Saturday, May 29, 2010

05/27/10 - Class - Breads

Only one day of class this week so fewer recipes than normal, but we still were able to churn out 5 breads in that one day.

First, since we can't get enough, is more country bread. This time it was a "Tabatiere" shape, like a bowtie, and like most in the past, the dough was very soft and didn't really hold the shape. A tighter dough recipe should be used for learning the various shapes.

Next we made pretzels. I've made these before at home, though they turned out a little better here. We opted to not dip our pretzel in a baking soda/salt solution, which is supposed to give it a salty taste and I think develop a chewy texture. Instead of shaping them as pretzels, I made mini batards. Perhaps because we didn't dip them, they were very soft. Since mine were so big they weren't really much like pretzels but rather rolls, but still tasted good.

Our third recipe was honey wheat pan bread. It sounds like a very good recipe. Being pressed for time, we had to cut down on proofing, and I think that affected it as it didn't get very large. Though it was a wheat bread so that had some effect as well. Even if it is dense, it will still likely taste pretty good.

Next we made English muffins. I thought these were considered a quick bread, but it uses yeast and ferments and rests, albeit very shortly, so I guess it is actually a bread. However I have seen other recipes where it is more a batter than a dough, so dunno. Regardless, they were kinda interesting. The dough was rolled out and cut into rounds and then cooked on a griddle (or frying pans in my case). I made them a bit too thick though so the outsides were browning with he insides still a little underdone. In retrospect I should have finished them in an oven but oh well. Since they are meant to be toasted, they get fully finished during the toasting process so they still turned out good.

Finally we also made hamburger buns. They turned out really beautifully, perfect shape, size, and a great color. All the more pity that I forgot to take a picture of them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

05/20-1/10 - Class - Sweet Breads

This week we did mainly sweet breads in class. These aren't my kind of thing, as I am fanatic about health, and generally just eat bread for sandwiches and bread pudding. They were interesting, however. Some pretty unique things.

The first bread we made was called corona dulce. It was a basic sweet bread. No frills, just bread with sugar and butter and that kinda stuff. It came out extremely light and soft. I didn't taste it but it probably would make a pretty good sandwich or bun even if it is a bit sweet.

Next was Hawaiian pineapple sweet bread. A pretty intersting one. It was flavored with pineapple juice and also had ginger. I tried a little bit and thought it was pretty good, even though I'm not much of a pineapple fan. Though being a sweet bread it isn't something I'd have more than a try of. This too was very light and soft, probably pretty good. Ours got a tad overdone unfortunately.

Next came a non-sweet bread, sourdough multigrain bread. This was very good, at least for my tastes. It tasted a tad dry, perhaps because of all the seeds and stuff, but I really liked the flavor and texture. I'm also surprised how much rise it got during proofing, so it wasn't as dense as I thought it would be.

The next bread was a particularly unique one: pan de cioccolate, or chocolate bread. Certainly not something for my tastes. When it finished mixing, the dough looked like a big mound of cookies dough as opposed to bread. It had almost no rise at all either. It was an interesting flavor to say the least. Not quite cookie and not quite bread, I don't think it would appeal to the masses, but to a big chocolate fan I'm sure it's really good.

The next bread was a buckwheat bread. It was supposed to be a pear buckwheat bread but the chef forgot to order pears, so it was just plain buckwheat. It had walnuts in it though so that added something. It's a shame that there weren't pears, I was looking forward to seeing how it tasted. Though as a plain buckwheat bread, it was still nice.

Another interesting recipe came in caramelized hazelnut squares. I guess it's a sweet bread, sorta. It isn't a sweetbread in that it doesn't have sugar or eggs or fat in the recipe, but it includes caramelized hazelnuts, which are hazelnuts coated with sugar. Despite that, I enjoyed it. You didn't really taste the sweetness much at all so it was a pretty good plain bread with nuts. It was pretty dense though, I'm not really sure why.

The last recipe was interesting as well. Corn bread. A bit misleading in the name as it isn't the cornbread that I'm familiar with, the quickbread. Rather it is bread made with corn flour and corn meal. Pretty unique, it tastes like bread, not the quickbread. I thought it was pretty good. but kinda dry. Possibly because of the cornmeal, I don't think it absorbs much moisture. The dough itself was very dry, a solid mass, not even tacky. I guess that carried over to the finished product.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

05/17-18/10 - Class - Tortes

Three new tortes this week. Nothing very new or interesting, seems like the class is going to be more of the same for the rest of the quarter.

Our first cake was a white chocolate mousse cake with raspberry. It came out pretty well. A decorated jaconde filled with white chocolate mousse, a raspberry insert, and raspberry glaze on top. These tortes are all becoming rather similar.

Next was an eros torte. Again, decorated jaconde filled with caramel mousse and caramelized walnuts and pecans.

The third cake was the one that I worked on, a chocolate mint mousse cake. It's a chocolate genoise base, filled with chocolate mousse and a mint creme brulee insert. It was then sprayed with chocolate to finish. I'm actually pretty proud of it. It came out really well and my cakes are usually average at best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

05/13-14/10 - Class - Bread Midterm

Same as the cake class, we had our bread midterm this week. Similar to the cake class, we did breads that we had done previously. Specifically, the breads that we made the first week of class: baguettes, ciabatta, and focaccia. They went a lot better this time, not that they were bad the first time, but still better.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

05/10-11/10 - Class - Cakes Midterm

This week was our midterm in the cakes class. It consisted of making three cakes that we had made in the past. It was supposed to be four but the chef didn't order an ingredient for it so it couldn't be made. The cakes that we made were a tiramisu (center), concord cake (right) and lemon mousse cake with blackberry (left). I think they all turned out pretty well and I think we did decently.

Friday, May 7, 2010

05/06-09/10 - Class - Breads Week 4

Another week, more breads.

On Thursday we only baked off one bread which was more country bread. This week was a Tordu shape, a long batard with a twist. I forgot to take a picture but it's the same as the last 3 country breads, not very interesting.

We also prepared doughs for sourdough rye bread and roasted potato bread. These were both left to ferment overnight and then baked off on Friday. Both turned out fine. I thought that the potato bread was pretty interesting. I've had potato bread before made with potato flour, but this recipe used roasted potatoes which we then mashed up and added to the dough. It made a very light, soft loaf, though I didn't really taste potato at all in it.

Besides baking those two breads, we also made a number of flatbreads on Friday. The first was corn tortillas. They didn't really work out the best. We used a tortilla press to shape them then cooked them in a skillet. I didn't think the press worked out very well-we had to stretch out the tortillas by hand before putting them in the skillet. Plus cooking them in general didn't turn out the best, they got rather irregular. They tasted okay I guess though. My past experience making tortillas at home were more successful I think though.

Next we made pita. These turned out very well, pretty much perfect. Quite the opposite as the tortillas, as my previous attempts at making pita at home didn't turn out that great. I think that's probably mostly due to my lack of practical facilities in my tiny apartment.

Additionally we made naan and lavash. They were both sorta similar in process, but ultimately quite different. Naan was made in larger loaves and given a three hour fermentation and 60 minute proof, while lavash also had a 3 hour ferment but only a 10 minute proof. Lavash was was also rolled a lot thinner than the naan and meant to be like a big crispy cracker. Ours wasn't rolled thin enough so it puffed up some but was still good. Our naan turned out quite well too. When it baked, it puffed a lot so I got a little worried but it deflated after removing it from the oven so it was pretty good. My only concern is that it seemed like a pretty bland recipe. When I've had naan in restaurants, it had many unique varieties, while the one we made was plain.