Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nicolas Lodge Training

Yesterday and today I attended training at Nicolas Lodge's International Sugar Art Collection. The class was for Southern Spring Flowers made from gumpaste. I really enjoyed the class. Nicolas Lodge was a very good teacher. They even cooked lunch for the students. There were eighteen students in the class and I was the youngest student. Fourteen of the students had taken classes from here before. I will attend more classes when they fit my schedule. The class cost $280 but that is only a small part of what it cost if you need to get the tools to continue making the flowers that you learn to make. Today I spent $443 on the tools needed to make the flowers I learned to make in this class. (You can see a picture of the tools I bought on my tool page.) I guess it's the cost of doing business. To give you an idea of what it cost for these flowers, the magnolia retails for $70 each and the the daffodil is $8. These pictures are small and don't do the flowers justice. They really came out looking realistic. My favorite flowers were the cherry blossom, tulip, and the magnolia. My least favorite was the daffodil.

Cherry Blossom
Nicolas Lodge (with his big magnolia) and me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baby Shower Cake

Oh my goodness! What a rough day. I had to get the cake done for the baby shower by 1:00pm. Well it turned out to be the Baby Shower Cake from hell. It started yesterday as I had to redo the baby blocks for the top of the cake. I made the baby blocks out of rice crispy treats. Then the sugar crystallized in the icing I used to cover the blocks. So I had to remake the baby blocks.
I made two 9" white cake layers with a recipe from The Cake Bible. I used my new Agbay cake slicer to cut each layer in half giving me 4 layers. Then I used a red raspberry filling in between the top two and bottom two layers and chocolate ganache between the middle layers. For icing the cake, I made an Italian Buttercream which tasted very good. But, and this is a big but, the cake gods weren't with me today. I guess the temperature was too high (68 degrees in the house) and it was raining outside (high humidity), and after icing the cake, the icing started sliding off the sides of the cake when I added the pink drapes. I could have died when I watched it slide off. I got a little teary eyed till my mom kicked me in the butt (not really) and told me to suck it up and get to work fixing it. I was running out of time as it was nearing time to leave for the shower. I had to scrape off all the icing and then redo the icing on the cake. Then I added the pink drapes again started drooping just a bit but stayed on this time. I guess I should have chilled the cake before icing it and maybe cool down the buttercream as well. I was late for the shower, but the cake ended up OK. It didn't look as good as I would have liked, but it tasted very good. Well, I learned a few things baking the cake so it was worth it. Practice makes perfect, at least I hope so.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chefs for the Cause Haitian Relief Event

Today I volunteered to be a assistant to a chef at the Chefs for the Cause Haitian Relief Event. The event was held at Legends Banquet & Special Event Center in Atlanta. I helped do whatever was needed to setup before hand. Then I helped Chef Archna Malhotra Becker from the BhoJanic restaurant, at a table serving an Indian bean salad. There were several restaurants who participated at the event with Chef's serving one of their specialties. I got to meet a few different Chef's including one Pastry Chef from a prominent bakery in Atlanta. She told me to come see her when it was time to do my externship. Great!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 57 - Major Cleanup today

Today I finished my Passion Fruit Pate De Fruit (think gummy bear). It tastes wonderful.
I got a 100 on my practical yesterday. I needed it, so I finished this class with an "A". Yippee!
The rest of the day at school was all devoted to cleaning up the kitchen. Major disgusting. It needed it real bad.
Time for me to work on the baby shower cake. I'll post pictures tomorrow.
Tomorrow evening I'm volunteering to work as a chef's assistant at Chefs for the Cause Haitian Relief Event.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 56 - Practical

Yesterday and today I worked on my practical. I had to turn in what you see above. From left to right are: Macaroons, Lemon Bars, Eclairs, Opera Cake, Florentines
This was the last day of Basic Patisserie Techniques. Tomorrow we have a cleanup day and then next week is a week off for spring break. After spring break I'll start my next class which is Viennoiserie and Laminate Dough.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 55 - Financiers, Peeps and Russian Tea Cake

Today I finished making my Financiers (above). I topped them with Creme Chantilly and chocolate straws.

I also made some imitation Peeps (you see them at the stores around Easter time). They are made of marshmallow and colored sugar.

Finally I made Russian Tea Cake, also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. I also made Passion Fruit Pate de Fruit which is like a gummy bear. They really came out good.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday night baking - Blueberry Pie

I made a blueberry pie tonight. I made it with fresh blueberries. It looks good but I didn't try it yet as it needs to sit for four hours.

Day 54 - Rugelach, Lemon Tartlets, Financiers

Today I made Rugelach with raspberry and pecan filling. It was very good and came out much better than the last time I made these.

I also made financiers, which are named so because they are so rich. They are a sponge cake, made in muffin pans, which are made with almond flour, cake flour, brown butter, sugar, vanilla extract (it should have been vanilla bean) and a lot of egg whites. It tasted very good.

