The Beginnings

Growing up I really loved food. I was my mom’s assistant in the kitchen. She would get me to measure the flour, make sure it was level and count very closely.  After much insistence I received an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. I loved this thing.  You mix your little packet of cake mix with water or milk, put it in the 3 inch cake pan and bake it in the little light bulb heated oven for 7-10 minutes until it was baked. Then I would decorate the little cake with frosting from a container and sprinkles. The cake would then be shared by myself and my little sister who was too young to use the Easy Bake Oven and not happy about it.

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Eventually I upgraded to being allowed to use the oven by myself which was a big deal and I started baking recipes I found in my Mom’s Company’s Coming books.

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Banana bread, cookies, muffins, and cakes. There was a number of mishaps for certain but gradually I got a bit better as time went on. I went through this phase of love for cinnamon. I found this recipe for yeast less cinnamon buns  that I started to make. When I first started making these cinnamon buns I would get frustrated because the dough was sticky and sometimes the filling would boil over. Then on one occasion I had scaled up all the ingredients and then proceeded to mix up the butters for the filling and the dough. The dough had extra butter in it and became much smoother and easier to work with. With a little less butter in the filling and a little less sugar, it wouldn’t boil out as easily. Then I started putting them in a muffin tin to bake them so the filling wouldn’t flow out completely.

Cinnamon Buns 

Flour                    2 cups

Butter                   1/3 cup

Sugar                    2 Tbsp

Salt                       1 tsp

Milk                      1 cup

Butter                  1/4 cup

Brown Sugar      3/4 cup

Cinnamon          1.5 tsp

Procedure:

Dry blend the sugar, salt, and flour. Cut in the butter. Add milk and stir until combined. To make filling cream the sugar and butter and cinnamon until spreadable. Roll out dough. Spread with filling. Roll up. Cut into 12 rolls and put in muffin tins. Bake at 375F.

My interests only grew from there. I started volunteering at this used bookstore/cafe called Sam’s Place. I saw my first ever fresh baked bread. I was able to help with some of the specials and because of a very delicious coffee cake called Blueberry Boy Bait

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I started following the Smitten Kitchen blog and I have been nurturing my interest in food, baking and pastry. It stopped being something I would muddle around with in the kitchen and became what I actually wanted to do for a living.

 

Eventually I applied for Culinary Arts and really just got hooked on baking and pastry after taking a patisserie class.

The next step will be to bake and cook in Europe.

Thanks for reading,

Lanaya

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Cobs Bread: My Practicum Experience

It’s been a hard two weeks. Getting up at three in the morning to work at Cobs Bread for my practicum was not at all easy. However, so worth it! Between juggling working at my current job in the evenings and working at Cobs in the night into the afternoon, I have never been so sleep deprived in my life. I learned so much about how a bakery works and about their products and what the company does for their employees, customers and the community.

Their products are all made from scratch, and baked fresh daily. From chocolate scones, to freshly baked breads and Danishes, the aroma alone was worth the few hours of sleep.

All the left over products that were not sold by the end of the night were given to the homeless shelter and food bank. I thought that was one of the nicest things a company could do for its community.

I got to learn how to use the “bread machine” to roll and cut the right size portions for various breads. I also got to use the machine that makes buns and scones which was a work out on its own, but made the process so much easier than rolling each piece of dough by hand.

I made cinnamon buns daily, which weren’t my favorite, but definitely a challenge that I felt like I got better at after making it each time.

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(http://www.cobsbread.com/what-we-bake/product-information/productdetails/prod-cinnamon_bun)

 I really enjoyed making one of their signature items, called, “Teatimes” which was a bread twist filled with raspberries and custard, cranberry and custard, coconut and lemon filling or apple with cinnamon-sugar. They are shaped a certain way and I think after the two weeks I got the hang of them and got a lot faster at making them.

