Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Log 2: Macaron

Test: Macaron shell (2)

Ingredients
47 g Ground almonds
83 g Powdered sugar
50 g Egg whites
36 g Granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

* added another 40 g of powdered sugar to increase viscosity of batter




Result:
 - oil stains on the shell => definitely due to the use of non-fresh nuts for the cookie which also leads to the release of oil during mixing making the batter less viscous

 - the pied is slightly overflowing out (for most of the shells) => I believe this might be due to leaving it out for too long for the shell to form while resting

 - there is an air-pocket within the shell (which makes it hollow inside) => might be due to the addition of the extra powdered sugar + over mixing + oil from old almonds

 - the shell is not hard and burnt like the previous trail => tweaked the oven to 130C instead and baked for ~12 mins

Some of the previous mistakes have been tackled, but there are still more faults that needs tweaking for the next go. It does shows that using non-fresh nuts will really ruin the outcome. Almond is not the only option for making the cookie, as Shelly pointed out with her use of pecan for her Pecan macarons with peach jam filling.

The outcome of this practice might not be the result I am looking for, but having experienced the mistakes hopefully it will give me a better understand in overcoming them in the future. "Never give up when up against a challenge" is why I will practice my making macaron shells until they are "perfect"! (`-´)>

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pithivier et Mille-feuille aux fraises

Another traditional French pastry made with puff pastry is the Pithivier - which is also the name of a town in France. It is typically known to be an enclosed pie which can have a sweet or savory filling. The pastry was famous due to it being this pastry is often made only for kings and royalties back in the days. Nowadays, the pithivier can be found and eaten everywhere (well, that's if the pastry shop/store sells them).







































 In today's class, a sweet version of the pithivier was taught which was filled with creme d'amandes (almond cream). The puff pastry gave the exterior a flaky texture which allows for a clean bite into fluffy almond cream in the centre. In the picture above, the chef decorated one of the pithiviers with a drawing of a fish to show us the variation of markings. A common marking is a pattern made by lines scored from the centre as shown below.




Another pastry that we learned today was the mille-feuille ("thousand-leaf") with strawberry filling. This is definitely one of the most popular pastries amongst the public. Three layers of puff pastry sandwiching two layers of cream. If it is made perfectly, the layers of puff pastry will be so light and fragile that a light jab with the fork will be able to slice the mille-feuille cleanly (according to the chef). I have yet to try one that is close to that lightness..







































We were shown two variations of the mille-feuille: gateau (top) and slices/strips (bottom). The gateau version has a thin layer of raspberry jam and another layer filled with cream + diced strawberries. The top is decorated with fondant and chocolate - the classic method of creating a marble effect. The difference between the slice/strip version is that it does not have a layer of jam, but even layers of cream sandwiched between the puff pastry. Both of them offer a slightly different experience to the palette, but equally high-in-calorie-ly tasty.

A post regarding the recipes of the posted items will be coming soon!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gâteau St. Honoré






































Gâteau St. Honoré named for the patron saint of the bakers and pastry chefs [1]. A round puff pastry base with a choux pastry border and choux buns on the border. The centre of the gâteau and choux buns are filled with créme diplomat. Finished of with a decor of sugar floss. I would say this is one of the gâteau with the most cream trailing behind its counterpart - the Paris Brest.

I still remember eating this in Paris and was stuffed after a slice.. it was that rich and creamy, but very tasty. Very classic combo of pastry and cream. Easily varied with the use of other creams and fillings. It can be made to look as elegant as a celebration cake or as simple as a snack for tea. Special occasion or not, it is definitely a great dessert to have when having a gathering with friends and family.

Below is a side and top view of the gâteau - just trying out to styles of posting here, hope readers will appreciate the effort :)




[1] St. Honoré cake, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Honor%C3%A9_Cake

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Orientation

Sunny with a light breeze is just how a great day should always start. Today was just one of those typical British summer days.. and it FEELS like it is summer finally. If it was a month back, it would have still been chilly. Anyway..






































Today was the orientation for my patisserie course and it felt like first day of uni all over again. Registration, meeting people and getting a tour around the place.. the usual stuff. The day was suppose to be for new students who are attending basic courses in both patisserie and cuisine, as well as for people like myself who changed branch. I happened to meet two people who were from a different branch and going to be doing the superior course. Yes, SUPERIOR. Sound intimidating doesn't it? Sugar and chocolate show pieces will be the two main focuses of their course. To anyone who has done any pulled-sugar work, this is hardcore stuff - stuff that is going to get burns and blisters on your hand, stuff that takes years of practice to perfect, and stuff that you will need to do to get a MOF [1]. So ya~ I really respect them for what they are about to do. They are going to have more practical classes than normal, so there will less theory as a trade-off. Definitely need to ask them to teach me some of the sugar pulling and chocolate art show piece techniques!

Note(s):
[1] MOF = Meilleur Ouvrier de France - a title granted to the best craftsman who has won the MOF competition. This is considered as the Olympics of the patisserie world. The best patissiers around the world who are aspired to achieve this title have to go through a grueling 3 day competition demonstrating their techniques and skills under close supervision of the judges. The title literally translates to "One of the Best Craftsmen in France". A prestigious title indeed.. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Log 1: Macaron




































 My good friend MW bought me a recipe book by Hisako Ogita called "i ♥ macaron". A wonderful book describing in detail the process of making macaron - from the shell to the filling (and even some recipes for the leftover egg yolks). MW warned me that it is definitely harder than it was shown in the book.. and it was! Lol~I just got to try it!

I have documented the outcome and findings below..

Test: Macaron shell (1)

Result: The macaron shell was hard after baking with the top nearly burnt. The shell did have pied, so that's good. However the mixture was a bit too liquid.

Conclusion: I think it is alright for a first trial. The reasons for the faults were most probably due to:

 - Hard shell and nearly burnt = oven too hot
 - mixture too liquid = I suspect that the meringue was not stiff enough

Making the meringue was never my strength - always underbeating the meringue. Just afraid of overbeating I suppose.. The oven temperature stated in the book was used, so that will need to be tweaked for the next go. Now will to find a use for the macaron shells.. which I think can be used for decorating cakes and mousse since it is quite crunchy.

Definitely need to try again and work on "perfecting" the technique!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A New Chapter begins!

Finally! Done with uni and it's time to be chase my dream in full speed - destination: running my own cafe!

This will be a log of everything and anything food related along my journey. Hopefully you will enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

- mattaboutfood (`・ω・´)