Friday, November 28, 2008

Cupcake challenge!

So this is a little late, but.... Kris and I went around Chicago for our own little cupcake tour. I made it my mission to find the best Red Velvet cupcake in the city. We went to Molly's Cupcakes, Sweet Mandy B's, Twisted Sister and More. We got more than red velvet, of course. Who am I to pass up sweets?

Our first stop was actually Chicago Cupcakes on Briar, but they were closed. I was pretty disappointed since their website was the most visual... But I should have looked at the hours. It is pretty clear they weren't open on Sundays. :(

We went to Molly's next. Kris and I each had a cupcake to eat there and then we each took home 4 more.
The shop is very cute and there was actually a few tables to sit at. We managed to get a table once we were done ordering, which was perfect timing.
I had the Carrie's Campfire, which was a chocolate cupcake topped with marshmallow fluff, hot fudge and graham cracker crumbs. It was good. Although I could have done without the graham cracker crumbs, but that is totally my personal opinion. :) The chocolate cake was great. It was very rich and moist. And I heart marshmallow fluff.
I took home a banana caramel cashew cupcake, turtle cupcake, tiramisu cupcake and a red velvet.
I had the banana caramel cashew later that day, it was okay. The banana cake was again very moist and had great flavor. It tasted more like real bananas than that fake candy banana flavoring that some have. I'm not sure what the frosting was supposed to taste like, but it was bland and really greasy feeling. I ended up taking it off. The caramel filling was really rich and I couldn't finish all of it, so I saved the other half for later.
My mom had the turtle and my dad had the tiramisu. They liked theirs, but offered no help whatsoever for me to give to you. Kris had the tiramisu for home too and she said that it really did taste like tiramisu cake, so that's got to be good right?
More on the red velvet later...

So next was Sweet Mandy B's. It was a really tiny space. We had a hard time actually being able to see the display case to see what we wanted. I gave up and ordered a strawberry muffin and a red velvet cupcake. Honestly, I really wasn't too impressed. It was cramped and unorganized. The strawberry muffin was not good at all. It was actually undercooked. I took a couple bites out of it and it tasted floury and doughy. When I pinched a piece together, it stretched instead of stuck to my fingers. Not good.

We went to Twisted Sister next. Even though Kris insisted there was always parking available, we went up and down the streets until we finally found parking about 6 blocks away. Being that it was so cold and we were walking against the wind, it sucked. But it was worth it when we got there. Kris did her internship there so we got to chat with everyone and it was nice. The place itself is really cozy and there was alot of sitting room for a smaller place. I got a red velvet cupcake, a mini fruit tart and warm caramel apple cider. Yummm.... The apple cider was so good. Tart and not too sweet. The fruit tart was phenomenal. They had a thin sweet dough shell that was a little less than an inch thick. The shell was filled with pastry cream. Real, fresh, vanilla beany pastry cream. A great difference from the tarts that just have a thin layer of the fake stuff. On top there were fresh strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. When I bit into it, the pastry cream didn't all fall out, thankfully, but by the time I got halfway through it, it was all over my fingers. Which of course I didn't mind b/c then I got to suck it all off. Yum.
Later, Kris brought me one of their banana tarts. The shell was hard to fork into, but it was decent. The caramel was a bit different tasting and I'm not sure I liked with with the tart, but to each their own. Kris made some of her own a bit differently this past weekend and we shared one. It was much better than the stores. Sorry!!

Lastly we went to More. I got a red velvet, bacon maple and salted caramel. First, the salted caramel. The frosting was bland and waxy, so I took it off. The cake waas dry and tasteless. The caramel tasted like the caramel from taffy apples more so than real salted caramel. Kris liked it, but I was def not impressed.
The bacon maple. Hmmm..... bacon maple..... I really liked this one. The frosting was again, bland and tasteless, so it came off, but the cake. They folded in real pieces of bacon into the batter. The texture was more like a scone than a cake or muffin, but it literally tasted like pancakes and bacon w/ a hint of maple syrup. It was delicious. I savoured it for a good 20 mintues before work the next morning. Which made me near late to work, but oh well. I didn't want it to end. The prices were too much for me to want to go back, but I am now determined to find/make my own recipe for them. Determined.

