Friday, April 30, 2010

04/29-30/10 - Class - Breads Week 3

Lots of bread this week. The was we do our breads was rearranged a little so that we'd have enough time to get everything done correctly, after last week's issues. On Thursday we fully baked two breads, prepared two breads through shaping and proofed overnight, and then just prepared the ingredients for three more breads to fully prepare on Friday.

On Thursday we made two breads. The first was country bread. It is the same as last week, only this time we made it in a different shape. This time it was a fleur shape. We'll be making it several more times to try various shapes, since it is a simple recipe.
The second bread that we made was Fougasse, a flatbread from Provence. It was kinda interesting. It was made with rosemary and olive oil so it's slightly reminiscent of focaccia. After fermenting, it is rolled into a fairly large rectangle and then cut into various shapes. It is classically cut like a sheaf of wheat with one cut down the center then more on either side. I made mine a little more unique.

On Friday we baked a lot of breads, six total with the new class layout. The first bread that we baked was 100% whole grain bread. This was the bread that we prepared last week but ran out of time to bake and so froze. I'm not sure how the freezing affected the final dough, but I liked it (though I don't think it was all that popular overall, since people don't want something even moderately healthy). It was rather dense though so perhaps the freezing affected proofing and rise.
The second bread was prepared on Thursday up to proofing and then retarded overnight in the refrigerator. This was a sesame semolina bread. I think it turned out really nicely, it looked very good. The only thing is that the chef forgot about the sesame seeds so it's really just a semolina bread, but that's fine with me, I don't really like sesame seeds.
The second dough that we retarded overnight was a sourdough whole wheat bread. It's kinda similar to what I usually make at home, but it's 50/50 flour like how I first started making it as opposed to 100%. Unfortunately this one didn't turn out the best. It got overproofed and so when we transferred it to bake, we tried to deflate it a little. It rose okay but was pretty small and dense, nothing too great. Probably okay for toast or something.
The first of the breads that we completely made on Friday was called Francese. It is like an Italian style of a French baguette. Instead of shaping it like a baguette, instead it is spread into a rectangle and cut into strip and then baked like a baguette. It makes it a little more rough and rustic looking. They had to be baked in the conventional oven due to time so there was no steam, hence the pale color.
Next was a Rustic Filone. This was pretty simple, I can't recall what really makes it unique at all. It used both a poolish and a levain, I guess that is what is special about it, though I do not know how using both would affect the bread. It baked very nicely though, it was pretty light and came out very well.
Finally we made a New York Rye, pretty basic rye bread. I personally am not a huge fan of rye bread but this came out really well. It had a great rye aroma. What surprised me is how light and soft it felt, since I tend to associate rye with being a fairly dense bread like whole wheat. It came out really nicely though.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

04/26-7/10 - Class - Tortes Week 3

This week we prepared three cakes. The cakes are now considered "specialty cakes" which are more in-depth, have more parts, and more decoration so they're some more work, but look nicer.

The first cake was a Raspberry Creme Brulee Macaraon. It is two discs of piped colored macaroon dough sandwiching a raspberry flavored creme brulee and whole raspberries and then finished with some decoration. The macaroons broke a little but otherwise it looks nice.

The second torte was called a Le Fraisier. It is a layer of genoise, then whole strawberries that are then surrounded by mousseline pastry cream. Another genoise layer tops that, some more pastry cream, and then it is topped with a layer of marzipan colored with green colored chocolate spray. Three holes are then filled with strawberry coulis. Very artsy.

The third torte was the one that I worked on, a Fresh Fruit Charlotte. It is a round base of ladyfinger sponge and then a ring of ladyfingers around the perimeter. Next comes diplomat cream, a kind of pastry cream. Then is a disc of frozen berry compote, more diplomat cream, a disc of frozen lemon cremeaux, and topped with more diplomat cream. It is then topped with fresh berries, glazed, and finished with powdered sugar. A lot of components and a good amount of work, but I think it came out pretty well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

04/22-3/10 - Class - Bread Week 2

Bit of a gap in posting, since I had a week off of classes due to my instructor's personal stuff, but picking up where I left off...

This week in our bread class we were able to do a lot more. The chef had the preferments ready for us on Thursday so we were able to bake those and do the preferments for Friday, so we could bake both days.

Thursday went very well. Our first bread was white pan bread, similar to what you'd find in the store. I think it came out really beautifully, soft, and really reminiscent of stuff you'd get in the store, without all those chemicals and other ingredients that have no place in bread (or any food).
Next was egg bread, an enriched bread. It was a really soft bread and came out pretty nicely. It could have proofed a little longer though, it didn't get as much rise as it probably should have.
The final bread on Thursday was country bread. It is a pretty simple rustic bread, and I guess something that we're going to be baking several times this quarter, each time shaping it differently. This time was in an Auvergnat shape.

