Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Triple Chocolate Cake

This is such a pretty looking cake. It is a Bavarois aux Trois Chocolates or a Three Chocolate Bavarian Cream Cake, and is the only thing the chef did in the demo. This cake has a lady finger sponge base imbibed with chocolate syrup then it is covered in three layers of bavarian cream from bottom to top: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. And it has a final top coating of a chocolate glaze

I was very excited to see white chocolate used for decoration, since usually you just see dark chocolate used. and the dark background created by the chocolate glaze gives it a very elegant look I think.

Eating it on the other hand was not my thing. I don't know if I have mentioned this before but I DO NOT LIKE chocolate. I can eat it every now and then and in small quantities other wise I find it too sweet and too rich to be able to enjoy it. They only chocolate I like is white chocolate which I agree is not real chocolate but that is the only one I gladly eat. That being said I did not eat this cake, I only ate the white chocolate layer. The rest tasted good, but there was no way I could possibly eat all that chocolate. The flavor for all those chocoholics out there is like chocolate milk, and the chocolate glaze tastes just like Hershey's chocolate syrup, really good!!

I didn't know exactly what to expect about making this cake but I enjoyed it so much. It was so fun to do, and I was really careful while doing it to make sure my layers would finish looking smooth, even and with as few air bubbles as possible.

I really enjoyed looking this cake and loved the opportunity to keep practicing my chocolate writing and even better with white chocolate.

I had a scare when making my creme anlgaise since the chef told my it was over cooked, and I was already thinking I was going to have to redo it, but then he finally said it was ok and to just use it. After that I felt better when I remove the mold and my layers were even and next to each other, while most have problems having their layers even. The chef said that my cake was the better of the class which made me so happy, and told me that my decoration was pretty good, although the chocolate came out shaky in my last two shells of the edge.

I was so happy my cake came out looking so pretty

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Not my Day!!!!

I have never had a bad day at school, I had seen other had a bad day but had never happened to me until now. And not only was it bad, but it was the day I made the Opera, and I was excited/nervous since the decoration for this cake is going to be our technical part of our final exam. It may look simple but is much much harder to be able to write well in chocolate. You have to make it look clean but elegant at the same time.

For the demo the chef made two cakes, which have the same construction and same basic elements. He made the Opera and a Pave Orange (Orange Cake).

The Opera is a chocolate and coffee cake, when I saw it I was really expecting a much more chocolaty taste, but was gladly surprise when I tried it and is mostly coffee with just a touch of chocolate. This cake has several layers it starts from the bottom up with a joconde biscuit imbibed with a coffee syrup, then a coffee buttercream, then joconde biscuit with coffee syrup, the a chocolate ganache layer, joconde biscuit with cofee syrup, cofee buttercream again, and a final layer of a chocolate glaze.

The Pave Orange is made of layers as well, but we present it sideways, the layers are made of joconde biscuit with a bit of orange peel imbibedd with a Grand-Marnier syrup, praline buttercrea, layer, and chocolate ganache. It was decorated with a bit of chantilly cream.

The Pave Orange was ok, not bad, but not really good either. The Opera in the other hand, was so good since I was expecting to taste mostly chocolate I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it since I absolutely love coffee flavored cakes.

Going back to my practical it was awful, first of all I was coming late from work, so I was already stressed out about not being on time to school. I was technically on time, but wasn't able to prepare all my stuff and change clothes calmly like I usually do. Then I was class assistant, so I had to get everything ready for class, but what was my surprise that we get to the classroom and the people form cuisine where still there cooking. It was 3:20 and as I was peaking in trying to see if they were almost finished since it was 10 minutes before my class started I see people working in no rush at all, they were calmly finishing their dishes like they had plenty of time. So when I was supposed to calm down form my being late in the bus, only got worse since now, we were going to be late setting everything up in the kitchen and therefore we could all be starting late the cake. I had this felling of being rushed the whole time. I did my joconde biscuit and turned out ok. While trying to make the chocolate ganache I was waiting and waiting so that it would not boil. I step away for a few seconds, and as I go back to my stove the cream is boiling, so I had to throw it, and start the ganache again. Then I was making my buttercream, and I overcooked my sugar, so when I poured it into the egg yolks instead of incorporating it just crystalized. So there it goes AGAIN into the trash, and I had to start that one again too. By this point my friends where realizing I was not having a bad day, but a horrible day.

