2014 – and that’s a wrap!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – holy guacamole, what a year!

sugar push 2014 in review

2014 has been an interesting year. Globally, I feel like it’s been a devastating one. I didn’t get to watch the evening news much, but when I did it was terrible. Which is why I feel so bad when I say that for me personally, 2014 has been the best year ever!

Last year I set some goals which included saving the money to attend Bonnie Gordon College (check!), graduate with flying colours (honours – check!), write at least one letter a week (um… I tried…), and improve my photography skills (check!).  Before I set some new goals for 2015, let’s look back on the highlights of 2014.

2014: The highlight reel
  • Closed Sugar Push as a business – sorry, no more cakes for sale!
  • Lived in Toronto, Canada for four months & went to Niagara Falls
  • Attended and graduated from Bonnie Gordon College with honours
  • Spent two months living in California
  • Spent 2 days at Disneyland and wore a peter pan hat the whole time
  • Made so many new and amazing friends in Toronto
  • Made my first 4 tier wedding cake
  • Moved from Adelaide to Sydney, Australia
  • Joined the team at SWEETNESS The Patisserie as a full time Pastry Chef

Looking back on this, I feel really lucky to have had these opportunities. While I worked very hard to achieve everything I did this year, I couldn’t have done it without all the support I had from my family & friends. I can’t say thank you enough!

 

To everyone who has continued to follow my adventures on this blog, thank you very much. I love that I can share my journey with you!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2015!

 

Now, I need to go think about my goals for next year. Have you set any goals or resolutions yet?

blog signature

Finally a qualified… Pastry Chef? Confectionary Artist?

It’s official!

Graduation at Bonnie Gordon College – with Bonnie herself!

If you follow me on either Facebook or Instagram, you would have seen by now that I have landed back on Australian soil and am slowly recovering from a severe case of jet lag.

What I haven’t mentioned so far, is that on my very last day in California my Diploma arrived in the mail. Talk about lucky!

After four stressful months of hard work I am so proud and happy to say that not only did I pass my Diploma of Confectionary Art, but I graduated with honours as well! Yippeeeeeeeeeeee!

My Diploma of Confectionary Arts – with honours!

This special piece of paper is now hanging proudly on my wall!

Of course, now that I am home I must make some big decisions about what’s next on my agenda, and which direction I will take Sugar Push in. I will not be taking any cake orders while I figure out what’s next, and keep an eye out for any suitable opportunities!

If you have any suggestions or thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

Week 16: Final Exams & Soda Shop Dessert Table at Bonnie Gordon College

FINALS!!!! AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

First term exams were scary.
Mid term exams were terrifying.
Finals are a whole different thing altogether! *flails outrageously*

The final week at Bonnie Gordon College came and went so very quickly. Surprisingly, for most part I stayed quite calm. I think it was the fact that I knew in a few days I’d be relaxing in the California sun – there’s just something about the lure of blue skies and In-N-Out burger that calms me like nothing else!

Our final exam was once again split into a practical, a theory exam, and theory assignment. Our practical was to present a dessert (or sweets… to-mah-to, to-may-to) table of any theme we chose – yippee!

Our only stipulations were in what we had to present. The centrepiece was to be a two tier celebration cake. We also had to present 12 eclairs, 12 marshmallows, 12 frangipane tarts, and 12 sugar cookies. Strangely, we’d never made sugar cookies during our course (or decorated them for that matter), so that was something brand new!

I really struggled for inspiration on this one – I think my brain was already switching to ‘heading home’ mode. My homesickness levels were reaching new highs and all I could think about was holidays, and then going home. Eventually I settled on a theme that I knew would be a little tricky to source props for, but one that was very “me”.

Without further ado… here is my “Soda Shop” themed dessert table!

Full view of the Soda Shop Dessert Table

Ice Cream Cone Sugar Cookies and “Milkshake” Eclairs

“Milkshake” Eclairs – Vanilla Pastry Cream filling dipped in Chocolate Ganache

Mini Frangipane Tarts with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Swirl

Ice Cream Cone Sugar Cookies
 

I actually ended up having so much fun with this exam! Some of my classmates joked that it looked like my “personality threw up on the table”. Of course, these same classmates called me a unicorn on a regular basis, so I’m unsure of the legitimacy of these comments.

My only “freak out” happened when it came time to decorate the sugar cookies. Having never made this recipe before, I had no idea that the type of dough we were using would not expand, but shrink in the oven. Shrink?! I’ve never had sugar cookies do that before! My plan of simply using the same cookie cutter to cut out some fondant to decorate the top was ruined and I had to frantically cut out the fondant by hand – needless to say, they’re far from perfect and nothing how I intended them to look.

Still, I’m pretty proud of how the table turned out as a whole!

Week 15: Wedding Cake Week at Bonnie Gordon College

To say I was excited about Wedding Cake week would be an understatement. I had been looking forward to this week since before I started my four month Diploma Programme!

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, I’ll lay it out for you: cake decorating is my favourite thing EVER! Sure, baking has it’s place, but cake decorating will always have a very tight grip on my heart.

So a whole 5 days of no baking, just decorating? Heaven!

Our wedding cake was an unmarked assignment, but we were given a fake client and a brief of what they wanted. After getting a “male garden and landscape designer” client during my first term exam, I was really hoping for something a bit more girly and I was not disappointed!

My clients were having a “small” 70 person wedding at the National Ballet, and their guests would be sitting through a performance of Romeo & Juliet. They were having a dessert table, and wanted their wedding cake to match their colour scheme of blush pink, peach, mint green and sea foam blue. The only design stipulation was that they wanted it to feel “romantic”.

If you’ve seen any of my work, you would have noticed that my designs tend to be more on the clean cut, simple side of cake decorating. I guess I’m just not generally a “fussy” person, and although this theme could have been taken in a direction full of ruffles, bows, and a garden of flowers, I really wanted to keep in my own style.

Watercolour painted cakes are a current trend that I am absolutely loving in the industry at the moment. I’m big on pastel colours, and the beautiful ombre effects that you can get with the watercolour painting just make me so happy. When I found out I would be working with pastel colours, I knew I wanted to start painting. I’d never done it before, and neither had any of the teachers in the school at the time, so I just made it up as I went along! Luckily it worked out!
I love cakes that have small, unexpected details that you may not even notice until you really look at them up close. The tiny piped hearts were that for me; simple, delicate and oh so cute.

Flowers also came into play with some peach roses, a pink feature fantasy flower with gold and pearl centre button, sea foam blue berries and mint coloured leaves. Gum paste flowers are definitely a new skill I’ve learnt at Bonnie Gordon College that I’m really enjoying and looking forward to expanding on.

The full cake. Photos just don’t really do it justice – or maybe it’s just my photography that doesn’t! The colours just seemed to pop more in real life while being softer at the same time, and the details such as the piping and gold crimped edges were far more enticing.

My photography has definitely improved this year, but I still have a long way to go.

This was our last big assignment before final exams, and what a fun one to finish the course on!

Bonus class: Wafer Paper Flowers with Susan Trianos

The Diploma Programme that I was taking (yep, was – that’s right, I have now finished!) at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts was a very intense 16 week programme.

There was a lot of studying to do, physically draining days, and assignments & reading that needed to be completed out of hours. It was exhausting. It was also incredible.

So on those precious weekends that I had to relax, and recover, and take in some tourist sights of Toronto, what do I do? Sign up for an extra class of course!

Bonnie Gordon College recently launched a range of “short and sweet classes”, and this particular class on Wafer Paper Blooms taught by the incredible Susan Trianos was just 3 hours!

Susan Trianos teaching Wafer Paper Blooms at Bonnie Gordon College

Never heard of Susan Trianos? I admit, before coming to Canada I hadn’t either. Shame on me though, for Susan has been in the industry for over 25 years and has many achievements to her name.

More importantly though, Susan is an incredible teacher and oh so lovely!

During the short 3 hour class she taught us about the benefits of using wafer paper for cake flowers as opposed to gum paste (easier, quicker, cheaper, lighter!), along with the downsides (too much water = disaster), and how to use the medium.

We learnt 3 types of flowers during this short class, including simple hydrangeas, ranunculus and a rose.

Wafer Paper Ranunculus, Hydrangeas & Rose taught by Susan Trianos

Unfortunately for me I was coming down with a dreadful cold this particular weekend, so as enjoyable as the class was I was glad it only lasted 3 hours! It also allowed me the rest of the day to do whatever I pleased – in this case, stay in bed with soup. There’s just something so enjoyable about a short class, especially after the usual long days of the Diploma Programme.

I cannot wait to use these techniques on a cake in the future, and practise more wafer paper flowers!