Sunday, October 26, 2008

Internship update

This week, Manny and I worked on my cousin's cake for the baby shower I hosted this weekend. It wasn't all we did obviously, but the only thing that was really note-worthy. This cake rocked. I really have to say that Manny did a freaking fantastic job at decorating this cake, and I couldn't have asked for more!!!
It was four layers of chocolate cake and we put fresh raspberry coulis, chocolate ganache and chocolate mousse b/w each layer. OMG, it was soooo good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Week 4 and Week 5 all in one!

During week 4 lecture, we talked about custard and creams. You use pretty much the same ingredients for all of the different types, but it's all about how you use the ingredient, how much of it, etc etc. I definitely have an affection for the stuff but I stay away from it mostly because I'm lactose intolerant.
Instead of lab on Wed, we went on a field trip. I was pretty excited about this trip because it was actually thought out as opposed to some of the ones we've been on where we all just picked a place and showed up. First we met at Great Harvest Bread Co on 131st and LaGrange. We got a tour of the back and saw how they mill their own grain to make the flour for the breads and pastries. We saw their oven, which was pretty cool. I have 8 long racks that just rotate around, something like most pizza places have. We then tried a bunch of the bread. My favorite was the Popeye bread. It has red pepper, spinach and parm cheese in it. It was def good...
Then we went to Dan MaGee's. The restaurant was a smaller place, no hostess stand or anything up front. Very nice and simple. The pictures on the wall were actually pictures they took of places in Frankfort, where they are located. We have a choice of dinner items, I got the roasted chicken breast on top of asiago mashed potatoes. The sauce was a little much for me, but it was still very good. Then Dan had prepared a bunch of different desserts for us to try. We had frozen chocolate mousse, pumpkin creme brulee (which was my favorite), panna cotta with strawberries, flourless chocolate souffle with coffee ice cream and a couple others. Dan also sat (well, actually, stood) with us for a bit and talked to us about his career and how he got to where he is now. It was definitely a cool field trip.

Week five lecture I missed because I was still en route form Michigan for work. But the class took the mid-term that day, which I got to make up on Wed before class. Speaking of class....

I heart Crème Brûlée. I really do. It makes my tummy hurt, but it is sooo good. Which is why I am happy I never have the chance to eat it.... Except last night. Yum.
I don't think that making any of these dishes was hard at all. The only real pain was trying to poach the meringue. But we'll get to that later...

Crème Brûlée
2 quarts Heavy cream
2 Vanilla beans, split
50 Egg yolks
20 ounces Granulated sugar
Granulated sugar, as needed

1. Place the cream and the vanilla beans in a large, heavy saucepan. Heat just to a boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth and well blended.
3. Temper the egg mixture with one-third of the hot cream. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until very thick. Do not allow the custard to boil.
4. Remove from the heat and strain into a clean bowl. Cool over an ice bath, stirring occasionally.
5. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of the custard and caramelize with a propane torch. Serve immediately.

***I would put a generous coating of sugar on top so that you don't burn the cream when you are torching it. I made the mistake of just putting a little and the cream burned. Besides, who doesn't like more sugar?

Toffee Caramel Flan
1 1/4 pounds Granulated sugar
8 fluid ounces Water
24 fluid ounces Milk
24 fluid ounces Heavy cream
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 Vanilla bean, split
8 Eggs
4 Egg yolks
6 ounces Brown sugar
3/4 ounce Molasses
1 fluid ounce Amaretto liqueur

1. Combine the granulated sugar with the water in a small heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar reaches a deep golden brown. Immediately pour about 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of the sugar into each of the ramekins. Tilt each ramekin to spread the caramel evenly along the bottom. Arrange the ramekins in a 2-inch-deep hotel pan and set aside.
2. Combine the milk, cream, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Bring just to a boil, cover and remove from the heat. Allow this mixture to steep for about 30 minutes.
3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, molasses and amaretto together in a large bowl.
4. Uncover the milk mixture and return it to the stovetop. Bring just to a boil. Temper the egg-and-sugar mixture with approximately one-third of the hot milk. Whisk in the remaining hot milk.
5. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer. Pour into the caramel-lined ramekins, filling to just below the rim.
6. Pour enough warm water into the hotel pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake at 325°F (160°C) for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. The custards should be almost set, but still slightly soft in the center.
7. Completely chill the baked custards before serving. To unmold, run a small knife around the edge of the custard, invert onto the serving plate and give the ramekin a firm sideways shake. Garnish with fresh fruit or caramelized almonds.
8. Yield: 10 Ramekins, 6 oz. Each

