Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween

Things have been totally crazy and busy lately!! I'm not even sure why. Monday was a planning day so we had a long weekend, and nothing was happening at home, so I'm really not sure where the time has gone, but it has! Yesterday was an Open House at school, and I was running the counter with another girl, so that's really all I did all day. It was a big day, but because that's all I did, it seemed like it went by quickly (thankfully). But today, we had to play catch up to do what everyone else did yesterday as well as today's projects. Ooof.

So between last week and this week so far, here's what we've made that I've taken pictures of... Millefeuille (flaky pastry layered with custard and chantilly cream with fondant on top, cut into individual pieces); date squares (nothing fancy, but it's a traditional dessert and people love them, and not everyone has made them before, so...); amandines aux pommes (apple tartlets... the same as the big ones we made before); another birthday cake (this was a practice run for our exam, just to make sure we know what to do and how to do it... I messed up the gel decoration again, but up to that point, it was perfect - I mean check out those roses!); Sacher (a very dense chocolate cake made with almond paste, with an apricot jam between the layers, then covered with chocolate ganache); another Black Forest (my only mistake was not draining my cherries enough, so they ran onto the cream a bit); then some Halloween cupcakes for the Open House (the pumpkin shaped ones were 2 mini cupcakes stacked together with butter cream, then covered with almond paste, the rest we could decorate however we wanted); and we also carved pumpkins to decorate for the Open House. We were supposed to try to depict the 9 programs offered at our pavillion, and the rest could be whatever we wanted, so I did the school logo and it turned out pretty great.

Today was a crappy day, having to run around to catch up on yesterday's work as well as today's, and I didn't feel well, so I was doubly discouraged, and wasn't very proud of the work I did manage to complete (which I don't have pictures of)... So here's hoping for a better tomorrow.


Millefeuille


Date squares


Amandines aux pommes

Birthday cake (take 2)

My beautiful butter cream roses :)

Sacher - I didn't let the ganache set enough before writing on the top


Black Forest

Halloween cupcakes (the green ones are mine)

Pumpkin cupcakes

My carved pumpkin... For some reason my computer refuses to turn this picture...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Montreal Cake Show!

I wasn't going to make a complete post about this, I was just going to mention it and add my fave photo, but the post I wrote for last week/this week to date was already too long. And, really, the Cake Show deserves a bit more than just a line and a photo, right?!

So ever since that first week of school when we had to split up into groups for our fieldwork projects, the group I was in has more or less stuck together. And a few weeks ago, one of the girls told the rest of us about the Montreal Cake Show and that she was going and asked if we'd like to go with her - uh, yes?! So we made the arrangements, bought our tickets, found a car, and the 5 of us headed off to Vanier College this past Sunday! At the last minute one girl dropped out, so we invited another girl from the class to take her place.

We left Sherbrooke at 8am and had a lot of fun in the car listening to music, and just generally getting to know each other better. The trip went really quickly. Then we had a hard time finding exactly where we were supposed to be, but we finally did, and we were so excited!! There were people giving away Uncle Ben's rice, and there were activities for kids, and Red Path sugar was one of the sponsors, so you could win sugar by answering questions (and also thru door prizes), there were tons of vendors to buy tools and other goodies from, and there were so many beautiful cake submissions to look at! I didn't take pictures of everything, but some of the ones that appealed to me more. And then we also got to sit in on the live challenge, which was so cool! There were 3 competitors - all women - one was from Ohio, and I assume the other 2 were from Quebec, I didn't actually hear where they were from. Two of the judges were also from Quebec (jonathan Gauthier and Christian Faure), and the third was Food Network Challenge winner, and author, Lauren Kitchens. The challenge was 3 hours long, the theme was Halloween, and the cakes had to be at least 20 inches tall and be 1/3 real cake. I didn't get any pictures of the live challenge cakes, unfortunately, but one was a colourful topsy-turvy style with a bag of candy on top. The other 2 were haunted houses, but very different styles. One was more cartoon -y - it was purple with yellow and green windows/shutters, with a widow's walk around the top and little ghost everywhere. The other was more realistic and it was a whole scene. The actual house was made of gingerbread with a cake tower inside, then there was a yard in front with creepy trees and crooked fence pieces and tombstones - it was really well done! The one with the candy bag on top (my least favourite) was actually the winner. Go figure!

