Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cakes, Cakes and more cakes

So after spending my fall trimester at home doing my internship, I returned to school with a renewed passion. I love my craft and think of it as art, a scientific absolutely delicious roller coaster of a ride art.

My first lab of my sophomore year was Specialty Cakes, where we built tortes, wedding cakes and worked with rolled fondant and gum paste. Everything in this class was built on the introductory class, so not many demos to report. Here are some pictures of my products.

Wedding Cake

Modeling Chocolate Rose

Fondant Cake

Gumpaste Roses

Look forward to more cakes....only this time, fancy french ones (entremets and petit gateau) much more modern (and tastier!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stretch Magic Strudel Making

Stretch Magic Strudel Making

Austrian Style Strudel is a mixture of spiced apples, nuts and raisins wrapped in layers of paper thin dough. Making it is fun and really interesting to watch. Not to mention it tastes amazing when served warm with a melba sauce (raspberry) and french vanilla ice cream to accompany it.

The dough is a simple dough, with plenty of gluten development. It is then allowed to relax for a several hours until it is very relaxed and pillowy in texture.

Prepare your working surface with a clean fuzz-free table cloth and dust with flour. Roll out the dough slightly in a rectangle shape, with the length of the dough along the length of the table.

Rolling out the dough


To stretch the dough out, four people are needed. Each person holds the dough on their knuckles and at the same time very slowly and gently pulls it out towards the edges of the table. And secure the two ends to the edge of the table. The dough should be extremely thin you can read through it.

Stretching the dough




Sprinkle the dough with melted butter. And at the secured end, lay a thin layer of either bread or cake crumbs down. Slice up several apples into thick pieces, combine with cinnamon, some nutmeg, any kind of nuts and raisins if desired and lay this mixture down the line of bread crumbs.

Adding the Apples


To begin rolling up the strudel, grab the end of the table cloth and use this to aide you in rolling up the dough. Once you have rolled it up once, make sure it is straight and continue this process until it is all rolled up. While rolling up the pastry, dust off excess flour and make sure you are rolling evenly on both the left and right sides.

Rolling up the dough




To finish up, pinch off the excess dough and tuck the flap underneath the log. Bake on a parchment lined sheet pan until golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing on a biased. Serve with french vanilla ice cream and melba sauce

*Melba Sauce: Thin out raspberry preserves with a little water, heat then strain.

Plated Austrian Style Strudel


Coming Up: I’ve got BIG pastry news…it involves a plane ride, a new chef’s jacket and some of the best pastry people in the world..EEPP!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Fire in the Hole

Flambe Day was a very exciting and delicious day. We got to light stuff on fire, cook in the dark and then eat it all over icecream!

Crepes Suzette

To begin, this is not my favorite dessert. However, it is a classic and the art of crepe making is a useful skill. Suzette sauce is the flambeed component of this dish. The sauce is a mixture of butter, brown sugar, orange juice and zest as well as some lemon juice and zest. This is then reduced until thickened slightly and then the gran marnier is added and ignited to cook off the alcohol.

A very thin batter that is strained to ensure absolutely not lumps is used to make crepes. A small amount of batter is added to the preheated lightly greased crepe pan (or small omelet pan) swirled around fast to create a thin and even layer. Once the bottom has very lightly browned flip until the other side does the same. Create all the crepes at once.

To assemble this dessert, heat the suzette sauce in a sauce pan and add a crepe or two in the pan for a few seconds until hot. Fold the crepe into quarters and add to serving dish. Add extra sauce also.

Crepes Suzette

Bananas Foster

This famous dessert originates from New Orleans and is one of my absolute favorites. I've even had a bananas foster waffle before (and currently craving it).

To begin the sauce portion of this dish, combine butter, brown sugar and a drop of lemon juice. The acid from the lemon will keep it all cohesive. Cook until starts to thicken but do not brown to much. Add your quartered banana (the riper it is the later on you add it). Heat the bananas thoroughly and until tender. Add the banana liqueur as well as rum and ignite.While the alcohol burns off, VERY CAREFULLY sprinkle cinnamon sugar on it (from very high up above).

Igniting the Bananas Foster

To finish, serve warm over french vanilla ice cream.

To quickly review the next day of class, we made cobblers and crisps.

Blueberry Cobbler

A basic blueberry pie filling is placed in the ramekin and then a par-baked biscuit is put on top and baked until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Plated Apple Crisp

To make the apple crisp: Saute diced apples in sugar and spices until fork tender. Then pack the apples into a ring (if bottomless cover with foil to create one). Go about 3/4 of the way up the ring with apples and then gently pack down a layer of struesel topping and then mound more on top of the packed layer to give height. Bake until tops are golden. Unmold after cooling slightly and plate as desired. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Even more ice cream...

