Fudge, The Intern (Part VIII): Fudge, The Baker?

Today, I went out with a bang. Well, a bang without the sound effects. Or perhaps an explosion of powder is more apt.

Everything was going fine. However, a customer ordered 50 cupcakes–cleaned out the whole front of the bakery–so the whole kitchen was in cupcake construction mode and I was put in charge of making buttercream. I had made two batches yesterday and had already made two batches today that were perfect–perfect consistency, perfect flavor (this is my opinion, although L said they were excellent! :P).

I thought I had got the formula down. Butter, low speed, high speed. Powdered sugar, low speed, high speed. Flavoring, low speed, high speed, high speed. Simple enough, no?¬†Well, when I got to the powdered sugar stage on my third batch, my brain said, “Who needs low speed? Pssh…let’s kick it into high gear.”

White. Powder. Clouds of white powder filled the air and covered my face and my jeans and I realized that, no, it isn’t simple enough.

Psychedelic, man...

What ensued was as scramble to clean and laughs from the whole bakery and from myself ridiculing my slight. “Eh, it had to happen once!” I said. “It happens to everybody,” G said, “and it happened to me twice!” At that moment, I knew I was in the right place. Sadly, Fudge the Intern is no longer, but…

Fudge The Baker is now in talks of employment in the bakery!

ūüėÄ

As I said, I knew I was in the right place–I will thankfully continue to be for the next few months before I’m off the Blg Apple.

Moose? Mooses? Oh, right, Meese.

P.S.: Today’s pictures–aside from the Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes are all funny goods or oddities I took photos of today. Thought I’d keep it lighthearted instead of the sentimental post I had planned!

Fudge, The Intern (Part VII): Yum.

Feet throbbing, back aching, and head pulsating, I stepped out of the bakery today missing the spring in my step that I arrived with earlier in the morning. Perhaps it was the longer hours today, or maybe it was the fact that there were six bakers in the kitchen when there usually are about three. Truthfully, it probably was just me being hypersensitive after a sugar crash.

None of this means that I don’t love what I do, however; baking is one of my huge passions and the opportunity to intern here is worth all the ephemeral aches and pains. However, I’m going to let the pictures do a little more of the talking today, if that’s alright with you all.

The day started out with some pecan pie bars (which I actually didn’t get the chance to photograph! So sorry, I’ll make it up to you all) while N sliced up and plated some brownies.

You’ve got your classic fudge brownies…

…your Scout Brownies (with Girl Scout cookies inside of them!)…

…your Peanut Butter Brownies (which look beautiful with the designs on them)…

…and your Fudge Walnut brownies…

These are actually some of my favorite brownies in the shop–although the salted caramel ones still reign supreme for me. I love the varied texture and nutty (duh) flavor that the walnuts give the brownie.

Now, this was a sad cupcake. An under-baked orange cupcake, it proved unable to be frosted with its orange buttercream counterpart due to the huge indentation in the middle. However, a quick piping job fixed the whole situation. Happy cupcake.

Oh yeah, lots of cookies today.

Also, lots of ice cream sandwiches.

But I digress.

Now, there were two real blg standouts for today. You saw a bit about the first in the first photo in the post. I cannot take credit for those cupcakes; one of my fellow bakers, “Q,”
did the beautiful piping and fondant job for those cupcakes. She even went into little minute details like the tiny fondant ladybug. Great job, Q!

The second was something of my creation. By the end of the day, I was thinking of things I hadn’t attempted yet. As my eyes scanned the room, I saw the industrial mixer.

“…Buttercream?”

I had frosted, yes, but never had I actually made the frosting. Luckily, G was more than happy to show me the ropes. The first batch started off a little rocky–a new mixer, an oral recipe–but after my first two very successful batches, I’m glad to say that I can officially make buttercream!

Tomorrow, my time as an intern officially ends (although I will be going in again on Tuesday to bake some things for a presentation). However, my time there hopefully won’t have to end as my internship concludes–fingers crossed! I’m hoping for the best tomorrow.

Lastly, I just wanted to say: thank you all to those who have been following my journey in the bakery these past two weeks. I really do appreciate your readership; I mean it!

Fudge, The Intern (Part VI): Second Taste Test Round-Up

You saw the pictures yesterday. You know you want them. Now let’s get down to business.

Lemon Bars

Your standard but oh-so-much-better lemon bar. The lemon bar is beautifully tangy, erring on the more solid side as consistency goes (versus the more “liquidy” or “jammy” versions of lemon bars), keeping its shape well. The lemon filling¬†is accompanied with a satisfying crumble by the shortbread crust on the bottom, the flavor of which offsets some of the sweetness. All in all, a very well-rounded dessert.

