French people are hardcore, they eat pain for breakfast

Welcome to my final post about my learning project. As you know, I started out with an idea to improve my baking skills.  I was already a pretty good dessert chef and I posted a video to show off my skills, making a cake without a recipe. Here is the video, just for reference.

From there, I decided to make a series of French desserts, hopefully scaling upwards from easiest to hardest to make. I chose ten different desserts: Chocolate Mousse, Crème Brulée, Napoleons, Gascon-style Flan, Chocolate Truffles, Madeleines, Macarons, Chocolate Soufflé, Fruit Tarte and Croquembouche.

I was able to make 8 of these 10 recipes. The two I was unable to make were the truffles and the croquembouche. The rest were tackled and went extremely well!

I will now rank them based on difficulty (1 is easy, 10 is hard) and deliciousness (1 is gross, 10 is delicious.)

1) Chocolate Mousse
Difficulty: 6
Deliciousness: 6

2) Crème Brulée
Difficulty: 3
Deliciousness: 9

3) Napoleons
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: 4

4) Gascon-style Flan
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: -10

5) Madeleines
Difficulty: 2
Deliciousness: 8

6) Macarons
Difficulty: 10
Deliciousness: 9

7) Chocolate Soufflé
Difficulty: 10
Deliciousness: 6

8) Fruit Tarte
Difficulty: 5
Deliciousness: 8

IMG_4530 IMG_4360

The two best and easiest desserts were, by far, the Madeleines and the Creme Brulee.

There you have it! I had never made any of these recipes before attempting to learn about them through this class. Now I have a whole French baking skill set!

Merci beaucoup!


Welcome to Baking with Ellen!

Here is my summary of learning for EC&I 831.

I decided to theme my summary of learning to correspond with my learning project.

I took the recipe for the cupcakes from this blog post. I actually wanted to use a different recipe, one that I had tried before, but the recipe I had originally intended to use was a little more complicated and therefore harder to film.

The recipe remained the same, but I altered the ingredients to reflect either the tools of the class (wet ingredients) or the class content that I really enjoyed and connected with (dry ingredients.)

Mix together (in our main Zoom web conferencing tool):

2 cups of Google+

2 interactions on Twitter

1/2 cup of Feedly

1 cup of Twitter chats

1 cup of our Blog Hub

1 teaspoon of Wikipedia

In a separate breakout session, mix together the course content:

3/4 cup of videos by Michael Wesch

2 cups of the Open Education Movement and Aaron Swartz involvement

2 teaspoons of The Power of Networks by Manuel Lima

1 teaspoon of Felicity Duncan’s Why Kids Are Leaving Social Networks

1/2 teaspoon of John Oliver

Slowly combine the course content (dry ingredients) to the tools we used (wet ingredients.) Once the knowledge and ideas are finished, it’s time to add the icing to the cupcake (blogs and how our knowledge and ideas are presented.)

I used a recipe that I had made before – actually the original cupcake recipe that was too difficult to film. The icing, however, works perfectly and is very delicious.  The recipe is from Ming Makes Cupcakes and is cupcake 24 on the website.

The icing ingredients are:

1/2 cup of WordPress

4 cups of good content

1/4 cup of neat pictures

1 teaspoon of videos

1 tablespoon of citing things properly (using Compfight)

2 tablespoons of an interesting title

And there you have it! Cupcakes that represent our learning in this class!

They're delicious, too!
They’re delicious, too!

Photo Credit: markus spiske via Compfight cc

For the video, I used sound from BenSound, specifically this track.

A big thank you to my husband for his help with filming and editing this piece.

All in all, I’m really happy with my summary of learning (although I wish I had scripted a more complete ending.) I hope you enjoyed it, as much as I enjoyed our class!

Slacktivism. Or, “Wow, That Sucks.”

First time’s a charm.

The first time people encounter something new – from tech to people to ideas, first impressions are often key. Its true for a wide variety of things and I believe that it is also true for slackivism.

The first time the event trends, people seem to care. Jumping on the bandwagon, maybe? While it’s good to raise awareness, it seems as though in order for the trending item to gain momentum, people have to DO something about it. (We’ll come back to the “doing something” issue.)


Photo Credit: via Compfight cc

In the articles we read, two of the examples highlighted were changing Facebook profiles with filters for support and #BringBackOurGirls.  Both of these examples are fairly recent, the hashtag was in 2014 and the filters started with marriage equality pride in 2015.

First, the filters. As mentioned in our class, it seems odd for the filters to be a sign of support. It doesn’t take much effort and really looks like jumping on the bandwagon.  Like Alec said, it was able to raise some awareness, especially on the conversation that the recent filters, available for both France and Belgium but, only for European countries? When Facebook first shared these filters, it seemed like everyone used them. I remember my Facebook feed being full of people with rainbow flag filters. With the attacks in Paris, a new filter. Still a large number of people, but less than the rainbow filter. And with the latest attack, in Belgium? Even less.

The first time the filters were introduced so many people used them. By the third filter (that I am aware of – there doesn’t seem to be a concise list of the various filters that have been offered) it seems as though fewer people were inclined to take the half a second to change their profile picture.

Now, let’s look at #BringBackOurGirls. #BringBackOurGirls raised awareness, for sure, shedding light on an issue that many in the Western world didn’t know about. But, like the article said, the girls were not brought back. 

