Archive | October, 2011

Baking School – Week 5

24 Oct

Well it was another successful baking class this week! We made a whole new batch of puff pastry, baked a Napoleon and a Fruit Tart from the Puff Pastry we made last week and we finally got to ice our Reine de Saba chocolate cake!

     

At this point in the class I feel that I can make pastry cream in my sleep and roll out enough puff pastry to feed NYC. I’m beginning to feel like a real baker!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe and I’m going to do my very best to change that ASAP! Leave a comment with some suggestions! I’ve already had a couple:

1) Petits Fours            2) Apple Pie

             

What are your thoughts?

Check back soon for some delicious treats! Also, thanks Jimmy for the great pictures 🙂

Enjoy!

Baking Class – Weeks 3 & 4

16 Oct

Things have been a little hectic around here between work, Project Sunshine volunteering and baking class. I’ve had such a blast the past couple weeks and here’s a little catch up summary:

Week 3 of baking class was so far one of my favorites! We made éclairs, profiteroles and swans.

           

For all of these fabulous pastries we used Cream Puff Dough or Pâte à Choux. Pâte à Choux is one of the basic French pastry doughs. It can be baked, deep-fried or poached and is most commonly see in éclairs, fritters, cheese puffs and many more. I was able to share these wonderful pastries with great friends watching the sunset on a NYC rooftop during a 75 degree October night.

The week following was a whirlwind! My dad was in the City for business and we were able to have a wonderful dinner at Locanda Verde in TriBeCa which I would definitely recommend. The meatball sliders were amazing! I volunteered as a Book Buddy for Project Sunshine where I spent time with children in a hospital around Union Square and read with them for a couple of hours. I went to CT to walk along the beach, have some lunch and catch up with friends. Also, once of my oldest friends moved back into the city and we were able to celebrate with a house-warming party! That finally brings me to the 4th week of baking class…

During this past weeks class we made puff pastry, finished our quiche lorraine and started a Reine de Saba cake. So far throughout the weeks of baking class, there is nothing we’ve made in the class that I had tried before on my own. All of it was new, interesting and I was very intrigued. This was the first class where I’ve made something several times before coming to class and that’s the Puff Pastry. If you recall, I’ve used puff pastry to make my Rugelach so I was very interested to learn about any tips and tricks. There were several tips I learned for incorporating the butter, the correct texture of the dough before the butter is incorporated and how to know when it is just right. Puff Pastry is tricky because the butter and the dough must have the same level of strength. If the butter is too hard it will break through the dough and if it is too soft it won’t form the layers throughout the dough. So this was a great way for me to test out what I already know with the tips of a professional and I was very happy with the result!

Now I’m off to an enjoyable afternoon in the sunshine with great friends and some Shake Shack ice cream!

Check back soon! I might be surprising a coworker with one of her favorite desserts soon, and next week in class we’ll be finishing out the Reine de Saba cake which you won’t want to miss!

Enjoy!

Baking School: Week 2

5 Oct

Baking class is now in full swing! We just finished the second week of class and I’ve already learned so much. In this class we learned how to:

  • Poach Pears
  • Finished our Apple Tart
  • Create an Almond Cream
  • Made a Pâte Brisée
  • Assemble our Tarte Bourdaloue (Pear & Almont Tart)

During my first class I learned a lot of important lessons about protein levels of dough, the emulsification process and so on. During the second class I learned a lot of creative tricks and tips. I’ve always struggled with “cutting” butter into the dry ingredients to create “pearls”. For some reason no matter what I did the butter never ended up the way it was “supposed to”. Well, this class solved that problem! This is one of those techniques that’s easier done without the use of a machine.

  • Once the dry ingredients are mixed add in the pre-cut COLD butter cubes into the mixture. With a pastry blender cut through the mixture in different directions and use a knife to scrape off anything that sticks on. It’s definitely a test of patience. Once the butter starts to disappear into the flour, use your hand as a sifter to see the sizes of butter that are left. If there are some that are larger than the average you can take them out, cut them separately and place them back in. The main thing here is that the butter MUST be cold.

             

We also learned a lot about the different types of french tart doughs including the 3 basic types:

  • Pâte Brisée – “Broken Dough” – Flaky with little flavoring
  • Pâte Sucrée – “Sweet Dough” – Used exclusively for sweet tarts
  • Pâte Sablée – “Sandy Dough” – Very similar to a Pâte Sucrée, but with a high proportion of sugar – becomes crumbly, almost cookie like – Frequently referred to as shortbread dough.

To learn about the differences and more about how to work with them check out All You Need to Know – French Tart Dough.

I’m very excited about how the class is going. I’m learning so much and meeting a lot of great people. Can’t wait for next week!!

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