Monday, 19 June 2017

Wilton Cake Decorating Course at Bake-it-yourself (BIY) | Part 2

Continuing on from my previous post on Wilton's Decorating Course 1..

I was so excited to bring the cake for my finale lesson! I was being so paranoid to carry so many materials + a decorated cake to class by public transport but I made it! While the buttercream was less fragile in terms of texture, there was a bloated bump due to condensation, which usually never happens.

But it was not very noticeable which can be covered by my flower décor later on.

Our instructor proceeded to teach us on more techniques such as writing, leaf tip and 3D flowers like sunflower, roses and daisies.

I initially underestimated the effectiveness of Wilton Course 1, as I already knew how to decorate a cake. Sometimes back to basics can be equally important. I managed to apply the fundamental skills on my usual piping techniques and there is really difference in results. Very small changes make a difference and I am glad to be able to apply what I have learnt to my own business.

My instructor Steph is also really very patient and friendly with my bombardment of random questions and I really enjoyed her class.

Here’s my finale cake! I felt that the colours were a little too bright, but I guess it depends on preferences!

I tried some new techniques using the Grass piping tip – the brown vines on the cake. (I feel that I should have made it a little more prominent though. Oh! And I was glad to learn a new technique for the leaf tip - push in push out method to create more ruffles. So easy but I never actually thought of that before. 

And here is my completion cert for Wilton Course 1! 

Friday, 9 June 2017

Embrace the heat & crowd @ Geylang Serai Bazaar

When things like Unicorn and Rainbow are trending, even the stalls at the Geylang Serai Bazaar has stepped up their game in attracting more people, people like me who usually do not attempt to squeeze in crowded festive places. The bazaar is going on par with Bangkok’s night market with so many creative and fun food designs, except that the price will never be on par of course (Expect to spend a bomb if you want to try a variety of food!) 

My bf’s strategy is to go down to the bazaar early before the dinner hour to avoid the crowd. We drove there and there was an open space carpark. It’s not really easy to find a parking lot even at 4+ timing, but we managed to find one within 5-10 min out of luck! I am not sure where is the exact carpark located but the worst-case scenario is to park at a nearby mall (OneKM mall) if you really cannot find any parking.

The very first stall that we were so eager to try out was the HANDSOME BURG that went viral all over the Internet. The bright and bold rainbow colors might be a turn off for some, but the taste and texture of the Bagel was better than I thought, firm but chewy and soft. This was out of my expectations as the whole combination with the juicy beef patty was really one to queue for. The burger and fries set was $8 before, but they changed it to Twister fries and increased to $10. Still worth a try! I found out that this stall is actually from a café called Word café and they serve the Handsome Burg with extra meat at about $20. Really smart way of advertising for their brand.

While waiting for our burger, I decided to grab something small from another stall and WickedMallows caught my eye.

But mehhh, it wasn’t even worth the $5 I paid for. I actually felt quite heart pain for my 5 bucks, I should have known better. The flavors I chose were – Chocolat Ferrero, Speculoos Caramelized Cookies and Uji Matcha. The toasted marshmallows look cute, taste fine but just not worth the price.

I had a bad experience with artificially coloured and flavoured drinks in BKK and I wanted to avoid similar ones this time. But I still couldn’t resist PoppinSoda as the colours are so gorgeous. I chose the one with Passionfruit and Butterfly Pea - $6. The drink was refreshing and subtly sweet without being too artificial. That’s probably because they use only natural colouring in their drinks! It’s definitely an instaworthy and yummy refresher under the hot weather.

Drinks are not only the only refreshing solution at Geylang Serai Bazaar! I got myself a healthy Acai dessert cup at Kerris for $6! The other Acai I ever tried was at An Acai Affair. I think there’s not much difference in taste. But I was hoping that they replaced the Chia seeds at the bottom with more Acai! In general, I think Acai is even better than ice cream or yoghurt!

I was also excited to try out the Pokeritto, which has a sushi burrito concept - Half for $5 and full for $8. If you are looking to fill your stomach, the $8 will definitely be more worth it as the half portion is really too small. It took just a few bites to finish up the whole thing. We had the Wasabi flavor. Do not worry if you’re not very good with Wasabi as the taste was quite subtle and not too spicy. It’s also a healthier choice apart from the usual deep fried food at the bazaar.

We went to support our friend’s store and they’re selling cheese toast for $4.50 each, and there’s other food like fries as well. A very simple comforting food that is so cheesy you can stretch it for about 10cm without it tearing. Well, it’s also a very good opportunity for me to take boomerang videos. Bf loved it and he said that he could eat this every single day! Personally, I find it quite nice as a daily comforting food, but sadly I’m not really a ‘bread’ person.

I was really looking forward to The Raclette Factory as it was highly raved everywhere. The melty hot gooey cheese just looks too irresistible especially with all the videos posted in social media. While the cheese steals the show, do not expect much from the potatoes and sausages. I find that the price of $12 is a little too steep, and they probably marked up the price due to the hype. But it’s still worth a try if you don’t mind spending. I would love the Raclette cheese on my pasta though!

The cheese might be a little gelat after eating for awhile, so it would be a good selection for sharing!

I notice that some Thai Iced Teas are really expensive at some stalls but I managed to find a decent size at only $2.50 per cup from Alley! Taste wise I think it’s not bad as well!