So, first off... Birthday Post (19 on the 19th, pretty awesome eh?) toooo bad i have a practical to worry about...but more on that later on.

I know I am behind, so bear with's been VERRRRY stressful lately and I finally found some time to write.

This post is all about finishing our frozen desserts (alaska, bombe, souffle glace) as well as sherbet and sorbet.

Sorbet and Sherbet

What's the difference? Well, I am glad you asked. Sorbet and sherbet are essentially the same thing. Fruit puree, simple syrup and any additional flavorings churned just like ice cream. However, sherbet is sorbet with heavy cream added. This give it a less icy and smoother mouthfeel. Each sorbet should have a certain sugar density, it is easy to check this with a sterilized egg. Float the egg in the syrup, the exposed egg should be between the size of quarter and the size of a dime. The larger the space exposed the more sugar in the mixture. If the mixture has too much sugar it will not freeze properly, the same if it has too little (icy texture).

The Egg Test

For our sorbet we chose to make coconut with a hint of passionfruit (the group before made passionfruit)

Coconut Passionfruit Sorbet

And for our sherbet, we made Strawberry Mango.

Strawberry Mango Sherbet

Finishing Desserts

To finish the souffle glace from the previous post, work quickly. Remove the plastic lining from the outside and finish with cocoa powder, chantilly cream, mint, and tulip paste cookies in any combination you want.

My Finished Souffle Glace

Chef's Finished Souffle Glace

Ice Cream Bombes

To finish the bombes, melt shortening in a pan and add some chocolate, allow to cool to about 95 F. Trim the bombe free of any drips or feet, and place on a glazing rack. Quickly coat the ice cream dome with the chocolate glaze, once dried decorate with chantilly and serve.

My Finished Bombe

Chef's Demoed Bombe

Finishing Baked Alaskas

Since we already made the Alaska part of this dessert (see previous post please) the Baked part is still missing. To do this, create a meringue (we did italian/ cooked sugar syrup meringue). Unmold the cake encased ice cream and trim any feet or drips. Place on a plate and pipe the meringue (to cover) on the dome. Once covered, torch as with any other meringue (or bake in a low oven).

My "Beehive" Baked Alaska

Chef's "Pineapple" Baked Alaska

Not only did every student make and finish their own desserts, we got to eat them... and they were good (my favorite was the bombe and the baked alaska)

Dessert Feast for One (or three)

More creamy desserts to come... stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ice Cream Experimentation

This week started my final lab of the year, hot and cold desserts! So far we have learned the basics to icecream bases, both french and american. And to anyone who knows anything about icecream, they know french is best...

French style, is made from a custard like base, consisting of egg yolks, cream, milk, sugar and flavorings.

For the first day, we just made both American and French style (just plain vanilla bean) as well as chocolate/caramel sauce and used them the next day to make sundaes (or as the french call them "coupes").

Then it got fun. My group and I had to make gelato and french style any flavor we desired. And that's when the creativity got flowing. For our french style we added praline paste (sweet hazelnut butter type product, very good) while still hot and then when it came out of the machine we swirled in our homemade chocolate sauce and slivered almonds.

Praline Almond Fudge Swirl

Gelato is Italian style ice cream and it typically is made with a higher ratio of egg yolks, no cream and is churned more slowly. So for our gelato we decided to just add mix ins. So I combined butter and marshmallows and microwaved until melted i tossed in some rice krispies and yes, why yes, I made rice krispie treats. and then crumbled them into the freshly churned icecream. They didn't get tough or anything. I can't wait to recreate this one!

Rice Krispie Treat Gelato

Baked Alaska

This dessert, a dome of ice cream that is covered with covered with cake and then covered with meringue and torched. The contrasting temperatures lends the dessert it's name.

To begin, line the dome mold with a thin piece of cake.

Lined Mold

We then made our french style ice cream, my group choose chocolate. To make chocolate ice cream, melt the chocolate and slowly add the hot base into warmed chocolate. We then folded in chocolate chunks.

Once it is freshly churned and still at soft serve texture, it is added to the cake lined molds and leveled off. Another cake round is added on top. We left them to freeze over night. To be finished...


These are basically the same thing as baked alaska minus the cake lining. The freshly churned ice cream is added to the unlined dome mold and then leveled off. It is then topped with a cookie or cake round to create the base, be sure to press this into the ice cream so there will be no space when frozen solid.

Souffle Glace

This frozen dessert is served in a ramekin to replicate its hot cousin, the souffle. To begin this, the eggs and sugar are heated over a double boiler. Once they reach 145 F, they are whipped in a mixer until thick, cooled mostly and paler in color (near cake batter consistency). While this is happening whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Flavor the egg mixture as desired (we folded in a bit of orange compound). Fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture in two parts until no streaks are left.