Chocochino Cupcake

This is probably my favorite combination of cupcake (chocolate) and frosting (cappuccino) from the bakery.  The semisweet coffee flavor in the buttercream brings out and compliments the dark, intense flavor of the chocolate cake, resulting in a very grown-up version of the cupcake we all know and love.

Also, Forget about this particular picture; Girlfriend and I didn’t care about the looks of this cupcake when it was in our mouths :).

Vanilla Cupcake with Cappucilla Buttercream

If chocolate cake and cappuccino frosting is my favorite combination, the vanilla cake is my favorite standalone component of the three standard flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet. Guys, this is vanilla, without question. The flavor is absolutely there and spot on, and your palate will dive headfirst into a sea of fluffy, moist vanilla. Also, cappucilla buttercream? That’s the vanilla and cappuccino buttercreams that got mixed while I was practicing. A serendipitous combination, I say! It’s like eating a vanilla cappuccino.

Oreo Brownie

The bakery’s incredibly moist, deliciously fudgey brownie studded with pieces of Oreo cookies. Now, who has a problem with that combination?

Currant Scone

I didn’t get any of the currants, as I only took a tiny slice to try it before I gave the rest to my mum, so I’ll talk about the general scone itself–and what a scone it was. Nothing like your store-bought or day-old scone, this had just the right amount–but barely any–crunch on the outside, a slightly sugary taste before giving way to an absolutely delicate and tender center. This was probably my favorite of the bunch because it was barely sweet and was a joy to eat.

Coconut/Dream Bar

A teeny bit dry (perhaps because it had been sitting out for an hour or two, but very awesome nonetheless. Layer after layer of goodness: toasted sweetened coconut flakes, walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and a nice crunchy shortbread crust. This morsel was gone in seconds.

…?

Now, for the last sweet of the round-up!

So, I don’t know what this is. It has chocolate. It’s got some powdered sugar on top. ¬†It tastes…different. Other than that, though, I’ve got nothing.¬†More on this one later.

Well, that’s it for the second taste test round-up! Tune in tomorrow for another day at the bakery.

Fudge, The Intern (Part V): Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

There’s only so much new stuff one can do in a bakery before it all becomes repetitive. Thus today wasn’t a day full of new lessons and surprises in baking, but a day of perfecting technique, a day of getting into the groove of things, and, of course, a day of sweets galore.

One thing I’m very proud of today?

That. My first cupcake approved by N for sale¬†in the shop (although I was too proud of it to give away so I took it home for my mum…it didn’t quite survive the bike ride, though :/). I’ve finally (almost) got the technique down! I would say that is miles ahead of the first cupcake I frosted today…

Yeah. I’m proud to show that mess because the photo before it. At least the camera makes this cupcake look pretty.

Like I mentioned earlier, today was a day of getting into the groove of things. Cookies were mixed quicker, scooped easier; doughnut muffins were finished off with more finesse; samples and trimmings were sampled less and less frequently ( ūüėČ ).

I could really tell the difference of how I was baking last week versus my first day this week. Everything “flowed;” I was able to do more in less time and more efficiently. I was also given the reigns by N to really work how I (i.e. the bakery) needed, working to make I saw that we needed versus having N follow me step by step to tell me what I needed to do. That doesn’t mean that I asked a few questions along the line; I’m still learning here.

OH! Did you all know the Bourbon vanilla extract is actually called “Bourbon” because of the name of the islands off the coast of Madagascar, not because of the alcohol content in a jar of vanilla extract? Just a tidbit I learned that I thought I should share.

HEY. I¬†was excited when I heard it, and this is my blog. ūüėÄ

Anyways, at the end of the day, I felt fulfilled as all this work was starting to become second nature, even though I only have two more days of work at the bakery (:(). However, N and fellow baker “G,” the only other guy in the bakery, said they would love to have me work more at the bakery over the summer until I go to college! I think that would be a great experience…I’ll keep you all updated as we go on.

For now, I will leave you all with a little preview of what I’m blogging about tomorrow…

Fudge, The Intern (Part IV): So…Much…Frosting…

Yes, I made a few batches of cookies. Yes, I made 7 dozen mini cupcakes. Those I had done before, those were simple. However, today really started with this:

One perfectly frosted cupcake. Smooth, uniform, suave, it has the signature “swoop” in the middle found on all of my bakery’s cupcakes. What follows was my first attempt at frosting a cupcake immediately before the tutorial…

…and immediately afterwards.

As you can tell from the photos, I’m obviously a master froster.

This, my friends, is what we call in the bakery world, “bad.” Frosting tools and buttercream in hand, I set off to perfect my frosting technique because, as we all know, practice makes perfect. I hope.