The example of #BringBackOurGirls is heart breaking. I fully agree with the idea that the hashtag helped shed light on a terrible situation. But! After people shared the hashtag, how many actually did something?  And, when people did something, what ended up changing? Even influencial people shared and cared, but… it still didn’t help.


Photo Credit: Michelle Obama via Twitter

The hashtag gained a lot of popularity and did so quickly. It trended again a year after the kidnappings, and helped spread awareness to people again – a lot of whom had forgotten. The first time that the hashtag trended, so many people were part of the conversation.  In the first three weeks, the hashtag was shared over a million times. Since then, it has trended again, but not to the same extent as the first time.

So, back to slackivisim.  With these two examples, we can see that people are quick to jump on the bandwagon. People enjoy being a part of things and definitely enjoy showing that they care. However, the problem with slackivisim is when a person shares to participate in the trend and then does nothing more.

(See? I told you we’d come back to the “doing something more” issue.)

I agree that just sharing and then doing nothing more raises awareness. But, I think that in order to be a true activist, you need to do something more than just spread awareness. Doing something is widely different, depending on the issue at hand. Sometimes doing something is signing a petition, other times it is donating money. Doing something can be volunteering or writing a blog post or a tweet about the issue. Doing something also means continuing to fight for the cause or uphold the issue even after the spotlight goes away.

I think that an activist continues to fight until their cause is won or the issue is solved. A slackivist shares and moves on.


Photo Credit: Eric.Parker via Compfight cc

So maybe we can define slackivism as supporting an issue or a cause when it first comes to light, but not continuing to fight or help once the trend dies down.

To be an activist is to continue to fight, help, talk about the issues that you believe in, wholeheartedly.

Your thoughts?

Olé, Olé, Soufflé

This week, I attempted to make a soufflé.  I say attempted because it did not go well.  This was the second of my “most challenging” section of French desserts and challenging it was.

At first, when reading recipes on Pinterest, I thought that the soufflé wouldn’t be terribly hard.  Honestly, I am trying to approach all of my desserts from a growth mindset, which is that it isn’t hard – it’ll just take some extra time.


Photo Credit: Carol Dweck via Reddit cc

This is the video that I decided to take my recipe from:

Although I used the recipe from the video, I cross referenced it with this recipe, which is very similar.

Now, although I was trying to approach this from a growth mindset and not think that this dessert was too hard, something went incredibly wrong and my soufflés did not turn out at all.

But! This was an opportunity to try again. Mistakes help me learn! So, I watched the video again, searched for helpful soufflé making tips (along the way, I found a video on how to separate the egg yolks from the whites, which would have been incredibly helpful at the start of my learning project, months ago.)

After watching the video again and searching for tips, I tried again and it turned out really well!

Final Verdict: WOW!

Maybe I’m overselling it. My soufflé certainly didn’t rise as much as it was supposed to.  But my husband and cousin liked them! I forgot to take a picture when I pulled it out of the oven, and then you have to eat it right away. But, here is a soufflé that looked similar to mine.


Photo Credit: stu_spivack via Compfight cc

Fruit Tart

This week I continued onward on my quest of learning French desserts. I was able to move from the intermediate portion of my desserts, to the harder portion.

The first dessert I made from the harder section of my French dessert list is Classic French Fruit Tart.  I’m not quite sure why I put this dessert in the “hard” section of the list, I believe that I watched an episode of MasterChef once where the challenge was a fruit tart. It looked difficult, based on that episode and, obviously, if I was in the same room as Gordon Ramsey, I would think that the task was even harder as I tried to impress!

Nevertheless, this week’s challenge wasn’t too much of a challenge.  I found the recipe for a Fruit Tart on Pinterest, from Rainbow Delicious‘ blog.   The recipe originated from a cookbook by Ina Garten.

Before making the fruit tart, I watched a couple of videos that described the process.  My favourite was this one, which made the process seem simple.

These are the ingredients for the Fruit Tart:

  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 8 T unsalted butter
  • 3-4 T ice water
Custard Filling
  • 3 extra large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T heavy cream
  • 1/2 t cognac or brandy (or vanilla)
  • Toppings
  • Assorted fruits*
  • 1/2 C Apricot Jelly**

The crust, I think, was the trickiest part.  I have to admit, I had help at this point.  My husband worked in a bakery for part of his high school career and I usually get his help when it comes to dough.

We followed the recipe, until it got to the part where you have to “cut in the butter with a pasty knife.” I do not own a pastry knife and so, upon googling the answer, found out that you can use several regular knives in place of a pastry knife.

Here is a video of that process:

The pastry cream was very similar to another recipe I tried, earlier in the semester, that of the Mille-Feuille.

The last step was arranging the fruit. I have to admit, I didn’t really think this step through and, instead of creating some sort of pattern so that you could have multiple fruits in once slice, I arranged them so that you really just had one fruit… Something to work on for next time!

Final Verdict: Amazing!

The fruit tart turned out amazingly well.  I was able to serve it to a friend (unfortunately her husband has Celiac’s and was unable to try it, due to all the terrible gluten in the crust) my husband and one of my roommates.  The tart got a thumbs up from everyone who ate it!