Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday Baking - Apple Pie

On Saturday I made two apple pies using recipes from the cook book The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The first three pictures are of the The Best All-American Apple Pie. The pie dough was hard to work with while rolling it out. I thought is was too dry. It was tearing and not staying together. The finished pie shell was fine and it tasted good. I used Granny Smith Green Apples in this pie. The apples tasted good in the pie. I did have a little problem with juice coming out between the bottom pie shell and the top pie dough. I guess I didn't have it sealed well enough.

The second apple pie was made using the Apple Crumble Pie. In this pie I used Gala Apples. My family and I like this pie better than the first pie. They were both good, but the Apple Crumble Pie was our preference.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 38 - Bread Practical #2

Today was my bread practical. I had to make baguettes and 2, 4, & 6 braid challah. My 2 & 6 braid challah (2 loaves on the left side of pan) came out fine. My 4 braid challah (in the middle of the pan) didn't come out so well because the braid was a little too tight so it split a little. The baguettes didn't do so well. The baguette on the right side of the pan really split open from the steam. The seam of the loaf are place on the bottom when I make it. This is were it split open. Quite a few other students had the same problem. Come to find out, we then learned that our younger Chef instructor had told us wrong about the length of time for proofing the dough. Another Chef figured out the problem and informed our instructor about the proper way these should be allowed to sit. So, at least I know what happened, but now I wonder how the Chef instructor will grade the baguettes being he told us wrong.

After class, I went to a culinary arts class to help eat some of their production from their practical. The Chef from that class was my high school culinary teacher. Well, taste testing is a tough job, but someone has to do it. There were things like: shrimp cocktail, oyster poboys, club sandwiches, Waldorf salad, egg salad, etc.

I guess I'll go eat some sushi now and try to think about what I can bake this weekend.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 37 - Naan and Apple Sour Bread

Today I made four breads. The picture above is my Apple Sour Bread, which came from the Apple Sour starter that I started making almost a week and a half ago. You can smell the apple but can't necessarily taste it. I added cinnamon and raisins in it as well. It's very similar to normal raisin bread. I also made tortillas and pita bread today. These are very easy to make.

I also made Naan, a leavened, oven baked flat bread that is popular in South Asia. Typically this is cooked in a large ceramic, clay pot or domed clay oven. The dough is flattened out into a pizza shaped round and slapped to the side of the pot or oven. This is were it normally deforms into a slipper shape piece of bread and falls off the side when cooked. Since we don't have pots or ovens like this we cooked it in crepe pans. This came out tasting very good. My family gobbled this up when I got home. We used it for dipping in a hot mexican cheese & jalapeno dip, which we were having with dinner anyway.

Naan - (recipe from school) this makes qty 4 shoe sized pieces of bread.
all purpose flour - 7 oz
yeast - .25 oz
water - 3 oz
clarified butter - 1 oz
yogurt - 1 oz
egg - 1 oz
sugar - .5 oz
salt - .75 tsp

Mix all the ingredients in a mixer then round the dough and let it proof. Then divide into 4 equal pieces and form into a shape like a shoe sole. Then cook it in a crepe pan, but first lightly spray water on the pan side of the Naan. Cook till it releases from the pan and then flip and cover the pan. The second side will cook quickly.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 36 - Assorted breads and crackers

Today started out with the Chef demonstrating how to make the bagels. Then it was off to our table to start our production. I took the bagels I formed yesterday, simmered in water and inverted sugar. Then I dipped the tops of the bagels in Parmesan cheese (yellow tops), salt-n-pepper (white topped bagels), or sesame seeds (black topped bagels) and baked them in the oven.

Next I made the lavosh and crackers. The lavosh was not my favorite. I like the crackers a lot and I would have liked some soup to throw them in. Here is how to make the crackers.

Crackers (recipe from school)
Bread flour - 5 oz.
Sugar - .125 oz.
butter - .8 oz.
Cayenne - pinch
Onion pwdr - pinch

Mix ingredients together, roll out into sheet about 1/8" thick. I cut 1" squares and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees till hard (about 15 minutes). Take them out and check if they are still soft, put back into oven till hard. It will not hurt putting them back in the oven.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 35 - Test Results and English Muffins

Today I got the results for last Friday's practical. The overall grade is 94%. We were graded on four areas:

A) Sanitation/General (grade: 16 out of 16)
- Organization / Work flow
- Hygiene and Safety Practices
- Timing
- Professionalism

B) Pain Au Lait (grade: 14 out of 16)
- Texture (-1 point for being overcooked)
- Taste
- Color (-1 point for being too dark)
- Shape

C) Epi (grade: 16 out of 16)
- Texture
- Taste
- Color
- Shape

D) Baguette (grade: 15 out of 16)
- Texture (-1 point, just bake longer)
- Taste
- Color
- Shape

Today we made cracker dough and lavosh (an Armenian unleavened flat bread). We also finished making our bagel dough and we formed the bagels. We also did our second build to our Apple Sour Dough. Also I made English Muffins.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Today is Cherie's (my little sister) 18th birthday. She wanted a chocolate chip cookie cake so I baked this for her. Happy Birthday Cherie!

