Saturday, September 28, 2013

"A party without cake..."

"... is just a meeting." - Julia Child

Friday night my sister and brother-in-law and the kids came over for supper and we ate the Black Forest cake. It was really good. ;)

Thursday we were in cakes again. Thursday seemed to be a rough day for a lot of people. There were tears being shed all over place at one point or another. It seemed like a big day with lots to do. We had to bake 2 genoise cakes, mix up custard and butter cream, put together 1 cake, and start putting together a 2nd cake. My chocolate genoise was ok, a little thinner than it should have been, but not a failure. Then some of my friends and I decided to triple the custard recipe and work together to save time. This backfired dramatically because we misread the instructions (not for the recipe, but for how much we needed that day) and so only ended up with enough custard for two people. At first one of the other girls said she would mix up the other recipe for herself, but in the end I volunteered to make the other recipe, for various reasons. But I didn't end up making it until after lunch, which was not too late, but almost. My white genoise turned out perfectly, thankfully. My butter cream... it turned out alright, but I'm not sure I'm doing it right. I think I may need to ask the teacher the next time, because it was kind of a weird consistency.

Anyway... So we ended up making a Boston cake on Thursday. We split the chocolate cake into 2 layers, spread custard between the layers (always soaking the cakes with syrup), then we spread chocolate butter cream around the sides and covered with almonds. For the top of the cake we melted and spread chocolate "fondant", made a swirl design with white fondant, and then marbled them. My fondants weren't warm enough so mine doesn't look right. Then a little piping around the top and a cherry in the middle! We were then supposed to start putting together the second cake, but I really wasn't feeling up to it and there wasn't that much time left anyway, plus I had a lot of clean up to do. I didn't bring home the Boston cake, much to my father's dismay.

Boston

The design looks a lot better when the fondants melt together.

Friday we finished the second cake from Thursday, called Ambassadeur, and made a carrot cake. The Ambassador cake was a white cake split in 3 layers. The layers were filled with mousseline (Goggle translates this to chiffon... does that make sense?) made from custard and butter and flavoured with kirsch, with raspberries sprinkled into the mousseline. We then covered the entire cake with butter cream, and rolled out a strip of pink almond paste which was placed slightly below the middle line of the cake and down the sides. The rest of the cake was covered with almonds, and then we wrote Ambassadeur on the pink strip. Funny story: I somehow didn't realize that ambassador ends with "eur" in French, so I wrote mine in English, which the teacher made me correct, and then kept teasing me the rest of the day by overexaggerating, "AmbassadOR". I tasted the demo, by the way, and it was super yummy! But I'm not bringing mine home.

English - "AmbassadOR"

French. Yeah... it could have been a lot better...

The carrot cake was pretty straightforward. I've never actually made a carrot cake before, and don't like carrots so I don't really eat it anyway, but this recipe was unlike what I think of when I think carrot cake. In my mind, a carrot cake is more or less a spice cake with some grated carrot stirred in. This was more like grated carrot with some eggs and flour to hold it together, and a bit of pineapple. Odd. But my brother requested carrot cake when I made it (so long as there were no raisins), so I will be bringing it home next week. We made a cream cheese glaze for the top (which I kind of messed up), and covered the sides with butter cream and grated, toasted coconut. A little piping around the top, and some butter cream carrots. Mine look silly. Don't laugh. I'm blaming it on the butter cream...

Silly carrots...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Clean Up

I forgot to mention yesterday that at some point over the weekend/Monday, our freezer at school had an issue, so technicians were called in. They, however, failed to start the freezer back up when they left, so... chaos ensued! Things were thawing out and there was flooding in the locker room below and it was awful! Not all that was in the freezer was lost, they were able to save a few things, which are temporarily living in the butchers' freezer. And so, the lovely little confection called Paris-Brest that I had put in the freezer, planning to bring home today... is now spoiled. But I think we'll be making more at some point, so I will eventually get a picture of one.

Today we were only in the kitchen in the morning because we had theory in the afternoon. And everyone had lots of bits and pieces of leftover pie dough kicking around the refrigerator, as well as various leftover fillings and toppings, so today was clean-out-the-fridge day! I had some of the filling left to make another apple tart like the ones we made yesterday, and I made another Bolduc tart like yesterday - I brought this one home and got a picture of it (victory!). And then I decided to revisit an older recipe, and make the pistachio-cherry tart we had made at the beginning - so I finally got a picture of that one, too! :)

The teacher gave us extra time for lunch, so a couple of my friends and I decided to take advantage of the weather while it's still somewhat nice out, so we had a little picnic on a park bench at a stop sign... It was amusing to see the reactions of people... :) And then this afternoon we were in theory working on Treatment of Raw Materials again. We had a little paper to write and some cost calculation exercises to do, and that's it.

