Friday, March 12, 2010

Fundamentals Skills and Techniques, First Days in Review

My first segment of the spring trimester is Fundamental Skills and Techniques.

Day 1- Knife Skills

Our Chef demoed how to correctly sharpen a knife as well as some "knife skills" including several versions of the dice and a few other cuts. For over TWO hours, we all hacked away at our apples, carrots and potatoes. And that was it. Exciting, I know...

Day 2-Chocolate Piping

We had no demos this day, instead we tempered chocolate, using the vaccination method, which for those of you who do not know, is you melt untempered chocolate to the correct temperature (for dark 120 F ish) and then cool the melted chocolate with tempered chocolate pieces (for dark 90 F). And we practiced not only our chocolate tempering skills, but also our parchment bags, which I find myself having a knack for. But most importantly we practiced our piping.

Now piping chocolate may seem easy peasy, but if you have ever attempted it, you know what a pain it can be. Many problems can arise, the line isn't thin enough, the chocolate hardens too quickly, the line isn't straight, so on and so on. ALL class long we piped chocolate.
Needless to day, it was very tedious.

Day 3- Finally Baking!

A more eventful day, the kind most of us pastry students are used to. Chef demoed how to clarify butter, which if you have ever mass produced Stollen (a holiday bread that gets a generous coating of clarified butter and then sugar after baking) like I have, you know how to clarify butter and LOTS of it. And then he showed us how to saute apples, yawn...

As far as production goes, My partner and I made Apple Cupcakes (that weren't so "spiced").

The finished apple cakes were tender, slightly sweet, with little to no "spice" flavor (the recipe called for a pinch...) and tender slightly tart pieces of diced granny smith apples. And a caramelized top. Great with cream cheese frosting ( I must admit!).

And of course, the classic standby Butter Cookies. Piped out in various shapes, some dotted with raspberry jam, delicious! Tender and buttery little cookies.

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