I bought some goodies - a fluted tart pan, some cute cookie cutters and silicone cupcake molds, and some small tools for working with fondant/almond paste - and I won a door prize (!!!) from Epicure, which was 3 dip seasonings (Cheese, Chives & Bacon; Lemon Dilly; 3 Onion) and an "Appy Maker" (apparently appies are stuffed croissants?). Fun, fun! There were lots of really interesting door prizes, I was so excited to have won one! :) Oh,- and I bought a t-shirt!

We left right after the challenge, because we had already made plans to go somewhere out of the way for supper, but we didn't want to be too late getting home. So we got our supper (very yummy ribs!), and were on the road back to Sherbrooke by 8pm. So it was a very full day, but it went by quickly. I didn't get home until 10-something, so I didn't get much sleep before school the next day. And then Monday night I had an art class to go to, so I didn't get home until 9:30, so I am really tired! Hoping to get to bed a bit earlier tonight. It's really not fun to be this tired this early in the week. :(

Most realistic shoe cake I think I've ever seen!

All 3 of these were really cool.

More shoes

Really liked the painting and modeling on this one! So pretty and feminine!

One of my faves... so simple, and yet so cute!


The mermaid one of the left... possibly my favourite...

This masquerade one was also one of my faves :)








Some of the winning cupcakes from Saturday

So much detail! I loved this one!

Just thought this was funny. Thriller!


Choux!

We've been making a lot of things with choux pastry recently! And again, I don't remember in what order we did the projects last week, and I'm sure there must be other things we made that I didn't get pictures of, but my memory is just shot. I'm really tired, so please excuse any typing errors!

Eclairs
Not too much to say about eclairs... You make choux pastry, you use a pastry bag to form your eclairs/whatever, bake, then fill (custard) and cover (chocolate fondant). The challenge is to make them the right size, and all the same. As you can see, I wasn't very consistent, and mine were borderline too thin. But they passed.


Charlotte
This was a fun dessert to make, but I was running the store that day, so I kept having to leave it and then come back and try to remember where I was and what to do next. But we started out by make biscuits à cuillère (I'm pretty sure this is what we call Ladyfingers), and using the same batter to make round disks which make the base and middle layer of the Charlotte. The we covered them all generously with powdered sugar before baking, to make them crispy. Putting it together was pretty straight forward, but a bit tricky. The ladyfingers are all hooked together, so you just pick up the whole row and form around the inside of a circle mold. Then drop one circle inside, chocolate mousse, another cookie circle, more mousse, then cover with chocolate curls and powdered sugar, and finish with a ribbon. Very pretty presentation. I didn't get to taste this one and I didn't take it home, but I think it's something I would try making at home.



St-Honoré
This was all made with choux pastry. There's a very thin layer of flaky pastry on the bottom, covered with choux pastry and baked. Then it's filled with custard and covered with chantilly cream, with a little around the sides to stick the almonds to. Then 8 little cream puffs (filled with custard), plus one in the middle, more cream around everything, and finished off with a cherry and some chocolate curls.



Halloween
Friday was a really relaxed, fun day. We made Halloween cakes. They all had to be the same basic cake (chocolate genoise with orange butter cream, and chocolate butter cream chains around top and bottom), but after that, the design was completely up to us (but all the decorations had to be edible)! We knew ahead, so I did a little research the night before for a design I liked, which I found on this very cool and informative blog http://www.mycakeschool.com/blog/park-your-brooms-a-witchy-blog-tutorial/ I really like how it turned out, except for the writing on top. I didn't want to write anything, and it would have looked better without, but that was another stipulation - there had to be some writing, in some form, somewhere! I suppose I could have written Boo! between some of the legs or something else, but I didn't. So, the shoes I made out of almond paste, and everything else is piped butter cream. Our Community Centre (Brookbury) was having a potluck supper Saturday night, so I took the cake to be raffled off. :)




Choux
Or, cream puffs. :) I made the actual pastries last week, but didn't finish them until yesterday. They're filled with chantilly cream and covered with chocolate fondant.