Bolduc

Apple

Pistachio-cherry

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tarts, tarts, and more tarts

Gonna try to keep it short and sweet this time. We made 3 different tarts today, I barely got them all done, and only got pictures of 2. This is a long story which I won't be sharing here. My kitchen task today was to run the pastry shop along with another girl. This is quite possibly the worst job ever, and I loathe having to do it again. That's all I'm going to say about that...

So, the 3 tarts we made... The first had a chocolate cream in the bottom with caramel pears on top, which was baked, then finished with apricot glaze all over the top and grilled almonds around the edge. The second tart was similar, but with a white cream instead of chocolate, and sliced apples, baked, then finished with apricot glaze. The third tart is called a Bolduc. It had sliced apples in the bottom, raspberries and pecans sprinkled over the apples, and then a cinnamon sort of pie filling poured on top and baked. Not sure if there was a special finishing process for that one or not (part of the long story, not getting into it...). So, there you go. That's today in a nutshell. Here are the 2 pictures I did get.

Chocolate caramel-pear tart

Apple tart

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Love is like a good cake..."

"...you never know when it's coming, but you'd better eat it when it does!" - C. Joybell C.

Thursday and Friday we were back in our cake module. I much prefer making cakes over making pies. It's been interesting to make all these different pies and tarts, and I have to say, the lemon one... was amazing. But I don't particularly enjoy making, or even eating, pies. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a good slice of pie on occasion! Cakes, on the other hand... Cakes are much tastier, and more impressive looking. And besides, decorating is kind of my "thing," so I've been right in my element with the cakes.

Thursday we made this strange little confection called a Paris-Brest. It's made of pâte à choux (the stuff used to make cream puffs and eclairs). Choux pastry is much... softer than I had expected. We put it in a pastry bag and made big circles which we then baked. Then cut the top off the bigger circle, fill with creme, stuff the smaller circle inside, cover with lots more creme, then pop the top back on. Voila! Paris-Brest. I'm anxious to try it. I'll be bringing mine home next week, and sharing a picture then. We also whipped up a chocolate genoise, a white genoise, and some butter cream to be used the next day.

So Friday we just mounted our 2 genoise cakes, but the decorating had to be very precise, so it took a bit of time. It still seems amazing to me that all we did was decorate 2 cakes, but alas... So with the chocolate genoise, we built a black forest cake - yum! This involved slicing the cake into 3 layers (I'm getting pro at this), making the most delicious chocolate mousse ever for the first layer, and then Chantilly cream for the other layer and to cover the cake. Then we covered the sides and top with chocolate shavings, and piped Chantilly rosettes around the top and decorated with maraschino cherries! Beautiful! With the white cake we built a birthday cake. This was much the same process as the mocha cake from last week, minus all the coffee. So again, 3 layers, butter cream between the layers and over the cake, then some very specific piping around the top and bottom in a specific colour scheme (either blue or pink), and *drum roll* piped roses!!! So I used a nail for the first time and more or less succeeded! They weren't as big or as beautiful as the teacher's, but for a first attempt, I was thoroughly impressed with them. I kind of messed up the other gel piping on the top, but it still looked awesome. I was very happy with it. I took a picture, but I decided since I was already bringing home the black forest, I probably didn't need to bring home the birthday cake as well. But one of my classmates who works across from me loved it and said she'd buy it, so that was cool! :)

We have a day off on Monday, which will be nice, and then I have no idea what's in store for next week!

Pretty Black Forest which we will be digging into on Friday with my sister and family!

Birthday cake! As you can see, the gel piped part is uneven, too far in, and just generally messed up, but otherwise pretty decent for a first attempt.

Different angle. *sigh* Those roses! So impressed... ;)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bad days, good days, and lots of sugar...

This week didn't start off so well. To begin with, I had a cold over the weekend and wasn't quite over it Monday morning. I probably would have done well to have stayed home and rested, but I really didn't want to miss school and I wasn't coughing or sneezing or anything. But it wasn't a good day. To start with, we had a substitute teacher. Blah. I mean, he was nice enough, but he had a completely different method of teaching and he was very soft-spoken and kind of mumbled at times. It just wasn't the same. I felt much more stressed about getting things done on time than I usually do. But was that because of the teacher, or because I wasn't feeling well? Guess we'll never know...

