apples to use, and always used fresh fruit. They gave us canned apples (Gag.) I was rusty on my lattice skills but it still came out nice. 

Right out of the oven in class

Day 5: Blueberry mountains, or muffins, and banana bread. I've made better blueberry muffins, and I wasn't crazy about this recipe. I like to use a lot of fruit in my muffins and less sugar. The banana bread was so-so. Banana bread is kind of my thing. Banana mango, banana chocolate chip, sometimes with coconut, sometimes blueberries... Anyhow... this one I topped with streusel and sanding sugar. It was filled with miniature chocolate chips. 

Next week is all about pate a choux, pronounced pot-ah-shoo..... which means eclairs and cream puffs! Maybe even a cream puff swan. When I was in grade school, I used to walk to a little French pastry shop called Denoel on Charlotte Street in St. Augustine and buy one cream puff swan. With cream on my nose and confectioner's sugar on my plaid uniform skirt, I'd wait on the corner for my mom to pick me up. Denoel is still in the same place, and I happen to be going home for Easter weekend, maybe this time with a swan that I crafted. Let's be honest, if said swan is made, I'll be walking to my car with cream on my nose and sugar on my chef's coat. Nothing has changed.


Bake wild is about to go crazy.

For those of you who don't know, I picked up about 2 weeks ago and moved from St. Augustine Beach to Orlando, FL. And for those of you who do know, I am starting to like it here, thanks for asking. To get a girl like myself to leave the beach and all that is dear to her, there must be a motive. Now that I got that whole Bachelor's degree thing out of the way, I am free to pursue my official diplome of patisserie and baking at Le Cordon Bleu. I have been there a week now, everyday dressed in my crisp white chef's coat, awkward checkerprint drawstring pants, and black steel toe shoes... Not my best look, but I think I can manage for the rest of the year. 

Bake Wild is about to take a detour until I graduate.. with occasional recipes but mostly a weekly photojournal of the things I have made and my progress in becoming a pastry chef. The most fulfilling reinvention of oneself is changing paths to truly live your dreams. Mine is to travel the world and make pastries of glitter and diamonds..... anyway. 

Last week was all about the petit fours... or "small oven" in French which means small cookies. I have bags and bags of treats.... if you want some, email me your address and I'll gladly send them your way. This week is all about quick breads, biscuits, and pies. Stay tuned..........

Day 1: Miniature semisweet chocolate chip cookies- honestly the most perfect chocolate chip cookies I've ever made. Soft and chewy on the inside with a bit of crispness on the edges.

Day 2: Double chocolate brownies with ganache frosting (no picture), The best peanut butter cookies I have ever made.

Day 3&4: Vanilla and chocolate checkerboard sugar cookies. Time intensive but visually pleasing.

Day 5: French macaroons with raspberry jam filling. Looks like it took a lot of work, but the easiest of the week. A bit sweet for my taste. When we have some breathing room with flavors, I'm thinking a cocoa macaroon with creamed peanut frosting... 
Check back this Sunday for biscotti, pies, biscuits, and more. 

One thing I forgot to mention as an obvious upside of moving to Orlando.... MUSIC. In the next two months, I'm looking at CSS, Rusko & Doorly, Avicii, Felix Cartel, and The Electric Daisy Carnival. My roommate happens to love the beats as much as I do. Nothing but heavy bass and baking for the next 9 months.. and I like that.