Thursday, December 6, 2007
The holiday season is upon us and what better way to celebrate than making a birthday cake for an imaginary 13 year old boy who enjoys, among other things, STAR WARS! The assignment was pretty entertaining. We had to make a cake geared towards a 13 year old boy and had a bunch of other instructors come and vote. Perhaps I was a special child, but I remember loving the epic story of star wars at the tender age of 13, as did all my male and female friends as well as the few early teenage terrors I know now. It seemed perfect, but guess what! I took 3rd. 3rd! What is the world coming to.
As if this didn't off set my sense of reality enough, we recently made a Boston Cream pie which, it turns out, is not a pie. It is however, one of the most deliciously wonderful, artery clogging, melt in you mouth while distilling pounds of fat into your thighs cakesI've ever had!
I've said it before and I'll say it again. You have not lived until you've doused an entire cake with ganache. Directions: Sandwich 2 white cakes with rich pastry cream and bathe in ganache. Hahaha. AAAhhahahah!
And also, I may have found the secret to the most awesome chocolate cake ever. We recently made a tarragon chocolate cake, which may be the best chocolate cake I've ever had. It's a really subtle flavor that is just awesome. Even one of the most locked an bolted minds I know from my class enjoyed this. Time to get experimental! My plan of action is to now incorporate one of my most favorite spices into a chocolate cake. Curry! Woo! (I'm sure this is no surprise to those who know me.)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
(actually I just made an error and added a half batch amount of butter to a full batch of butter cream oops, but it gets the point across.)
Edges like shoulders. Sides and top smooth as a baby's butt! This is what I've been doing for the past two weeks. I can show you different pictures, but you'll swear they're all the same cake, so I'm not going to. I have been improving on my smoothing skills. And, as my sister reminded me, this is where all those years of meticulously spreading of the cream cheese onto the bagel until it's perfectly even come in handy. THE CHEESE HAS TO BE EVEN! I WON'T EAT THE BAGEL UNTIL IT'S EVEN! (everybody has there weird food thing)
So, things aren't so exciting right now, but I'll try to keep an update. We may get a lesson on boarders tomorrow, perhaps I'll have more pidazzle then.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
We finished with our Custards class last Friday. I have to say, I'm pretty excited to be done with it. Some of you may remember my previous rant on hating eggs with a passion few people even know they have. Well, had I still felt that way when I entered this class....well, lets just say dimensions would have imploded. I can't even begin to explain the number of cases of eggs we went through over the past weeks. The amount of poultry in general this school goes through must keep at least five chicken farms in business. It boggles the mind.
So! We had our final practical on Friday and I'm happy to say, despite some annoying classmates, it turned out well! I did a parody of the famous Black and White New York Cookie. I don't know where this idea came from, but it's done well. It's a fairly simple Chocolate and Vanilla Bavarian Cream Charlotte. The sponge was adjusted to have more of a shortbread flavor, as the cookie does. I used brown sugar for part of the recipe and folded in 2 ounces of butter to give it an additional creaminess. It turned out really nicely. The presentation was fun as well. I just made a chocolate sauce for the bottom and spread the top with white and dark melted chocolate. I was very pleased with the end product. My instructor was as well, because I got 100%! Woo! A good ending to a slightly discomforting lesson involving being elbow deep in egg yolks every morning!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
There are just too many flavors packed into this thing. Did I mention the top is smooth because it's been covered in passion fruit flavored ganache. Two great tastes that taste great together!? No. No no no no. No no. You don't understand how contrary the tartness of the fruit is with the creaminess of the chocolate. The moment this cake hit my tongue, my taste buds message to the brain was (and I quote) " Ummm. Well gosh. I, uhh. I, uhh.... You know what I quit. This just isn't working out for me." And off they went to find some Coffee and a sugar cookie.
This cake is, out of this world, strange.
That's all I have to say about that.
Monday, October 15, 2007
A friend of mine called me yesterday. She was having a relatively strenuous evening and I felt pretty helpless to comfort her. I'm not sure how others deal with stress, but as a pastry chef, I feel sugar is a good start. While I was unable to run over and make my friend a batch of chocolate brownies, I was thinking of her this morning when we had to make a batch of Tuile's. These thin little cookies are usually used more as an accent to a dessert rather than a desert themselves, but they're still pretty tasty. It's also a simple recipe:
4oz powdered sugar
4oz eggs (+ a little vanilla)
4oz cake flour
And you just spread the batter paper thin in your mold and bake for 10 minutes!