Day 34 - Braiding Challah Bread

Today our demonstration was on how to braid Challah bread. We were shown how to braid 2, 4, 5 and 6 strand bread. I actually made 2 strand, 4 strand and 6 strand Challah. It was easy to do, but my 2 strand didn't come out looking so good. I think I got my strands crossed in one area.
Below is a picture of the 4 strand in the front and 2 strand in the back.

And below is my 6 strand Challah.

Today we did build #1 on our apple sour starter. You may remember that I started my apple sour starter seven days ago. I've only opened it and stirred each day since then waiting for it to begin a yeast action. Today, I added flour, honey and water, to begin building the dough.

I also started a sponge for bagels which I'll be making on Wednesday. Here is how to make the sponge (or the starter).

Bagels (recipe from school)
yeast - 1/2 tsp
water - 10 oz
bread flour - 9 oz
This is mixed and placed in the refrigerator overnight.
Then next day you add the following to sponge.
yeast - 1/4 tsp
bread flour - 8.5 oz
salt - 1.5 tsp
honey - 1 tsp

Mix it together, then let it rise. After rising, pat down the dough.
Make 3.5 oz portions and form a bagel ring. Refrigerate till the bagel can be picked up with stretching out of shape. Before pulling out of refrigerator, prepare pot of 1 gallon of water with 1 oz of sugar. Bring water up to simmer. When water is simmering, place bagels in water without crowding as they will float at the top of the water. One the bottom side of the bagel changes color (turns just a little darker) then turn the bagel over in the water to cook the other side. This is done to keep the inside of the bagel soft while baking. After the bagels are done in the water, place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can coat the top of the bagel with toppings such as salt/pepper, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, Parmesan cheese, etc. Bake the bagels in a convection oven at 350 degrees till golden brown in color.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday practice baking bread.

Today I practiced baking some bread. I made two baguettes and two Epi. They came out wonderful.

French Baguettes on Foodista

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 33 - Practical #1

Today was my first practical in BK 110 class. I first made the Milk Bread (Pain Au Lait) [in the bottom left corner]. They came out better in weight, but a hair darker than I would have liked. Also, a few of them didn't hold their shape very well. This was because I forced some of them into their shape when I should have waited a little bit longer for them to rest then roll out and form them.

I then used the sponge method to make the Baguette Epi (top left) and Fougase (top right). For some reason the dough was not working for me today. It was drying out on me, and the gluten was to tight. Both made it hard to work with. The Epi came out a little darker than I would have liked, but came out nice. The Fougase came out nice as well.

The last thing was Baguettes (bottom right) made by the straight method. The color was beautiful. Only I didn't let them bake long enough. When I checked in the oven they were hard and I took them out, after they cooled a bit I checked them and they were soft. Not good for Baguettes. So I put them back in the oven, but sadly, it didn't fix the problem. Another problem is that although I thought I cut the slices on top the baguettes like the teacher said, some of the slices were slit too long. Only one of my Baguettes came out perfect on top (the left baguette of the three).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 32 - Breads

Today we made Ciabatta (above), Rye, and Baguette Epi and Fougase. Ciabatta means, "slipper." I didn't really like the taste of the Ciabatta. One reason being all that flour on top wasn't that tasty on the bread, and the piece I had was an the end and it was crispy.

We made to Rye pan loaves and boy was it wonderful! I would definitely make this again. The last thing we made was Baguette dough which we turned in to Epi (below) and Fougase (bottom). The Epi looks really cool. This style is mostly used for displays and/or rolls for tables. Which I think is a pretty cool idea. The Fougase was brushed with olive oil and pepper, salt, and other spices.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 31 - Baking Bread Again

The Cuban bread above was what I didn't get baked before I left, but the Chef baked it for me.
Well they were supposed to be baguettes but turn out to Cuban bread. It seems they were put in an oven by another Chef in another classroom. The oven wasn't turned on, so they basically proofed a little more before my Chef instructor realized the oven wasn't on. He turned on the oven and so the dough proofed a little more while the oven heated up. So the Chef explained that basically my dough came out similar to Cuban bread.

