Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baking and Pastry Skills Development: Seasonal Desserts and Chocolates!

Baking and Pastry has come and gone. Hopefully everyone has enjoyed the highlights from 3 weeks of bread baking, cake making, icing piping, and dessert plating. We learned how to make Swiss, Italian, and French meringues, assorted styles of cakes, puff pastry from scratch, a few dozen cookies, and even some ice creams that can be baked in the oven. WHAT? About that............. 

 Here is a Baked Alaska. For those of you unfimiliar with what that is, it is a block of ice cream layered with cake and then covered with Italian Meringue.  The meringue and the cake act as an insulator so that the entire thing can go into the oven and not melt.  The meringue actually browns and sets up so that the entire thing is sliceable. For dramatic effect, add your liqueur of choice to a halved egg shell, turn off the lights, and then light it on fire for presentation bonus points at your next holiday gathering.

Speaking of holiday gathering, every good bible study or growth group has a pot luck or two to celebrate the Christmas season! The Mrs. and I's was no exception and out came the Baked Arkansan! Similar to it's Baked Alaska brethren, but instead of ice cream and cake, the Italian Meringue sat on an upside-down Arkansas Black Apple Pie. Apple slices and caramel garnish included after the meringue and pie came out of the 500˚ oven.

Back into the kitchen, our last day was spent tempering chocolate and making chocolates. Here is the beginning of chocolate honey truffles. Now I understand why the chocolatier can charge $2 for these things. They take about 2 days to make after your emulsify the chocolate and cream mixture to make the ganache and let it sit overnight, then spend the morning reshaping the portioned truffle bases, and then enrobing the perfect spheres of ganache with tempered melted chocolate........................whew! But they are worth it in the end!

The finished product of chocolate truffles.........and Mendiants garnished with pistachio, candied orange peel, and dried cranberries and Rochers. Rochers are candied almonds slivers that are mixed with tempered chocolates to make mini-bird's nest's of deliciousness!

If you don't like the richness of truffles, you are out of luck because these chocolate candies are just as rich. Sorry, no Hershey's chocolate is allowed in the pastry kitchen. Why eat cocoa powder and vegetable oil when you can have cocoa butter and cocoa solids instead.....................oh yeah, that $2 per piece thing again. Dang those food scientists and their delivery of affordable food to the masses!
That does it for semester 5 at the CIA-Greystone. My final semester 6 starts shortly after the New Year's with Wines & Beverages. That should be a fun change of pace! Cheers to a Happy New Year's!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Baking & Pastry Skills Development: More Plated Desserts!

Baking and Pastry Skills Development is nearing an end with only a couple days left to go. Back we got to try our hand at a little plated dessert service! Hope the dining room enjoys these creations.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Caramel Sauce

Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwich

Chocolate Soufflé with Currant Cream Sickle.

Rum Baba or Baba au Rum. Whatever one it is, it contains a lot of rum!

Grand Marnier and Orange Soufflé with Grand Marnier Chocolate Sauce

Savarin Sponge with Savarin Syrup

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baking & Pastry Skills Development: Cakes!

I wasn't kidding when I said there would be some more desserts coming your way!  We've done pies, cookies, custards, creams, and even plated desserts, but nothing is as classic as Cake! We've got a lot of mouthwatering editions to review..........

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake with Creme Parisienne

Black Forest Cake

Mascarpone Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Raspberry Yogurt Mousse Cake with Raspberry Mirror Glaze. I can almost see myself in that thing!

Plum Pudding. Taste's better than it looks.

Even though all of those desserts were great, you can't talk about cakes during the holiday season and not bring up the Bouche de Noel! A classic yule log cake designed to look like...............a log.  Get it in vanilla...........

or in chocolate. I hope this inspires some holiday creativity. No matter what, have a Merry Christmas from the Mrs. and I.............and all of the talented chefs-in-training in A.O.S 6 that have kept you entertained through all four of the seasons, including the holiday season!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baking & Pastry Skills Development: Desserts!

After baking all those breads and just touching the surface of the versatility of Pâte à Choux and Puff Pastry, we were off to Desserts! Hold on, cause we are learning how to make lots of them!

Crème Brûlée.

Crème Caramel.

Chocolate Mousse with Tulip Cookie

Pot du Creme au Cafe with Monkey Tulip Cookie.

Mini-Lemon Tart with Cranberry Fruit Coulis

Bread and Butter Pudding with Caramel Sauce.

