Cake and Pastry Artist Lesi Johnson

XDream Cakes and Pastries in Calgary

Cake Trippin’ – Toronto

I have had the pleasure to be able to travel a lot this past year to learn and grow in the craft that I have chosen to be my profession.  I asked and I received.  Thank you Lord.

I decided to go back to school.  Cake school to be exact.  So I’ve packed my bags and left my comfortable life and for the next seven weeks I will be attending the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Art in order to grow in my field.    As we all know, with growth there comes a little pain.  And that is how I would  describe my first week in Toronto.  Painful.  Now don’t get me wrong,  I’m not saying I’m having  a bad time or I wish I hadn’t done this, but I’m  getting  a sharp realization that I am a bit spoiled.   Yes I said it,  I am a bit spoiled.  That being said,  I’m going to  take you along with me on my seven week journey which I call,

Cake Trippin’   –    Toronto

The Prelude

I arrive in Toronto,  fetch my luggage, lug it out of the airport and  hail myself  a cab.  I felt a little put off that my driver did not leave his seat to assist with my extremely heavy bag,(I think I packed to be gone for a year)  but oh well,  I’m a strong girl.   Good thing all my years of rolling out fondant have toned my arm muscles.

I give him my destination address  and he asks me “Where is that?”   This is where I become  very worried.   He is driving and trying to load his GPS at the same time, all the while  muttering under his breath  how  it’s not working, maybe he’ll call his friend, blah blah blah…… I don’t have the first idea where I am going but I’ve got my trusty map App and I’m about to get my money’s worth.

 

We  drive for what seems like hours. I’m still not sure if it’s supposed to be such a long drive, but we’re  in rush hour traffic, there is a mini snowstorm going on,  and the meter is running, running, running.  I don’t recognize a thing.  And then I spot it!  Gleaming like a beacon on the horizon and in my heart I feel a small sense of familiarity.  The CN Tower.  I now have a landmark.   What a sense of relief.  Yes, the spoiled part starts here.

Spoiled #1      I live in the same city that I was born in.  I know my city like the back of my hand.  It seems like a small thing, but knowing where I am at all tmes  is something I have always taken foregranted before now.

My driver, after going the wrong way up the one way street where I will be living, pulls his car up on the lawn, asks for what I am sure is way too much money,  and lets me out,  a half a block from where I need to be.   Did I mention, he never left his seat.  I retrieve my heavy bags and leave him to continue his day.

I’m excited to be here, but it has already been a long day and I just want to rest and unpack.  I have chosen to stay in a guesthouse.  This one is a Victorian style heritage home that has been refurbished and is now rented out room by room to travelers from around the world.   I am greeted by the house manager, lead down the narrow hallway and into the basement to my “luxury” room.   Arrrrgghhhhh!  My head barely clears the doorway which is situated directly below the extremely narrow staircase.  My heart sinks  as I imagined myself having to live in this room with it’s 6’ ceilings and 8’ X 8’  footprint.  I about to become  “ the people under the stairs”!

Spoiled moment #2.  I live in a lovely home and while just about every room in my home is currently under renovation , it is bright and cheery and I can raise my hands above my head!   I reluctantly,  albeit happily, pay for an upgrade and move above ground with the skydwellers.  Happy face inserted here.

It’s the end of Day 1.  Its been long,  and I’m tired but ready for this big adventure.   Thank you for coming along with me.  I promise it won’t be blow by blow, one day at a time because in my book, adventure is good, but in much smaller doses.

Spoiled#3  My life is plain and simple and I love it that way……..salted with a little adventure.

 

Lovin’ Cake Trippin”  –  Toronto

I would like you to meet a few people that have inspired me

Two of my absolute favorite things are travel and caking.  I can’t really pick a top favorite of the two so combining them is the perfect solution.  I also am very social so meeting people, especially cake artists, gets to be added to the list.  How nice that it all fits together so perfectly.

I have been blessed to be able to get in some awesome travel time, and accumulated hours of notable cake time with some of my favorite people.  Here I would like to introduce to you to a few of them.

 

Nicolas Lodge

There is so much to say about Nicolas Lodge, that I would have a hard time to fit it all on this page.  He holds the ranking as one of the best instructors I have had the pleasure of  working  with.  He has a pretty impressive clientele list as well.  He was commissioned to do work for England’s Royal Family and other celebrities. This included one of the official wedding cakes for wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles.  He reproduced this Royal wedding cake for the visit of the Prince and Princes of Wales, during their official visit to Tokyo,  Japan.  He was also commissioned to create a cake for the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday and the Christening cake for Prince Harry. He is the owner of the International School of Sugar and Confectionery Arts.   In his own words,  “Teaching is the most rewarding area of my life. Being able to educate and pass on techniques and methods to my students fills me with the same passion today as it did when I started my career.”

You can visit his site at  www.thattakesthecake.org

 

James Roselle

You may have seen James on the Food Network’s Challenge Series. He has competed in several cake challenges.  Sweet 16, Surprise Engagement Cakes, and Extreme Holiday Cakes.  He impressively won all three challenges.   James has the most wonderful flowering technique but I especially love his edible gem work.  Strings of edible diamonds to enhance any elegant cake that  you would like bling out.  He travels and teaches these techniques to students around the world and passing on the obvious love of his craft.  You can check out his website at www.ellecakes.com.

