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!


Crème Brûlée

This week I was able to finally make one of my favourite desserts to get in a restaurant, crème brûlée.  I originally planned to do this dessert earlier in my project, since it seems like a simple recipe, but when I explained my project to my sister, I was told I needed to make it when she was in town.

She’s currently in Edmonton, getting her MSc in Speech-Language Pathology and she would be coming back home for the February break, so I had to wait until this week to make the dessert. Luckily for me, I listened to her and waited until Valentine’s Day to start making the crème brûlée.

Valentine's Crème Brûlée! How fitting!
Valentine’s Crème Brûlée! How fitting!

Photo Credit: katrina.alana via Compfight cc

To prepare, I went through my normal recipes that I collected on Pinterest. I had three good recipes to choose from – Chef in Training’s recipe, Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice’s recipe and Cooking Classy’s recipe.  All three were pretty similar. I wanted to make a classic crème brûlée and all of these recipes were very standard.

In a crème brûlée, you need heavy cream, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. The only thing that differed in the recipes were the amounts of each item. I waffled for a while, trying to decide which recipe to go with. When I searched for “how to make the perfect crème brûlée” or “how many eggs should go in a crème brûlée?” I got articles like these, which detailed the perfect ratio of cream to eggs, or debated the amounts of different ingredients by making a bunch of different recipes.

Finally, while thinking my plan over and slightly procrastinating, I noticed on Facebook that one of my friends had liked another Tasty video. (I mentioned these videos in my first post about my Learning Project and even attempted to recreate a Tasty video with my first recipe – a “no recipe chocolate cake.”) The video the friend had liked was a time lapse of a crème brûlée! And it was posted just a few days before I made my own version! Hurrah!

Needless to say, I decided to go with the recipe from the video.  The article gave me the measurements.

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup in mixture and 1/2 cup for crust

A simple recipe, and one that I can redo if it doesn’t go well. I bought double the number of ingredients, just in case.  (I figured if this recipe didn’t go well, I would try another recipe from my online search.)

Here’s the video that led to me picking this recipe.

I followed the directions exactly, which were not difficult to follow. I heated the cream and the vanilla, then combined it with the egg yolk and sugar. The mixture went into ramekins. The ramekins went into a pan, it was half filled with water and then the whole thing went into the oven for 50 minutes.

When I pulled the custard out of the oven at the 50-minute mark, I was a little worried.  The recipe called for the mixture to be “set, but still a little jiggly in the middle.” It was still really jiggly, so I quickly searched for a youtube clip to show me if I was doing it correctly and I found this:

He describes the process really well, so I was a little less worried. By the time they had cooled and came out of the fridge for the sugar/burning part, they were perfectly set!

I put a small amount of sugar on the tops of each of the ramekins and burnt it with a torch that I got as a wedding present.  At the end, it looked really good!

My own crème brûlée

Final Verdict: AMAZING!

My parents were also in town, so I served the crème brûlée for dessert and everyone really liked it. My sister even posted an artsy shot on Instagram. It turned out really well, maybe still slightly too runny, but that could be easily fixed if I were to make it again but leaving it in the oven for a minute or two longer.

Another bit of good news: my parents live on a farm and brought me a bunch of eggs for the rest of my project. I’m finding out that I use so many eggs for each recipe, I hope I have enough now!

All the eggs!
All the eggs!

Inspecting the Internet

Thanks to my learning project, I’ve been thinking a lot about the information available online lately.  In particular, the abundance of information that is available at our finger tips.


Photo Credit: Bernardo Ramonfaur via Compfight cc

There is so much content online, in so many different forms.

There are 300 hours of YouTube footage uploaded every minute.

There are 75 million posts on Instagram a day.

There are 1.5 billion loops on Vine a day.

And these are just a few of the social media platforms that people generate content on. Facebook, Twitter have even more information and opinions to sift through.  Blogs also contribute to this online schmozzle.