***I wasn't a huge fan of the molasses taste, but the flan still tasted good enough for me to eat it (and little miss critical mom didn't even notice the molasses taste, and she HATES molasses!) Also, I had a bit of a hard time getting the flan out of the ramekin, and I have to use a paring knife to loosed it from the edges, but then it destroyed the edges of the flan, so the plate presentation wasn't all that great.

Crème Anglais is basically an ice cream base. We used it here as the liquid that held our floating meringue. The meringue was easy to make, you just whip up the egg whites and when it starts to foam, add sugar. I took a small ice cream scooper and scopped up balls of the meringue and dropped them into the simmering cream. I poached them on each side for about a minute and then pulled them out and cooled them. Honestly, I thought they were gross, but the Crème Anglais tasted good.
The spun sugar that Chef put together made a nice touch as a decoration, but people kept bumping my table and they fell down. Oh well, it was the thought that counts right?

As far as the class is going, I am really excited about what I have done so far in lab. I really need to get with it on these quizes, I am really disappointed in myself on the midterm. I've never been good at memorization and I think that if I had more practice remembering the 9 steps to baking or had really good practice understanding their importance in recipes, then I might have an easier time remembering them. Hopefully the extra assignment Chef gave us to do will help me remember it for the final!

Weekend at Pierre's.....

First of all, I am FREEZING!!!

So last weekend was Sweetest Day.... awww..... Not. I spent the entire day making chocolates. Okay, not the entire day, but a good portion of it. I was covered in white and milk chocolate. But I think I did a good job. The tuxedos didn't come out so wonderful in the beginning, but after about four or five bowties, they started to look like they're supposed to.

To "put on" your strawberry's tuxedo, you just dip each bottom corner into the milk chocolate after the white chocolate has dried. That makes the "jacket" Then you take a parchment paper cone filled w/ chocolate and lightly touch the center of the strawberry for the buttons. You don't want to really push out any chocolate, otherwise too much comes out and it will run down the front.
The bow tie was pretty easy once I found the best way to do it. The first few kind of sucked. But all I ended up doing was making a wide X (as opposed to tall or even) and then "filling" in the sides.

And then I helped assemble these awesome fully edible heart shaped boxes for them. Yum....

This is Boo. I kinda messed him up so I thought I'd give him some character. Isn't he adorable?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weekend 3 at Pierre's

Hmmm... this weekend at Pierre's. I busted my ass. My very bruised ass. (See preivous blog entry)

I'm just going to post pics today. I'm wiped out and need to get some rest before I go to Fireside. (Yea, Fireside!!!)
Almond cookies, dipped in chocolate and almonds (above)

Almond cookies, dipped in chocolate and toasted butterscotch coconut (above)
Boxed cookies, on top, almond cookies, covered in almonds and powdered sugar
More boxed cookies, chocolate chip on top of butter cookies.
Manny w/ his Manny-quin. Don't ask!!!

Week 3..... Apple Pie, Fruit Tart and Banana Cream Pie!!!

So Wed. night class was major drama for me. But I made it thru....

Let's start out by discussing how much pain I am in right now. PAIN, people, PAIN. My ribs hurt, my legs hurt, my ankle hurts, my knee hurts, my arm hurts, my shoulder hurts..... But for once, I don't have a headache!!!

So anyways, during class, I fell. Which, to some of my friends, isn't a big deal b/c I ALWAYS fall. Or bump into something, or burn a body part, etc, etc, etc. You get the picture. But I had tears streaming down my face and I BRUISED!!!! No matter what I do, I never bruise! But yep, I did. I have some on my forearm, my knee, had one on my ankle, but it went away just as fast as it showed up, and a few on my hip. The bruise on my arm was the only one that came out in a pic.... Wanna see?
Isn't is gorgeous? Only a couple days old, but it is def getting better looking. It still hurts though. My one co-worker thought I got beat up when she saw me. I woke up Thurs morning feeling like I got hit by a Mack truck. Now I understand when claimants tell me that they didn't start feeling really bad until the day after their accident....