I started making lemon tartlets, but they are not finished yet.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Baking

Today I baked several cakes to test taste, baking time, etc. In order to cut down on the dome on each cake layer, I tried using Wilton Bake Even Strips around the edge of the pan and placed a flower nail in the center to the pan. The bake even strips keep the edge of the cake pan insulated allowing the outside of the cake to cook slower while the flower nail in the center of the pan helps attract heat some the center of the cake cooks faster. This worked well and the cake was relatively level. I did realize that the racks in the oven bow down in the center of the oven, therefore the each cake layer tilted to the center of the oven. We'll have to straighten out the racks so they are level.

Afterwards I made several fillings and icings, and made quarter sections of cake to taste test. I used raspberry filling, strawberry filling, lemon curd filling, chocolate ganache for filling. For icings I made Italian Meringue, Italian buttercream and chocolate ganache for icing. I used in various combinations to taste test. We had fun tasting. A winner was picked and it will be used for a baby shower cake next weekend.

On Saturday, I made some lemon bars in the form of tarts. I didn't take any pictures this weekend, sorry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 53 - Practical

For my practical today I had to make an Opera Cake and I made a 93. I don't have any pictures from today.
Last night, after school, I made some Fortune Cookies at home and here is a picture.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 52 - Macaroons and Vacherin

Today I made Vacherins, a French dessert, which is a meringue crust filled with lemon curd and topped crème Chantilly. Then a chocolate design in placed atop this. Today I also made some lemon Macaroons with coconut pastry cream.

I also made some Almond Twills and Fortune Cookies. These are essentially the same except the the twills have almond slices. The fortune cookies have orange, lemon and vanilla added.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 51 - Cat's Tongue & Feuilles D'Automne

Above is the Cat's Tongue Cookies that I finished today. I thought this tasted good and it was easy to make.
Below is the Feuilles D'Automne. Working with sheet of chocolate wasn't easy. It was made with chocolate and a little oil, then spread in a thin layer on a sheet pan. Then I had to scrap it up with a spatula, which mine wasn't flexible enough, so I used a plastic bowl scraper. Then the chocolate would melt to the touch. But I got it done. Fortunately I only had to make four. Inside of the chocolate is three layers of almond meringue disk and chocolate mouse between each disk.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 50 - Opera Cake

Yesterday and today I baked an Opera Cake. The Chef told me that if this would have been my practical, I would have made a 100 on it. I didn't take a picture of the whole cake. Here is just one slice and all the slices look exactly the same.
I'll tell you what the layers are from top to bottom:
- Opera Chocolate Glaze
- Coffee French Butter Cream
- Syrup (coffee & rum) soaked Joconde
- Ganache
- Syrup soaked Joconde
- Coffee French Butter Cream
- Syrup soaked Joconde
- Chablon (thin footing)
I plan to make this at home this coming weekend for my family.
Today, I also worked on Feuilles D'Automne. I started by making Chocolate Mouse and Almond Meringue Disk. Tomorrow I'll complete it. Also I started making Cat's Tongue Cookies (which is kind like a Milano cookie. I'll also finish this tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 48 - Practical

Today was my practical and I had to make Madeleines, Florentines, and Macaroons. I got my score today, which was a first for getting it so fast. Unfortunately, I got an 89, and I didn't expect that at all. For some reason, the Chef graded me hard and the Madeleins and the Florentines. My Madeleins looked the same as my friends but the Chef said mine were rough textured. She gave me no explanation other than maybe I scaled it wrong. Nope, I scaled the ingredients exactly right. On the Florentines, the Chef said the needed to baked more. My Macaroons were just fine. Oh well, I'll have to do better on my Opera Cake next week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 47 - Macaroons & Petit Fours

Today I continued to work on Macaroons (pictured above) and Petit Fours (pictured below) that I started yesterday. The macaroons are plain with raspberry filling. The petit fours are made of an almond cake, topped with raspberry, then almond paste, then completely covered with liquid fondant. The flowers are made of decorating butter cream. I also did my mise en place for tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 46 - Madeleines & Lemon Bars

I took a better picture of the Floretines (pictured above) that I made yesterday, so you could see the chocolate on top.

Today I made Madeleines (pictured above), Lemon bars (pictured below). I also worked on Macaroons and Pate A Choux Swans, but I'm not finished with them. The lemon bars tasted good. All of these items I made are being used for the Open House they are having this week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 45 - Florentines and Batens Marechaux

Yesterday and today I worked on Florentines (top of pan) and Batens Marechaux (bottom of pan). The above picture was taken on Monday and they are not complete yet. I baked the Florentines a little to much, making them too dark. The Florentines are a kind of like pralines made with almonds. The Batens Marechaux is like a meringue almond cookie.

On Tuesday I worked on tempering the chocolate then topping the Florentines and Batens Marechaux (see picture above).
On my practical last Friday, I got a 96. Not as good as the 100 the week before, but I'll take it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Baking - Vanilla Butter Cake

On Sunday, I baked a Vanilla Butter Cake using a recipe from "Baking" by James Peterson. The cake itself taste very good. It was very light and I slightly over cooked it leaving the crust just on the verge of being tough. One layer domed too much but I didn't want to cut it to level. I did split each layer horizontally to add a strawberry jam filling.

