Newcastle, NSW, Australia
I’m a former industrial chemist, and after deciding on a career change while at home with my two young children, I’m now a qualified pastry chef. In 2009 I started taking some classes in cake decorating and other pastry-related cookery, and taught myself many more decorating techniques from books and internet resources. In 2010 I started a pastry apprenticeship, studying Retail Baking (Cake & Pastry) Certificate III at TAFE, which I completed with Distinction in 2012. I completed my apprenticeship in December 2013, and am now working as a full time Pastry chef and Cake Decorator at 'Exquisite Cakes by Lennert' in Cessnock, NSW.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Purple Lilies

Okay, so I'm taking a break from doing cakes at home at the moment, but as it turns out we're doing a wedding cake at work this week!  We don't actually have that much cake decorating gear at the patisserie, so I figured it would be easier to make the flowers at home than lug all my gear to work... but having said that, I'll be packing myself a bit of a tool kit to take with me for the rest of the week to work on the actual cake.



So these are my purple 'fantasy lilies.' For the uninitiated, 'fantasy flower' is a cake decorator's technical term for a decoration that looks like a flower but doesn't try to resemble any particular variety of real-world flower and/or doesn't attempt to be botanically correct. These lilies certainly aren't... I just copied the picture of what the customer wants!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Winnie the Pooh Cake

The last cake from before my study break was a first birthday cake for Mia, whose christening cake I did back in May.  The plastic figureine was supplied by the customer, and the cake design was modelled off one of the "suggested use" pictures from the ad for the figurine.

First Birthday/Baptism Cake

I'm currently on a short "cake break" while I focus on my TAFE assignments and upcoming exams, but just a quick catch up of the two cakes I did earlier this month... firstly a teddy bear cake for a little boy's first birthday and baptism.  The teddy was modelled to resemble 'Bear' the birthday boy's favourite toy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Black & White Wedding Cake

I'm almost three months into my apprenticeship and life is STILL a blur... the last cake I had on the books before the job opportunity came up was also my first real wedding cake, and it was two weeks ago!  As usual, better late than never...




I had a slight hiccup the night before the wedding due to my underestimation of how much fondant it would take to cover a 16 inch square board... two trips to the supermarket and several covering attempts later, I was finally able to stack the cakes.  It was a much later night than expected getting it finished, but I still "made it to the church on time," so to speak!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Scooby Doo

One downside of the new job is that I can't take the kids to playgroup any more... this Scooby Doo cake was for one of their little friends.

Minnie Mouse

At the time I started my new job I only had three more confirmed cake orders on the books, so I decided to just complete those orders and not take any more until further notice.  Minnie Mouse was done during the first week of my apprenticeship, for an old school friend's daughter's birthday.

Upsy Daisy Mark II

It seems so long ago now... I was working on another Upsy Daisy cake for the weekend when the job opportunity came up.  When I made my daughter's Upsy Daisy, the hair didn't work out the way wanted it too, so I didn't have much choice but to stick it down on her forehead.  I always thought that if I ever did another Upsy Daisy I'd put her on a bigger board and fan out her hair... MUCH better!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I'm An Apprentice!!!

How life can change in the blink of an eye!  On the day of my last blog post, I received a phone call from an "employment agency for apprentice chefs" place that I registered with ages ago, asking me if I was still looking for a pastry apprenticeship.  That was a Friday afternoon, I had an interview on Saturday morning, and I started my new job at 321 Patisserie (http://321p.com.au/) in Argenton the following Monday, and then the Monday after that was my long-awaited first day at TAFE.

Even though I've been apprenticeship-hunting for almost a year, when it finally happened, it happened so suddenly I barely had time to think... we had to re-shuffle day care and find a second car ASAP.  Going straight into full-time work after four years at home with the kids was tiring to say the least, and I also had a cake to do during the first week.  But I got through it, and by half-way through the second week we'd found another car, which made life MUCH easier.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fairy Doll Cake

Fairy Doll cake... baked in a Dolly Varden tin, covered and piped with buttercream to tie in with the style of the doll's dress, which was supplied by the customer.

