This week I made my final cake for my learning project. After looking back on what I have previously made I feel like I’m not going out with a bang…even writing this last post is tough, but I managed to make it through! This week I decided to make a no-bake cheesecake. I chose this cake partially because some of my peers commented on my blog from last weeks’ cake which was a homemade New York style cheesecake that they have only ever made the no bake variety, partially because this particular cake kept showing up in my Facebook feed and partially because I am short on time. This no-bake cheesecake has a graham crumbs crust, cream cheese and whip topping center and is topped with blueberry pie filling. It is super simple to prepare, the longest part was waiting for it to set up in the fridge.
It was pretty good, but it wasn’t as good as my mile-high New York Cheesecake.
When I look back over the semester I am super impressed by the first cake that I made which was a layered chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache icing. It was an amazing cake to start off with! Making this cake took a long time to but it was absolutely delicious! For this cake the instructions were super clear and the blogger had actually posted videos of her putting everything together which helped me quite a bit because it was a fairly ambitious undertaking. This website was really great and I think that I could have perhaps changed courses and just stuck with this one website for all of my cakes, but at the time I thought that having a variety of sources would be better.
Another really great cake that I made was the homemade angel food cake. This is a very labour-intensive cake and I couldn’t help but think of how hard it would have been to make this cake 100 years ago. To think of all the technology available at my finger tips is quite astonishing! From finding the recipe online, to watching a how-to video to learn how to make the cake and finally to be able to use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites (which is a tedious task in itself) is quite amazing to me! When I was making this cake, I was constantly reminded of movie called Julie and Julia where a young woman sets out to work her way through Julia Childs cookbook called “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. In the movie, there is a scene where Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) makes whipped cream by using just a hand-whisk! That would have been so much work! If you have a chance, check out the movie, it is pretty good!
One of my cakes that went awry was my upside-down peach cake that leaked all over the inside of my oven. Ugh… not so much fun having to clean up that mess, but that is life I guess. I think this annoyance could have been avoided by having explicit instructions because I was unsure how much parchment paper to use and it ended up that I didn’t use quite enough.
I’ve noticed that as the semester progressed I began to make more straight-forward cakes like my banana pudding icebox cake and I didn’t realize at the time that I had gotten away from making “professional looking cakes” as I mentioned I would in my very first learning project blog post. In hind-sight, I should have revisited my first blog post each week to make sure that I was sticking with my original plan. I think one of the reasons that I got side-tracked was because there are just too many options and a lot of information to sift through on the internet. Another tricky part of online learning is when you are only accountable to yourself, it is tempting to take the easy way out.
The overall process of online learning can be hugely beneficial and I can see why so many people take to the internet to learn skills such as how to build a deck, play the ukulele or paint portraits just to name a few. For most people, the internet and google searches are pretty accessible since the only other way to learn independently would be by purchasing a “how-to” book. Another benefit to online learning is the fact that it can be done on your own time. As I stated earlier, this can be a bit troublesome too, but for the most part if an individual is committed to actually learning something, they will see it through to the end. There are some disadvantages though, like poor instructions and sometimes it is hard to tell if you are learning from an expert or from someone who thinks they are an expert. Either way, it is a good idea to gather information from multiple sources.
Photo Credit: femiolaleye Flickr via Compfight cc
My experience with my learning project has been both positive and negative. I really enjoyed making my first cake, but after that I was kind of ready to move on. I think that I could have challenged myself more instead of becoming complacent and it would have been a better experience. I found that I was rushing to finish the cakes and I should have just slowed down to enjoy the process more. What I have learned this semester in terms of my baking skill level is that I am a pretty good baker! In the past I have always used box-mix cakes and so I think I will use the homemade version going forward since it is way tastier! I did find reading a printed recipe is way easier than reading it off of my phone since the font on my phone is so small. Overall, it was a great experience with some highs and lows along the way!