Once I manged to finally make my buttercream, and was assembling my cake, I could even spread the buttercream into the imbibed joconde, it would just simply not stay there. I calle dthe chef and he helped me. My friend helped me and rewarmed the chocolate ganache for me so it would be soft for me to spread it, but by the time I was ready it was too cold, hard and very difficult to spread in an even layer. For the final buttercream layer we were supposed to make this one particularly straight and even since any defect we had would show when we poured the chocolate glaze n top. I was able to spread it, but not in my usual way, and when I asked one of my friends if it looked ok he just answered: "For normal you is not ok, but for today just leave it like that" hahahaha. Afterwards he even helped me smooth it out. By the way I had also lost my towel the one we have in our apron and the lovely chef after seeing how my day was going he found it for me, and helped me glazed my cake before I could even try since as mentioned we were late.

Now the moment of truth the cake decorating. I had practice some borders, which I made nice in my cake, but was taking so long that the chef was grading and I wasn't even done. I managed to finish my border but since time was pressing I had to write Opera in a rush, and didn't come out as nice as the ones I had practiced before.

In the end, I was able to present a descent looking cake, taking in account how my practical went and I was really happy, but in the bottom I knew I could have done a bit of a better job on the presentation.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Famous Macarons

Macarons are somewhat new to me. I only found out about them shortly before I came to Paris, and in spite of stores dedicated to them I have never  bought one. I tried them when the Chef made them in one of our Demos from Basic, but we didn't make any then. It is known by everyone that is very very dificult to make good macarons; personally I do not think is hard, I think is tricky since the actual process of making them is not hard, but when to stop mixing that is the tricky part. If you undremix, you macarons won't be nice and smooth but grainy, if you overmix, they won't rise nicelly and look a bit like a tortilla.

The practical was in plated dessert, which was a big change since we have been doing mainly cakes, and not reallypersonal size  dishes. The chef made a Creme Brulee au Caramel (Caramel Creme Brulee) , Fondant Chocolat Glace sur Nid d'Abeille (Dark Chocolate Fondant with Bee's Nest), and Macarons Anis-Framboise ( Light Anis Cream and Raspberry filled Macarrons).

When I tasted the Creme Brulee au Caramel I thought it had a bit of a strong flavor since I was expecting more a mild flavor the one of a regular creme brulee, when I realized it was supposed to be caramel I understood why the "strong" flavor and it is good, but I think I prefer the regular creme brulee.

The Chocolate dessert was a bit to rich for me, the crisp it has nice, but what I really loved about this dessert is the white chocolate ice cream that goes with it, it is sooo good!!!

The macarons I find are usually always good, for this particular time I love the combination with the fresh fruit, but I am not a big fan of Anise, so didn't really like the Anise cream that much. 

For practical we only had to do the macarons. It was interesting because as I said this are plated desserts so we had to present our goodies plated for the chef to grade. So besides worrying about trying to get the macarons right, I had to think in how to present my macarons, be careful to use the raspberry coulis, but not too little or too much, same with the portion of the dessert you cannot put to big of a portion because you won't make money but cannot put too little so that people complain, and the final detail is it has to look good and be simple enough to be reproduced since technically this would be something served in a restaurant over and over again.

Macaron Anis-Framboise
My macarons where not very smooth on the top, I needed to mix a bit more, but when I asked the chef he told me to stop and do them so, I guess I need to just make sure next time the mixture is more liquidy.
Since I don't like Anise I didn't put the liquor in my cream, therefore it was really really good. I liked this desserts so hopefully we get to make more of this in Superior.

Other than that the chef liked it, he said I had a nice portion, and it was clean and pretty!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Love Baking!!

You probably figured out that long time ago, but I really wanted to emphasize it, since I am loving so much school. The cakes we are making so far in Intermediate are such a fun thing in class as well as to eat. 
This time we made a fraisier, which I knew I was going to like since before I made it since I really like strawberry-cream cakes.
This is France version of a strawberry and cream cake. I like the version of the States, just as the ones they have in Mexico. For the fraisier, the flavor is not really radical, but what really makes the difference in this cake, is the way it is presented. This type of cake is something so common both in Mexico and in the States, that it almost doesn't feel special anymore. I like how this cake brings it back, with a new and renovated look into my eyes.
For demo we had Chef J, the demo was a bit slow since he was only doing one cake, and we are already used to have two or more different recipes in demo, but it was interesting to see the different ways in which we can make these cakes.