 

Becky Rink

Becky owns and operates,  About the Cake.  Her wedding cakes are impressive but her artistic and whimsical approach to sculpted and themed cakes is what drew me to her.  Becky has competed on three nationally televised programs.   You may have seen her on:  We TV’s Wedding Cake Wars,  TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off,  or the Food Network’s Halloween.  She currently is the only baker in Cleveland to be on all three major networks!  As well, she is the author of “The Top Shelf Baker – Sweet Treats From a Well Stocked Bar”.    You can visit her website at www.aboutthecake.com

 

Lourdes Reyes

Have you ever been to Mexico and seen those half-sphere jello molds that appear to have a three dimensional flower trapped inside of them and wondered “How did they do that?”   This technique is what Lourdes has found her passion in.  She travels and teaches in Mexico and in the United States passing on this bit of culinary wisdom.  It is a fascinating art form and delicious as well.  If you are even remotely curious,  check out her site at:

www.gelartfloral.com

Norm Davis

I love Norm.  He’s cheeky, witty and so much fun to work with and learn from.  He is the owner of The Sweet Life,  a custom design cakery in Virginia.  He is also an award winning chocolatier and is infamous for his White Chocolate Curl Cake and his three-dimensional chocolate figurines.  He has competed in ten Food Network Challenge’s.  He has co-authored the books  ” Wedding Cake Ensembles” and “Cakes for All Seasons”.  Much to his credit, he was commissioned by the Washington Post to create a cake for President Clinton.  If you’ve  seen his work,  none of the aforementioned is a surprise at all.   You can visit his site at:  www.thesweetlife.com

 

Ruth Rickey

Ruth owned and operated “Ruth’s Sweet Justice”  for nearly 12 years. There she  created wedding cakes for the likes of  Toby Keith’s daughters as well as for governors Mary Fallin,  Frank Keating  and David Walters.  When it became too difficult to keep up with the workings of a full time bakery, she decided to close it’s doors.  She now is pursuing her passion for teaching. She appeared on TV shows and competitions such as the Food Network’s “Wedding Cake Wars.”    She’s now a highly sought-after teacher and I wish her all the best with her newly sought after passion, teaching.  She does it well!

You can visit her site at:  www.ruthrickey.com

 

Lucinda Larson

Lucinda is one of my absolute favorite people.  She has a charm that is rare.  Such a dear to work with.  She is renowned for her beautiful gumpaste flowers and very pleasing use of color. She is fondly nicknamed the Buttercream Queen and The Icing Diva. In addition to her 30 years of teaching at numerous prestigious culinary colleges and expos across North America,  she has received many awards and “best of shows” for her work. She has been featured in national and international magazines, TV, and on the cover of American Cake Magazine. Lucinda’s spunky personality and passion for cake decorating makes working with and learning from her,  simple and fun.

Here is a link to see  her videos:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT_aKBtRK7I

 

There you have it,  just a few of my favorites.  I’m going to continue to travel and learn, ever expanding my list.

 

Happy Caking!

 

Lesi

comedy-tragedy

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake (or cuppies)

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake (or cuppies)

You all know that I am all about making any job easier, So I was all over a homemade cake mix.  Especially one that is versatile.  Here recipe is the recipe for you to try and once you have it,   I’m going to jazz it for ya!

Basic Cake Mix

  • 8 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. baking powder
  • 2 c. unsalted butter (or shortening,  I choose butter everytime!)
  • 5 c. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt

 

Cut ingredients together using a pastry cutting tool.  This will make a course-grained mix.   Divide into 5 equal portions of 3 1/3 cup each. Will store 6 weeks or will freeze for 6 months.

***If you add  2 cups of powdered milk to your basic mix,  you can use water when adding wet ingredients.

 

 

Now that we have that out of the way,  it time to fancy it up.

 

Start with 3 1/3 cup of cake mix and add:

 

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

Use milk to thin this mixture until you reach desire thickness.  Batter should still be thick but  thinned  enough to pour easily.

 

 

For cake bake at 350? for  35 – 40  minutes or until top springs back on touch

 

For cupcakes bake at 375? for  15 – 20 minutes or until top springs back on touch

 

 

And there you have it.   Chocolate pumpkin cake batter, for layer cake or cuppies.  Excellent served naked (the cake that is) with whipped cream,  or with creamed cheese icing.

 

Yum yum

Cake Decorating Birthday Parties

New Gelatin Technique for Cake Decorating


Our inaugural Everything Gelatin: Butterflies, Exquisite Bows and Sequins class was a huge hit.
Included in the class registration fee are: the imprint mats, gelatin, brushes, forming trays, recipes, pictorial and text instructions, as well as much input from yours truly, moi! Probably more input than was necessary but face it, this caking thing is exhilarating and gelatin is new uncharted territory here.
These gelatin items are completely edible, beautiful and everyone that has seen them can’t believe that they are not real. We are taking our decorating to the next level and you’re going to want to catch a ride with us. Watch for all the new stuff that’s coming up in the near future as well as a repeat of the Gelatin Class.
Happy Caking!