The great thing about not having a partner is that I get to do everything. Today I made three kinds of bread.

These are Rolls with Sun-dried Tomato topped with a little Parmesan cheese. I didn't like these so much and the reason is, is that I didn't put salt and sugar that was called for. I got to taste my rolls and the rolls that the Chef made and that little bit of salt and sugar makes a big difference. Oops!

Then I made baguette made using the sponge method. I accidentally added to much water while making the dough and I realized it instantly. So I just added more flower and a little salt to compensate. Good mistake since I got to bring the extra baguette home with me. It came out great and taste very good.

Last I made Foccacia bread topped with tomato, basil, mozzarella and Parmesan. I like the Focaccia bread. I wish I had had more tomato to put on it. I'll being making this again. I really like baking bread!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 30 - Baking Wheat Bread, Pain au Lait

After our daily lineup, we started working on making our dough. I made a loaf of whole wheat bread and whole wheat baguette with the same whole wheat dough. It came out good.

I also made pain au lait (milk bread). Two of these were plain, two were topped with poppy seeds and two were topped with sesame seeds. I also made french bread baguettes, but was unable to bake them since I ran out of time. Poop!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 29 - Baking Bread

Today I started my new class, Introduction to Baking Principles and Ingredient Functions. This is a three week class, as most of the rest of the classes are. Since this is the first day of this class, the students drew numbers for table/partner assignments for the next three weeks. I was very happy that I picked a table at the front of the class near the Chef instructor. Not only that, but I'll have the table all to myself, since there is an odd number of students in this class. Currently there are 25 students in the class.

Then the Chef demonstrated how to make a loaf of white bread. As typical in these Chef demonstrations, the Chef instructor is giving a lecture. Today he talked about flours and calculating dough temperatures. So my blogs don't necessarily mention all that we are learning while watching these daily demonstrations.

Then I started my production for the day. I mixed the bread dough in the mixer, rolled it in a smooth ball, then let it proof while covered on the table. Next I degassed it by slapping it down and then shaped it like a sausage to go in a bread loaf pan. Then I proofed it in a proof box to regulate the temperature and humidity. Afterwards I baked it in the oven.

I also made apple sour starter by grating green apples, then added sugar and water. This will sit unrefrigerated for five days. This will be then be used for making bread next Monday. Today was a light day baking wise, since it was the first day of the class. Tomorrow I'll make three different breads.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Dessert

Today I thought I would practice making crepes and then Bananas Foster for the family. It was yummy and everyone enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Baking a Birthday Cake

I baked a cake for the neighbor's daughter who is having a birthday party today. I baked two 9" layers of white cake. On top of the first layer, I coated it with a milk chocolate ganache, then put a layer of fresh raspberries, then another layer of ganache and the top layer of cake.

I covered the cake with the milk chocolate ganache. I made the yellow and pink butter cream roses last night. This is the first cake that I've ever made butter cream roses for and I'm pretty happy with the outcome. The yellow roses were the last that I made and they looked better than the pink ones. The more I made the better the roses came out. I made some green icing and made piped some green leaves. The cake, icing and filling were all picked by the birthday girl and she was very happy with the cake when I delivered it. Happy Birthday Skyler!

Monique and Skyler

10:07pm - Update: My family and I also got to taste the cake. It was very good. The neighbors were very happy with the taste as well. This puts a smile on my face.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 28 - Flambé

As usual, the day started out with the Chef instructor demonstration. He showed us how to make Cherries Jubilee, Bananas Foster and Crêpe Suzette. Then we started our production for the day. I made all three dishes today and all three were very simple to make. The fun part was doing the flambé on each dish.

I started off making Cherries Jubilee. We used canned cherries, which is a first for me. It came out tasting good but I kept wondering if it would have been better with fresh cherries. It didn't look as appealing to me since the canned cherries were dark looking. This dish required brandy for the flambé.

Next I made the Bananas Foster. The dish used rum for the flambé. I liked the Bananas Foster.

Last of all I made the Crêpe Suzette. This dish required Triple Sec (an orange flavored liqueur) for the flambé. I liked the Crêpe Suzette but I thought it was missing something for my taste. Maybe cream cheese, whipped cream, just something. All three dishes would have looked better if white plates would have been used and a little more careful platting, but we didn't have time for that.