But on the bright side of things, I made it thru the rest of class, despite almost crying again when Chef was grading my stuff. (I got a good grade so that wasn't why I was tearing up; the ankle was shooting sharp pains all up and down me....)

I am actually pretty happy about how mostly everything came out. Mostly b/c I didn't like the banana creme pie. Not b/c the filling wasn't good.... But b/c it had a graham cracker crust. Not a great combo, but the filling was great, the banana's were just how I liked them, firm and still a bit green. I like whipped cream on my pie, not meringue but it was easy coming off. I sat and ate the filling when I got home. It was yummy.I did love love love the pie crust recipe! Chef made a def good choice with that one and it will be the only one I use in the future. It was flaky and flavorful. The filling seemed a bit more tart than I am normally used to.... I wasn't sure what it was that I did wrong on that. I have never added apple cider to my filling before, but maybe that was what made it super tart. I'm not sure. But it came out great and I am very exicted to use it again.
Finally, we made a fruit tart using our pastry cream and the sweet dough for the crust. I really liked the dough we used, although it reminded me a lot of the butter cookies I made at Pierre's last week. Same falvor, just a bit of a dif texture. But it was def good. I kind of felt like my pastry cream was a bit too thin, like it could stand to be a little more solid, but it tasted good. I added cocoa to the cream right before I used it and it was def good. Next time I am going to try and add come straight up chocolate to it while it is cooking. Just to see if that makes it even more chocolatey.
I also would have liked to have a cooler shell before I put in the cream, but we were running out of time, so the pastry cream ended up even more liquid-ish. I tried to make it more firm by putting it in the fridge asap when I got home, but it still oozed a bit. But it was still delicious!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lecture #3

This week was all about pies and tarts. There are three different types of pie crusts and we'll be making them all tonight during lab. There is a pie dough (which can be mealy or flaky depending on how you put it together), sweet dough and crumb crusts. The pie dough is better for fruit pies, cream pies, and custard pies. The sweet dough is a bit sturdier and good for tarts (and apparently lemon bars, which we'll be making later on in the quarter). The last one is a crumb crust. It's kind of messy and a pain to make, but not bad. I just prefer a shortbread or Oreo cookie crust as opposed to graham cracker crust.
I cannot wait to have lab tonight, I am super excited about making pies. We're going to make each of the different crusts for three different pies. I am a little nervous about the pastry cream, only b/c the last time I made some by myself, our chef at the time threw the flame up higher and told me to go grab something while he watched it and two seconds later, it already burned a bit. Then I spent 20 mins picking out all the little burn spots....
But I think that it'll turn out better this time and I have a plan on how I'll be putting everything together, so this should go smoothly in the time we have. I just hope everything turns out ok so I can bring it all home to my family! My dad loves apple pie...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One more weekend down.....

I am exhausted!!! Well, it was quite the busy weekend.... This weekend was The International Houby Festival! For those of you, like myself, who don't know what that is... It is a festival to celebrate Czech culture. Houby is the Czechoslovakian word for "mushroom" Ew.
Anyways, it ran Sat and Sun w/ a street fair going on both days and a parade today. For the street fair, we cored pineapples, used the fruit for the fruit cups we made and then used the cored pineapples as cups for the virgin pina coladas we were selling.
After lunch, Manny and I had to get an order of gourmet apples ready. The customer wanted 105 white chocolate covered apples. Half pink w/ white lines and half white w/ pink lines. What a mess. First, gravity decided it would pull the chocolate down as it dried, so the first few looked like they were dipped all the way and then half dipped again after they were dry.... So finally Richard figured out a way to get them mostly even, so I finished those while Manny dropped off the van to get new brakes. I then took the white chocolate and added food dye to make it a bright pink. I piped/squirted lines on them to make designs and cover up the mistakes and cracked chocolate! Let me tell you, this stuff cracks like mad on apples! I've done strawberries before with no cracking whatsoever, but these apples, they cracked like mad. I definitely recommend putting some sort of decoration on them to hide the cracking. If someone has a better way of doing it, please let me know!