Cafe au Lait Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce

Tart Tatin

Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake

Linzer Tart

Almond Franjipane Tart with Fruit
We are just getting started so keep that sweet tooth underwraps.....................plenty more to come!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baking & Pastry Skills Development: Pate a Choux and Puff Pastry!

Next up in B&P is the multi-use Pâte à Choux and Puff Pastry doughs. Simple ingredients and specific techniques create versatile doughs that have multiple uses. Speaking of the uses for Pâte à Choux.......... 

....... here are the classic Gougeres. Pâte à Choux dough infused with cheese. These are a great savory start to any meal.

But, like many of us, I enjoy the sweeter applications of Pâte à Choux.  The all time favorite is the Classic Cream Puff.

Perhaps the theme of this post should be "Versatility." Take the previous cream puff from before, make a few specific cuts here and there, and out comes a Swan Puff! Or, pipe the Pâte à Choux into a log form to make the world famous Eclair. Fill with pastry cream..................
........and maybe even a ribbon of chocolate fondant!

Puff Pastry probably has even more versatility than the Pâte à Choux. Try some Cheese Stick Curls...........

............or the legendary Palmiers. You may have noticed the sweets are becoming more and more prevalent on the course agenda. Next up, Desserts!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baking & Pastry Skills Development: Great American Pie Bake-Off!

What do culinarians do when they learn how to perfect the baking of a pie crust? Of course, they challenge each other to a Pie Cooking Contest!

Out came Mama's recipe for cherry pie, Grandad's Thanksgiving Pecan Pie, and even Grandma's secret Apple Pie with secret Streusel. What's with all the secrets in the culinary world? Don't forget where we are.................the CIA remember.

Even though we had already learned how to make "the perfect pie crust," we still needed some instruction on how to make the All-American Lattice Top for our fruit pies.

But, some chose other toppings for their pies rather than the famous lattice. Like this Apple Pie with Peanut Butter Streusel.

Others chose nothing to top their pies other than the delicious ingredients they were filled with. Can't you smell those roasted pecans on top of this pie.

Like all contests, their must be a winner! Maybe it was the lattice top, or the perfectly flaky crust, or the tart but not too tart Montmorency cherry goodness inside, nonetheless the winner was well deserving and the pie was well....................devoured right after this picture.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baking & Pastry Skills Development: Brioche!

Everyone loves Brioche!  It's great for French Toast, Sandwiches, or simply with a little jam............with a medallion of Foie Gras underneath. What? I still got a little bit of hot side humor in me after spending all these days baking bread.

 The Brioche spoils and all their splendor. Take your pick..........

........Brioche à tête (meaning: with a head). Sometime's one marvels at the beauty of an egg wash.

.......or maybe a Fresh Fruit and Blue Cheese Tart..............

.............or just a good old fashioned Loaf of Brioche for your Croque Madame or PB&J.

And just so you don't think that us Chefs-in-Training have mastered this baking thing, check out this Brioche à Tête that almost came out decapitated.  I will once again state my scottwalnofer.blogspot.com disclaimer: This blog is edited for delicious content only.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Baking & Pastry Skills Development: Breads of the World!

Anyone who is familiar with food knows that it isn't just the food that is specific to a region of the world.  In fact, the identity of most of the culinary regions of the world begins with their breads!

All the way from Germany (debatable), the Pretzel.

If you like Salty and Sweet, you gotta have a Berliner with your Pretzel while walking the streets of Berlin.

Sourdough is by far one of the oldest and most iconic breads in all the world. Here, we will give its origin to San Francisco since some of the world's most famous sourdough comes from just down the road. 

Almost everyone can identify Focaccia as a wonderful Italian bread. Stud it with roasted tomatoes, rosemary, and some fine olive oil for a delightful treat.

Lavash is Armenian in origin and is great along side a hummus dip of your choice. Try some Garlic and Paprika Oil Infused Hummus with Shredded Carrots and Sweet Paprika Dust.

The entire Middle East stakes claim to Naan. Fluffy, light and great for just about any topping or seasoning.

Heading all the way back to Germany, the Stollen fruit bread emerges as a classic Christmas time treat. Iconically made to resemble a baby Jesus wrapped in swaddaling clothing, this bread is about as Christmas as you can get.

While we are on the topic of Christmas, who hasn't seen a Panetone at their local grocery store. Enjoy with an Italian breakfast next time you are in Rome for Christmas.