These little guys are fun to make because you can make any shape you like. Class was fairly light hearted today. We spent a long time making molds for these cookies. Many Halloween and Christmas themes were brought in. I decided to make Teddy bear faces for my bummed out buddy in hopes that it would put a smile on her face. Well, I hope the picture will do it because I dropped the plate on my way out and smashed them across the hallway. Heh Heh. It's the thought that counts? I kept the molds, so I may try again! Ha!
Just for clarification, I did not make Teddy Bear faces all morning. We've been working with a lot of Bavarian Cream. Today we actually completed two types of Charlotte's. They're both really tasty, but I have to say that I'm not overly impressed with them. Sponge and cream, doesn't have all that much flavor. To each there own.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I'm sure once we get into more complicated custards I'll have more interesting things to say, but for now... you'll just have to deal with me rambling.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Yesh. This has been an awesome yet terrible week. As the wedding grows ever nearer (T-10 days), I've spent a large majority of my free time tying up loose ends, meeting with people, trying to keep things under control... All of that, coupled with school and work, has been a little stressful. Unfortunately, I've found that I have some what of a nervous eating habit. Habits like this just are not good, especially when you're wearing a rather tight fitting dress in a few days AND you're surrounded by butter stuffed pastries every day!!! AAAAHHHHH!!!!!! NO.NO.NO!
The batch of croissants you see above are made with one entire pound of butter. Not only that, but it is then filled with banana/chocolate, honey/banana, chocolate/peanut butter, cheese/basil. Arteries clogged yet? These things are so unbelievably tasty, but I need to not be surrounded by them for 3 weeks!!! Eesh. I'm getting lots of practice on them though!
Almost there. Almost there. Almost there.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
We are now back in the kitchen and I am so so so happy for that! The new class is Laminated Doughs, and we've started with Puff Pastry. This really is not my favorite thing in the world, but I don't care because I miss being in the kitchen so much! My new chef is much more of a challange than my previous instructor. She is meticulous and demanding and it's great. I actually feel challanged for the first time. She doesn't like to hold your hand through anything. Today she gave us a list of what we had to do, which was 5 different things, and gave demo on only 2 of them. It was actually great because it forced everyone to use there brains for once to figure out what to do. Everything turned out great. Today I completed four things:
a Pithiver a Fruit Bar a Tarte Tatin,and a Napoleon(which turned out a little poofier than it should have. heh heh). None of these things are particularly difficult if you have to patience to deal with Puff Pastry.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I finished my class last friday. We had a big final presentation that we had to create. I know I mentioned it before. My theme was "Spices." I was actually quite pleased with how everything turned out and, aside from the 2nd degree burn from 300 degree sugar, the day of the project went on quite well. The Gateau Opera cake was a pain to lace with red chili pepper, but I was told that the few people who had a bit of it were able to taste the slight twinge in the back if your throat from the chocolate laced with pepper. My job is done. Ha ha!
I also made Cardamom cookies that were addictive, Curry Truffles, a spiced angel food cake (which everyone should have this recipe, it is surprisingly awesome), a 5 Chinese spice apple pie, Pear Ginger Tart, and Meringue shells filled with a fruit mixture of pineapple+cantaloupe+basil+mint+ Orange Liqueur. OH MAN! I'm so proud. I got a 97% for the whole thing.
Unfortunately, I was not exaggerating when I said I got a 2nd degree burn. Toward the end of my set up, while I was spinning sugar, I lost my grip on the whip it went flying into the pot of boiling sugar. Thankfully, all I got was an inch splash on my middle finger. It could have been much worse. So, I bit my lip until I got everything set up, shaking all the while. Once I was finished (as much as I could be anyway) I excused myself and went off to the urgent care clinic. I impressed the nurses. I seem to be good at that!
Enjoy the pictures! I gotta get some beauty sleep!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Between trying to stay on top of school, job, and wedding demands, I hardly have time to eat, let alone have a hobby!