In any case, Monday we were to make pâte sâblée aux amandes (a pie dough with powdered almonds in it), crème pâtissière (custard), lemon cream, and Italian meringue. We were to use our sugar dough from last week to make a shell for a fresh fruit tart, and the almond dough to make a shell for a lemon cream tart. I had the worst time trying to get my different doughs into the pans. We've been using the fluted tart pans again, and they are miserable things to work with! But they do make pretty desserts... We had to blind bake the tart shells, and both of mine cracked. This was absolutely disheartening. I showed the sub-teacher my cracked sugar dough and he told me it was too late to make a new one so if I wasn't planning on buying it myself, I'd just have to continue making it to be the demo for the class (to taste test). So I did, but it didn't go well. I was one of the last ones to finish it, so I got left with all the mushy fruit that nobody else wanted. It didn't look awful, but it wasn't spectacular either. I still wish I'd gotten a picture of it, but no camera. Then it came time to do the lemon tart and I found that that one had cracked even worse. So I made the lemon cream, and was done for the day. There was only half an hour left at that point, and I was too discouraged to try to do anything else.

Tuesday our teacher was back, and my cold was a bit better, so it was a slightly better day. I immediately started rolling out a new almond dough in case I had to redo my lemon tart shell. But when I showed it to the teacher, he said it shouldn't be a problem, and I said I would buy it anyway. So that was encouraging. I was able to keep up with the rest of the class more or less. The tart for yesterday was Choco-banana. There was a lot of fire-handling going on that day! First I had to use a torch to brown the meringue on my lemon tart - scary! Then we had to flambée our bananas - AH! Anyway, the first problem was when there were no bananas left for me, so I had to beg pieces of banana off other people and only ended up with half as much as the recipe asked for. I was able to flambée them quite well, tho. Then we had 2 other steps to do - make a chocolate mousse, and make a chocolate decoration (white stripes on brown) for the top of the tart. I didn't know which to do first and got really confused and discouraged. But I eventually got it all done and it didn't really matter the order. My mousse wasn't quite as thick as it should have been so I almost didn't have enough, and my chocolate decoration smudged a bit, but it didn't look half bad. I didn't get a picture of that one either. I was going to buy it today, but I hadn't put my name on it so it was already sold. Boo! Lesson learned: put your name on everything! lol You can decide later if you don't want to buy it.

My meringue could have been browned a bit more, but I was scared of the torch :/

Yum, yum!

Today I felt quite a bit better. I slept well last night, my cold is mostly gone, and I was just in better spirits. And today was a fun day, we had a sugar pie bake off! So we all brought in our own recipes for sugar pie, and any special ingredients, and made them to be tested by staff members and peers. Not sure who won in the end... I used my grandmother's Maple Cream Pie recipe, my uncle's light maple syrup, and made my pie dough the way I normally do at home. My pie was completely different from everyone else's, but it's super yummy and I don't care if it won a contest or not, it's still a family favourite! :) We also made a pecan tart - mine turned out perfect! - and chocolate pie with Chantilly cream on top. Chantilly cream is just whipped cream with sugar and vanilla. We had to pipe the cream on all fancy and then put little decorated pieces of chocolate in it. I'll try to get a picture later, it's quite pretty.

Pecan tart
Sadly, the chocolate pie didn't quite make it home in one piece. It was much more impressive a few hours ago... *sad face*

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mocha

Friday we started a new cooking module, Traditional Cakes. This is the longest module, it goes until Christmas, because we will be using it in other modules as well. And we made mocha cake! Something I have never made, eaten, or thought about before! But it turned out beautiful and delicious! :)

First we made a genoise cake, which is just a simple type of sponge cake - sugar, eggs, and flour. Then we mixed up a butter cream with a meringue base. Yum! So full and smooth, mmm. We added coffee liqueur to the butter cream, and to the caramel syrup we made earlier in the week. Then we split the cake into 3 layers, soaking each layer with the coffee flavoured syrup and spreading with a layer of butter cream. Then we coated and smoothed the entire cake with butter cream, using the funky triangle tool to make the pretty lines around the side, and some piping and voila! I was very pleased with how mine turned out.

We took it to my aunt and uncle's for supper, and the 6 of us managed to inhale it in a rather short amount of time, it was that good. I was happy it tasted as good as it looked - just because something looks good doesn't mean it tastes great, right? But it did. :)

Roasted almonds around the bottom... You can see at the left where I smudged the icing as I was putting it in the box. :(

Before...

During...

After.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Busy Week!

It's been a crazy busy week. When you get it all laid out, it doesn't seem like much, but there has been a lot of information processed over the past week. I already mentioned what we did on Monday, but just to recap, we put together 3 pies; strawberry, cherry, and blueberry. It doesn't seem like much (I mean, you work all day and only end up with 3 pies... and they're not even cooked?!) but it literally took all day. Of course, we had to get used to the layout of the kitchen, find and measure all our ingredients, etc. It takes time! And my feet were killing me! We have to wear steel cap shoes and I (stupidly) didn't break mine in before hand.