Our reading for this week focused on why blogging matters and how to start to curate your own little section of the internet.

When reading Kay Oddone’s Digital Content Curation piece, I enjoyed her tie into Joyce Seitzinger’s When Educators Become Curators.  I enjoyed the different types of curators teachers can be.  At one point or another, I’m sure that I’ve been a couple of these types of curators.  And if not, I’ve definitely interacted with them either online or in person.

While all of the different types of curators are frustrating, I think that the National Enquirer type of curator is one with the most potential to do harm.  Since there is so much available online, it is very important to be discriminate when selecting content.  I find this type of curator is very common, especially if they are not reading the content that they are sharing.

Following this train of thought, I then proceeded to think about strategies to avoid pitfalls in being a curator, or in teaching kids how to curate content.  One thing that is important to know is how to find the truth online.

In this video, Markham Nolan speaks to how journalists have to sift through the multitude of information in order to determine fact from fiction.  He talks about using the free tools available online to see if videos or pictures are telling an accurate story.  This is something that we can teach our students.  Maybe they don’t have to corroborate a news story, but the ability to discern the correct information is and what is real on the internet is a skill that students will definitely need.  Teaching students these skills can maybe prevent others from believing online hoaxes or satire.

I’m not sure if each time students go on the internet, they need to be searching for truth, but if they are learning how to be learners, they also need to be able to decide and evaluate their own content. If the goal is for our students to be able to curate on their own, we need to provide them with the skills, tips and tricks to be able to curate responsibly.


This week I crossed another classic French dessert off of my list – Napoleons or Mille-Feuille.  This dessert was on my list – one of the ‘easy’ desserts.

Before I started baking, I researched the history of the Mille-Feuille. It is a classic French dessert, but I found out that it has many different variations and names in many different cultures.

For example, in French culture, the dessert is called Mille-Feuille (which translates to Thousand Leaves) or Napoleons.  In Australia, it’s called a custard slice. In England a vanilla slice.  A lot of these variations are similar but are still quite different.


Photo Credit: MadPole via Compfight cc

Again, what I’m finding when I research the desserts that I want to make is that there is SO much information to sift through.  There are so many tips, tricks and recipes that it’s hard to determine fact from fiction.

Luckily, one strategy is to compare to other publications or facts. I found three recipes to compare: Classic French Napoleons, Mille-Feuilles and Classic French Napoleons (Mille-Feuilles).  All three recipes are very similar. I decided to go with the last recipe – I liked how detailed the instructions were.

I made the Mille-Feuille according to the recipe.  I used store bought puff pastry, like the recipe called for.  Apparently, store bought puff pastry will save your sanity when making these things, which I was in favour of!

Just like the chocolate mousse recipe, this one called for separating eggs again.  I have a feeling by the end of this project, even if I’m not an expert in French cooking, I might become an expert on separating eggs!


I made the custard first since it needed to chill for at least two hours in the fridge.  I feel like I’ve been overcooking the egg mixtures.  The custard is supposed to be thick – according to one of the websites I read, the thicker it is, the nicer the pictures are! But, mine turned into jello – while still spreadable, was just too thick to be correct.


While the custard was cooling in the fridge, I made the puff pastry.  It had to be flattened, cut up, baked and then cooled as well.


I had to make sure it was the right size – forgive my tape measure! (How do food bloggers do it? I’ve never seen a kitchen measuring tape!)

The third step was making the glaze and putting it on one of the cooled puff pastries


The fourth and final step was assembly: Lots of custard on one of the puff pastry, stacking the other on top, more custard and the final glazed pastry on top!

_MG_3866 _MG_3867 _MG_3868

Final Verdict: Pretty Good!

My husband rated this even higher, saying it was like “a really good toaster strudel.” The custard wasn’t the right consistency, but that didn’t affect the taste. The whole thing was also very tall – which might mean that I let the puff pastry rise too much. But, again, it still tasted pretty good! Success!