On to the red velvet cupcakes.
I had a hard time picking my favorite. So I'll start with the ones I didn't like.
Twisted Sister. I'm sorry Kris, I know you love them, but the cake was too buttery and really heavy. The frosting, which is the most important part to me, was too sweet and very grainy, like you can feel the powdered sugar grinding against your teeth. It didn't even really taste anything like cream cheese. I was really disappointed.
Sweet Mandy B's. The frosting, just like Twisted Sister, was grainy and too sweet and didn't taste like cream cheese. The cake wasn't bad. It was the only one that actually tasted like chocolate, rather than just buttery. B/c of the chocolate, the red part wasn't as bright red, but it was still yummy, and honestly, I think that it is okay not to be bright red. It was a burgundy color and that's good enough, right? :)
More. Hmmm... More. Well, honestly their red velvet was the only one that I ate all of it, as opposed to just the cake or half of it. The cake was moist and buttery. There was def no cocoa flavor in the cake. The frosting was smooth and creamy and tasted just like cheesecake.
Molly's. Probably my favorite. The cake was buttery and moist like More, but a bright, almost pinkish red color. No real flavor, just very rich and buttery. The frosting was smooth and creamy again, but had even more of a cheesecake taste to it.

In all honesty, I would rather make my own cupcakes than pay $4 a piece somewhere else. But it was a fun trip.

If anyone has a good bacon maple cupcake recipe, let me know!

My last day at Pierre's :(

So my last day at Pierre's. I think the coolest thing about this day was the cake that Chuey was making for his nephew's (Richard's son) birthday party. He started sometime before 2 and finished after we got back around 8ish? He was making a Backyardigan cake. And not just having a picture of the backyardigan on the cake, he made the cake in the shape of the Backyardigan. Seriously, this was Ace of Cakes stuff. This was the picture he was going off of....He'd never made one before so it was pretty interesting watching all of the try to figure out how to put it all together. I missed most of it since I was making them lunch and then I had my site visit with Jori and then Manny and I went on some deliveries. But we can back and I had to take pictures to document this forever. It's too bad I missed most of the work done on it. It would have been cool to see how he did it. And of course take pictures of each step to show everyone!!!
My contribution was the little spinner thingie on the top of the hat. Manny did the actual hat after Chuey and I couldn't figure it out.


Well everyone, I am done with school!!! I promised Chef Mark that I wasn't going to get rid of my blog so he can use it as a reference for his future classes. So you all get to keep me. :)

Wed was def an ordeal. My mom, Kris and I went to go see Twilight, then mom was going to drop me off to go to class. Well, dad kept calling me and when I left the movie to go see what he needed, he was in an extreme amount of pain and couldn't walk. I freaked out and ran back, got my mom and left to pick him up and go to the hospital. Well, I had my car at school, but it would have taken too long to get it and then go home with the traffic, so mom and I just went straight home. She took dad to the hospital so I could go do some stuff he needed to get done for the shop. She basically told me not to come to the hospital, to go to class instead. Let me tell you how hard it is to sit in class and bake when all you want to do is go see your dad at the hospital. But she kept me updated with texts. He turned out to be okay. It's just been hard b/c dad smokes and drinks way too much coffee and he just doesn't eat healthy or sleep well, so it is always something with him. It's hard watching him get sick over and over and over again.

But I finished baking at the same time they were leaving the hospital. I ended up with an A in the class, so I will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA! Yeah!!!

