For my learning project I was so excited to include baking as my ‘skill’ to learn.  Not just baking in general, but specifically recipes that I had always been too afraid to attempt becuase they seemed difficult to me.  So, I guess you could say I was stepping outside of my comfort zone, although it was just a small step.

However, after seeing some of my classmates projects I was second guessing my choice.  Many of my classmates picked projects that could be used in a classroom, whether it be Laura perfecting the self-portrait, Lila and Darren’s crocheting skills, or Alexus learning ASL.  All these skills could be utilized in many different ways within the curriculum.  Yes, I know baking also has curriculum connections, but it is much harder to organize a time for a whole class to bake (especially if you want to do it often) than it is to pick up a crochet project, for example.

With that, in addition to baking desserts I was always afraid to bake, I also wanted to challenge myself to improve some technological skills that I could bring into my future classrooms. So yay! Two learning projects for the price of one!

To make things nice and neat, I will summarize my success (and failures) throughout this learning experience.

Week 1 – Cinnamon Buns

Oh my dreadful cinnamon buns!  I think I could have spent every single week trying to make these and they wouldn’t have turned out good!  On my first attempt I kneaded the dough so much that it became too stiff to even roll out!

 

My poor cinnamon buns

For my second attempt I lookedup tips for how to make sure the dough was good, and actually came across an even more helpful website that gave tips on the whole cinnamon bun process. Because of these tips, specifically the yeast tip, I was able to make a successfulbatch of cinnamon.  And by successful I mean I did not need to throw out the dough.  The buns were still kind of hard and didn’t have the gooey yumminess I was hoping for. Like I said, I think i could bake these every week and still not perfect them!  Believe it or not, I started with cinnamon buns because I thought they would be easy.  WRONG!

For my secret second learning challenge I made my first ever YouTube video.  The biggest mistake I made with this is I only videoed brief clips that really showed nothing at all in terms of the baking process.

Reese’s Pieces Cheesecake 

Glorious cheesecake!

My mouth is watering just thinking about this cheesecake.  I feel this was my biggest success in my whole learning project by far!  The biggest challenge for the cheesecake was to ensure the middle was fully baked, without making the outside too hard or burning the crust.  Cheesecake is not like ‘typical’ cake in that you can use the toothpick test to determine if the middle is fully baked or not. With cheesecake you have to really rely on your eyes and the ‘jiggly test’.  Luckily I nailed itand the cheesecake turned out so yummy!  I will definitely continue to perfect my cheesecake skills in the future.

I made another brief YouTube video for this dessert.  although it still did not show any baking skills, I think it was a smoother video and I was ‘better’ in front of the camera (somewhat…maybe not!).

Apple Pie

Fresh out of the over

I was super nervous to attempt to bake an apple pie.  I already had one (okay technically two) fails in the dough department and I DI NOT want a third!  However, I followed the recipe exactly and it surprisingly turned out really well.  I even learned a couple new things about baking, including pie dough calls for cold butter, but other doughs call for it to be room temperature!

I also used a food processer, something I had never used before, to make the dough, and it worked perfectly. My biggest challenge was going to be the top crust.  I wanted to ‘spice’ it up a bit and not just do a boring cover.  So, I found a great video that demonstrated how to make a lattice top.  Again, to my surprise it was not difficult at all.  Overall I would say this dessert was a huge success, even if it did contain fruit!

Lava Cake

I thought it was difficult to tell if a cheesecake was fully baked.  A lava cake is about a million times more difficult.  It need to be fully baked on teh outside, but not crunchy, and liquid on the inside, but not congeal-like.  This was a challenge.  When I cut open one cake after the recipe recommended time it just fell apart.  Nowhere near baked long enough.  After that I think I checked on the cakes every three minutes.  Not sure why.  It’s not like you know if it was a success or a fail until you cut it open!

When I was finally brave enough to just say ‘THEY ARE DONE!”, I had waited too long and the chocolate in teh middle was started to became more of a jelly-like consistency versus a liquid one.  Luckily, chocolate is chocolate and they still tasted amazing!  In my opinion one could not master this unless they just kept baking them again and again, recording the exact amount of time it took to bake them.  Essentailly it is a “guess and check” type dessert.