Today was a short day as they told us to leave about 1.5 hours early due to the snow. The birthday cake I made on Wednesday night was hit at my mother's office. Mom came home with the empty cake carrier. Tonight I'm starting some butter cream roses for another birthday cake for a neighbor. I'll bake the cake and decorate it tomorrow morning then deliver it tomorrow afternoon. I'll post pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 27 - Chicken and Roses

A friend of mine in class helps her mother, who is a cake decorator, decorate cakes. I asked her to come in early this morning and teach me how to make roses using butter cream. Thankfully she agreed. I'm making a birthday cake for a neighbor and wanted to put roses on it, so now I can attempt it. The purple roses are my first attempt. I can do better with a little practice now that I know how to do it. I was excited to learn.

Oddly enough, what we cooked today in class had nothing what so ever to do with Patisserie and Baking. You may remember that just the other day I complained about not doing enough baking in class and class getting dismissed 30 minutes quite often. Well, they top that today. I cooked Chicken Marsala. It came out OK, but me being used to eating New Orleans style food, well, I thought Chicken Marsala was a little bland. It could have used a little Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning on it.

Today I got my quiz results from the last two Friday practicals. I earned a 97 on one and 100 on the other.

The last thing I did today was to make crepes. I definitely need a little more practice. The crepes that I made today will be used tomorrow when I will make Crepe Suzettes, Bananas Foster, and Cherry Jubilee.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Extracurricular Baking

Tonight I baked a birthday cake for a lady who works for my mother. She'll take it to work tomorrow for the lady's birthday. I made a two layer cake. One layer yellow cake and the other layer french vanilla cake. I made a milk chocolate ganache for the icing. I decorated the top with some little green leaves and premium M&M's for little rose buds.
I started making a bitter sweet chocolate ganache, but it was just too bitter for my taste. So I started over using a milk chocolate. I can't wait to learn more about cakes in school.

Day 26 - Macaroons and Savarin

The chef started with demonstrating how to make the savarin dough and what to do with it. Then I went back to my table and started producing. I made the savarin dough and while waiting for it to rise, I started on making macaroons. I thought I would make chocolate macaroons with ganache filling. The macaroons (see above) look great but the were a little crunchy. The last time I made them they were just right. They look right and I don't think I cooked them too long. But without any critique from the chef, I have no way of knowing.

The savarin looks good, but I didn't care for the taste at all. After baking the dough, you then soak the little ball in a rum syrup. Then I topped it with whipped cream. It wasn't a very busy day. Mostly it was wasted time waiting for the savarin to rise and to bake.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 25 - More Quick Breads.

Today started out with the chef demonstrating how make Pâte à choux. Pâte à choux is a light pastry dough used to make things like profiteroles and eclairs. I heard that it can be fried to make beignets, which everyone from New Orleans knows of. Also during demonstration, the chef showed us how to line a loaf pan. This involved spraying the loaf pan with cooking spray and then taking a piece of parchment paper running from one end of the loaf pan to the other end with a few inches hanging out on each end. This strip is used to aid pulling the loaf of bread out of the pan after it's baked.

Using the ingredients that I scaled yesterday, my partner mixed up the dough for the banana-nut bread. The chef baked the bread from each table at the same time so they could be timed together. The bread came out nice.

Today I made blueberry muffins. The blueberry muffins tasted good and they were moist.

Today I also made Eclairs. They are really easy to make and they taste great. I filled them with pastry cream and they were covered with chocolate ganache. The ganache had a nice sheen.

Thanks for the comments, I enjoy reading them. Carol asked if I enjoyed attending Le Cordon Bleu and doing all the baking. So far I am enjoying going to Le Cordon Bleu and I love all the baking. Besides baking at school during the week, I also bake at home on the weekends. To be honest I didn't know exactly what to expect when going to Le Cordon Bleu. I did expect to do a lot of baking and I expected to do a lot of cleaning up after myself. But, here are some of the things I didn't expect:

It is a little upsetting to get to the kitchen and things have not been cleaned as well as you left it the day before. It seems that some of the chef instructors have varying standards as far as cleanliness.

I had it in my mind that I would get a little more individual daily feedback from the instructor about the products I made each day. The only feedback that each individual really gets is on the practical test at the end of each week.

I also thought I would be baking more each day. I think too much time is wasted some days on breaks and empty time at the end of the class. The way I look at it, break times longer than 15 minutes is a waste and being let out of class 30 minutes early is a waste of my money that I am paying for tuition. The Pastry and Baking program is only about 7 months long (excluding the externship) so I want to get all I can out of the classes.

