We just finished our first week back in pastry school since the holiday break. It’s the start of a new year, a new chef and new skills. Excited to start focusing on the more advanced and technical parts of the course. After our first week together, I think Chef Ian is going to fit in very nicely with our quirky bunch. 🙂
Tuesday: Gâteau Mocha
On Tuesday we made a gâteau mocha. Gâteau, French for cake, is a fancy or rich cake and usually contains a layer of cream or jam. We made our gâteau using a genoise sponge which is an Italian sponge cake named after the city of Genoa. This genoise is made by suspending air in the mixture to give volume to the sponge, which we did by whisking our eggs over a bain-marie until they doubled in volume and then added our sugar. It’s important to gradually add in the sugar, since it’s going in cold and you don’t want to reduce the volume you’ve created. After folding in the flour, vanilla and melted butter (which must go in last since adding fat to mixtures will decrease the bubbles), this cake is one that needs to be baked as soon as it’s made to help give it a nice initial lift in the oven and retain the bubbles/volume created by whisking over the bain-marie.
After our genoise sponge was baked, we cut a small triangle into the cake and then cut into three sections so we could evenly match up when reassembling. We then frosting the whole thing with a coffee flavored french buttercream. After creating our design on the side of the cake, we marked out 12 even slices, added our almond nibs, piped buttercream for decoration and dusted with cocoa powder. Tasted delicious!
Wednesday: Pretzels & Bagels
On Wednesday we made two things I could eat my weight in, pretzels and bagels. We first made a white ferment to use as a starter for both doughs. We’ve used ferments before in other breads and whenever you incorporate a ferment, it adds structure and depth of flavor to the product. For the pretzels, we divided up the dough into six parts and then let the dough rest. Once relaxed, we rolled each piece into a long strip. Once each strip had time to relax, we folded them into the pretzel shape.
Next time (these are part of our exam in a few weeks) we’re going to have less dough per pretzel so they won’t be as thick. I also need to roll mine a bit longer, as mine were pretty chunky and didn’t have as defined a pretzel shape. They were yummy though. Our bagels didn’t turn out as well as we didn’t have enough time to let them rise, so we’re giving them another go. Even though they weren’t the prettiest looking bagels, when toasted, both with just cream cheese and cream cheese with smoked salmon, they were still pretty darn good to eat. 🙂
Thursday: Marzipan Modeling
On Thursday, we were back in the chocolate lab modeling marzipan and making our first set of figurines. Marzipan works well for making figurines for cake decorating. I had so much fun modeling the marzipan and it felt like I was in arts and crafts. I made a penguin (who was slightly chunky), an elephant and a clown. Originally, I was making the clown like my handout described, but then I decided to just freehand design him and started to fashion him similarly to a painting my grandfather painted for me in 1986. I’m not that good yet at crafting hands, so I might have to give him another go.
Friday: Theory & Jellies
On Friday we discussed some of our SMART targets and each chose a product to research over the next three weeks incorporating practical tips and usage. We’re going to each choose a product every three weeks and dive deep into it and share our findings with the class. Should be pretty interesting and hopefully we’ll be able to really learn some practical knowledge about a variety of sweets.
In the bakery in the afternoon, we made jellies. Not jelly in a jar, but cut up jellies that can be used to compliment dessert dishes. Once our jelly had gelled, we cut them up and rolled them in sugar. They’re pretty tasty solo as a little sugary snack.