Harely Cake

Harley Davidson theme cake for a double birthday celebration

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Zumbo-licious!

I MET ADRIANO ZUMBO TODAY!!!!! (write-up to come... story of my life!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cameron's Birthday Cake

Happy 4th Birthday Cameron!  Here we go... yoooOOO GABBA GABAAAAAA!!!!!!!




Friday, August 6, 2010

Rush Job...

The "fourth of three cakes" this week, for a combined birthday party at playgroup for Cameron and four other kids with birthdays around the same time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

70th Birthday Cake

Third one to catch up before the next wave hits (working on another three this week!), a 70th birthday cake.

School's Out!

Second catch-up cake from the beginning of July, the first cake on my "official" books... a blackboard cake for a retiring high school teacher.

Playboy Bunny II

First of my three catch-up cakes... another Playboy Bunny from late June.  A customer loved the one I did for Amie last year and asked me to do one for her daughter's birthday.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba models

I was feeling a bit nostalgic coming up to my blog's first birthday, so I had a look back at my earlier posts.  Boy, was I keen back then... multiple posts with several progress pictures each for every cake!  I guess everything was new and exciting early on, now it's a bit "another week, another cake" and I just want to get the job done rather than take the extra time to pull out the tripod every few hours.  Anyway, in honour of the early days, here's a progress picture for Cameron's upcoming 4th birthday cake...


Yo Gabba Gabba seems to be his favourite show these days, so I've made icing models of the characters to sit on his cake.  Apart from being somewhat fiddly and time-consuming, they really weren't that hard to do.  When you "break it down" (as DJ Lance would say) they're all made up of fairly simple shapes, just a lot of them.  I put a reference photo up on my monitor to copy from, and one character at a time, one feature at a time, one shape at a time... Foofa, Plex, Muno, Brobee and Toodee one by one appeared in my hands.

One Year On

It was one year ago today that I started my cake decorating blog... so once again, Happy Birthday to the horses and those who share their birthday with them, and Happy 1st Birthday Kylie’s Cakes & Things. One year ago I was getting ready for my first serious attempt at cake decorating for my son Cameron’s 3rd birthday. Now my boy is nearly 4, and looking down the row of thumbnails in my side-bar reminds me of just how much I’ve learned and achieved in the last 12 months.

I've baked and decorated over 20 special occasion cakes for friends, family and paying customers, as well as dozens of decorated cookies, and countless other recipes and baking experiments that didn't even get recorded.  I've gone from taking a few decorating classes as part of a long term plan to retrain as a pastry chef to being a self-employed cake decorator.  I'm also on the doorstep of my busiest week yet... Cameron's birthday cake plus two for customers, my first ever 3 cake week!

The greatest disappointment of the past year is that I haven't been able to find work.  Although cake decorating has become my main focus, I wanted to be a pastry chef first and foremost, and that is still my long-term dream.  If I'm not being turned down by employers that aren't interested in taking mature-age apprentices, I'm being overlooked in favour of others who already have some experience in the industry.  Still, I'm not giving up... further delays with the TAFE kitchen renovations notwithstanding, I start my Retail Baking studies later this month, and hopefully that elusive "foot in the door" moment will come along.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My KitchenAid!!!

Here's something else that should have been blog-worthy at the time it happened... I am now the proud owner of a KitchenAid KSM150 Artisan stand mixer.  When I first started cake decorating I was still using a tired old Kambrook mixer, the first cheapo mixmaster that I bought when I moved out of home.  It died a few cakes later (it had never been worked that hard before!), and my mother-in-law Joanne came to the rescue.  Rohan asked her if I could borrow her mixer for the next cake I needed to do, but as she doesn't do any baking any more, she gave it to me.