Oh yeah, the ice cream/pastry scoop that came with my toolkit keeps breaking. (I know, big deal right.)

So far everything that I'm doing isn't difficult. We are given the recipes or we are given instruction during the demonstrations by the chef instructor. If I face anything that I think is hard, I'm sure I'll let you know in the blog.

If you are wondering why the title is More Quick Breads, well, quick breads refers to the fact that once I mix the dough it is ready to bake. The dough doesn't need to rise.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 24 - Quick Breads

This week we will focus on quick breads. The Chef demonstrated biscuits today. Then we went back to our tables to start production. We made three different things today. First my partner and I together, made Blueberry Muffins. They came out good and out of the three things we made today, these were my favorite. They were moist and tasted great.

My partner made the Scones with raisins. I didn't taste these, but my partner said they tasted like the biscuits.
I made the biscuits. They were easy to make and came out good. I wish I would have had some butter and apple jelly to eat with it. Then I scaled out the ingredients to make banana-nut bread tomorrow. My partner made pastry cream for the eclairs we'll make tomorrow.

Today I got the results for last Friday's practical. The overall grade is 95. We were graded on three areas:
A) Sanitation/General (grade: 10 out of 10)

  • Organization / Work flow
  • Hygiene and Safety Practices
  • Timing
  • Professionalism

B) Fruit Pie (grade: 43 out of 45)

  • Top Crust Texture
  • Bottom Crust
  • Flavor
  • Color
  • Lattice (-2 points for lattice spacing)

C) Frangipane Tart (grade: 42 out of 45)

  • Texture
  • Flavor
  • Color
  • Aesthetics (-3 points for not trimming tart shell close enough to ring)
  • Presentation/Garnish

Some of you may be wondering why I don't include the recipes in my blog. Currently everything we are doing is very basic and there is nothing very special about the finished product. The intended purpose is to teach us the technics involved. Later if we make anything that I considered extraordinary, I promise to include the recipe.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Baking for the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras

Today I baked two King Cakes using a recipe I found on

The last king cake I made was too heavy and not quite what I wanted. This recipe was much better. The recipe makes two king cakes. I made the mistake of not rolling the dough out long enough. I probably rolled each piece of dough about 10" x 24". This made for a very small oval and a little thicker than I wanted. Next time I would shoot for maybe 8" x 36". Just a guess on my part. I didn't used all of the sugar/cinnamon mixture the recipe call for before rolling up the dough. I was afraid I was putting too much, but after tasting it, I should have used it all. The king cake is very light and tasty though. I'm very happy with the outcome. I decorated one cake with sugar using the traditional Mardi Gras colors; Purple, Green, Gold. The other king cake I tried to do Black and Gold to celebrate the Saints being in the Super Bowl today. For the Black sugar I used a stencil I made by printing and cutting out a Fleur De Lis.
Geaux Saints! Who Dat!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 23 - Practical

Today we started like normal, everyone lines up and Chef walks do the line inspecting uniforms. Then we started our practical for the week. Yesterday I had prepped by making Mealy dough, Flaky dough and Pâte Sucrée. The practical today required making Frangipane Pear Tartlet and Apple Pie. The pastry cream was made by my partner and me. Then we work on our own to make the rest. I've already talked about the Frangipane Pear Tarlet the other day. The Apple Pie was made using the dough like I did the other day. The filling was just apple slices tossed in sugar and corn starch. The Mealy dough was used for the bottom pie crust. The Flaky dough was used for the top pie crust. I rolled out the Flaky dough, made the lattice, then put it in the freezer to cool so that it handles easier when placing on top the pie. Both the tartlet and pie came out well. See the attached picture of the half sheet pan with the pie and tartlets that I turned in to get graded. Like last week, I won't know my grade till next week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 22 - Tarts and Rugelach

The class today started out with the Chef demonstrating how to make Rugelach. This is a Jewish pastry. We were using apricot jam as a filling. Afterwards we started our production for the day.

I made Apple Tarts and Pecan Tarts. Then I made the Rugelach. The tarts came out OK but spent a little too much time in the oven. One minute I checked the tarts and they needed more time. Then next time I checked and they were over done. (See the picture below of the Apple Tart). It's very hard to cook something in an oven when 8 students are cooking in the same oven using half sheets. Very frustrating and challenging.

My Rugelach was a disaster. I cut two triangles out a 3" square of dough. The filling was apricot jam, raisins, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and brown sugar. Then I rolled up the triangles like a crescent roll with my filling in it, but as it baked the dough unrolled. I think my triangles were too small. (See the picture below).