Upcoming Specialty Classes at “Lesi’s Kitchen”

March 26th, 2011 This month’s feature class has been cancelled to allow for Instructor Training Day…..I have to stay one step ahead of you all. :)

April 23rd, 2011 we are proud to be hosting our very first ever Cakin’ Kids class. Baking and decorating with the younger crowd in mind. They will leave with basic cake making knowledge, and have a lot of fun picking up some basic icing and fondant skills while creating some yummy fun of their own. This class is geared for kids age 12 – 15. Younger children can be accommodated under the supervision of an adult.

May 28th, 2011 we head into territory slightly outside the mighty cake realm. Pies, Pies, Pies will add a little variety to your caking repertoire. Easy never fail pie crust is a skill you will be able to tuck into your goodie bag. Seldom heard of pie recipes to wow even the most discerning palate. Dessert will never be the same.

June 25th, 2011 we bring to you Amazing Cupcakes and Cookies. These are not your average pretty cupcakes. They are specifically themed for any occasion. They look like you’ve spent hours but are amazingly simple and truely a treat for all. Come express yourself!

July 23rd, 2011 take flight with the Butterflies. Gelatin Bows and Butterflies is the newest technique to hit cake decorating. You will learn the secret to realistic looking butterflies to embellish your summer creations. These bows are like no other! You won’t believe they aren’t ribbon! This is truely too good to miss.

Well, that is what is shaping up in “Lesi’s Kitchen” for the next little while. I hope to see you in class. In the meantime,

Happy Caking!

Lesi

New Studio Kitchen Under Construction

I am finally realizing my dream of having a kitchen studio.

It’s all coming together but what a long road. I didn’t realize there were so many things to do in putting together a studio not to mention a lot of cheque writing.

I thought I had it easy. I had the perfect beginnings with a nice empty space to work with. Large open room with high ceilings, just had to tear out some carpet, slap some cabinets in…. bing bang boom….studio!

Sure, dream on chick!

First, I needed plumbing and because there was none in this area, a drain access had to be located, the concrete had to be jack hammered up, lines and outflow had to be put in place and then the concrete had to be repaired. Write the cheque…..

Next, the subfloor had to go down. Pretty easy but the concrete wasn’t level all the way through the space and it caused a few issues. Hubby did this job so I got to keep that cheque and it was a good thing because boy did over pay for subfloor. The guy at the home improvement outlet did not calculate properly and I got subfloor galore. Good thing they take returns. I ended up taking back enough subfloor to receive a $630.00 refund.

I had already painted the space out first, so when the cabinetry went in I didn’t have to paint around it. Now I have a lot of touch up to do but that really is just minor stuff in light of all else. Paint and supplies…write the cheque

The electrical was not in the correct place so an electrician had to be hired. The first one came in and did his assessment. Said it was a cut and dry job, no problem, easy peasy…….then he never returned to finish the job. The second one came in and did his assessment. Turns out, I did not have enough of anything (power wise) to run the equipment that would be in the studio. He had to install a new circuit box (I don’t even know if that is what it is called). Write the cheque…
He also had to dig trenches in the ceiling, which was finished, because in addition to the new box, I had to be rewired. Write a bigger cheque….

Oooooh, add ceiling repair to the list. Write a postdated cheque….

The cabinet maker came and did his measurements and booked me an appointment to see his design team to put together a plan. Well that was pleasant…..write the cheque.

He was very fast, three days….I have cabinets, shelving, laminate tops. He will have to come back after the electrical is complete, to finish with some doors, and put toekicks on, and cap off the ends….he’ll take a cheque…

The island work top will be Walnut butcher block, which I found at a local millworks….the most affordable option that was food safe and attractive as well…..another cheque….

Appliances, appliances, appliances…..you guessed it….cheque….

As my construction progresses, I will keep you posted. I have to go and reorder my cheques….

Almost Valentines….Time to make Cookies

It’s almost here and what better way to set the tone than with cookies prepared especially for those close to you. The kids will love to give these away at school !

And who says fondant is just for cakes. Pull out those cutters and get busy!

By the way, here is a great recipe for the cookies you can give at school. Always on the look out for allergy friendly recipes for the kids.

Eggless Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions

1 Preheat oven to 375°F.
2 In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, powdered sugar, oil, butter, and
vanilla extract.
3 Add flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.
4 Mix well.
5 Take teaspoonfuls of dough & roll into balls.
6 Place on cookie sheet and press to about the size of a nickel.
7 Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Happy Valentine’s Day all!

Dairy Free / Nut Free…… and still it tastes spectacular!

Best Dairy Free / Egg Free Cake Recipe Ever

by Cake Decorating Classes on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 9:32am

My granddaughter inspired me to find this recipe. She was always disappointed that she could not have cake because of her severe allergies.  I found this recipe and tried it.   I was quite amazed at how good it really is.  And it makes great cuppies too.  Give it a try and let me know how it worked out for you.

Egg and Dairy Free Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix well with a fork, then stir in oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. When dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened, pour in cold water and stir until batter is smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

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