Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"You don't have to make everything from scratch....

"... Nobody wants to make puff pastry!" - Ina Garten
Well, unlike this quote, we do have to make most everything from scratch, including puff pastry - the worst, especially when making millefeuille! My first attempt turned out ok, but the teacher was helping a lot, and it was more in the form of a cake. The second time wasn't great, the third time I completely messed it up and had to start over and even then it wasn't right, and this last time, well, it actually turned out ok. There are lots of difficulties, for me anyway, with making puff or flaky pastry. First is the pastry itself, but I think that's because the recipe we have right now is the "quick" method, and one teacher teaches it one way while the other teaches it a different way, which leads to confusion. You want to have bits of butter through your dough, but not big chunks that will harden in the fridge and crack when you roll it out. Then you have to roll it and fold it and let it rest, and that takes some time. But then you have to roll it out to use, and it has to be big and thin (because we bake it in a big sheet), which requires space to roll it out and some upper body strength. It is not for the weak! Nor for the faint of heart. It is not my favourite thing to make. Then you have to bake it, which can be a bit tricky sometimes. Cutting it the first time isn't usually a problem if it's cooked properly. Putting it together is easy. Getting the fondant to the right consistency is tricky, and spreading it out on top isn't the easiest, but it's doing the marbling that really takes some quick work. The chocolate has to be in a parchment cone and ready, but not too far ahead so it solidifies. As soon as the fondant is spread out, you have to draw on the chocolate and then immediately marble it. If the fondant is too thick, you will just cut it (like every other time I've done it). The fondant and marbling part of it actually went perfectly for me this time. But the hardest part of all is cutting the individual pieces. You have to cut through the fondant and 3 layers of pastry without squishing all the filling out. The first few cuts usually go pretty smoothly, but once the pieces you're cutting get smaller, they get squishier. So, all that to say... There is a lot of effort put into millefeuille! :)

Millefeuille

Let's see... I actually started this post over a week ago, so there's quite a bit to add. First off, some pictures of the last Christmas logs I finished... Chocolate butter cream (we had lots of butter cream left over, so we were split up into teams to do different flavours, and mine was chocolate again) and the Framboisier I hadn't taken a picture of before. We made another batch of bûchettes, these are called caramélitas. They have a sort of almond nougatine crumbed up inside with a caramel butter cream, and decorated with molded chocolates and the nougatine.

Chocolate butter cream

Chocolate butter cream

Framboisier

Caramelitas

We were still practicing for the petits fours module, so we made another batch of mini mochas, a dessert called Alizé, and a dessert called Caracque. The Alizé is layers of white cookie covered with chocolate, with coffee butter cream and raspberry preserve, and then airbrushed and cut into pieces. The Caracque is a chocolate sheet cake in a half tube mold, with chocolate mousse and partially preserved apricots in the middle. It was then frozen, covered with a type of ganache, and sliced. This week, we also made little verrines véracruz which are just little layered dessert cups. The bottom layer is a kind of vanilla pudding. After freezing, we added little cubes of brownie, then added a layer of chocolate mousse. After freezing again, we covered with ganache and topped with more brownie pieces and chocolate filigrees.

Mini mochas

Alizé

Caracque (just missing dried apricot pieces to finish off each slice)
Verrine véracruz

Thursday and Friday were interesting days. The teachers decided to split the class in half so that half the class would do the cake module exam with one teacher, while the other half made gingerbread houses (for fun!) with the other teacher, and vice versa the next day. So Thursday was my exam day, and aside from cutting my thumb right at the beginning, it went pretty well. The only thing the teacher mentioned was, for the Black Forest, that I had added the powdered sugar after placing the cherries on top. So, it was a success, and I remembered to take pictures! Yay!

Black Forest - exam

Birthday cake - exam (still hating the piping gel...)

Friday was actually my day to work the store, so I really didn't end up with much time for my gingerbread house. I was so disappointed! I had been so psyched and bought loads of candy, but didn't end up being able to do anything, and what I did manage to put together, with my friend Kelly, looked... pretty awful. So, I brought it home and we (Mom, Dad, Reuben and I) added the candy to it that night, and then it looked...ok. lol We put them together with chocolate because it dries faster than royal icing, but I have to say... chocolate mixed with candy and gingerbread is gross. I have another house cut out, maybe this weekend I will put it together and decorate it. I'd like to try doing more icing work.

My friend Sarah's house (as an example of what everyone else did)

My house before...

...my house after

Yesterday we did our exam for the petits fours and small cakes module (mini mochas, barquettes, and carolines). I was the last one finished/graded, but I did well. I forgot to take a picture tho. :(

Today was a really relaxed, fun day. We worked in teams to make sugar waffles. Then we made Aztec hot chocolate - soooo rich, but very yummy! Then we all worked in small groups throughout the rest of the day making some of the following: marshmallows, sucre à la crème, sponge candy, rum balls, and beaver tails, and just generally cleaning out the fridge. Tomorrow we're spending the morning doing a big clean up of the kitchen and then we're going out for lunch as a group, which should be fun! Not really sure what the afternoon will hold, but after that, we are on vacation! Woohoo! :) So I probably won't be making any more pastry related posts until mid-January, 2014!! I wish you and your families all a very merry Christmas, and a happy and safe new year!

Aztec hot chocolate with lots of milk added...

Marshmallows!

Sugar waffles

Sponge candy

Sucre à la crème (My teammates made this, I was doing something else. It's a bit hard, but very tasty!)

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