By my third attempt, I started to get somewhere. Everything began to smooth out just a bit, the characteristic “swoop” finally somewhat emerging.

“Keep on frosting,” I said, “Just keep on frosting. You’ll get it soon, I promise.”

It was then that I realized that I was talking to myself about frosting cupcakes and that I may or may not have been focusing way too hard on doing it. After multiple tries at frosting, scraping, and refrosting, as well as two red velvet practice cupcakes later, I finally ended up with a rough version of what we usually put out in the shop.

All the elements are there. Rough, but there. It seems that in the battle of frosting vs. Fudge, frosting had the upper hand and was victorious.

Suddenly, I heard kids’ voices over the whirring of the mixers. Suddenly, there was an influx of children in the bakery! I realized that they were all having a field trip to learn about baking and a little about the science behind it. They were all so cute and eager to know about everything that was going on; I even helped them scoop cookies :).

After a few hours of cupcakes and kids, I was done for the day. The frosting won the battle today, but I know that I’ll triumph over it next week. Even though it won the battle, I think I won in terms of the spoils of victory…Those red velvet practice cupcakes with the pink frosting? Yeah, the frosting used to be white buttercream.

Fudge, The Intern (Part III): Taste Test Round-Up

If you read my last post, you probably saw the picture above. You also probably saw that I said I’d give you the low down of everything, so here we go!

Grasshopper Bar

A 3-layer bar of brownie, mint buttercream, and chocolate ganache. This is one of my favorites; you’d think it would be heavy, but the brightness and lightness of the mint elevates the bar to a whole new level. Yum!

Boston Cream Cupcake

Vanilla cupcake with chocolate ganache and vanilla cream-custard filling. I love the bakery’s vanilla cake recipe, so I was sold before I tried it. The cream-custard filling definitely added a nice surprise to the whole package, making the cupcake even more moist.

Soda Fountain Fudge

Chocolate fudge with white chocolate chips. The fudge is definitely chocolatey, ever so slightly boozy due to the good amount of bourbon vanilla extract. I made this fudge pretty well, If I do say so myself :P. Not sure why it is called “soda fountain,” but I will find out for you all later.

Donut Muffin

If you read my last post, you can read exactly why I’m in love with this pastry. I just needed to mention it again because¬†it’s that good.

Cranberry-Orange Scone

Even though it was a day old, it still held true to what a scone should be: buttery, flaky, tender, and ever so slightly sweet. Cranberry and orange is always a great combo, so this scone was a hit with me. It’s definitely something my mum would love.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Exactly what you think it is, except with pecans! It tastes like childhood.

Snickerdoodle Cookie

I love the present yet not overpowering cinnamon flavor and soft, pillowy texture of this cookie. What else can I say about it? It’s just an awesome cookie.

Wow, what an overload of sweets…I think it’s time to take a rest from it all. Until tomorrow, readers!

Fudge, The Intern (Part II): Full Speed Ahead

Going in today, I thought I was about to be¬†on full-time cookie duty, ready to learn about the other types of cookies the bakery makes on a daily basis. My thoughts were confirmed as I started a batch of oatmeal raisin and snicker doodle cookies…

…until N said, “Hey, clean everything off your workspace. Let’s do some fun¬†stuff.” After that, I knew I was in for more than just cookie making today.

What followed was a crash course in piping frosting, something I had never done before. I’ll be the first one to admit, I was really no good at first, but I think I started to get the hang of it after doing dozens of mini cupcakes. There were four steps to this whole process, and it went a little like this:

Step 1: Arrange The Cupcakes

Each box of 12 mini cupcakes was going to contain four of each flavor cake. This step expedited the whole process.

Step 2: Frost The Cupcakes

The above is my handiwork. As you look towards the back in the picture, you can see how my piping transformed throughout. All the red velvet and vanilla mini cupcakes received a vanilla buttercream frosting while the chocolate got frosted with chocolate frosting.

Step 3: Smush The Cupcake (Into the sprinkles, that is)

Each column of cupcake was dipped into a different sprinkle, making 12 cupcakes with 11 different sprinkles per row.

Step 4: Package And Seal The Cupcakes

Now you see why the arranging step came in handy.

I finished the order just in the nick of time (the box was taken out of my hands and delivered to a customer right then and there!). Afterwards, it was off to finishing off the donut muffins, the confection that actually drew me to this bakeshop to apply for my internship. Well, not before a snack first ;).

See how the wrappers are falling off? That's a no-no for presentation, so they became duds. In the words of "L," my supervisor, "Sorry about the red velvet cupcakes I baked, I forgot to burn them."

Now, back to those donut muffins. Those yummy, yummy donut muffins. I first encountered them at my school. A friend of mine brought a batch to school one day and I was instantly hooked. You want to know why?

