I made a confectionery cookbook. In my cookbook, I found a holiday for every month; international and in the US, and found, developed and modified recipes to fit within the holiday’s culture. Usually I would either try to find desserts eaten during the holiday, but if I could not, I would find popular desserts from that country or ingredients that native to that country and incorporate those instead. I chose this project because my family does a lot of baking. My cousin actually teaches a baking class and enters competitions where she develops her own recipes and I felt really inspired to try to learn up on these things myself. Next year, I’m actually going to help her in one of her competitions. My mom and grandma also bake and have their own specialities; my mom’s is cheesecake and my grandma makes a lot of amish and traditional desserts and is amazing at decorating cakes. I really wanted to keep the baking tradition alive in my family and by doing this project, I feel like I could continue it by learning as much tips, tricks, and techniques as I can. As with the international aspects, I wanted to incorporate other holidays besides one that are very common here in the United States. While I did pick a couple, most of the holidays are from other countries. By doing this, I worked with ingredients that were more uncommon and learned a few techniques I wouldn’t have otherwise.
To complete my capstone, the first thing I did was find a different holiday for every month. Once I had done this, I looked to see what different things I could make. I had to find things that would pertain to the holidays in the corresponding country, but was still something in my skill set and appetizing to people here in the United States. Making the treats delicious for people in the US was important to me because there are many people who limit their flavors to chocolate and vanilla, but I wanted to show that new things may be just as good or even better. Once I had laid out a few recipes, I began making them week by week; trying one recipe per week. If the recipe did not work out, I would either try to remake it that day if there were enough ingredients left over or I would try to make it again the following week. When I was at least a little satisfied with a product, I would bring it to school so people could try them and give me feedback. Manna was especially helpful with this because she was very honest and not afraid to tell me when something had a weird taste or needed something extra.
In order to keep on schedule, I made a timeline and had notifications sent to my phone that told me the agenda of each week. I also had the entirety of May for revisions.
My biggest obstacle was the green tea cupcake for Independence Day in Morocco, which symbolized their national drink; green tea with mint. I probably tried this cupcake about 5 times before deciding to try something else, which took a large chunk of my time. The first cupcake came out too dense for my liking, so I tried a different recipe and even considered using the base mix for my mint cake. This used mostly egg whites to make the cake very light and fluffy. I also could not find matcha, or green tea powder; I could only find instant green tea, which has the flavor, but is mostly composed of sugar. Therefore, every time I made the cake, the flavor was not as strong as I wanted it to be. In the end, I decided to just make my own peppermints to focus more on the mint aspect of the national drink. To complete my capstone, I used a lot of cooking blogs. Usually I would trust food network or some other big name cooking company more than food blogs, but the recipes for the big companies were more complex than they needed to be or they simply did not have what I was looking for. The food blogs had innovative recipes that I could work off of, even if I had to modify these recipes more. I even used a few foreign blogs that used the metric system. I had to convert different ingredients into the imperial system, which is really risky especially when it comes to baking powder. In order to do this, I also had to use online converters.
I am most proud of my entire final product. I was able to pull everything together and even though I had some trouble, I was able to have at least one recipe for every month. I am also very proud of my recipe for September. I didn’t really find a holiday that took my interest in September that did not take place in a country I had already focused on, so, since it is my birthday month, I included a recipe that I had developed myself. It does not appeal to everyone and it may contain an acquired taste, but nonetheless I am still proud of it because there are some who do like it. When it comes to baking, I feel like as long as something is liked by someone, it was worth making.
From this capstone, I learned how to manage my time well for a long term project. I also learned that it is best to leave a gap of time for revision to make up for mistakes and obstacles that may prevent a timely finish.
If I could do this all over again, I would start earlier and I would look at more video tutorials on certain techniques, such as folding and creaming. I would probably find a way to link the recipes better by maybe having a common theme or sticking to one place. I was not able to include as much information as I wanted to because I had limited space and I didn’t want whole pages filled with information. In my eyes, having full pages of written information would take down the creative aspect of my final product.
I made SLA a better place by encouraging people to try different things. People usually only want mundane things that could be bought from anywhere or made with a pre-made mix, but I wanted to encourage diversity when it came to the things they ate. Usually when I had people taste test things for me, they either did not really like that certain thing, they had never had it or were reluctant to try it. I, however, wanted different views on different items and so I pressured people to try things. Even if it is not something they would eat on a regular basis or something they would choose over their favorites, at least they had tried them.