For frosting the cake I used Italian Buttercream using a recipe from "BakeWise" by Shirley O. Corriher. First you make an Italian meringue and then add other ingredients to make the buttercream. It's a very light buttercream that taste delicious.

The Italian Meringue is pictured above and then the finished Italian Buttercream is pictured below.

Above is the finished cake. My cake wasn't level and the Italian Buttercream was so light that it was hard to level. I guess it wasn't too bad for my first attempt icing with a buttercream this light.

You can see in the above picture, that I didn't split the top layer evenly and the top was domed. I'll do much better next time. You can also see the thin layer of strawberry jam. Everybody that ate the cake liked it very much.

Upcoming Class

I'm excited about taking a two day class at the end of this month. The class is at The International Sugar Art Collection School of Sugar Art, which is located in Norcross, Georgia, which is just down the road from my house. The International Sugar Art Collection by Nicholas Lodge is the school where Nicholas teaches all levels and aspects of sugar art, cake decorating and cold porcelain. I'll write about it after I take the class and post some pictures.

Here is a description of the class from their website:
Springtime in the Southern States
This is always a fun and popular classic class taught by Nicholas!
Students will create a life-size southern magnolia. You will have to see this magnificent gumpaste creation to believe it! Other flowers covered in class will include the tulip, cherry blossom, daffodil and a dogwood spray. All flowers will include buds and leaves.
Here are two pictures of gumpaste flowers from their webiste, that I'll learn to make.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 43 - Baking bread for Practical

Today was my last practical for this class. I had to bake lavosh (to the left), baguettes (top), plain and braided pain au lait. Monday I'll begin Basic Patisserie Techniques. Patisserie is French Pastries.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 42 - Showpiece is complete!

Today I completed my Dead Dough Showpiece. I think it came out looking pretty good. You can look at the sketch I drew, Dead Dough Showpiece sketch, and see that I changed it a little but basically used the same elements. The Chef instructor placed my showpiece in the window so everyone can see it.
Again dead dough is not edible. (Ok you could eat it buy it won't taste good) It's called dead dough because yeast is not used. This is used for making decorative pieces. To make dead dough, use the following ingredients:

First make the Syrup with the following proportions.
Mix the syrup first and bring it to a boil. Then let the syrup cool.
- 100% water
- 100% sugar
- 35% glucose

Then make the dough with the following proportions:
- 100% flour
- 67% syrup

You can add food coloring or use herbs and spices to make colors. I used beet powder, spinach powder, and tarragon.
After mixing the dough, wrap in saran wrap and let it rest so the flour absorbs the moisture. You can then work with the dough. If you need to roll it out, use a little flour on the work surface and rolling pin. After you finish making the shapes you want then let the sculpture air dry. After it's dry, bake at 200 degrees till the sculpture is hard. You can make many pieces and glue them together to make the final product. I used hot glue to assemble my showpiece.

I also baked a Chocolate Cherry Sour Dough bread. It taste very good. The cherries are dried cherries, I guess kind of like a juicy raisin. I found out today that I made a 100 on my practical last Friday. I didn't get my score sheet, I only received the grade. It surprised me. Tomorrow, I'll have my last practical in this class, Intro to Baking Principles and Functions. Next week will be the start of Basic Patisserie Techniques.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 41 - Sour dough and Parker House Rolls

Today I made Parker House Rolls (center above) and some shortbread chocolate chip buns. The Parker House Rolls came out tasting and looking good. The shortbread chocolate chip buns (because I don't know what else to call them) is basically a basic bun with chocolate chips mixed in with a shortbread cookie crown. It really tasted pretty good, but I would add more chocolate chips the next time I make it.

I also made Grissini (Bread sticks) and Sour Dough Boule proofed in Banneton (basket). Some of my bread sticks were plain and some had asiago cheese in them. The Boule was nice and the pattern you see is made by the dough proofing in the basket.
Also I baked some of the pieces to my showpiece. So it's still a work in progress.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 40 - Work in Progress

No pictures today as I'm working on my Dead dough showpiece at school. I'll get pictures up when I'm done. I did add a new page on my blog showing the tools and gadgets that I use during my baking at school and home. Just click on My Tools right above my picture.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dead Dough Showpiece sketch

Here is my sketch of the Dead dough showpiece that I'm making this week. This will stand up and this is a front view. Wish me luck. I'll show a picture on Friday of the outcome.

Dead dough is inedible dough just used making decorative display pieces.

Added later: Click here to see the completed Dead Dough Showpiece.

Day 39 - Pizza Dough

Today the topics of discussion were Dead Dough Showpiece and Pizza Dough. The pizza dough was easy. I made four pizzas and I have a picture of one. I also started thinking about the dead dough showpiece I need to do this week. The showpiece is due on Friday. I drew a preliminary sketch today and I'll clean up the sketch later. If I get time I'll scan it tomorrow and show a picture of what I hope to accomplish.