I didn't like to complain since it was a gift, but apart from the fact that it had a working motor, that mixer was no better than my old one.  It's the first mixer I've ever seen that doesn't have a turntable that automatically spins the bowl while it's running, and there was also a distinct gap between the bowl and the bottom of the beaters.  While mixing I had to manually turn the bowl with one hand and have a spatula in the other to keep folding the ingredients back in toward the beaters, and I also had to periodically lift the beaters to scrape underneath where they didn't reach the bowl.  But as I said, I couldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, and that mixer was actually accompanied with a promise of better things to come.

Joanne's father had passed away a few months earlier, and Grandy (as he was affectionately known to Rohan and the rest of his grandkids) had wanted Joanne and her brother Phil to spend his money on themselves and their families.  Joanne promised to buy her four boys and their partners each a special gift when Grandy's estate came through, and she said right from the start that she wanted to buy me a new mixmaster and I was to spare no expense in getting the best.  Late last year I made a cake that I called "Roses for Joanne" as a thankyou gift for my mother-in-law... one of the reasons for making her that cake was a HUGE thanks-in-advance for the promise of a shiny new KitchenAid.


I've had my new baby for a few months now, and I absolutely LOVE it!  It's such a refreshing change to be able to weigh and sift my flour WHILE the butter and sugar are creaming!  I haven't tried the whisk attachment yet, but from reviews I've read it apparently does awesome meringue and pavlova.  The only thing I find that it's not so great at is mixing small quantities of indgredients at everything tends to just smear on the sides of the bowl and stay there, but for the most part it's fantastic.  I've still kept the other mixer which I occasionally use for small quantity mixing, and the motor also detaches and can be used as a hand-held, so I can use it if I want to make a zabaglione or anything else that needs to be mixed over hot water.  All-in all, though, I'm VERY happy with my KitchenAid.  I've said it before and I'll say it again... thanks Joanne.

Friday, July 30, 2010

First Two Cupcakes

I haven't done much with cupcakes yet other than what I did in the classes, but I now have two simple designs available for sale through my Facebook page.  Whenever I have some time to spare when I'm not working on cakes, I try to do a bit of "product development" so that I can keep expanding my range and have more to offer customers.  Some cupcake stands are fairly high on the wishlist too.


“Swirl ‘n’ Sparkle” Cupcakes. Madeira cupcakes topped with a swirl of buttercream and sparkling with cashous, colours can be adapted to suit any occasion. Buttercream (pictured in mauve) can be any colour you like. Large cashous (pictured in pink) are also available in gold, silver, blue or green. $2.50 each, minimum order 1 dozen.


“Chocolate Lovers” Cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes topped with a swirl of chocolate buttercream and two chocolate hearts. Nice idea for an engagement party, or maybe even a wedding for those looking for an alternative to the traditional white. $3.00 each, minimum order 1 dozen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Catching Up

Whoa, what happened to July???  I blinked and almost missed it!  Unfornately blogging is something I find it hard to get back into once I get out of the habit.  I'm three cakes and a few other bits and pieces behind... I did another Playboy Bunny similar to the one I did last year in late June, then two more cakes (both at fairly short notice) in early July got my business off to a good start.  I have another three coming up next week too, so if I don't catch up soon, I probably never will!

So, what else has been happening?  I've finally enrolled at TAFE to start Retail Baking this semester, however Fate has intervened yet again... I was supposed to start this week, but the bakery classroom renovations still aren't finished and my classes have been delayed until late August.  Grrr...

Then there was MasterChef... congratulations Adam, but more interesting than the competition itself for me were the amazing creations from Adriano Zumbo.  The V8 Cake in particular captured my attention like no other... I spent hours poring over the recipe, and if I knew where to get all the fancy specialist ingredients from, I wouldn't hesitate to give it a try!  And not only that, but in the same week that I decided to crown Adriano Zumbo my culinary hero, I found out that he's going to be at the Hunter Valley Gardens Chocolate Festival next month... I'm stoked beyond belief to have booked a place in a Master Class with the patissier extraodinaire.  I'm counting down the days with great anticipation... 10 to go!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Adventures...