For this week, I challenged myself to make a ‘time lapse‘ video.  This posed a couple new challenges that were different from making a regular video.  You can read about them here.  I love these kind of videos and I think they are great for baking as it speeds up the process.  The downfall is, you cannot hear any of the spoken words because well, it is in super fast motion!

 

Learning and Browsing Week

This week, instead of actually baking a dessert, I focused on something I SHOULD have done in week one – how to look up baking blogs and learn basic baking skills.  I have no clue why it took me this many weeks to realize that yes, maybe I should look for some general tips regarding baking in general.  I also found a bunch of great blogs that showcased different types of baking.  Although “healthy” (ish) desserts are not my style, I came across a great blog that only contained these tye of recipes.  I read over a bunch of them, and some of them even sounded kind of yummy.  If you are a health-freak (I mean that in a sincere way)  this is definitelya great blog to check out!

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee oui oui!

This week I was brave enough to finally tackle Creme Brulee.  In my mind it was by far the most difficult dessert I would encounter.  It is a classic French dessert, and it seems like all French desserts, it required precise technique!  From pickign out even the tiniest pieces of the egg whites to performing the ‘jiggly test’ (see above) to even using a torch!  This dessert was not for the beginner baker.  I tried it anyway.  Just like with the Lava Cakes, I check my Creme Brulee so many times before finally being satisfied with the amount they jiggled.  They must be firm yet just a bit jiggly right in the middle.

I think I had more success with this than with the lava cakes because I had something (jiggliness?) to actually look at.  The only downfall of my result was the sugar “crust” on top of the creme.  Because I did not have a cooking torch, and was way too scared to use a “big” torch, I turned to the oven broiler, which resulted in the sugar to remained somewhat crystalized.  The dessert still tasted amazing, and for me the important part was the creme, not the brulee!

This week I also wanted to make more of a ‘step-by-step’ baking video.  I did this by taking a series of about seven videos and merging them into one.  I cutsome of the middles of each video as they dragged on quite a bit.  To do this I used a program called Movavi.  However, after spending a lot of time creating one single video, I found out that in order to do pretty much anything useful with it, you have to buy the full version.  I really wish this would have been noted somewhere before I created my video!  Needless to say I was frustrated with this enough to leave it be, knowing I would find a bettr solution next time!

Vegan Brownies

My final challenge.  Although I had a feeling vegan brownies wouldnot be difficult to make, I wanted to make them anyway because I have a slight (okay huge) bias against vegan desserts.  There are things in vegan desserts (ex. avocado) that just has no place being in a dessert.  And, although my vegetarian sister thought they tasted good, I thought these brownies tasted a whole lot like nothing.  I think looking back now, I would describe them as a very mild chocolate bread.  Needless to say, I will be sticking with the yummy, ‘fatty’ desserts I am used to!

For me the bigger challenge for this week was to successfully create one video out of numerous videos.  In this case I had four seperate videos.  This time I turned to YouTube Editor to merge my videos.  With this you can only merge two video files together (I think).  So I had to merge my first two videos together, then my second two, and then merge those two “final” videos together to get my end result.  With the help of a quick tutorial video, te process was super easy and worked perfectly.

 

That brings my learning project(s) to a close.  I feel I learned so much more than just some baking skills, and even more than some computer skills.  I learned how to learn in a way.  I learned that failure can actually be a good thing.  I learned that it is okay to move on from something that is causing you grief.  I leanred that it is good to be stubborn sometimes I try to be better at something no matter what. I learned that it is probbaly best to read up on skills before attempting them.  I learned to not prejudge anything (remember hwo I thought cinnamon buns were easy to make!).  I learned all of these things by simply trying to become a better baking.  However, the most important thing I learned is that I can step outside of my comfort zone and succeed.  Whether it be baking desserts I was scared to try in the past or learning a new skill on the computer, I learned you don’t know you can do something unless you try.  I think this is something I will take with me into the classroom every single day and something I hope to pass onto my students as well.

Aside from getting chubbier because of all the dessert eating, this was an awesome experience!

 

If you want to try out any of these (mostly) yummy desserts, check out these blogs:

Ehren’s Kitchen 

Hugs & Cookies

Handle the Heat

Chocolate Covered Katie

Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice

Making Thyme for Health

 

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