Our official graduation date is January 22. I don't get why it's on a Thursday night, but hey, whatever. :)

And just as an FYI, I made the Lemon Chiffon cake for Thanksgiving yesterday. I used a silicon tube pan, instead of the non-stick one I used in class making it the first time. I hated it. I will never ever ever use that for a chiffon or angel food cake again. It was horrible. Since you don't grease it, it is supposed to slide out after it cools. Nope, it stuck like mad and tore up the cake. And then after I brought it to dinner, even as ugly as it looked since it was torn in places, I swear it tasted like rubber!!! Everyone insists it didn't (even when I wasn't standing right there, so I know they weren't lying), I swear the cake tasted like the pan. I am going to buy a nonstick tube pan today! With prongs so I don't have to use a wine bottle to hold it upside down on. Maybe I'll find one nice and cheap with the sales going on for Black Friday!

I plan on keeping up with my blog, especially with Xmas coming and me having WAY more time on my hands, so I'll see you guys soon!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Week 9 lecture and lab

In lecture this week, we talked about frosting. There are 7 different frostings:
  • Buttercream
  • Foam
  • Fudge
  • Fondant
  • Glaze
  • Royal Icing
  • Ganache
There are three different types of buttercream: Simple, Italian (with Italian meringue) and French (like Italian but with egg yolks).
Buttercream is a mixture of fat (preferably butter) and sugar. I don't particularly like buttercream frosting, but have only had the simple buttercream (as far as I know), so it'll be interesting to make.
Foam is just Italian meringue. This frosting cannot be stored in a cooler, and should be used right away.
Fudge is a warmed mixture of sugar, butter and water or milk. This is applied warm b/c when it cools, it forms a "crust" This can either be vanilla of chocolate flavored, which is something I never knew; I thought it was just chocolate.
Fondant is a thick sugar paste. It can be in the form of a poured-on paste or rolled-out paste. It's hard to make, so it's better to be bought.
Glaze is a think coating that is usually poured onto a cake. It's used for more delicate cakes like last week's chiffon.
Royal Icing is what we used on the cookies in week 6. It's a bit thicker than glaze because it used egg whites, not milk or water.
Ganache is a blend of pure chocolate and cream. This is a common base for truffles.
We also studied for our final next week. I am a bit nervous b/c there is a lot to memorize, like the 9 steps for the baking process and the 12 stages of the bread baking process. I' d didn't do so well on the mid-term, so that's why I nervous about next week. We'll see.....

For lab this week, we used the butter cakes and lemon curd from week 8 to put together our cake. The only thing we really made was the Italian buttercream frosting.

Italian Buttercream
14 ounces Egg whites
27 ounces Granulated sugar (1 lb. 11 oz.)
Water, as needed
2 3/4 pounds Lightly salted butter, softened but not melted

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature before beginning.
2. Place the egg whites in a mixer bowl. Have 9 ounces (270 grams) of the sugar nearby.
3. Place 1 pound 2 ounces (540 grams) of the sugar in a heavy saucepan with enough water to moisten. Bring to a boil over high heat.
4. As the sugar syrup's temperature approaches soft ball stage (240°F (116°C), begin whipping the egg whites. Watch the sugar closely so that the temperature does not exceed 240°F (116°C).
5. When soft peaks form in the egg whites, gradually add the 9 ounces (270 grams) of sugar to them. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and continue whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks.
6. When the sugar syrup reaches soft ball stage, immediately pour it into the whites while the mixer is running. Pour the syrup in a steady stream between the side of the bowl and the beater. If the syrup hits the beater, it will splatter and cause lumps. Continue beating at medium speed until the egg whites are completely cool. At this point, the product is known as Italian meringue.
7. Gradually add the softened butter to the Italian meringue. When all the butter is incorporated, add flavoring ingredients as desired.
8. Yield: 5 lb. 5 oz.

We halved the recipe and it was more than enough to cover and decorate this cake. I have a lot leftover....

We had to cut the tops off the cakes and then make three layers. We used a turntable to do it. The key is to mark off all around the cake w/ the bread knife so you know where your layers are doing to be. And you use both hands. Use the hand that doesn't have the knife to keep the cake sturdy on the turner and also to help turn. You do not want to oush the bread knife thru to make the layers, you really want to "saw" through it so that it doesn't get all crumbly and makes an even layer, not angled.

