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Sugar Work (Pastry School Flashbacks)

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One of my goals for this year is to start practicing my neglected sugar work skills again. Last week’s cupcakes gave me the motivation to round up all of my equipment. Now that I have it located and dusted off, I’m hoping to relearn what I used to know and share the techniques here as I revisit them. In the meantime, I’ve been looking over my old notes and pictures to refresh my memory. Inspired by the post Hayley did at Hayley Bakes of her “vintage” cakes, I thought it would be fun to do something similar with my old pastry school photos, starting with the sugar stuff. (These photos were all taken with my old point and shoot digital camera, or even worse my digital video camera’s still photo function for the first few, so they look a little different from my usual!)

First, a comparison. This was the first showpiece I ever made:

Sugar Work - My First Showpiece

And this is the one I made nine months later for my graduation portfolio review and reception:

Sugar Work - Dolphin Showpiece

The sugar technique on my cupcakes last week, as cute as I think they turned out, falls slightly closer to the first showpiece than the last on my ability spectrum, so I have some ground to make up.

In my defense, that first showpiece was not designed by me in any way, shape, or form, but the execution was all me (except for the ribbons, which look pretty good but were made by the instructor). Maybe it was a good thing that I really didn’t like the design or the colors, because at the time it took my mind off of how frustrated I was that I couldn’t make the sugar do what I wanted it to.

This was back during my first quarter of pastry school. Our chef instructor for that term offered three-day showpiece workshops out of his home, and I was really excited to take the chocolate one. He was also offering a sugar work workshop. I wasn’t sure that I was that interested in it, but Chris and I decided that I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to learn the skill, so I signed up for both the sugar and chocolate classes.

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