Saturday, March 17, 2012

Healthy Baking Class and Fondant Roses

Baking session
This morning I went with some of my family to the Spice of Life Food & Fitness Festival at the convention center in Greenville. I was expecting one of those kinds of festivals where you pay money to get in and then pay more money if you want something one of the vendors is offering, but was pleasantly surprised to find actual free things. The best offering of all was a free cooking school (hour-long sessions) offered by the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas. The topic in the time period I was going to be there? "Healthy Baking Recipes and Decorating Ideas." They were set up to have 20 audience members do hands-on and the rest could just watch, so I plopped down 20 minutes before to make sure I'd get to play along!

Chef Alan walked us through how to make a baked good recipe healthier, whether that meant making it vegan, low-fat, gluten-free, or wheat-free.  I also asked him about decreasing the sugar, but he hadn't really prepared to answer that question.  He said we could e-mail him, haha... I plan to!

The second half of class included learning how to make a rose out of fondant. Now, I've tried making my own marshmallow fondant before, but hadn't ever played with official fondant.   The chef also directed us to a local cake supplier that I had no idea existed -  Not the greatest name, but it means I can make an order and pick it up in town!  That's worth the entire price of admission to the festival in itself. 

My first fondant rose
My rose is not the greatest; clearly I needed slightly smaller fondant marbles and to roll everything tighter, but I took home my bag of leftover fondant to practice on. Apparently the same technique is used with gum paste as fondant, it is just that gum paste dries more quickly. I don't think it is so outside my abilities to learn more about this, so that will be fun.  Honestly I wish I could go through the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas' pastry certificate but last time I checked I'd have to go to class during the day, and well, I have a job.  But sessions like this get me itchy!!

The other part of the decorating was to teach very basic cake decorating strokes like stars and shells.  Since I spent several months as a cake decorator, I didn't learn anything new there, but it is always good to force my brain to do the reverse shells thing since it takes a while to kick it into the right gear. 

If you are in Greenville, SC, and read this before Sunday the 18th, this session will repeat tomorrow at 11:30.  You should go!  It was fun for me, and I look forward to trying some of the recipes that were handed out for alternative baking.  The way the recipes are written, it would be easy to make a standard recipe and then try again with all the versions for comparison.  I might do that on this blog someday; it could be very educational for me!

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