This huge squid ($4.5) is also very chewy and delicious! I love the really sweet and appetizing sauce that complements it so well. I prefer eating it if it's cut into small lil pieces though.

The bazaar is quite big and spreads across to the other side of the road. Some stalls are also duplicated on both areas for more convenience. And the crowd started pouring in after 6pm. I can’t imagine how it would be if there were only 1 stall for the popular selections as the queues were already so crazy at 630pm. There are more delicacies that could be underrated, you never know! But we were already too full to try any more food and I couldn’t really stand the heat amidst the crazy crowd.

Here are a few tips to maximize your enjoyment at the Ramadan Bazaar!

DRESS LIGHTLY – The weather is so hot recently you wouldn’t want to sweat more under your thick clothing. And try to carry a small bag that can fit your valuables safely. It’s best not to carry a bulky bag as it might get in the way, and of course something inexpensive in case you spill food or drinks all over. For those who want to take plenty of photos, I recommend to tie your phone to a lanyard so that you can easily use your phone for photos instead of taking in and out of your pocket/bag and risk losing it. It’s way way way more convenient!

GET YOUR TISSUE READY – Eating at a night market can be really messy as you have to stand or walk while enjoying the food. For e.g. burgers and toasts are not really easy to munch on in the busy crowd. Wet tissue is even better!

TOILET TRIPS BEFOREHAND – The toilets are only located at designated points like the hawker centre. And you still have to pay 10c to use it. It’s recommended to head to the toilet before the start of the visit so that you won’t have to hold your pee for hours if you are in for a foodie adventure.

That’s all! ;)

Have fun and be prepared to spend at least $20 per pax to enjoy a decent spread.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Wilton Cake Decorating Course at Bake-it-yourself (BIY) | Part 1

As a baker, I feel the need to constantly upgrade my skills. Even though I have been learning how to bake and decorate with YouTube and Google over the past 2 years, I have always wanted to take an official course and refine my decorating skills even more. There's always some limitation to learning things by yourself after all.

Initially, I wanted to go for the PME Diploma course but I was informed that I need to have foundation on covering cakes with fondant. I have tried it before but I also feel the need to improve on my fondant and gumpaste skills. I probably have a ton of questions I would like to ask as well.

After making comparisons between a few schools, I decided to apply for Wilton Cake Decorating Course at Bake-it-Yourself. Overall I was enticed by the lower course fees and additional 5% discount on my 3rd course, not forgetting a free gift for every course. Beforehand, I also went to their Facebook Page to check the student's photos and I find the cake designs prettier than the rest, they must have good instructors.

Wilton Course 1 is a prerequisite for Course 2/3 btw!

P.S Btw this post is not sponsored, I paid for the full course fees. And I also do not have much photos as photo-taking isn't allowed during the lesson, so pardon me if this post becomes very lengthy with minimal photos! I just want to share how my experience is like. 

There were only a total of 2 students that day, including me. More students will make the class livelier and you get to make more friends, but having just 2 is also beneficial in a way that you get to know your instructor better and the class is definitely more private. So things are not as rushed and you can also ask a lot more questions. Personally, I think the best number is about 3-4 students!

Everything is provided by BIY so I just have to bring simple things like apron, cloth, scissors and a pen. Apron isn't compulsory if you don't feel the need to. I like how BIY already prepared cakes and cupcakes for us, together with a course book and kit! From research, I found out that you will have to bake a cake for homework at other schools. Not that I don't enjoy baking, but I find it a hassle if I already have to deal with my own orders. So this was a plus point!

Day 1:

Stephanie was our instructor for Course 1 and she's really patient and friendly! She went through the course kit together with us and some basic knowledge on the materials and tools. The main bulk of lesson 1 includes introduction to basic piping lessons and we had some hands-on practice on the Wilton practice board. Although I already have piping experience, it's still good to go through the foundation to perfect every single detail. Sometimes you might think that you know what you're doing, but the technique may not be 100% correct.

I usually work with Swiss Meringue Buttercream for my cake orders and the buttercream that was used during the lesson was mainly made of shortening and icing sugar. To be honest, I really don't like the taste and texture of it. But it makes a good practice material for beginners because of its stability and stiff consistency which does not melt or soften as easily. After a few practices, we were given 3 cupcakes each to decorate using the rosette or swirl technique.

You don't have to work with ombre tones, I just wanted to have fun with different colours that's all.

We were then given a dummy cake (Which is a styrofoam imitation of a cake) to practice icing. Actually, it's more challenging to ice a dummy cake, because the styrofoam is so light! And we can decorate the cake with a cupcake design on it using the piping gel transfer technique. This is good for complex drawings or if you are not confident to draw directly on the cake.

At the end of the lesson, we were given a cake and box of white buttercream for our homework and we will have to bring the cake for our next lesson to finish up the details.

I think by now you can tell that I'm in love with pink! You can choose any colours and if you do not have any colouring at home, just pop by at their retail store to get it! Students get 5% off! I wanted to do something really light but I didn't want a solid colour so I did the watercolor technique instead. This isn't taught in class, but in case you want to know, just cover the cake with white icing, swipe some pink icing randomly on the side and scrape it off using the same "hot water" technique.

I personally love this Watercolour technique a lot! And it works well with all colours!

So this is the end of the Day 1, stay tuned for Day 2 post if you want to know more! (: