No, you can't borrow my knife

This week and last was all about cake baking. I never did enjoy baking, frosting and decorating cakes. And although I learned the proper way to level, crumb coat and frost cakes this week, I’m still not crazy about the whole process. I think it’s because I don’t really enjoy eating frosted cake.

Valencia’s “career program” curriculum came shining through this week as we were kind of left to our own accord again. Instead of a demo, we watched a video last week on how to crumb coat a cake. Key phrase is “last week.” Hardly anyone in the class remembered we had baked cakes in the first place, let alone watched a video on how to crumb coat and frost.

At the beginning of class, Chef asked us to save the cake scraps for decoration by crumbing them up and adding them to the frosted cake to hide any mistakes. This wasn’t explained very well and most everyone in the class was confused about scrap crumbs vs. a crumb coat. Yeah.

I must have looked like I knew what I was doing (which I really didn’t), because I answered the same question at least four or five times for students who, like me, were kind of wondering what the heck we were supposed to be doing. Without instruction, I just did what I’ve watched people on TV do, and what I’ve seen in bakeries. And honestly, if I hadn’t watched so much television, read books on my own about baking and cooking, I’d probably be asking the very same questions my classmates were asking.

A note to my classmates: stop borrowing my stuff
Help is one thing. I’m always happy to help a fellow classmate with questions. However, using my knives and equipment is absolutely out of the question. And this week, everyone seemed to be OK helping themselves to my offset spatulas, chef’s knife and who knows what else. After the third, “Is this yours?” question about equipment coming to me from the dishroom, I shut it down. I put everything away – my knives, my garnishing kit, measuring spoons, cups, spatulas. Everything. “Can I borrow your…” was quickly ended with a firm, “No. Where is yours?” “Oh, I didn’t bring it.” I guess that’s too bad for you then, isn’t it? (I didn’t say that last part – my facial expression sure did)

I did bring my serrated knife out at the end of the night to cut our cake. There are 20 people in our class and only two knives made it to the presentation table. I cut our cake into slices, served, and before I knew it, “Can I borrow your knife for just a second.” I passed it over to D (the boy who talks too much, but has since grown on me). Then one of the girls in the class asked the same question. I looked her square in the eye and said in my mom-voice, “Where is your knife?” “I already put it away.” “Well, I’m washing mine and putting it away as well, so you should probably go get yours.” She looked a little surprised and I didn’t really care.

So, the night left us with a funky cake – R, TR and I all had a chance to level and slice a tier. And we each cut them in different thicknesses (not on purpose), so our layers looked a little crazy. We also ran out of buttercream for piping, so we used shards of chocolate that had been silkscreened with designs. It turned out to be an abstract, wacky cake. I thought it looked kind of cool. Everyone else’s cakes looked like they came from the grocery store bakery, all Stepford and identical. But ours represented me, R and TR very well – we get the job done, but definitely in our own quirky way.

Next week, laminated doughs.

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NCP is a California State approved College of Nursing that serves the San Francisco Bay Area. Our nursing programs are attended by many students from nearby of San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, Pacifica, Millbrae, Brisbane, San Mateo, Burlingame, Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Union City, Fremont, Concord and San Jose.