Tartlets
Because we've started a new module, which is small cakes and petit fours, we've making a lot of the same things we've already done, but in miniature. So these are mini fresh fruit tarts. I think they look a lot nicer than the big tarts, and for that reason they're more appetizing, so I actually tried one, and they're quite tasty! :)


Cygnes
And today we made choux pastry swans - SO CUTE! And easy. You just make your choux pastry in the shape of a tear/water droplet, and then make a neck separately. After baking, you cut the top off of the tear, fill the tear with custard and cover with chantilly. Then you cut the top in half and sprinkle with powdered sugar and place as wings, then poke in the necks. Voila! :)



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Time Flies

Last week was a really short week because Monday was a catch up day (so I didn't have to go) and Friday we were off for Thanksgiving, then it was the long weekend, which was full, and so I haven't taken the time to sit down to write anything, and I honestly can't remember what was made which day! So in summary...

Wenesday was our pie/tart exam. We had made the dough the day before, and the fillings were prepared a few weeks ago, the exam was really to evaluate our method, and to make sure the crusts were well sealed, presentation, etc. We had to make 1 covered pie and 1 fresh fruit tart. The options for the covered pies were blueberry or strawberry. Most people were taking blueberry, but there was more strawberry so that's what I took, but the strawberry filling has a tendency to overflow for some reason. But the teachers knew this, and said that if we used strawberry and it overflowed it wouldn't count as marks lost (so it was really the better filling to use, no?!). My strawberry pie did overflow, but as promised, it didn't count, and I was able to make a decent presentation on my fresh fruit tart, but I didn't take pictures. I passed the exam, woohoo! We got to leave as soon as we were finished and cleaned up, so I even got home early. And got my MAPAQ certification in the mail! :)

Between Tuesday and Thursday we made a caramel pie (sadly, the recipe was completely messed up so that was a failure), lemon madeleines, a brownie tart (brownie batter baked in the bottom of the tart shell, then a custard-cream mixture, and covered with chocolate glaze), and we had another clean-out-the-fridge day at one point, so I made a lemon cream tart and a pecan tart!

We had a potluck lunch at church on Sunday so I took the pecan tart to that, and it was well received. Sunday night we went to supper at my uncle's house and I look the lemon tart, and it was very well received. And Monday my sister and family came for lunch/supper and we had the New York style cheesecake from last week! It was good, but we didn't eat it all so I sent the rest home with them. :)

This week we've been making crème caramel, eclairs and cream puffs! Will post pics the end of the week. :)

Brownie tart

And again...

Lemon cream

Pecan

Madeleines

Friday, October 4, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake!

I am really, really enjoying the cake module. Really. It's challenging, and I often feel like I'm running to catch up, because I somehow seem to always end up being one of the last ones to finish things (not just the cakes), but... as I've said before, cakes make a more impressive presentation, and they're yummier than pies. ;)

The past couple days have been a bit of a blur. Ah, who am I kidding? The whole week was a blur. By Tuesday I was sure it should have been Friday. We accomplished a lot of things this week. And over the course of Thursday and Friday, we made and finished four traditional cakes/desserts: millefeuille, New York style cheesecake, Marquise, and Moulin au café.

Millefeuille
We built this millefeuille to look like a cake. We started by rolling out flaky pastry to 2mm, piercing with a roller tool, then cutting out three 9-inch circles and baking them. Once cooled, and everything else was prepared, we tidied up the edges of the pastry circles and started putting it together. First one circle, a thick layer of custard, the next circle, Chantilly cream, and the top circle. Then we covered the sides with Chantilly, then melted white fondant onto the top and with chocolate ganache, did the same design as on the Boston cake, only opposite. Then the covered the sides with almonds and put a cherry in the middle. My fondant went a bit better this time around, but still room for improvement!



Cheesecake
I've never made a baked cheesecake before, so I was really excited about this. First we made a big madeleine cookie for the base, then mixed up the cheesecake batter, which was really runny, and poured into a greased pan lined with plastic wrap (yes, apparently you can put plastic wrap in the oven. I'm not sure how healthy it is, but we do it a lot), and baked in a bain-marie (inside a bigger pan filled with water). After it was baked, we tidied up the edges of the cheesecake to make it as even as possible. Then we pierced the madeleine and soaked with syrup to make it softer, then "glued" it to the cheesecake with a bit of Chantilly. Then we covered the top of the cheesecake with pink gel, covered the edges with Chantilly and white chocolate shavings, then made a pretty little design on top with white chocolate, and finished with some raspberries and a mint leaf.



