This semester has flown by and my learning project has come to an end! My goal over the course of this semester was to bake one new recipe each week of something I had never tried before with support from online resources. I was really pleased with the recipes I was able to find, along with helpful tips, and demonstration videos, that allowed me to learn a variety of baking techniques and strategies. The only week I struggled to find a recipe I liked was when I made homemade doughnuts. Other than that, I felt very supported by online sources and rarely felt unsure of what to do before starting a recipe. Although new projects come with risks, and I definitely made a few mistakes, I am happy with my progress and ready to tackle new baking challenges as they come my way.
Learning Project Recap:
- Homemade Soft Pretzels: Rising to the Challenge
Recipe used: Tasty’s Homemade Soft Pretzels
Technique learned: Baking with yeast.
Making pretzels allowed me to practice baking with yeast, and the effect it has in baked products. I learned that when a recipe calls for 1 package of dry yeast, that is equivalent to 2 ¼ teaspoons if you have it in bulk. I also learned that yeast expands best in warm water mixed with sugar because the temperature reactivates the yeast which is an organism that feeds on sugar. Then I watched the yeast at work as overtime it doubled the amount of dough I had originally made.
- Lemon Blueberry Scones: Feeling Blue
Recipe used: Jo Cooks Lemon Blueberry Scones
Technique learned: Using a pastry cutter.
Making scones gave me the opportunity to learn about and use a pastry cutter, which is a handheld tool used to incorporate butter into flour. To use this tool, the butter is first cut into chunks and then mixed into the dry ingredients with the use of the pastry cutter. This technique works best when the butter is cold to help the scones rise and create air pockets for a flaky pastry. Although I didn’t have anything to compare them to, I think it worked fairly well and I’m hoping to try this technique again to make pie crust!
3. Copy Cat Starbucks Lemon Loaf: A Sweet & Sour Experience
Recipe used: Lemon Loaf
New learning: Canva
Although I didn’t learn a specific new baking technique this week, I took the time to incorporate Canva as a new source of technology. Finding recipes on the internet is great until you go to use it again and can’t quite remember which one it was in the sea of many options. I found that using Canva to create recipe cards was a great what to not only save the recipe but also create a digital and hard copy. I also loved the many designs on Canva that I could choose to match the recipe (for example I used a lemon pattern for the lemon loaf recipe). Overall I found it fairly simple to use and I loved the opportunity to be creative with a purpose. I look forward to the many ways I can continue to use Canva, in and out of the classroom.
4. Homemade Doughnuts: Deep Fried = So Good
Recipe used: Doughnuts
Technique learned: Deep frying.
With this recipe, I revisited my knowledge about baking with yeast and added on the task of using a deep fryer. At first, the thought of hot oil spatting all over the place as I attempted to make doughnuts intimidated me however, I learned that using a deep fryer contained the oil really well and that didn’t end up being an issue. When deep-frying, I learned that you really have to be on top of your game cause the cooking time is fast and the doughnuts only needed to fry for a minute on each side. I found it helpful to set a timer on my Fitbit during the baking process, and to my surprise, I didn’t burn a single doughnut. I also found it helpful to place the doughnuts on a cooling rack after allowing excess oil to drip off before coating them in the glaze. In the end, I realized with proper research, deep frying was not intimidating and I look forward to trying it again.
5. Macarons: Mmmm Macarons
Recipe used: Macarons
Technique learned: Whipped egg whites
The technique needed to master macarons in all in whipping the egg whites and precisely following the recipe. A few things I learned about whipping egg whites first was to allow them to reach room temperature and to use glass or stainless steel bowl as plastic bowls can retain film or grease. Also adding a small amount of salt helps stabilize them, allowing the perfect peak to form. When that peak stands firm without flopping over, they have been whipped enough without overdoing it. I found that using the whisk attachment on a handheld mixer worked well to whip the eggs. It can also be done by hand, however, it would take much longer.
Here are my 5 finished products:
Three Overall Takeaways
- Mistakes produce new learnings.
Multiple times throughout my learning journey I made simple mistakes such as adding too much of a certain ingredient or failing to review the recipe and mixing up a couple of steps. However, I learned that the process of baking is forgiving and doesn’t always drastically change the end result. As teachers, we are likely to fail and make mistakes throughout the years. Although making mistakes can be discoursing, they also allow for growth and don’t always drastically affect the lives of students as they are learning right alongside us. Making mistakes is inevitable, however, you can choose to learn from them or let them discourage you.
- The resources available are endless.
There is an abundance of online resources and tools available to teach a variety of new skills. All you need is time and determination and you’re able to learn so many things.
- Support is available where you might not be expecting it.
Although online learning may seem like a solo project, I learned really quickly that it is not and support can be found online. When reading comments I often found great tips and tricks to follow to avoid making the same mistakes as others. This became something I relied on and always appreciated.
Wrapping it Up
I can honestly say this was one of the most fun and rewarding projects I have done over the course of university and part of me is sad to see it come to an end. In the end, I would say my favourite recipe to come out of this project is the homemade doughnuts, my least favourite recipe is the lemon blueberry scones, and the recipe I see myself using most often is the lemon loaf. In the end, I truly value the lessons I have learned and know I will benefit from them in the time to come. I am also thankful for the lessons I have learned from this part of my journey as a lifelong learner!