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Monday, November 25, 2013

Here ye, Here ye!

Hello everyone!

 I am so excited to finally get a blog up and going. I've always wanted to, but never really felt 'worthy' after looking at all the other food blogs out there! 
To sort of break the ice, it's almost THANKSGIVING! I am so excited that this year I have a little more schooling under my belt and will really be able to impress the guests! Speaking of impressive, today in school, my team and I successfully assembled (and hand-painted) our first pastillage showpiece. 

For those of you who don't know, pastillage is a sugar paste, kind of like fondant, that when rolled quickly and thinly, can be formed to make any shape. While drying, it hardens to the point where it resembles porcelain. This dough is tricky, because it begins to 'dry' while rolling it out, and cracks to the point of uselessness, but it isn't fully dry for anywhere from 3 days to a week. Our team had a lot of problems with our showpiece, which we insisted take of the life of a cornucopia in the spirit of Thanksgiving. Our first attempt was to cut strips of the dough and basket weave them and then cover our cornucopia mold with it and let it dry. That was a complete let down. By cutting the dough into strips, we gave it more surface area, making it dry and crack ten times faster. We had to start over...there was no saving those strips.

Our next attempt was to roll out a large sheet and press a real basket into the dough to imprint the weaves onto the actual dough, which when dry, isn't edible, so rolling a real basket on it wasn't too far fetched. This worked to an extent. The surface started to dry that the basket didn't fully imprint, so we wrapped the dough around our mold, shaped it, and decided to take a risk and cross our fingers.

Our cornucopia took a week to dry (along with pastillage leaves we also made) and when coming into school today, we were determined to assemble it and make it look as realistic as possible.

We originally planned on airbrushing the leaves to give them a soft color, but with one airbrush, and a class of 30 people, we had to come up with a plan B - hand painting them with gel colors and water. This was actually fun, and a lot less stressful than working with the actual dough. We sat there and painted these leaves for 2 hours, ensuring they looked real. We also brushed the cornucopia with a gold and highlighted the basket weave lines with a darker brown. We 'glued' the leaves to the mouth of the cornucopia, transferred it to our cake board, and were finally given the opportunity to stand back and see it in it's entirety. Low and behold, it was amazingly beautiful. Not only were we quick to take pictures, but the rest of the class and our Chef were already forming a line to snap a pic. You know it's good when the teacher wants to document it.
Our beautiful hand-painted Cornucopia

The Cornucopia, and our sister-team's Thanksgiving-esq showpiece
Our cornucopia, along with another team's Thanksgiving-esq piece just seemed to get ya ready for this Thursday, and thus, was placed in the schools main display case! This was so exciting to the team and I, as we had never created a featured piece before, and we rushed to the case after class to take cheesy pictures of us pointing at our showpiece. I think I got the taste of having featured work, and I like it...I like it a lot. :]

The display case. Front and center baby!
Beautiful featured art