The chef made a couple of cakes using a round mold, just like the ones we are to make in demo, and he free styled another one in a rectangular shape. I like some aspects of it, but not so much others. I like the more structured, cakes, more than just randomly putting the things in the inside, but I do like the way he made the edge for the cake, it does take skill to accomplish it. I also liked the really simple decoration of the cakes, since as the Chef said is not a fruit salad is a cake, hahahaha. This chefs have a thing to turn healthier food options into negative things, hahaha.

I anticipated I was going to like the cake, and I did! This cake is sooo good, the cream is sweet enough together with the cakes that it compensated for the acidity in the strawberries. Really good!!

In practical, I really enjoyed making this cake, it was really fun, and enjoyable. Nothing to hard, but just enough things to be made, so that we could improve our speed, and organization.

This cake is sooo good, I had a really hard time giving it away this time because I wanted to eat it all!! But it had to be done, since I cannot afford the extra calorie consumption. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Everyone is so good!!

I found that this time around, the competition in the group is so much tougher. For basic pastry, there is a lot of unexpirienced people like me, but that he have done our share of baking at home, as well as experienced people, and people that do not have a clue of what is going on in the kitchen. Now in intermediate, we all have passed basic, so there is a fair share of practice and improvement already done, so in the practicals, most of the cakes are very good looking, and is hard to point out who the best one is, since everyone does pretty good now.
I like this since it raises the bar significantly, and you really pushes everyone to do their best, since you don't want to fall behind. It will be interesting to see how we come along.
For this time demonstration we had Chef D, which is just the second time I have him in a demo, since I have been in school. He is very sharp, but very demanding as well. He is one of the very strict chefs we have, and he demanded absolute silence, which is nice except for the tense feeling we had. I guess is just a matter of getting used to it.
He did just one type of cake, which is the one we will be doing in practical: Jamaïque / Jamaica. The only thing I like when Chefs just do one type of cake, is that we get to see different ways of decorating, or presenting the sme cake, and helps us see the range of oportunity we have to be creative.

Eventhough this was a very straightforward demo, not much joking around, since Chef D worked too quick as he mentioned, we had some time to ask about "Stages" or internships since he is the one in charge of them. The result, I am more confused about what I would like to do, and that I definitivelly have to get French language inside my head ASAP!! Anyway, here are the ckes the Chef made.

The cake itself is a chocolate - almond joconde biscuit filled with a coconut mousse, poached pineapples, and an upper layer of mango - passion fruit mousse. It sounds and looks too sweet, but when you try it is not overly sweet, it has this just right balance of sweetness. And the flavors just work together sooo good.

This cake was fun to make in practical, I like whan we take ' different things, and then we just put everything together to make this nice cakes. The mold of my cake didn't want to let go of my cake, and had a little trouble there, but other than that it went great. And I even did, the cocoa powder decoration the chef did, wich looked kind of tricky, which made me really happy.

My glazing came out a bit more yellow that the one the chef did, but otherwise all good, so next time I guess less yellow.

Ohh, and by the way I burned myself again!!! At least now it was my left hand and not the reight one. Oh well, the hazards of being a pastry student.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lets do Tarts again!!

For Basic I remember that one of our first demos was the apple tart, and from there we did a few more of different types. Well for Intermediate for our second "lesson" we have tarts again.
Since I had a very long break from when basic finished to when I am starting back in Intermediate, I really don't mind the "review" of techniques raising the bar a bit, so it is not as simple.
For the demo, we had Chef C, which as I mentioned before, I really like his demos, they even seem a bit short.
The Chef made two three different tarts on demo, even though he was just supposed to make two. The third tart was not really a whole different tart, but a combination of the left overs form the other two tarts.

The first tart the Chef made was the Tarte Passion-Framboise which is the one we are to do at practical. Is a sweet pastry dough with a raspberry coulis, and a passion fruit cream on top. It is very good

Then the Chef made the Tarte Legere au Citron, which is the same sweet pastry crust, but with a lemon-almond cream inside, and a light lemon cream on top. I really liked this tart. I think since I really like lemon, I prefer this tart over the one we made in practical although they were both good.