The past two weeks have been nothing but petit fours. We're getting into more complicated cakes that are an all day process. That's actually okay with me, because then I get more time to make things look pretty. Some people in class have told me that I always do the prettiest decorations, which makes me go "teehee."
Some of the cakes we've made this week were:
Gateau Opera. This was my favorite of the week. Mostly due to the fact that the cake is covered in ganache at the end. I was talking with a friend of mine a while back and we decided pouring ganache over a cake is, quite possibly, one of the most satisfying feelings one can have in their existence. So, if you're looking for a good feeling. Bake a chocolate or strawberry, or whatever cake, and give it one or two baths in ganache. If that doesn't put a smile on your face, then ....God. I don't know what to say to you if that's the case.
I actually made this cake twice and sent the second one home to the family for birthday weekend. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADA!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARIA!!
The other cake that was really of note this week was the Battenburg. Made in honor of Princess Victoria's wedding, this cake is a pain in the butt with not much pay off! I was not fond of the flavoring! It's just spongecake with marzipan. Unless you are a big fan of marzipan, this cake will not interest you. And it took FOREVER. Lots of measurements. It looks kinda cool....but I was not excited, by any means.
Unfortunately, I believe school is going to take a much more technical and way less fun turn next "quarter." We are going to be in a classroom doing nutrition and kitchen management and such. So no major baking for me for 3-6 weeks! Ppthhhhh. I may go crazy.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Macaroons. Macaroons. Macaroons. Guess what I've been doing!
There is a visiting Chef from French Canada in the school for a couple weeks and he was nice enough to do a demo for our class this morning. Aside from the near impossible, thick French accent the man speaks with, talking with him as been very informative. He demoed 3 different flavors of bite size macaroons today. His technique is totally different from our teacher, which is weird. For example, Macaroons have a body relatively reliant on fluffed egg whites, and chef stressed the need to keep as much body from the egg whites as possible. Not Monsieur Chef! He just beat that stuff together like nothing I've ever seen! It was pretty funny.
The other hilarity about Monsieur Chef is that he stresses, constantly, the the way to make the money. He doesn't some much talk about "This is how to make yourself a good pastry chef" he talks about "This is how to make the bucks." Which, isn't all bad. It's good to know what people are looking for, which (by the way) is experience across the world. You name a country, this guy has been to it. It's impressive.
Anyway! So, Macaroons. Very light and fluffy. Mostly egg white with sugar. Awesome, as most things are, when chocolate is involved. We have to make an almond macaroon for our final this Friday. I seem to suck at getting them to the correct size. I try so hard to make them circular, that I completely missed the whole, Petit Four size idea (2 bites). They are way to small. Sigh. Anyway. These things are cheap and easy, good thing to remember, cause people still charge a bundle for them!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sorry again for the absence. There's a lot going on right now. Between school, Harry Potter, weddings, Harry Potter, work, Harry Potter, and so forth, I have been having a hard time keeping up. However! I have the afternoon off and have reserved the time to post a few things and maybe read some Harry Potter. Have I mentioned that book?
We've moved off a bit from pie's now. Today we did a Linzer Tort, which is such a tasty and easy dish I had to find a home for it right away so I didn't just sit down and eat it all. Linzer dough is only tricky if you have no way to get powdered Hazelnuts. It's one of those pain in the butt specialty items Cub probably won't carry. It's filled with Raspberry jam, whatever you're particular favorite raspberry jam or preserve will work, with a lattice top. It's simple and really, really pretty. I was quite pleased with this.
We also finished up a pan of Baklava that was started yesterday. People are really either heads or tails with this. It's either too sweet for you or it's what your life was missing. I'm rather fond of this desert, but only when I have a cup of coffee with me. I ate half of one of these things and thought my mouth was disintegrating from the sweetness. So! FYI coffee + baklava = Happy!
We also have been in the process of making petit four every chance we get. For those who don't know petit four is used to describe deserts that are no more than 2 bites sized. Our final project will actually be creating a desert platter of various petit four. The entire school is suppose to be invited to sample. The platter has to be designed off of some kind of theme. Some people did birthdays, date night, chocolate, tropical fruit, and so on. I've been kicking around ideas and I have to come up with a tentative theme by Friday. If anyone thinks they might have a good idea for a desert platter theme, please feel free to suggest it! I'm looking for something awesome and creative. No pressure!