Friday didn't go quite as well. However it was no fault of my own or my group's but simply a matter of time. We only get about four hours in a class and that seriously rushes some bread. We have to cut down on fermenting, resting, and proofing times just to be able to have a finished product and that can really hurt the product. Case in point: this week we made San Francisco sourdough that was a failure, it wasn't even really edible because there was no rise to it. It called for a three hour ferment and a 12-16 hour refrigerated proof and those had to be cut down to about 1-2 hours each, which pretty much ruined the recipe. We were to also made a 100% whole grain bread but that also didn't have enough time. At least for that we froze it after the shaping, prior to proofing. So we're going to see if next week we can proof and bake it and achieve good results, so that remains to be seen.

We did get two products out today, however. One was Pain de Beaucaire, which despite the name is a pretty basic sourdough based on the recipe. Perhaps it's supposed to be unique due to an odd shaping, but again that didn't really work out too well. Since we had to cut down on fermenting and proofing, it didn't rise a whole lot, but at least this one was serviceable enough to be eaten.
The second bread that we were able to get out was called Mountain Bread, pretty much just a rye bread shaped into a ring or crown. The dough was too wet due to insufficient fermenting and proofing time so we could only do a ring shape, and the rise was only average at best, but it came out at least.

I guess next week the chef is going to try to rearrange the class a little bit so that the bread can get sufficient rest time, perhaps giving most the breads an overnight ferment so that they only need to proof and bake the next day instead of trying to do full recipes in one day, each day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

04/12-13/10 - Class - Cakes and Tortes

Week two of cakes and tortes. We made four more this week.

The first was a Concord Cake. It is two sheets of baked meringue and filled with Concord cream, and then surrounded by logs of meringue and topped with some more and then powdered sugar. It looks nice, not sure about taste though. I tried a bit of the meringue, it had a very chewy feel, like it sticks in your teeth.

Next was a Zebra Torte. It's kinda interesting. Its center is a roulade, a cake baked very thin and soft so that it gets rolled up like a big jelly roll, covered with buttercream. That is sandwiched by two thin layers of chiffon and iced with more buttercream. It gives a nice effect when you cut it, since you see vertical layers like zebra stripes.

Third was a Black Forest Cake. It's pretty simple, layers of chocolate chiffon, filled with cherry cream and brandied cherries, and covered with chocolate buttercream. My group member forgot to fill it with cherries however, but I don't think that's a terrible loss. The brandied cherries were really strong, I think they would really retract from the flavor when you took a bite out of one.

The last cake, the one that I made, was a Sacher Torte. It is pretty simple and very bland. It's just an almond flavored chiffon cake, filled with apricot jam, and then coated with chocolate glaze and has "Sacher" piped on it. I recall that we made this in the Intro to Baking and Pastry class, and it was pretty bad. Very dense and dry. I really coated my cakes with simple syrup to try to give it at least a little moisture, but even with that, it's a pretty lame cake.

Friday, April 9, 2010

04/08-9/10 - Class - Week 1 Breads

My second baking class this quarter is Artisan Breads and I can already tell it's going to be a great class. Bread baking is probably my favorite kind and I have a good group.

This week we made three simple breads: baguettes, ciabatta, and focaccia. All were pretty easy and all went well. We made the preferments on Thursday and then baked them on Friday. In the future we'll have preferments prepared for us on Thursday so we'll be able to do more recipes per week.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

04/05-6-10 - Class - Tortes: Week 1

And so begins my final quarter in culinary school. The first class that I am taking this quarter is European Cakes and Tortes. I don't think that there are specific topics through this quarter like there have been in previous classes, just more tortes after another, so I can't really categorize the weeks. Whatever. Since there is so much to these items, I can't really work on every recipe like I had in previous classes but rather each person takes a recipe and for the most part does it themselves.

We began with four items this week. First up is an Opera cake. It is a thin cake layered with coffee flavored buttercream and topped with a thin layer of coating chocolate. Looks alright. I'm not the one who did the terrible piping on top by the way.

Next was tiramisu. I don't really know much of what went into it, as I didn't make it (I'd never make something so rough and messy and call it a final product). I know it's rimmed with ladyfingers and I think the layers are the same, but don't know what it's filled with. It looks like some kind of buttercream.

Third is a Pithivier, which I guess is a very classic, well known European cake, which the chef says also tastes very bland. I helped make some of it, particularly the filling, which is a mix of pastry cream and almond cream. I for one wouldn't really call it a cake, it is just puff pastry filled with that stuff, more like a big pastry to me.

The final item is the one that I worked on, the St. Honore cake. Like the previous, I wouldn't really consider it a cake. It is a puff pastry base with pate a choux piped around the edges and a spiral inside. It is then topped with more pastry puffs crowned with caramelized sugar. The puffs are filled with Creme Chiboust, which is pretty much Italian buttercream with rum and a few other ingredients. The same fills the inside of the cake. Creme chanantilly is then piped on the center. I guess it's supposed to look like a crown. Kinda lame to me.