Prepare the ramekins with a piece of parchment paper or thin plastic so it creates a support that reaches over an inch taller than the rim of the dish (see below). Make sure this is secured tightly so there are no gaps.

Pour the mixture into the bottom half of the ramekin, place a little round of cake on top, if desired. Layer some more mixture on top and then another cake round towards the top of the ramekin. Keep layering the mixture until you reach the top of the plastic so it's about an inch over the top of the ramekin. Freeze overnight or until very firm.

Souffle Glace Procedure

Of course, we made sundaes too. Which to be fair, was just an excuse to eat our ice cream. Chef demoed his with fresh fruit, sauces, fresh granola and vanilla frozen yoghurt.

Chef's Sundae

When I have good ice cream, i don't need a lot of toppings, I like to let the ice cream shine. So my sundae consisted of a little chocolate sauce on the bottom and then each kind of ice cream we made the day before....and then a few more scoops after.

My "Sundae"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The end of cookie cookin'

So, cookies & petit fours finally came to an end thursday and i was sort of happy to see it go. For our practical we had two days to complete it. My group was assigned to do our petit fours the first day (the day AFTER we had just done them) and they didn't go so well... the room was exceptionally cold and the vent was blowing right on my work. Then the fondant was too thin and then it was too just didn't go well. Fondant is not my thing (nor many other of my classmates). I took my time and in the end my partner and i were able to finish our petit fours as well as our madelines.

Day two, I was happy to have finished the most stressful part already and could was free to just bake.

We first created our french macaroons again. Pistachio yet again, finished with raspberry jam. Yummy. They baked better than the first time we made them and had more uniform feet, even though I will admit my piping was less than uniform...

Pistachio French Macaroons

We also created hazelnut "S"s sandwiched together with apricot jam, harlequins finished with raspberry jam, biscotti, butter cookies and my personal creation chocolate chip pistachio cookies (YUMMMMMY).

With our colored marzipan we had to make a rose spray on top of all the baking.

Pictures of Practical Production

So one more segment left until the summer. Nine more class days until my freshmen year is over, and to be honest i'm ready to go home. I can only guess what kind of blogging the summer will bring, but I know that I am going to make the best out of my last lab for the year. Hot and Cold desserts with one of my already favorite chefs, I am so excited. What a way to end the year, not to mention my birthday :) Did I mention I won't be back to JWU until the winter trimester? more on that later...

Where did the time go? Well, until Monday night Bloggers.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Petit Four Hell

Petit Four? what the heck is that?

To the average home baker...they mean nothing. But for pastry students at JWU they mean torture absolute unnecessary torture. To me, i would NEVER purchase or willingly consume a petit four (such as these) again. I have yet to see them in a bakery either. They seem outdated and yet we are required to make them (very inefficiently, I might add) in the Cookies & (you guess it) Petit Fours Lab.

For anyone that has ever worked with fondant, they know that it is a tricky, ultra sweet evil. In small amounts, i don't mind it ( like napoleons). But these petit fours start with a moist, dense, sweet almond cake called Frangipane, then a layer of jam is used to stick ANOTHER sweet layer of marzipan (moldable almond candy paste) and a thick layer of ultra sweet fondant is just overkill. Not to mention, fondant is very temperamental and even the most patient of bakers gets frustrated by this crappp. Don't over heat, don't under heat, don't thin out too much, don't thin out too little, don't over flavor, don't work too fast, don't work too slow. This stuff is just a pain.

To begin, the desired amount of frangipane cake is given a thin layer of marzipan that is stuck on by any desired jam (we used a clear apricot glaze). It is then cut into one inch strips and then cut into one inch squares. (Cut with marzipan side down). Once cut, flip them over ( marzipan up, to facilitate a smooth glazing) and place in even rows on a screen.

Lined up Cut cakes

The basics to fondant. Soften the fondant slightly in the microwave. Mix in a little amount of softened butter and any flavoring desired (jams, compounds, peanut butter). Then heat the fondant to 100 F (no further!). Add a warmed simple syrup (preferably at 100F also) until desired consistency. We were taught to use a large sized spoon and spoon the fondant over the little cake square, just skimming the top of it. However there are machines, tools, other methods such as pouring directly from the bowl that can be used and to be honest, they seem way more practical and efficient.

Once covered, we piped filegrees with piping chocolate and also made little tiny rosebuds with colored marzipan. ( and when i got bored of filegrees i just messed around)

Finished Petit Fours

I was so happy when the fondant was over until....i found out that i would be doing my petit four portion of my practical the VERY NEXT DAY.