It's a new finacial year, and today is the day that I officially step up from hobby to business.  I don't have an ABN yet and I don't expect to make enough money in my first year to trouble the tax-man, but as of today I'm operating from a separate business account and keeping proper financial records.  My new-look Facebook page is also now online at http://facebook.com/kyliescakes, with this vision of pink roses and ivy starring as my new profile picture.


This is my first "wedding cake" ... it's a real cake, but not for a real wedding. I loved the way the flowers for our anniversary cake turned out so much that I kept them to make this wedding cake, which is now the "face" of my business. Even though it was only made for a photo-shoot, I still made a real cake because I wanted to get a feel for the "construction" side of making a multi-tiered cake before I was actually asked to make one. I also wanted to try another new flavour, Jaffa mud cake... in the wake of the Choc-Mint mud cake success, I really wanted to try a jaffa cake as Rohan and I are both huge fans of the chocolate-orange flavour combination. The jaffa worked just as well as the choc-mint, and I've added both to my list of flavours available for customer's cakes.


And here it is, the same photo starring on my first business card!  I had a bit of fun on Vistaprint playing around with designs, but this is the one I kept coming back to.  I've gone with my own name, so technically the business name is "Kylie Skellams" and Special Occasion Cakes is what I do... saves coming up with and paying to register another business name, and this way I can use my personal tax file number for business activities so there's a lot less hassle and paperwork.  Interesting times ahead... let's see where this new venture takes me!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mia's Christening Cake

Word-of-mouth is working well for me... this christening cake was for a friend of a friend's cousin! The design is a composite of a couple of different pictures that the customer couldn't decide between. It's also the largest single cake I've baked so far... an 11 inch round chocolate mud cake. This and the last two cakes were all needed to serve around 50 people, but the others were each made up of two separate cakes.

Mia's Christening Cake

Close-up of rattle

Close-up of bootees

Friday, May 28, 2010

Will You Marry Me?

I kept the flowers from my anniversary cake intending to make a "practise wedding cake" to get a feel for the construction side of making a multi-tiered cake before I was asked to do one.  However the orders kept coming over the last few weeks (not that that's a bad thing... I certainly appreciate the business!) and I hadn't gotten around to it before I had this request for an engagement party cake shaped like a ring box ... so my first attempt at inserting dowels and stacking cakes ended up being for a customer anyway!  And because of the design, there was "nowhere to hide" ... no ribbon trims or shell borders, so the edges all had to be as neat as possible.


The customer asked me if I could make a choc-mint mud cake... I'd never made one before, but a slight modification to my usual mud cake recipe with some Creme de Menthe flavouring added worked perfectly.  The cakes were covered with white chocolate fondant, which also tastes absolutely gorgeous... just like white chocolate fudge!  The success of the choc-mint mud cake has also inspired me to try more flavours... in the process of testing choc-mint I made a small cake to be the top tier of the practise wedding cake, and I'm thinking Jaffa is on the cards for the larger bottom tier.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catch of the Day!

This was my first hand-cut novelty cake, for a fisherman's 40th birthday.  The customer's only request that it be a realistic looking fish, not a Nemo or animated style that you'd see for a kids birthday cake.  I made two square white chocolate mud cakes, put them side by side, then cut away the corners to make the rough shape of a fish body.  I then used the off-cut pieces to shape the head/mouth end and lenghthen the tail, then it was a matter of carving to round the edges and refine the fish shape, and cover the whole thing with white chocolate icing to smooth it out.


