Friday, September 16, 2011


Enter local contests! You all know me and Intentional Winning. I love to enter local contests. I am entered in one this coming weekend - an Iron Chef Challenge at the Honey Festival. We have one hour to assemble an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert. All must include honey and the secret ingredient that will be revealed to us 24 hours before the event.

Being a baker, I created my dessert recipe from scratch, completely original! My appetizer was my brainchild with inspiration from one I saw but disliked the combination of ingredients and my main dish is one of Dave's favorite recipes. Dave also created a cocktail for me to serve the judges first. It noted in the rules we could do that if we wanted to but no extra credit would be given. Can't hurt! I will share my actual dishes next week and let you know what happened.

I've entered and won a number of contests including first place at the Mandarin Festival last year and also a cupcake and cookie contest. Entering contests not only pushes you in the area of originality but presentation, too. You have to do something that is not the norm, if you come up with your idea too easily, it's not original. You need to think of not only what tastes good, but how to layer flavors, choose ingredients that compliment each other and have a variety of textures. There's more to it than meets the eye, so give it a try. It's a great experience and when you start winning, people will want to know who you are and where they can buy your goodies!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Take a Part Time Job

Taking a part time job may not work for everyone, but it's one of the best ways to learn a craft. Not only will you learn the basics, but you will likely pick up tricks of the trade and in a best case scenario, you will get food health and safety training - the kind of stuff that the people who will pay you down the road, whether they are a company hiring you (restaurant, bakery, etc) or a private party will love that you know.

If it's in your schedule to take a part time job, it could be one day a week (a weekend) to work in a shop or possibly you could work specialty events for a bakery. You know, Rachel Ray got her start by doing demos in grocery stores to show customers how to prepare less common vegetables and ingredients. Seriously!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bake! Bake! And Bake Some More!

The best way to get good at something is to do it! Practice makes perfect, but we all know there is no such thing as perfect. Find recipes that have a picture, I think that is important. If you can follow a recipe and create a dessert to make it look like it's supposed to look, then there isn't much you can't do with sugar, flour, butter and all the other good stuff we use when we bake.

I make this an orange road because it's like that you are already doing this, but maybe not challenging yourself. Make things you've never made or things you think might be too difficult for you. Look closely at the photo and see what you think it takes to create the effect. When you start doing this and sharing with neighbors and coworkers, you will get valuable feedback. You will also surprise yourself and how much you really can accomplish and that will build your confidence. When you believe in yourself, so many more people will believe in you, too!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Take Quick & Easy Classes

There are craft stores and bakery supply stores that teach cake and cupcake decorating classes. The classes in the craft stores are usually your basic skill classes and the bakery supply stores often offer not only the introductory classes, but advanced classes dealing with techniques like decorating with fondant, and marzipan. If you really want to get into the industry, take some wedding cake classes! It's all fun!

I suggest these classes for initial Orange Roads because they are typically very inexpensive and take just a few hours in the evening or on a Saturday. If you find you like where you're going, I would say the next step would be to look into community college classes, certificate programs and even culinary schools with an emphasis on pastry. It may seem premature at this point to think of going to culinary school, but why not? Dream big and you just might find the Orange Roads rising up to meet you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Food Network

This may sound obvious, but if you want to be in the cooking/food profession, I can't imagine you are not watching many different shows they air. Everything from food trucks, to strange food from foreign countries, to Cupcake Wars, and Ace of Cakes. There is virtually something for everyone.

I love the Food Network and though I know it is "show business" and for entertainment purposes, not everything you see is the way it really is. My thought is just that there is so many things you can pursue in the world of pastry and baking. Watching cooking/baking shows is a good way to learn and be inspired. Anytime you can find inspiration, that's a good day!

For more information and scheduling of so many wonderful programs, visit

Monday, September 5, 2011

Talk to Someone Who Knows!

If you want to be a baker, and by professional I mean work in a commercial kitchen you need to talk to someone who knows! I can't stress this enough. Baking at home and baking as a profession are two completely different things.

I worked for a large grocery store chain when I was barely in my 20s (okay, this validates my experience in terms of years but also ages me!)so I got paid to learn to decorate cakes and bake in a commercial bakery. This was both good and bad. The good part is that I learned a lot and gained tons of real-life experience. The flip side of that is that I didn't always learn the proper way to do things. You see, working in a commercial bakery requires you meet some pretty rigorous volume standards. If my memory serves me, my manual required I decorate 90 single layer Black Forrest cakes (chocolate cake filled with cherries, iced in white buttercream icing with cherries on top. Dollops of icing around the edges and sides finished with chocolate cake crumbs) in one hour - yes, nine-zero! This particular grocery chain had a research team that determined if you did every step exactly as they had spelled out, it could be done. Well, maybe it could, but I never did 90 in one hour. However, in an attempt to try, I cut corners, worked in a mess, and certainly did not put my love of baking into those cakes!

Take the first step and go visit bakeries. Ask to speak with the baker, cake decorator, bakery manager, and bakery owner if it's a smaller shop. Ask them what they think the ups and downs are. How many hours a week do they work? Do they have to get up at 3 or 4 AM to start work? Finally, ask them if working as a baker is as much fun as it was when they did it "for fun." Talk to someone who knows, it's the first step and in my opinion, an important one.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Want to be a Baker

This Dream Not Come True has come across my e-mail several times and I've hesitated to address it. Why? Because I bake and it seems so simple to me to make this one come true. Shame on me! Just because something is easy for me doesn't make is so for the next guy.

I'm picking September to travel Orange Roads to making your dreams of baking or being a Baker or Pastry Chef come true because I do think it's easier than you might realize and it's a good time to prep you for the upcoming holiday season. What better time to try some fun cookies and cake recipes? Oh, and I have some Intentional Winning to mix in for a little added entertainment!

This is going to be lots of fun so let's get baking!