Week 15 in pastry school went pretty well. Our schedule in the classroom (kitchen) is becoming more packed leaving less time for breaks, but it’s really good for us to be pushed a little harder and learn more skills. I had my first meeting this week with the culinary international students (myself and a couple of the pastry girls will be joining them for the second part of the course) to discuss planning our first event. We have to plan two events during the second part of the course and our first is a pop up restaurant theme and menu for 25 covers in March. I’m really excited about this project.
Tuesday: Sacher Torte
On Tuesday we made a Sacher Torte. A Sacher torte (or Sachertorte) is a chocolate cake invented by Austrian Franz Sacher for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna in 1832. It is one of the most famous desserts in Vienna, Austria is celebrated annually on December 5, National Sachertorte Day. If you’re visiting Vienna, you can indulge in the original Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher.
The basis of a Sacher Torte is a chocolate sponge (slightly heavier than the genoise sponge we made for our Gâteau Mocha) made using a meringue and glazed with apricot jam and chocolate ganache. In the center of our Sacher Torte, we used a layer of raspberry jam which I think is a very nice complement to the apricot (and chocolate sponge!). We were practicing our chocolate decorating techniques, so the layer of white chocolate on the edge of our Sacher Torte might be looked at by the Viennese or Sacher Torte purist as sacrilegious.
Wednesday: Brioche, Bagels (round two) & Puff Pastry
On Wednesday we made brioche, bagels and started another puff pastry dough. I know I’ve had brioche before but to be honest, it’s not a bread I eat often, so I forgot how delicious it is. I guess when you have that much butter in something, it’s tough to go wrong. 😉 Because of all the butter (and large number of eggs), brioche is labeled an enriched dough which means it has a rich and tender crumb. The brioche dough was very stretchy. It was so tasty out of the oven, and the following few days with my lunch!
Our bagels didn’t turn out well in week 14, so we revisited them again as they will be on our exam in a few weeks and Chef didn’t want us going in unprepared. This time our bagels turned out nicely. Bagels include a basic white ferment which we quickly made up at the beginning of class to give it time in the prover. After rolling out and shaping the bagels, they go back in the prover to double in size before poaching and baking. We poached our bagels in water and baking powder, which gives them a nice shine. We were given the option of seeding the bagels, so I did a combo of plain, sesame and poppy seed. I was very pleased with the turnout. Plus, all these bagels make for great breakfasts for the next week.
Finally, we started on another puff pastry dough which we’ll be using in week 16. I was only able to get through three turns, so I will have to finish my turns next week. I did learn that the French typically do double puff pastry turns, which is a speedier way than doing the single turns and mathematically it’s yielding the same amount of layers. Instead of folding the dough in thirds on each other, you roll it out longer and fold both sides in half, leaving a spine in the middle to then fold both on top of each other to make your book. I enjoyed that little fact.
Thursday: Food Science & Marzipan Modeling
In the morning on Thursday, we had food science. In the second six weeks of science, we’re working on various experiments. For our first experiment, Jennie and I looked at making Heston Blumenthal’s Chocolate Wine using a centrifuge from his The Big Fat Duck Cookbook. Unfortunately class ended before the centrifuge was ready, so we have to taste it next week.
Basically, the centrifuge uses centrifugal force to separate by means of difference in density rather than size. Usually the centrifuge makes it possible to extract more liquid from a puree than would be possible by hanging or squeezing through a muslin. In addition, removing the solids help the sauces foam better and make them more stable. I’m not entirely sure I know what I’m talking about other than it’s gravity at work separating liquids and solids. I was sold on this project based on two words: red wine and chocolate, well three words I guess. 🙂
In the afternoon, we continued with our marzipan modeling. My figurines still need some work, so I’m going to practice more on this but I really enjoy modeling with marzipan. I feel like I could sit there for hours getting lost practicing on the tiny details.
Friday: Theory & Fudge
On Friday in theory we went over pastes and the various types of pastry doughs; going over the method and proportion that determine the type of paste and texture. We went over the possible faults and the various pastries that can be made using each type. Next we went through cakes and sponges and the various methods, depending on whether or not the cake is high in fat or low in fat. We also discussed the various faults. Finally, we ended up going through biscuits (cookies) and the five methods and type of cookies yielded from each.
In the bakery in the afternoon, we made fudges. We made two which were considered fudge which has a grainier texture and two that were considered a mou, which is a smoother type of fudge. We made our fudge using double cream (a number of fudge recipes in the US use condensed milk). Fudge is usually made using sugar, butter cream and chocolate. It is important to get the fudge to soft ball stage of 118 degrees Celsius so that it will set properly. We made a dark chocolate rum raisin, vanilla, caramel mou and white chocolate pistachio. They weren’t ready for us to take home so we’ll cut them up in week 16.