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(http://www.cobsbread.com/what-we-bake/product-information/productdetails/prod-cranberry_custard_teatime)

Although, the hours were long, and the work load left me sore, and everything was super-fast paced I wouldn’t change it for anything. I do believe that my time management got a lot better, and throughout the two weeks I got a lot faster and making the products and making sure that the presentation and quality was acceptable.

I think my favorite part was getting to try everything that we would bake!

The owner of the store, Christian, was super nice, and made me feel like I was part of the team. He even offered me a job after my first week! I made a lot of new friends. They treated me like family and were also NAIT baking graduates. They always had the music blasted, and I never felt like I was going to work. It always felt like a party. The environment and the people were so nice and positive and always had good things to say. They encouraged me so much and I can’t thank them enough for all the support! I will miss my Cobs family dearly!

Thank you NAIT & Cobs Bread for the opportunity.

Feel free to check out their website and all the amazing products they have to offer!

http://www.cobsbread.com/

 

cobs

Jalebi

Two years ago I attempted to make Jalebi; an Indian dessert that is soaked in sugar syrup and saffron.

During Diwali (Festival of Lights) instead of buying it from our local Indian bakery, I thought to myself, “How hard could this be?” I was beyond wrong.

Not only is the hand technique hard to master, but I also found out that there is yeast in this recipe as well.

Now, I had never worked with yeasted products at this point in my life and when I would go to our local Indian bakeries, the chefs would not tell me how to make it or show me the technique when I asked because only a hand full of people have mastered it and their recipe has been in their family for years. Therefore, it was a family secret.

Thank goodness we live in a generation where with a click of a button and typing in a few words in the search engine can help us get so far.

After watching a few YouTube videos and comparing recipes that I found online I decided to give it a go. It was difficult at first because of the amount of patience you required for this recipe, and not understanding how yeast worked I got frustrated pretty quick.

It was when I had to transfer the batter in a squeeze bottle that I realized there was to much gas that was produced from the yeast and right when I was about to practice the swirling technique, the bottle cap exploded from all the pressure and there was batter everywhere. Fun. So, after cleaning the mess I had made, I went back and did some more research, watched some more YouTube videos and finally came across a lady by the name of Manjula  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv13kzR4wBU)

After a second go at it, I somewhat got the rhythm down and overall it wasn’t the greatest, however my family enjoyed it. A year later I tried again and the quality and technique got so much better for me. Not only did the Jalebi hold its crisp, the flavor with the hint of saffron and rose water made it that much more flavorful and a delight.

 

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BY: SHIENAL PRASAD

Cake Disaster

 

Ever since I was a little kid, I always enjoyed baking with my Mom. We would watch Anna Olsen’s, “Sugar” on the Food Network and would get so inspired to bake. I was the kind of girl that when my mom and I would bake a cake from the box, I always thought it would come out looking like the picture. Needless to say, even though it tasted really good, I was never satisfied by the appearance of it. It became a goal to bake and present well. I have a love for cakes and never really realized how challenging it was bake, fill and assemble one until it came to making my cousins sweet 16 cake a few years ago.

After watching countless episodes of Cake Boss, I felt like perhaps I was ready for this challenge. Nope.

Not being as prepared as I thought, I was stuck with a bunch of cake slabs on the floor, dried out fondant on the counter and me sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor crying and not knowing what to do. Thank goodness for mom’s right? Always there to save the day. She helped me clean up and we started all over again, step by step. It wasn’t the greatest cake in the world, but it was one of my firsts and I’m very grateful for the opportunity because after that cake, I had friends, family, and friends of friends messaging me and asking me to make cakes for them.

My hobby became a passion and it all started from my mom and me baking to having the one chance to show what I can do. Ever since then, I can see the progress from all my cakes and I’m learning more and more every time.

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I have so many people supporting me and encouraging me every day about my passion for baking and I feel very blessed to have such a good support team behind me. I was encouraged to start my own Facebook page for my creations and I’m so proud with the amount of responses and support from everyone!

(https://www.facebook.com/ShienalPrasadOfficialCakesandPastries/)

Because of them, I was able to push myself and create a few of these for them:

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By: SHIENAL PRASAD