We poured the lemon curd on top of two layers and then frosted it. We used food coloring, pipping bags and tips to make designs. End result:

Week 8 cakes, lecture and lab

This week in lecture, we discussed cakes. In order to achieve a light and delicate cake, you have to use high-quality ingredients, know how to combine the ingredients and know how each ingredient affects the outcome of the cake. There are 6 types in ingredients in each cake.
The toughener is the protein which is found in flours, milk and eggs. This provides structure and strength to the cake.
The tenderizer is what inhibits the gluten. This is found in the fats, sugar or egg yolks. This shortens the gluten strands which will make the cake soft and tender.
The moisteners are the liquids in the cake, i.e. water, milk, juice, eggs.
The driers provide body and structure. The driers would be the flour, starches and milk solids. These absorb the moisture.
The leaveners provide steam and air to help the cake rise. This would be found in baking powder, baking soda or juts plain air and steam.
The last type is the flavorings. This would come from the sugar, extracts, spices, salt, and butter.

You can mix cake batter using the creaming method (butter cakes) or whipped egg method (angel food cake).

This week during lab we each made a lemon chiffon cake and the butter cake and lemon curd we are going to use next week to decorate our cakes.
The lemon chiffon cake was fabulous. So much so that my mom and dad loved it so much that it is a requirement for Thanksgiving this year. It was made using the whipped egg method and is similar to angel food cake, except it has egg yolks.

Lemon Chiffon Cake
8 ounces Cake flour, sifted
12 ounces Granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Salt
4 fluid ounces Vegetable oil
6 Egg yolks
2 fluid ounces Water, cool
4 fluid ounces Lemon juice
1 tablespoon Lemon zest
1/2 fluid ounce Vanilla extract
8 Egg whites
3 ounces Powdered sugar, sifted
1 fluid ounce Lemon juice
2 teaspoons Lemon zest

1. Sift together the flour, 6 ounces (180 grams) of sugar and the baking powder and salt.
2. In a separate bowl mix the oil, yolks, water, juice, zest and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients.
3. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Slowly beat in the remaining 6 ounces (180 grams) of sugar. Continue beating until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
4. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites.
5. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch (25-centimeter) tube pan. Bake at 325°F (160°C) until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 1 hour.
6. Immediately invert the pan over the neck of a wine bottle. Allow the cake to hang upside down until completely cool, and then remove from the pan.
7. Stir the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.
8. Yield: 1 Tube Cake

***You can use any citrus flavor for this cake. The book recipe was for an Orange Chiffon cake, but chef ordered more lemons since we were making the lemon curd. Honestly, I am happier with the lemon since I prefer lemon over orange.
Also, I didn't use the zest in the glaze. I personally don't like the feeling of zest in my mouth, so I nixed it. The end result was still fabulous, probably even more so for me!

Next I made the butter cakes. Again, a simple recipe. Chef was worried about this recipe because it only calls for egg yolks, not the whole egg and he thought it was a misprint. But I checked my copy of The Cake Bible and it does in fact call for only egg yolks. Someone people used the full egg and their rose a bit more, but honestly, mine was prefect the way it was so I would stick with the recipe. Rose Levy Beranbaum knows what she is doing.

Finally the lemon curd. I never thought I would like something with curd in it's name, but this was very good. Very smooth after we strained it and a nice bright lemony taste. I will probably use this for something in the future.

Lemon Curd Filling

cup fresh lemon juice from about 6 lemons

teaspoon gelatin (powdered)

1 1/2
cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)

teaspoon table salt

large eggs

large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for cake)

tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

1. FOR THE FILLING: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Week 7- Cookies!!!

In lecture for week 7 we talked about cookies and the different kinds of cookies. There are drop (chocolate chip cookies), icebox (pinwheels), bar (brownies), cut-out (sugar cookies), wafer (tuille cookies), and pressed, or spritz cookies (butter).
Cookies are usually high in fat, which helps with tenderness, flavor, and shelf life. There is less liquid in cookies and usually made by using the creaming method.