In the end, they all looked great. I took pictures of the white w/ pink lines b/c those were done first and I didn't want to forget to take some pics.....Today, was a bit hectic. Pierre's was in the parade at noon, but Manny only had one van and he wanted two. So we drove up to the location at 2700 N Milwaukee to get the other one, but the trans was going. So we came back and worked on the stand for the fest, making sure everything was fresh and stocked. Then Manny and I made some butter cookies. I have made butter cookies before, but not this way. One, he used margarine. Manny said that since the price of butter has gone up so much, they've been substituting margarine instead. Also, he made such a HUGE batch of it, I thought it would dry out before we got it all baked off. And he piped the cookies into little stars. Now, I am not the best at piping. But I am learning. He did a whole sheet pan in, no joke, like 45 seconds. I did the next pan..... It took me like 7 minutes..... Not cool. And he showed me, but I couldn't figure out how he didn't get the little point in the middle. Well, he actually guided me through it while I was doing it, which was cool. I've had a teacher or two in the past who didn't do that and instead either did it themselves or used technical terms I didn't get.... But whatever. It worked and my cookies were beautiful!We ate a few..... Yummmm.....

The ones with the non-pareils were my favorite. I love those things....

Thursday, October 2, 2008


My whole blog just disappeared while I was putting it up. I am too pissed about that to write now, so y'all will get this week's blog tomorrow.

And I wrote the whole DAMNED thing!!!!

I found my post people!!!!! This is week 2!! woo hoo!!

I love to bake. Everyone knows this by now. What everyone also knows is that I have no patience. If they didn't know this, some figured it out when I went to try the pecan rolls the second I pulled them from the oven. Literally, the second....
During lecture, we discussed yeast breads. I honestly didn't know there was more than one kind of yeast. I have only ever used active dry yeast, which to me, kind of seems like the best one to use! There is compressed, instant and active dry. Compressed yeast smells nasty, which is something I learned at work this week, not at school, and it is kept in the cooler. Instant has no moisture in it what so ever!
And salt kills yeast. Again something I didn't know. We also learned the 12 stages of the bread baking process. God help me if I have to memorize this!!!
All in all, I was pretty excited about the focaccia bread and sticky buns. I wasn't too thrilled about rye bread, but only b/c I don't like the stuff. Apparently, it wasn't meant to be.... You'll see why below.
Anyways, I have all the patience in the world for cakes, cookies, etc etc to finish baking in the oven. But when it comes to yeast breads, forget it. I mean, it's not so bad at home waiting for it to finish b/c you can watch tv or a movie, read a book, talk on the phone. But at school, not so much. Kris and I worked together yesterday and we were making rye bread (w/ no caraway seeds), focaccia bread and pecan sticky buns.
Kris started on the rye bread while I started on the pecan sticky buns. She used a mixer to get the dough working and then hand-kneaded it. I never actually felt the texture of the dough, but Chef said that the wheat flour was too coarse and the dough wouldn't rise in the Rational.... In the end, I wasn't sure exactly what it was that made the dough so crappy, but either way, we gave up on it before it turned 10PM. So next Kris started on the focaccia. She's great, she picked some asiago cheese to sprinkle on top... I love asiago cheese. And it was definitely different from the rest. I'm not sure how she made the dough... I had helped another student in American Regional make the focaccia, but it was a different recipe, so this was def different..... But she got it in the bowl and that didn't rise either!!! But finally, it did and chef said we could spread it out in the pan. Kris did that and then we put it in the Rational to proof again. That didn't seem to take as long (probably b/c it wasn't as long, duh!) and before you knew it, it was ready to put in the oven. We let it bake for about 12 min, then coated it w/ the asiago cheese. We left it in for another 10 or so minutes, but the cheese wasn't browning so we pulled it out and put it under the salamander (did I spell that right???). It got nice and browned then.... Yummmm......
1 tablespoon Granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Active dry yeast
12 fluid ounces Water, lukewarm
18 ounces All-purpose flour (1 lb. 2 oz.)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 ounces Onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2 tablespoons Fresh rosemary, crushed

1. Combine the sugar, yeast and water. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Stir in the flour 4 ounces (120 grams) at a time.
2. Stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons (7 milliliters) of the salt and the onion. Mix well, then knead on a lightly floured board or in a mixer with dough hook until smooth.
3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and ferment until doubled.
4. Punch down the dough, then flatten it onto an oiled sheet pan. It should be no more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) thick. Brush the top of the dough with the olive oil. Let the dough proof until doubled, approximately 15 minutes.
5. Sprinkle the crushed rosemary and remaining 1/2 teaspoon (2 milliliters) of salt on top of the dough. Bake at 400°F (200°C) until lightly browned, approximately 20 minutes.
6. Yield: 1 Half-sheet pan, 12 x 18 In.