Marquise
For the Marquise, we made a white genoise, split into 3 layers. We mixed up a hazelnut mousseline to go between the layers, then covered the whole cake with chocolate butter cream and let chill. Once the butter cream had set up, then we covered the cake with a chocolate glaze. The glaze was a bit too warm when I did mine, so the sides don't look as good as they might have. After the glaze was set, we did fancy piping and lettering on the top with white chocolate. I kind of messed up the border, but it doesn't look too bad. :)




Moulin (mill)
The Moulin is reminiscent of the Moka, in that everything's flavoured with coffee, but the Moulin has a chocolate genoise base. So, coffee butter cream between the layers and all over, with some chocolate sprinkles around the bottom, then some rosettes on the top with chocolate triangles resting on them to make a windmill! Cute! And that's it for this week. So, so ready for the weekend. :)


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect...

Monday, the teacher had us make covered pies like we made the first day, because in moving the frozen stuff from the butchers' freezer downstairs to ours upstairs, some of the fruit got left in the fridge and thawed out, so it needed to be used up. So, this was nothing new, but a good practice for the exam next week. There wasn't a ton of variety for fruit, it was mostly strawberries and blueberries, but I did manage to snag enough raspberries for 1 pie. For my other two pies I made strawberry and strawberry-blueberry. Aside from the raspberry filling, they all turned out so well! I didn't get my cornstarch runny enough before adding it to the mix so there were some lumps... :( I brought it home, I'm sure we'll enjoy it anyway. The other fillings went great, my pie crusts turned out beautiful, and only one of them ran over, and it happened just at the end of the baking. We also mixed up some different doughs to be used Tuesday.

Tuesday we had kind of a fun extra-curricular project, to make quiche! We could bring in extra ingredients if we wanted, but there were lots of fillings provided. This was also a practice for the exam - filling those frilly tart pans. They turned out great, but there was an error in our recipe, it asked for way too much salt, which I suppose we should have caught, but most of us were just following directions! They ended up way, way too salty, but good nonetheless. A recipe I'll be using at home, for sure. After the quiche, we made lintzer tarts. Monday we had mixed up this spicy cinnamon dough, that was the base of the linzter, with raspberry jam in the middle, and strips of dough on top. After baking we glazed with apricot. I tried the demo, and it was good, but not amazing, so I left it there. ;) Then we made a no-bake cheesecake, which they called a cheese pie - that had me completely confused! The graham crumb base has orange zest in it, which really complements the lemon in the cheese mixture! And the cheese mixture... oh my. It has whipped cream in it, so it's super velvety and smooth. Then we were supposed to cover the top with fresh strawberries, but there weren't enough to go around, so I only have a few in the middle, and then pie filling covering the rest. Then we glazed the strawberries, piped chantilly cream around the outside, and finished with graham crumbs around the outside of the cream. Some people put crushed pistachios on top, but I decided not to.

Quiche

Strawberry cheesecake

Rasberry lintzer tart

Today (Wednesday) we made an apple pie with flaky pastry. So, so, so good. A bit different from how we normally make apple pie. In this recipe you cut your apples into the bottom shell (either chunks or slices, however you like), piled up really high. Then you sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the apples, and cover with the top shell, then brush with egg-wash and cover the whole top with sugar, and let rest. After baking, you pour heavy cream into the hole on top, which makes a creamy sauce with the apple juices and cinnamon... Mmmmm! We also made a curious little confection called tarte choco-praliné croquant, literally, crunchy choco-praline tart. This had a pastry form, with a crunchy layer (mostly hazelnut-praline butter and pailleté feuilletine), then a chocolate cream layer, with chocolate ganache on top, and then some little pieces of hazelnut in sugar for decoration. I'm not a fan of hazelnut, and neither is the rest of my family, so this one also stayed at school.

Crunchy chocolate-hazelnut tart