I covered the fish with grey fondant, then coloured it by dry-brushing with petal dust and lustre powders.  For the ocean effect, I put the cake on the board and then swirled blue and aqua royal icing around it.  The banner was made from modelling paste and set into the royal on the board while it was still wet.  The last step was the fins, which I cut free-hand from grey modelling paste and pleated by repeatedly pressing in a bamboo skewer, then coloured with the same dry-brushing technique, and sugar-glued them in place on the body.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shoes & Handbag Cake

Kevin, the CDA Hunter president, demonstrated making shoes and handbags at the first meeting of this year.  I posted pictures on my Facebook page and said I'd buy the cutters if anyone wanted them done for a cake... one of the mums at my kids playgroup fell in love with them, and the rest is history.  This is the Mothers Day cake I made for her...

Happy Mothers Day!

Cookies gain for Mothers Day!  As with Easter, I didn't get around to advertising on my blog, but I had well and truly enough orders through my Facebook connections to keep me busy this week!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gardener's Birthday Cake

60th Birthday cake for an old school friend's dad.  I can't take credit for the design concept, though... the customer gave me pictures of two similar cakes that I worked off.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z theme birthday cake for the son of one of the mums at my kids playgroup.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our 5th Anniversary

My husband and I celebrated 5 years of marriage last Friday... I was a little behind schedule getting our cake done, but better late than never!  Just photos for now, will try to do a proper write-up in the next few days.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!!!  We just had our kids first Easter Egg hunt... it was so much fun seeing the surprised looks on their faces as they followed the trail of little eggs from their bedroom door to the lounge room, where there were bigger ones scattered around for them to find.


Meanwhile, I sold cookies again for Easter, but I didn't advertise them in my madeit shop because the last time I posted cookies they arrived damaged, so I'm unfortunately having to re-think mail order cookies.  I only promoted them to Newcastle locals on my Facebook page, but still managed to sell seven packs.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Upsy Daisy, here I come!

My daughter Rebecca's 2nd birthday was last Monday, but I've been flat out with Easter cookies this week and haven't gotten around to posting.  It's long-gone now, but this is the Upsy Daisy cake I made for her...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dawn & Harrison

I made these two cakes for a former co-worker the week before last, for her mother's 70th birthday and her baby boy's naming ceremony.  They were both done for the same day, and with less than a week's notice, so the designs are very simple... both feature the quick fondant rosebuds that Marilyn showed us in class a few weeks ago.



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baby Cookies

My husband's family welcomed two new arrivals in February, and I made these cookies for the proud parents...



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fourth & Final Intermediate Class

Dang... when life gets hectic, blogging always seems to be the first thing to fall by the wayside, and once I get out of the habit I keep forgetting to start up again.  I have a fair bit to catch up on, but I'd better start with the final session of the Intermediate class, considering I now only have one session to go of the Advanced course!

In the final night of the Intermediate class, which was actually three weeks ago (and I almost forgot to go altogether thanks to having a busy week, plus I was completely out of routine because the kids were sick and not at day care) we made a hibiscus using the five petal cutter. No photos again due to my flower being a somewhat pathetic specimen... I've since "retired" (ie. thrown out) the rest of that batch of flower paste.  I think I made it a bit too dry to start with, and it was getting quite old and difficult to work with. 

So that's it for the intermediate class... unfortunately out of the four weeks I didn't end up producing anything that I felt was worthy of photographing, but it's all still a pretty steep learning curve.  I've been making different types of orchids the last three weeks in the Advanced class and will be doing lilies next week in the final session.  I've never been a fan of orchids as a garden plant, but the sugar ones I've been making in class have turned out OK.  Since I'm so far behind with my blogging, I've already decided to just write up the Advanced class as one entry next week when it's all over.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Naughty Cupcakes Class

Another one-off cupcake decorating class this afternoon, Naughty Cupcakes!  You know it's a fun class when the teacher asks "does anyone else need any help with their bums?"  The corset and undies cakes are small heart-shaped cakes covered in skin-tone fondant, with moulded balls of fondant underneath to shape the boobs and bum.  We then used coloured fondant to "dress" them however we wanted.... corsets, bras, bikinis, hotpants, whatever took our fancy. 