For the week 7 lab, I teamed up w/ Kim and we made butter cookies, coconut macaroons, lemon bars, and tuille cookies. Cookies are pretty easy for me. I've been making cookies with my mom since I was about as tall as the counter. Chocolate chip, butter, sugar, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, and many many more. I've never made macaroons of any sort, nor have I ever made lemon bars. So this was definitely fun for me. Although I am never making macaroons again. I really hate meringue.

Coconut Macaroons
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
3 ½ ounces flaked coconut
 Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, about 1 T at a time, beating till stiff peaks form. Fold in coconut.
Pipe mixture (or drop in rounded teaspoons) 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in 325 oven about 20 minutes or till edges are lightly browned.

End result. They don't look that pretty. Partially because they really aren't. Did I mention I hate meringue?

Next we made butter cookies and rolled them out.

Butter Cookie Recipe
18 oz butter
10 oz sugar
1 egg
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
20 oz flour

Cream butter until fluffy.
Add sugar and cream until pale. Scrape down side of bowl.
Add egg, salt, and vanilla. Scrape down side of bowl.
Add the flour and mix until well blended.
These were good, but I kind of felt like they were a bit dry for my taste. I would have liked something more moist, or maybe more flavor? I'm not really sure what it was exactly that these cookies were lacking, but they were definitely lacking something. I think I am going to stick to my mom's recipe for butter cookies.
We rolled them out and Kim and I cut out designs. I only have X-mas cutouts, so we used those. Then we decorated them. Kim felt like hers looked so bad, but honestly, they weren't and she just needs more practice. For her first time, it wasn't bad at all.
These were a couple of mine. I did the candy cane last second w/ my pinky and ring fingers cuz I ran out of paper pipes. It got messy and the green was so dark....

Next the Tulipes. I was getting so aggravated with them, I am so glad Kim kept up on them. She was so damned determined to get them done right. Let her do that since i think they would have been the death of me.

1 pound Unsalted butter
1 pound Powdered sugar
1 pound All-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds Egg Whites
1. Melt the butter and place in a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and blend until almost smooth.
2. Add the flour and blend until smooth. With the mixer running, add the egg whites very slowly. Beat until blended, but do not incorporate air into the batter.
3. Strain the dough through a china cap and set aside to cool completely.
4. Coat several sheet pans with melted butter or line with silicone mats. Spread the dough into 6-inch (15-centimeter) circles on the pans. Bake at 400°F (200°C) until the edges are brown and the dough is dry, approximately 12 to 18 minutes.
5. To shape into cups, lift the hot cookies off the sheet pan one at a time with an offset spatula. Immediately place over an inverted glass and top with a ramekin or small bowl. The cookies cool very quickly, becoming firm and crisp. The cookie bowls can be used for serving ice cream, crème brûlée, fruit or other items.
6. Yield: 30 Cups, approximately 3 inch diameter

These were a couple of our best ones. They did taste good for being practically nothing. Personally I think they are a waste of time.
Lastly, lemon bars!!! We used the pate sucree from our tart lab for the base. We baked it off in a half sheet pan, but didn't bake them too much. I didn't want a dry base, so we didn't bake them as long as everyone else did. Ours still looked creamy before we put the lemon filling on top, where as mostly everyone's were baked to a golden brown.