Anyway, here's an example of some of the petit four that we've been working on. These are actually pecan diamonds. They are, if possible, even sweeter than pecan pie. I actually put chocolate on top to cut the sweetness.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sorry it's been such a while. I was on break for a week and then the camera was hi-jacked by someone for a work trip last week. I'm back in the rythum now! However, I am starting a new job today that has weird hours leading into 11 pm. I wonder how this will work out with getting up at 5:45 am every morning. I'll keep you posted!
Anyway, here are some of the treats we've been making in class from last week.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Also, I seem to have made enough puff pastry to no longer find it a daunting task for the home baker. The dough is only: Flour, salt, water, & butter. (No yeast to throw curve at you!!!) Then you fold an appalling amount of butter into the chilled dough, but it makes such a pretty pastry!! I love it! I was actually thinking today that I would love to make this for the wedding, but I think I have more sanity than to try and make 300 o'rdourves the day before my wedding. If I had the resources, I'd totally do it. It's so much fun.
This pastry puff:
is a 2'' round base and a 1 1/2'' cutter crust. These babies are bite size and totally delectable. I made 6 for my final and consumed them as soon as the grade was given. The filling is feta with half and egg, 2 teaspoons of milk, dried basil, and ground pepper. OH MAN. You have no idea how awesome these things are. I may be bias since I incorporate feta cheese into at least one meal every day, but still...it's tasty.
The second puff pastry is filled with raspberry jam, topped with 1/2 of a fresh raspberry, and drizzled with milk chocolate. Also delectable, also consumed at record speed. I have to say I was very happy with todays final. I was deducted only 5 points because my pinwheels were slightly underdone. Stupid pinwheels.
Now I have a week off to analyize past baking experiences and ready for the next section which will be mostly pie's and some cakes. At least these are unlikely to fill up my freezer making me unable to pull out the ice tray with out an avalanche!
Monday, June 25, 2007
It was designed to be modeled after "To Kill a Mockingbird," but I'm afraid it really didn't turn out that way. It ended up looking more like something out of a story book. Sigh. The big thing is that the birthday girl loved it. Which is all that matters to me. I thought the lettering turned well. I just wish I could've given the cake more.....aspect of the book???? The title looks rather like a last minute side note of the left-top page. I was hoping to make it a more defining point, but it didn't turn out. Ah well. It looks pretty nice and as I get into classes that are actually cake decoration related (we have a whole quarter on the subject) I believe my talents will improve and I'll be able to give my friends ever more impressive birthday designs!
My classmates and I are considering forming a group for the iron chef-cake decoration competition they have at school twice a year. I am excited at the possibility, even if we don't win, it's still really good experience.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
This week we made pretzels and that’s just really close to heaven for me. They taste very similar to the ones I have to get under any circumstance when I go to a baseball game, only four THOUSAND times better. They are so fluffy and chewy, it’s ridiculously good. They also ruin me for the rest of my life because now the pretzels at the baseball game are going to make me sad by their lack of flavor. Boo. To make it even worse, we used a grape sour starter for the bread that took 6 weeks to develop. I may not be ambitious enough to undertake that in my own kitchen, but I do really love sourdough, so we’ll just see how we go. The dough is really simple, aside from the starter:
10 oz Water
¼ oz Yeast
9 oz Grape Starter
20 oz Bread Flour
1 Tbsp Malt or Honey
2 tsp Salt
You mix, let it rise, form into pretzels, rise again, and bake. To help pretzels get that chewy crust, you dip them lye or a mixture of 2oz baking soda and a pint of water right before you bake them, fairly simple. Maybe I will start my own sours at home. I probably won’t regret it.
I’m now off to make a birthday cake. If it turns out well, I’ll probably post it tomorrow. If it doesn’t turn out well, I’ll definitely post about it tomorrow.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?
A quiet home, a kosher home?
Who must raise the family and run the home,
So Papa's free to read the holy books?