Imagine a donut. Got that? Alright. Make that the fluffiest cake donut you’ve ever had. Now imagine a muffin, but take out all that filler–no nuts, no blueberries, no bran, just a muffin of pure vanilla batter. Finally, imagine these two sweets had three even sweeter children–all 1/2 cake, all 1/2 muffin. Oh wait, I take that “finally” back. Finally, sprinkle some fairy dust on them. You get a little something like this:

They come in three varieties–vanilla, chocolate chip (is it a chip? More like a fleck), and mini–and yes, they do taste even better¬†than they look. Believe me when I say that these were very hard to let slip out of the kitchen.

Next task was to check up on the fudge I made yesterday. No surprise, the fudge turned out pretty darn good; it’s like making fudge is in my blood or something.

ūüėź

Anyways, my final two tasks were making the salted caramel brownies (the other¬†delicious reason I applied for this internship) and the pecan bars. The salted caramel brownies were very time-consuming yet fun–there were lots¬†of prep and measurement, including parking and fully baking the brownies with and without the caramel (a lesson in offset spatula usage).

Not the best picture, but this is the only one I have that shows you the ooey-gooeyness of it all. A better photo is forthcoming.

The pecan bars were also a blast to make because pecans are some of my favorite nuts and, well, when you combine them with butter, sugar, and shortbread…I think you get my point. I never got to take a taste of the brownies and the pecan bars today, but my memory of the salted caramel brownie from a few months back is still very strong: an intense chocolate taste offset by the sweet, almost burnt caramel flavor, all complemented by a generous sprinkling of fleur de sel and packaged in a fudgey, gooey square. One of the best brownies¬†I’ve ever had, hands down.

Yet again, not the best photo; yet again, better photo forthcoming.

As I closed the door to the oven where my pecan bars had just left, my day at the bakery also came to a close. I learned so much from my experience there today; there really is no other way to learn baking like this than being in the thick of it, and I thank my supervisor and all the other employees I’m working for the opportunity and for putting up with a rookie like me.

Throughout the day, N let me stockpile a few odds and ends, test samples, and day-old pastries for a taste test grab bag. Don’t you worry, readers, you’ll read much more about those tomorrow. For today, however, I’ll just leave you with a little preview:

P.S.: I told you I would have a better photo of the chocolate chip cookies, and here it is! I’m a man of my word, people.

Fudge, The Intern (Part I): First Day at the Bakery

Well, readers, today was an awesome way to start off my internship at my local bakery. Within 10 minutes of entering the door, I was already measuring out and mixing ingredients for my first assignment: cookie making!

Working in a restaurant, I already know what a professional kitchen looks and feels like, but to actually be preparing food in one is just a blast. Also, baking in a professional kitchen is even that much better when what you’re making is a bunch of delectable sweet :).

Today, I made three types of cookies: Chocolate Chip, Sugar, and Reverse.

This is the only picture of the chocolate chip cookie I have right now...a better picture is on its way!

Chocolate chip cookies were my first foray into the professional baking world. With this recipe, I learned all about safety, mise en place, cookie scoops, convection ovens, all different types of ingredients…you name it, I probably learned it. Also, never drop a metal bowl full of cookie dough in a metal sink more than once in a minute; there’s no harm done to the dough, but you will¬†be teased about it.

Great thing about making these chocolate chip cookies (and the other two recipes) is that I had to scoop and bake a test cookie to check the batter. Guess where those test cookies went?

Well, home with me, of course. Except for the chocolate chip cookie…that one was in my belly long before home. The chocolate chip cookie was irresistibly gooey and chocolatey¬†with just the right crumb. I’m digging the recipe I used for it! It taught me a lot in my search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe (note: I’m on my 8th batch right now, I believe).

Sugar cookies were my second batch. This time, I had gotten the hang of weighing, measuring, mixing, and baking in this kitchen, so these came out pretty well if I do say so myself ;). These cookies are bright, buttery, and light, all meshing into a near-perfect cookie.

Finally, the reverse cookie. The reverse cookie is exactly what you probably think it is: A chocolate cookie with¬†white (and dark) chocolate chunks in the batter. It’s a riff off of the classic chocolate chip cookie of which I’m particularly fond of for its intense, dark chocolate, not-too-sweet flavor. This recipe did not disappoint; I could hardly contain myself from reaching into the oven and eating it because the aroma was so great!

Well, that’s my first day at the bakery. Tomorrow I’ll update you about my second day and about something in particular I’m looking forward to: finishing off the fudge¬†I made today :).

A snack that one of the bakers (we'll call her "N") and I made: a mini vanilla cupcake stuffed with lemon curd and frosting. Delicious.