Lemon Bar recipe:
2 1/2 pounds Sweet Tart Dough, plain or coconut variation
Egg wash, as needed
22 ounces Granulated sugar (1 lb. 6 oz.)
8 Eggs
2 ounces Pastry flour
11 fluid ounces Lemon or lime juice
5 fluid ounces Milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 ounces Powdered sugar, for garnish

1. Roll the chilled dough out on parchment paper to fit the sides and bottom of a half-size sheet pan. Prick the surface of the dough with a fork and bake at 350°F (175°C) until the dough is light golden, approximately 15 minutes. If cracks develop during the baking process, patch with the leftover dough and return briefly to the oven.
2. Brush the baked dough with egg wash and return to the oven for 3 minutes or until the egg wash has set.
3. To prepare the filling, whip the sugar and the eggs just until smooth. Whisk in the pastry flour until well combined, then add the lemon juice, milk and salt.
4. Pour the lemon filling in the prebaked shell.
5. Bake at 325°F (163°C) until set, approximately 25 minutes.
6. Cool, then cut into 1 1/2 inch × 1 1/2 inch (4 × 4 cm) squares. Dust liberally with powdered sugar.

We definitely had ours baking for a lot longer than 25 minutes. We didn't use all the filling, but I stilled kind of over poured all that filling in the sheet. I think becuase they were so thick, that's why they took so long. But they did finally stop being giggly. I threw them into the blast chiller until it was time to cut them. They were hard to get out of the sheet pan and I think if I ever do them again, I will probably spray the pan, line it with parchment paper, then spray the parchment paper. It will probably get them out easier.
Kim and I definitely worked well together in this lab. Neither of us argued on who was going to do what or about how we were doing it, so that was nice. Actually, I think overall, it seemed like all the teams worked well together.
We had to critique everyone's special cookie recipe after we were all done. Even though I personally didn't like the macaroons (the other groups did Pocky cookies, French-style macaroons and double chocolate biscotti), I still tried to rate them based on how they were supposed to taste, feel, etc. I thought I did a good job of that. The biscotti's were good, just needed a little more baking time. But that is definitely a recipe I would use in the future.
Here it is in case some of you were interested:

Double Chocolate Chunk Biscotti
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder; beat till combined. Beat in eggs. Beat in as much of the flour as you can. Stir in remaining flour. Stir in chopped white and semisweet chocolate. 

Shape dough into 2 nine inch long rolls. Place rolls on the prepped cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Bake in 375 oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on sheet for ½ hour. 
Cut each roll diagonally into ½ inch thick slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on an ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake in 325 oven for 8 minutes. Turn and bake 7 additional minutes till cookies are dry and crisp. Do not over bake. Let cool.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Week 6- Eclairs, Pate a Choux Swans, Napoleons, and Palmiers

On lecture day we discussed classic pastries. Puff pastry has hundreds of layers that make the end baked off result to be light and crisp. It can be used for sweet or savory dishes. It gets so puffed b/c when it is rolled out, fat is rolled into the dough horizontally in layers. The fat melts while being baked and it separates the layers. The fat's moisture turns into steam, which makes the dough rise.
We also learned about pate a choux, or eclair paste. This is the only pastry that is cooked before baking. You have to cook the ingredients together before you can make the paste. Once you do that, you can pipe it out and bake it off. When you bake pate a choux, it leaves large air pockets in the finished product, which allows you to fill it with pastry cream or whipped cream.
Another pastry dough is phyllo, or filo, dough. I think this is worse to make than puff pastry. Personally, I always buy this from the Greek produce store down the street. It is streched out to paper thin layers that you can use to make sweet or savory dishes. When you make something w/ filo dough, you don't just pile a layer or dough on something or under it, you have to peel each layer and coat each layer with melted butter so that you can get the thin crips layers. Then you can wrap it around something, or push it into a cupcake pan for cups.

So during week 6 lab, we made pate a choux galore and worked with puff pastry. Thank goodness we didn't have to make our own puff pastry. I am a HUGE advocate of buying that from the store.... Puff pastry is a pain in the butt to make.