For the square cake, Marilyn actually demonstrated a model of a hunky guy in bed half under a sheet, but she doesn't mind if we have other ideas and want to go our own way.  When I enrolled for this class I did a bit of Googling out of curiosity to get an idea of what it might entail, and I remember seeing cakes that were beds with feet sticking out the bottom in a... ahem... "suggestive" pose.  Call me lazy, but I decided feet were easier to model than a waist-up person.  I have to give Marilyn credit for the undies strewn over the bed, though... it was her idea, and I think it turned out to be a brilliant finishing touch.

Third Intermediate Class

Part Three of the make-it-up-as-we-go-along Intermediate course... we made filler flowers for most of the night, then one of the girls wanted to know how to make a rabbit model for Easter cupcakes, and Marilyn decided to show us a quick fondant rosebud that a student had actually shown her how to do.  I think I might have seen it myself on YouTube early on when I was looking for rose demonstrations... I probably didn't pay much attention to it because I was looking up how to do flower paste roses at the time, but they would make great decorations for cupcakes.  They certainly look better than the "ribbon roses" we did way back in the orignial cupcake class.

I'm not even going to bother getting the camera out for the filler flowers I made... the batch of flower paste I've been taking to class is a bit old and dry, and by the time you stop and start and wait for everyone to catch up to the next step of the demonstration they're already starting to dry and crack, so they're really not much to look at.  Some of the others made a few of each type that we were shown, but I just made one of each and spent a fair bit of time looking at Marylin's books and magazines.  Well, I can practise making flowers at home... I think flicking through magzines while I have access to them is time well spent.  So many ideas, not enough hours in the day, or days in the week!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Improved Roses!

Slack, slack, slack... not only was this rose spray an on-again off-again project that took a month to actually finish from the day I started making the roses, I finished it over a week ago and kept forgetting to put up the photo!  Ah well, better late than never.  Here it is, the result of experimenting with a new rose cutter and method...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Second Intermediate Class

Last night's class was Brush Emroidery, plus a demonstration of tiering.  I'm not sure if I even want to photograph my somewhat pathetic first attempt at brush embroidery... it didn't really work at all.  I think the brush I was using may have been too soft to drag the icing out properly... to have the brush wet enough to drag the icing at all basically meant that it was so wet it made the icing go too runny to hold the brush marks.  Without the visible brush strokes to resemble embroidery stitches, it looked more like brush organza!

Thanks to the disorganisation of this term's classes, who knows what we're going to do next week, the week after, or for that matter in the next course.  Marilyn had been planning to teach us philanopsis orchids in this course, but according to the course notes provided by the college, they are supposed to be in the Advanced class that's on after the Intermideiate.  We decided on (at least) filler flowers next week... I guess I'll just take some flower paste and my entire cutter collection and hope for the best.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wedding Bomboniere Cookies

New Wedding Cookies!!!  "Bride & Groom" and "Deluxe Bride & Groom" cookies.  Please see my Facebook page or visit http://madeit.com.au/KyliesCakes for more information.


Friday, February 12, 2010

First Intermediate Class

This term's round of cake classes kicked off on Wednesday night.  Having enrolled in this class because I wanted to learn tiering and draping (as per the course description on the college web site) I was a bit annoyed when my course comfirmation notes arrived to find that two out of the four sessions were the same tiger lilies and frangipanis that I did last year.  I went along to the first session on Wednesday not expecting to be staying, but found out when I arrived that the college had sent the wrong information to students.  Marilyn had only found out herself in the previous day or two, so realising no-one would have the right gear with them, she made the first night a demonstration class.

We were shown how to do different types of drapes and swags, as well as bows and frills.  I'm glad I've never tried any of these before as I thought they were all done with fondant, but Marylin used a half-and-half mixture of fondant and flower paste.  Fondant on its own is too soft and flower paste dries too quickly, but a combination of the two gives a mixture that can be rolled thinly and draped to look like fabric without drying and cracking.  I'm so keen to try this now!!!