-Fiddler on the Roof
Challah was one of the first breads I ever remember baking. For the first couple years I made it my mom kneaded the dough because I'd get tired and bored, but it was always fun braiding the doughs together, and my mother would invariably end up singing "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof at least half the time. That seems to have been passed on to me as we made two different Challah recipes in class today. I was singing "Tradition" in my head all day. It got a little old, but I was feeling very nostalgic about memories of family baking, so I kept a smile on my face the whole day.
Personally, I think the recipe I've been making since I was 10 years old is the greatest thing ever and doesn't compare to the recipes I did today. My recipe is a lot richer, or maybe I just think it is. So, here's a treat! I'm actually going to post a recipe! I know I don't do this often, but this is one of the greatest recipes of all time, so I want people to know it. Traditiiioonn!
2 Packages dry or compressed yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup light oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
8-9 cups flour
1 egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water and pinch of salt
Sprinkle yeast over water and mix with a fork until yeast is disolved. Blend in sugar, salt, oil, and eggs. Beat in 4 cups of flour until mixture is smooth. Mix in about 4 more cups to make a soft, workable dough. Knead for 10-12 minutes on floured board. Place in a warm, greased bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and towel and set aside to triple in bulk-1 1/2 hours. Punch down and let it rest for 10 minutes.
You can form these guys anyway you want, in loaves or braids. I usually did an easy three braid, it doesn't hurt or frustrate. :)
Form, cover, and set aside to double-45 minutes.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppyseed.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Best in the City! Enjoy!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Anyway. The plaque it a dedication to the apes and my obsession with them that will never go way. (Even if I do become a world famous pastry chef)
Thursday, June 7, 2007
So this week(over the coarse of three painstaking days) I made the dough, folded the butter in, and chilled the concoction three times over. This may sound simple, but if you've ever worked with chilled butter in any fashion you know that to roll out a slab of chilled butter is about as easy as being given a large rock and told to make some sand. It's slow going and it's hard going. The palms of my hands were, quite literally, bruised when I rolled the dough out this morning. My back and forearms were sore and achy from the unusual exertion forced on them.
Monday, June 4, 2007
With the above picture in mind, consider what happens everyday. Towards the end of class, when golden brown things are coming out of the oven and your sweet tooth starts to beckon, think of how hard it would be for you to not sit down and just have a taste.
P.S. Interesting fact about these puppies. They are more of a cake donut that a true donut and they're actually baked for cooking. Frying comes in for presentation, it's just to get a brown color. Vanity. Vanity.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
It’s been hard to keep up on the blogging recently, sorry. Between work, school, and the slow development of a social life, it’s been rather busy.
I did want to touch on one thing that I made last quarter. We made a simple Devils Food Cake about a month ago that had a more than simple flavor. It was phenomenal. This cake was so rich, so chocolaty, so smooth that almost makes you melt. I had a great time decorating it as well (surprise, surprise). It was given a simple ganache bath (maybe 2 or 3 baths, hehe) and white chocolate decorations that I came up with myself.
Isn’t it beautiful! I was very excited for this cake. I planned on giving it to one of my friends for her upcoming birthday. I was so proud at the awesomeness of this cake, it was unreal. I even made two trips out to the car so I could carry it safely home. Only, with two mindless steps in the wrong direction, to have this happen:
I screamed. I cried. I threw such a tantrum my cats had to go hide under the couch until I was safely removed from the house. I had put the cake too perilously close to the edge of the counter and turned to close the back door, forgetting that my backpack was still on; I knocked the cake upside down onto the floor-still in its cake holder. There is nothing so frustrating as to spend hours working on perfecting something, just to have it smash to the ground. I find my tears are justified in this.
So, I wanted to read a poem I found online in honor of this, most admirable cake. Hemm..
The chocolaty pillow rests on my plate,
The sugary brown frosting,
I can’t wait, To dive into my plate.
I couldn’t eat another bite but,
It’s taunting me,
Staring with a sweet glare,
Just saying, “Eat me, eat me”.
Finally I decide,
To make a sacrifice,
To gain some weight,
And to eat the cake.
By Lucas Lee
Fair Well beautiful cake, we hardly knew you.