First before anything, we made the pastry cream. That had to be cooled for later use. Pastry cream is super easy to make:

4 ounces Cake flour (or cornstarch)
12 ounces Granulated sugar
1 quart Milk
12 Egg yolks
1 Vanilla bean, split
2 ounces Unsalted butter

1. Sift the flour and sugar together.
2. Whisk 8 fluid ounces (240 milliliters) of the milk into the egg yolks. Then add the flour and sugar and whisk until completely smooth.
3. Heat the remaining milk with the vanilla bean in a heavy non-reactive saucepan. As soon as the milk comes to a boil, whisk approximately one-third of it into the egg-and-flour mixture and blend completely. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
4. Whisk constantly until the custard thickens. As it thickens, the custard will go through a lumpy stage. Although you should not be alarmed, you should increase the speed of your stirring. Continue to stir vigorously, and it will smooth out and thicken just before coming to a boil.
5. Allow the pastry cream to boil for approximately 1 minute, stirring constantly.
6. Remove the pastry cream from the heat and immediately pour it into a clean mixing bowl.
7. Fold in the butter until melted. Do not over mix, as this will thin the custard.
8. Cover by placing plastic wrap on the surface of the custard. Chill over an ice bath. Remove the vanilla bean just before using the pastry cream.
9. Yield: 3 1/2 pints (56 fl oz)
Yield: 3 pounds 10 ounces (58 oz)

*** If the pastry cream needs to be strained, use a fine sieve china cap to do this after you folded in the butter. If you wait until after it has cooled, it is a huge pain. Kris and I learn this the hard way... Especially since mine was a bit too thick anyways....

Next I made my pate a choux batter:

8 fluid ounces Milk**
8 fluid ounces Water
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Granulated sugar
7 1/2 ounces Unsalted butter
8 ounces All-purpose flour
5 Eggs (5 - 7)

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a sheet pan with parchment. Have a pastry bag with a large plain tip ready.
2. Place the milk, water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Make sure the butter is fully melted.
3. Remove from the heat and immediately add all the flour. Vigorously beat the dough by hand. Put the pan back on the heat and continue beating the dough until it comes away from the sides of the pan. The dough should look relatively dry and should just begin to leave a film on the saucepan.
4. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and allow it to cool briefly to a temperature of approximately 130°F (54°C) or lower. Using the mixer's paddle attachment, begin beating in the eggs one at a time.
5. Continue to add the eggs one by one until the mixture is shiny but firm. It may not be necessary to use all of the eggs. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl in thick threads; it will not clear the bowl.
6. Put a workable amount of dough into the pastry bag and pipe onto the sheet pan in the desired shapes at once. (Spraying the inside of the pastry bag with vegetable cooking spray will help keep the sticky éclair paste from clinging to the inside of the bag and make cleanup easier.
7. Bake immediately, beginning at 425°F (220°C) for 10 minutes, then lowering the heat to 375°F (190°C) for another 10 minutes. Continue gradually lowering the oven temperature every few minutes until it reaches about 200°F (90°C) or until the shapes are brown and dry inside. Open the oven door as little as possible to prevent rapid changes in the oven's temperature.
8. Cool completely, then fill as desired. Leftovers can be frozen or stored at room temperature.***
9. Yield: 2 1/2 lb. Dough

**For a crisper product, replace the milk for more water. Also,
***The paste does not hold very well for long. Freezing it is okay, but you don't really want to be making this ahead of time. I took some home to practice w/ the next night and it wasn't the same.

The yummiest part of this lab was the Creme Chantilly. I heart whipped cream of any sort. Mmmm....

1 quart Heavy cream, chilled
3 ounces Powdered sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract

1. Place the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Using a balloon whisk, whisk the cream until slightly thickened.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue whisking to the desired consistency. The cream should be smooth and light, not grainy. Do not overwhip.
3. Crème Chantilly may be stored in the refrigerator for several hours. If the cream begins to soften, gently rewhip as necessary.
4. Yield: 2 - 2 1/2 qt.

***You have to be careful not to overwhip. That'll turn it into butter. It will also soften/break down while it just sits (especially at room temp!). So make this last if you don't want to have to re whip it when you are ready to use it.