Tuesday was actually a half day because there was a Welcome Back ceremony-type thing planned for the afternoon. So first thing in the morning, we put our pies in the oven. Then we mixed up a batch of pâte sucrée which is sort of like a sugar cookie dough for pie shells, and we made caramel syrup, which is going to be used to make some sort of pear dessert [still not sure what the finished product will be, but Wednesday the teacher was boiling the pears in the syrup...]. We had to be done and have everything cleaned up (cooled pies in the fridge) by 11 in order to get to the Welcome Back program, which was for the whole campus. There was a lunch of sandwiches and veggies & dip prepared by the senior cooking students, and carrot cake & a sort of apple danish made by the senior pastry students. Then there was a little multiple choice quiz about the school, and the table with the most points won something. It was kind of... boring. My table wasn't much fun.

Wednesday some of the cooking students were making breakfast foods à la carte (3 choices), and we were invited to eat the product (for $3 each)! So that was a little break mid-morning. I chose the 3 crepes with maple syrup. I don't typically like crepes, I much prefer pancakes, but these were pretty good. The rest of the day was spent working our pâte sucrée into a fluted tart pan (not easy! I had to take 3 tries before I got it, and I was nearly in tears from the stress), and putting together, baking and decorating a pistachio cherry tart. They look really cool, I'll see if I can get a picture of one tomorrow! And we got to sample the fruit pies we had made earlier. Yum! The pastry counter also opened yesterday, so we sold some goodies, and we were able to buy our pies. Oh yes, and at one point in the afternoon, we learned how to make paper cones for decorating, and then used them to practice writing with deco gel, to figure out our own style.

Today was a theory/exam day for the hygiene and safety module. The school also pays for us to receive the training and write a government certification exam for health & safety (MAPAQ), which is required in most professional kitchens in Quebec. So we spent the morning studying for the MAPAQ exam, and in the afternoon wrote the school exam. This module is absolutely mandatory, if you fail it you can't continue the program, for obvious reasons. So we were all a bit over-stressed. But when I left, everyone so far had passed, myself included. So that is 2 modules down, only 17 to go! ;) [Side note: only 1 person failed the exam, but she will rewrite it and it shouldn't be a problem.]

Tomorrow would have been another theory day, but because we took less time than given to complete the hygiene module, we get to be in the kitchen instead. No idea what we'll be making!

Monday, September 9, 2013

First Production Day!

We were in the lab all day today - woohoo! We made 1 of each of the following pies: strawberry, cherry, and blueberry. I was super impressed with my fillings, I think they turned out pretty much perfect. The pie dough, however... not so sure. Guess I'll find out tomorrow when we bake them!

My favourite part of today was definitely making the fillings from scratch. That, and watching our teacher do the demonstrations. Pastry is an art form, and our teachers are real artists. Watching them is mesmerizing!

So the way things work, as far as bringing home "samples" goes, is that we have to buy anything we want to take home, and we each have first dibs to buy anything we make. But, because the school has a little pastry shop, we do have to at least try to leave some things to be put for sale in the store, so there is something for the lovely clients!

I am super tired. It was a good day, but my feet are killing me. Tomorrow we'll be baking our pies, so hopefully there will be some pictures to share! And I plan on buying at least one of them! :D

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Too Much Theory!

So! I'm back... Labour Day Weekend was interesting, but nothing really to talk about, so I won't.

Tuesday was back to school, but only for a couple of hours as we still had an afternoon to finish our interviews for the first module, and then we got sized for our uniforms. So I was home by 11, which was so nice! I finished up the worksheet and did a little reorganization of my papers, and read (for fun) the rest of the afternoon!

Yesterday was a bit more difficult. We jumped into module #3 (they don't often go in chronological order) which is Traitement de matières premières, which is dealing with raw materials. We were learning how to convert measurements between metric and imperial, temperatures between Celsius and Fahrenheit, and how to calculate the cost of the raw materials in a recipe. Metric and Imperial, I don't get. Everything else I was fine with, and actually had fun doing the exercises. Part of the problem with the weights was my calculator, which didn't have a big enough display screen, so I was missing numbers, etc. Needless to say, I switched calculators as soon as I got home.

Today... Today was long. We started Hygiène, salubrité et sécurité (hygiene, health and safety) with our other teacher. He is from France so he has a slightly different accent, and he speaks/reads very fast. Most of the material is common sense, but there was so much information, so fast, and words I didn't necessarily recognize right away, so all day I felt like I was a beat or two behind my peers. I have always had difficulty taking notes in class because I can't listen to new information and be writing what I just heard. But it's 10 times worse in French. I am not looking forward to the exam for this module, which could be as early as next Thursday! :( Tomorrow will be the same as today, but then it will be the weekend and I will be able to rest my brain. Maybe.

But next week, we start in the kitchen! Eeek! :) At least for a couple days. That's exciting. Must hem my uniform over the weekend...