Everyone has a little pastry chef inside them trying to get out and this week at the Natural Gourmet Institute I learned that I am no exception.

I turned this:

Into this:

Isn’t that vegan carob cake with coconut cashew frosting a looker? Aren’t the kiwi flower and toasted coconut edges superb? Wouldn’t you pay $40 for something like that in a bakery? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions you would be correct πŸ™‚

On Thursday we each made cakes and decorated them on Friday. As I’ve said before, I really love baking and I don’t want this unit to end! I was happy with how my cake turned out, it was delicious and decadent, especially for a vegan cake. I wasn’t so sure how the frosting would come out since at one point it looked like this:

It may look like shiny beige plastic but when mixed together with cashew butter in a food processor it made a creamy dreamy frosting. This recipe was made of agar agar (a seaweed) that is dissolved in coconut milk and other flavorings over heat and then chilled until it sets. I was amazed at the tranformation!

I was so happy with how my cake turned out, but I wasn’t the only pro in the class. Here are some of the other beautiful cakes that my classmates made:


Check out the basket-weave detailing by my classmate, Jane! Her patience and steady hand paid off, her cake was beautiful!

Ellie’s gorgeous cake also made use of the basket-weave. Her carrot cake was visually my favorite of the day with it’s little carrot garnish made of apricot jam and kiwi.

I was so impressed with everyone’s decorating talent! Not only were the cakes extremely attractive but they tasted phenomenal as well and provided a substantial sugar high despite the health-supportive ingredients πŸ™‚

intro to baking

Today was the first of what I’m sure will be magical weeks of excellence because it was the first day of our baking segment! I was giddy all day and it wasn’t even because of a sugar high… that comes tomorrow πŸ™‚

We didn’t actually bake today, instead class consisted of a baking lecture demo and then a lecture about converting traditional baked goods into vegan health-supportive ones. Tomorrow we will be converting standard recipes like Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies into vegan cookies by replacing one ingredient at a time. I’m excited!

Today we learned all about different flours.. Did you know that the climate in which wheat is grown affects the kind of baked goods it will produce? Flours from wheat grown in the North are heavier and have a higher protein and gluten content than those grown in the South. Northern wheat is better suited for yeast breads whereas the Β lower gluten content in Southern flour is better for pastries. We also learned about leaveners and the difference between baking soda and baking powder. I was surprised that baking powder is just baking soda with an acid (cream of tartar) added in because I always thought it was the other way around!

The chef showed us three different cakes using the three leavening methods:

  1. Chemical leaveners like baking soda and baking powder
  2. Butter and sugar that has been whipped
  3. Egg foams

The first cake was a vegan Carob Walnut Cake that used chemical leaveners. Carob is one of those ingredients that sounds so hippy-dippy and health-nutty that I was dubious of how this cake would taste but it was excellent. I want to recreate this at home ASAP!

I really liked it πŸ™‚

The second cake was actually not a cake but cookies. Why did I call it a cake? It was shortbread cookies, aka The Food of my People. Shortbread contains a ridiculous amount of butter and uses the whipped butter to leaven. This shortbread uses maple crystals instead of white sugar so that’s why it’s kind of brown. I always thought that the little holes in shortbread were for decorative purposes but they are actually there for some of the steam from the butter to escape. Cool right?

I was trying to think of some way to veganize it but I don’t think there’s any way to get that butter flavor. If I replaced it with coconut oil and gave it to my shortbread-loving Scottish mother, she would probably not be impressed. The last cake the chef baked was a Genois that uses whipped eggs as the leavener.

I’m so excited to get my bake on tomorrow!

When I got home from class I drank some kombucha, went to yoga and then came home and saw this weird rash on my arm. It’s raised, hurts when I press it and really freaks me out…

I also have this weird growth on my lap… I wonder what it could be…