To make the eclairs, you need to get a piping bag w/ a big fat round tip. And then you pipe them out to look like the picture below. I discovered that holding the tip at an angle from the sheet pan produced better results than holding the tip perpendicularly to the sheet pan. They fluffed up more that way.

After they are done baking, you need to pipe the pastry creme from the bottom. Do not pipe in the creme from the side!!! Just take the tip of a small round and push it thru the bottom, just breaking it. Then squirt it in. I again angled it to get to each side, but it depends on how stuffed you want them. I love lots of pastry creme in mine. Then dip the tops in some melted chocolate or ganache.
I liked the ones we made in class, but the ganache was too bitter for me. I prefered the ones w/out the chocolate for that reason.
I didn't think the Pate a Choux Swans were as hard as I thought they would be. First, you need to pipe out the bodies. You can see in the pic below that you want to have nice round bodies, you don't want anything sticking out the top, but you have to be careful. Some of the ones that I kind of "pressed" down to get rid of a little sprout on top didn't puff up as much as the others. The easiest way I found to be was to squeeze out the paste about an inch from the sheet, when you have the right amount stop squeezing and circle the tip until the paste isn't sticking to the tip and you can pull away.

Then with a smaller tip, you pipe out the number 2 w/ the paste. Bake both according to the instructions. When they are cool enough to work with, cut the bodies in half horizontally. Then cut the top half vertically. Those are the wings. Take some pastry cream and pipe a dollop in the middle of the bottom. Then place the bottom of the piped out 2 right on top. Take the Chantilly Creme and, using the large star tip, pipe out a "swirl" on top of the bottom part of the 2 to hold it the neck in place. Then take the "wings" and place them on top of the creme, but w/ the curved sides on top, so that the straight sides that were the result of cutting it in half are facing down.
Using ready made puff pastry, we made napoleons and palmiers.

The palmiers were super easy. All you do is:

1. Roll out the puff pastry into a very thin rectangle. The length is not important, but the width should be at least 7 inches (17.5 centimeters).
2. Using a rolling pin, gently press the granulated sugar into the dough on both sides.
3. Make a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) fold along the long edges of the dough toward the center. Sprinkle on additional sugar.
4. Make another 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) fold along the long edges of the dough toward the center. The two folds should almost meet in the center. Sprinkle on additional sugar.
5. Fold one side on top of the other. Press down gently with a rolling pin or your fingers so that the dough adheres. Chill for 1 our.
6. Cut the log of dough in thin slices. Place the cookies on a paper-lined sheet pan and bake at 400°F (200°C) until the edges are brown, approximately 8 to 12 minutes.

*** We used a mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon. Yum!

Lastly, the Napoleons! I was sad we didn't have any strawberries to add to the dessert. Although, I think if we had, I may have eaten the whole thing. Then I would have gotten really really really sick......

1 Puff pastry sheet, docked and baked***
(3 strips 4-in.x15-in.)
1 pint Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)
1 quart Fresh strawberries, sliced
1 pint Crème Chantilly (Chantilly Cream)

1. Allow the puff pastry to cool completely before assembling.
2. Place a strip of puff pastry on a cake cardboard for support. Pipe on a layer of Pastry Cream, leaving a clean margin of almost 1/2 inch (1.2 centimeters) on all four sides.
3. Top the cream with a layer of berries.
4. Spread on a thin layer of Crème Chantilly and top with a second layer of puff pastry. Repeat the procedure for the second layer of puff pastry and chill.

As you can see, no strawberries, but seriously, you have to use some sort of berry with this b/c otherwise it is just cream on top of cream on top of pastry. All very yummy, but it def needs something bright to punch it up.
***The puff pastry was baked at 400 degrees until it was done. And by done I mean, like the picture, but lighter. And by docking, I mean placing another sheet pan on top of the puff pastry and weighing it down so it doesn't puff up like in my picture. It is supposed to be thinner.