***This is the recipe we worked off of and changed. We left out the onions from the batter and topped with the grated Asiago cheese after it was baking for about 10-15 min. Next time I do this, I will try to add the cheese before I put it in b/c I think the top would have browned better if it had been on the top the whole time.

So then came the Pecan Sticky Buns.
I kneaded the heck out of that dough and Chef kept telling me that he was waiting for this top layer to form.... I had not clue what he was trying to say, but once I got there and he showed me, I understood. Apparently, you have to get this smooth layer so when you pull it, the dough doesn't pull apart, it stays smooth. So we pop it in the Rational to proof and it doubles in size faster than all the other doughs. All of them. And when it came out and I got to beat it (that was kind fun), I rolled it out and covered it in the mix and cut the rolls. I had added butter to the filling mix, which I found was harder to spread than if I hadn't... but I also cut them kinda big. The book said 3/4- 1 inch thick and of course I cut them an inch think. There was a lot of dough and I only have 12 muffin cups to put them in. So yeah..... I ended up having 15 1/2 rolls.... I put the muffins tins in the proofer to rise for another 15 min and then stuck the leftovers and a sheet pan and baked them off. I wish I got pics of those, but the second I pulled them out of the oven (and I do mean the SECOND) we were all eating them. I probably was the reason why since I kinda went for it first...... :)
So anyways, the ones w/ the sticky goodness came out a little while later.... I have to say I liked them better w/out the honey and sugar mix... I would have left them dry and maybe coated them w/ some melted butter. That would have been wonderful. I guess I didn't like them b/c I don't think the sugar caramelized nicely in the oven. It still tasted kind of gritty to me. I think if I make these again, I am going to heat up the honey and the brown sugar in a saucepan before I spoon it into the bottom of the muffin pan. Maybe then it'll be a better texture.

Pecan Sticky Buns
1 ounce Active dry yeast
2 ounces Granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 fluid ounce Milk
5 1/2 fluid ounces Buttermilk
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Lemon zest, grated
1 teaspoon Lemon juice
2 Egg yolks
14 ounces All-purpose flour
8 ounces Unsalted butter, very soft
6 fluid ounces Honey
6 ounces Brown sugar
3 ounces Pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
3 ounces Pecans, chopped
4 ounces Brown sugar
3 ounces Unsalted butter, melted

1. To make the dough, stir the yeast, sugar, salt and milk together in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Stir the buttermilk, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice together and add to the yeast mixture.
3. Add the egg yolks, flour and softened butter to the liquid mixture. Knead until the butter is evenly distributed and the dough is smooth and fully developed, approximately 6 minutes. Cover and ferment until doubled.
4. Prepare the topping and filling mixtures while the dough is fermenting. To make the topping, cream the honey and sugar together. Stir in the pecans. This mixture will be very stiff. To make the filling, stir the cinnamon, pecans and sugar together.
5. Lightly grease muffin cups, then distribute the topping mixture evenly, about 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) per muffin cup. Set the pans aside at room temperature until the dough is ready.
6. Punch down the dough and let it rest 10 minutes. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch (1.2 centimeters) thick. Brush with the melted butter and top evenly with the filling mixture.
7. Starting with either long edge, roll up the dough. Cut into slices about 3/4 to 1 inch (1.8 to 2.5 centimeters) thick. Place a slice in each muffin cup over the topping.
8. Let the buns proof until doubled, approximately 20 minutes. Bake at 325°F (163°C) until very brown, approximately 25 minutes. Immediately invert the muffin pans onto paper-lined sheet pans to let the buns and their topping slide out.
9. Yield: 12 to 15 Buns

***Do not cut them 1 inch thick unless you want the dough to spill over! For more uniform buns, cut them smaller, which will get you about 15+, depending on how thin you roll them out.