Sunday, March 16, 2014

Baking At Home

Honestly? I rarely bake at home. You might wonder why, since I'm studying it and all, and it's something I enjoy... There are a lot of reasons - one being that I'm too lazy to bake at home all the time, another one being that no household needs baked goods all the time, and I do bring things home from school fairly often. Also... when you bake less often, people appreciate it more... There's a method here... ;)

Obviously some of the recipes we make at school call for special ingredients making it difficult or impossible to recreate at home. So I chose some of the simpler ones that I enjoyed and thought should be easy enough to do at home. As it turns out, for whatever reason, what works at school doesn't necessarily work at home (or at least not the same way).

I decided to make a lemon and a pecan tart, and thought sugar dough would suit both of them. I doubled the recipe to be safe, but I think I would have had plenty with just one recipe for the two tarts. Because my tart pan is a bit smaller than the ones at school, I ended up having a lot more dough than I needed, so I decided to make tartlet shells (which I made much too thick). I thought there might be extra lemon filling that I could use in them, but the filling recipe turned out to be just right for my pan. I thought it should have thickened up a bit more, so I don't know if I didn't cook it long enough, or if the amounts just need to be adjusted for home-use. Since we have a smaller Kitchen Aid than the ones at school, and because the recipe always makes too much, I halved the meringue recipe. It appeared to work out okay, but seemed a bit runnier than it should have been. But hey, it tasted great! :D For the pecan tart, I halved the filling recipe, which fit my pan perfectly, and it turned out great. I ended up making a chocolate ganache to finish the tartlets. They weren't as great as I had hoped, and I was really the only one who enjoyed them.

Tartlet shells, pecan tart, lemon meringue tart

Chocolate ganache tartlets

I also tried making our caramel custard recipe from school. When I was cooking the caramel, and when I poured it into the ramequins, it looked like it was cooked enough (I'm blaming it on the lighting in our kitchen); but after flipping the custards out of the ramequins, the caramel seemed to have melted and was almost translucent. So, I guess it wasn't really caramel. The custard itself worked, so I just need to work on the caramel. :) I didn't get a picture of the finished product, unfortunately.

Caramel in the bottom

Cooked custards cooling in the fridge

And finally, I made Cream Scones from the newest addition to my cookbook collection (The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays), which were amazing! Soft, sweet, buttery... mmmm! Will definitely be making them again! I originally wanted to make the Maple Bacon glaze for them, also from the cookbook, but they were so good on their own I didn't even bother.

This past week at school was a really short week. Monday was a planning day after March Break, Tuesday we had school, Wednesday and Thursday were snow days, then back at school on Friday. Made for a bizarre week. Tuesday we made a dessert called Café Noir, which was coffee-chocolate-whiskey flavoured. We started off by making a "decorated cookie" to go around the outside (chocolate stripes on white). For the cake layers of the dessert we made a coffee dacquoise cookie with raisins and chocolate chunks, and layered as follows: dacquoise soaked with a choco-coffee-whiskey syrup, then whiskey mousse, another cookie, a dark chocolate coffee cream layer, with more mousse on top. To finish, we piped more mousse onto the top in a random, crazy design, then sprinkled a thick coat of cocoa powder all over the top and finished off with a chocolate... splat. :)

Café Noir
Friday was our (unofficial) last day in the puff pastry module - the exam is on Monday! (We will still have a few more days in the module, just in case anyone fails the exam). So we did one last practice run for the exam, making turnovers, palmiers and vol-au-vents. My turnovers overflowed a little bit, but aside from that everything was great! Hopefully I can do it all again tomorrow. During the exam, we have to prepare a batch of puff pastry dough, as well as the 3 pastries I mentioned. Because puff pastry takes so long to prepare, there isn't really enough time to do all of that in one day, so we prepared the dough we would use during the exam on Friday. I was really not in good form Friday morning and kept making silly mistakes, so hopefully my dough will work the way it's supposed to.

Practice exam
Before the Break, we had prepared a potato puff pastry dough, using pureed potatoes. So Friday we used this dough to make little squares of pastry (galettes de pomme de terre). Mine didn't get out of the oven until almost the end of the day, so I forgot to take a picture, and I'm not sure if there will be any sticking around tomorrow. We also prepared, but I didn't have time to finish, a Copenhagen, which I will hopefully have a picture and explanation of next week!

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