And the third type of tart the Chef made was with the passion fruit cream inside the tart, and the light lemon cream on top. He said this would probably be the best because of the paring of flavors, but I didn't really cared much for it. The all lemon one was still my favorite.

As always the most fun part of the class comes, with "la degustation" since we get to see what the cakes, or in this case tarts, look like when cut open, and of course try them out.

So going into practical, I was feeling pretty cautious with the dough, since it was very soft, and didn't want to make the mistake I did with the tartlets, and leave the crust too thick, so I putted on the fridge and was able to roll it, no a nice thickness, but then when it baked I don't know what happened that it shrinked a bit, and the edge looked really thick and ugly.
I managed to fixed it towards the end, shaving the edge into a nicer more even and thinner one.
We had some dead time while waiting for the tarts to set in the fridge before we could put the second layer on, so we had some time for practicing chocolate writing. For our technical part of our exam, we have to write Opera in chocolate and do a border, and contrary to what one may think is not as easy as it looks.

And as you can see, I definitively need lost more practice.
Anyhow, my tart looked ok. For the decoration I feel really uncomfortable doing things to elaborated, since you CAN put too much on a cake and ruin it, so I decided to keep it simple, but elegant, and was actually pretty happy with how it came out.

Can't wait to go back to school tomorrow and do my next cake.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Back to School, Intermediate here I come!!

Two months vacations have already past. I thought I was going to have so much time during my vacations, that I could get board and not have anything to write about, but on the contrary I have been so busy mostly working, some traveling, that I have not really had time to write. There is absolutely no excuse, but I still had a hard time finding space to write.
This past week school started again. I am hoping that with the forced no work spaces work school produces cutting into the usual work hours, so that I cannot make it to work, I will be able to go back to writing and publishing all those posts I have yet to post.
Well school started on Thursday, and it was a bit to stressing first day. As I mentioned I had been on vacations for 2 months, and I did do some backing, but I do feel I got out of the school's pace specially during the practicals.
Well my first day back, and I had Demo #01 followed immediately by the demo!! I found it a bit shocking to be pulled back into school after such a long break.
Because Chef JJ, the Chef for Intermediate pastry, is on vacations, we had Chef C do the demo. I just love his demo's, they are fun, keep you attentive, since the Chef has a bit of a speed doing things, I just really like his demos.
Anyway for the Demo, the Chef made three different cakes.

The first and one of the cakes we will do on Practical is the Streussel. I know the streussel to be a puff pastry sort of log with apple, and sometime nuts, but was very surprised to find something very different.

The base is made of puff pastry, then it has a thin layer of "fromage blanc" wich is a sort of greek yogurt, very common here in France, and it has some apricots too, but not very many. Then on top we put a streussel topping, which is like a crumble topping. It was very good, just very different to what I though a streussel was.
Then he made a Pave aux Amandes, which is a gluten free cake, very dense and rich in flavor. Is only powdered almonds, sugar, eggs and butter, what's not too like??

And the third cake, was a two layer, sort of pound cake, in a thin log shape. The cake had two layer, a vanilla pound cake part, and a inner chocolate-almond meringue one with chopped almonds.

Nothing really impressive, more like a quick review of basic pastry.
As always we got the "degustation".

The cakes were ok, nothing really outstanding. The almond cake was a bit dense, but good flavor. The layer one was just ok too. The one I like the most was the streussel, but then again I like anything that has puff pastry, so nothing special.
Even though we had fairly simple recipes, which were more to help us practice time management and organization, and not really skills, I was freaking out a bit to have the practical, right after the demo finished.

I started demo a bit slow, trying regain my pace, that I kind of lost over the holidays. Since groups changed that also shakes things a bit, but I am happy with the people I am working with, they have a fast pace which helps me keep son track and not slack off too much, and are very clean which I always like.

Anyway, I put lots of almonds on my almonds, cake, and it came out perfectly golden looking very good.

The streussel came out ok, not perfect, but not bad either, just ok. I considered that for trying to get back on track, I did pretty good, and didn't fall back too behind. "Pas mal" as the french would say.

Putting aside the stress, I didn't realized how much I missed, being in school, and how happy going back to the kitchen and baking made me fell.

Feels so good to be back in school, and now ready to see what Intensive has to come!!
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