Meanwhile, after getting all excited about starting TAFE this semester, it still isn't happening... I turned up to enroll last week only to find that the renovations affect Retail Baking as well and they're not taking new enrolments until July either.  GRRR... back to the old drawing board, and still looking for a pastry cook apprenticeship.  On the other hand, the home business is starting to pick up a little... I've sold a few dozen Valentine cookies, and had a couple of enquiries about wedding cookies and cakes.  I'm already working on some wedding cookie designs, and I hope to have samples done in the next week or so.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Valentine Cookies

ADVERTISEMENT: Surprise the one you love this Valentine's Day with a gift pack of delicious home-baked cookies, beautifully hand decorated with strawberry and chocolate flavoured icing.  Free pick-up or delivery in the Newcastle-ish area of New South Wales, or mail order anywhere else in Australia.



Half dozen, $8 local or $13 mail order
Full dozen, $15 local or $21 mail order

To order, please send the appropriate payment via PayPal to kyliescakes@netspace.net.au with "Valentine Cookies" in the Subject field and your address in the Message field. Please order by 5th February for mail order or 10th February for local orders to allow time for baking, decorataing, and delivery in time for Valentine's Day. Cookies will be baked and shipped to arrive as close as possible to Valentine's Day to ensure maximum freshness.  The above photograph is representative of cookie designs, your gift pack will contain a selection of these or similar designs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Decision Time

I've made the decision, and part of me is feeling the need to write it down somewhere that the whole world can see it before I change my mind again... I AM STARTING TAFE THIS SEMESTER!!!  The Hospitality (Patisserie) certificate that I've been wanting to do isn't being offered at the moment because Hamilton TAFE is renovating some of its classrooms...  however, I found out earlier this week that they are still offering Retail Baking this semester.

Now, Retail Baking was what I originally wanted to do when I first decided that Pastry Chef was the way  to go, but that was only until I found out that Patisserie existed.  It was the phrase "using baking equipment and machinery" that then turned me off the Retail certificate (me being a big fan of hand-work and all!), and I started leaning towards Patisserie because it seemed to have less emphasis on mass-production.

So all well and good, I was just going to wait until Patisserie was up and running again, but then things took another interesting turn this week.  We already had day care confirmed for both the kids for three days a week, but when I took them on their first day for the year their carer said some other families had pulled out and she could now take them for the full five days if we wanted.  After a huge internal struggle with mother-guilt ("it's so I can be up and off to work at a moment's notice if I find a job, not because I'm a lazy mother paying someone else to look after my kids while I sit on my butt at home"), we decided to take the extra days.

Then the next twist of the rollercoaster was the letter from Centrelink stating that we only qualify for 24 hours of Child Care Benefit per child per week, and that blows full-time day care out of the water... unless I'm working and/or studying.  So I hit the TAFE web site again last night and took a good, hard look at the two certificates sided by side.  Once I convinced myself to look past the word "machinery," I started to realise that Retail might actually be more in line with what I want to do.

In a nutshell, Retail is geared towards working in "hot bread shops, cake shops, franchises, in-store bakeries and similar outlets" and Patisserie heads towards "patisseries, restaurants, hotels, catering operations, clubs, pubs, cafes and coffee shops."  By the end of last night I was about 50-50, but the more I thought about it, the more the pendulum swung back toward Retail.  It's not all about whether or not things are mass-produced, and looking at the subject list, it seems like there will still plenty of hand-work as well.

So this is it... I'm almost a student again!  It's been eleven years since I finished my Chemistry Diploma, which was the last time I did any serious study.  Enrollment is on the 1st & 2nd of February, and courses commence the following week.  Now the adventure REALLY begins!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Cookie Decorating

Flooding, feathering, and other piping fanciness...


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alphabet Biscuits

My first attempt at "flooding" ...