Sunday, August 01, 2010

Our First Section on Cakes

Angel Food Cake:

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Pistachios:

Vanilla Genoise Cake with Raspberry Jam and Vanilla Buttercream:

Almond Meringue Layer Cake with Coffee Buttercream:

Marzipan Rose:

End of Breads I


Brioche Beehive:

Savoy Scones:

Plum Tart with Brioche as Tart Base:


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Here are more bread pictures: blueberry orange muffins, danishes, brioche, kuglehopf, and fruit cake. I promise I will write more descriptions when I get caught up, but for now I hope you enjoy pictures of what I'm making. We finished the first level of our course today and now are moving on to a new kitchen and new exciting things. Until then, I have more pictures of breads and cakes...

Thursday, July 08, 2010


We spent the last week on so making enriched breads -- meaning breads that contain sugar or eggs or butter or all of the above, as opposed to "lean" breads which contain only yeast, flour, water, and salt. Below are pictures from the first day -- we made challah, Sally Lunn rolls, orange swirl bread, and pecan sticky buns.

Monday, July 05, 2010

More puff pastry: an apple compote lattice tart, a classic napoleon, a banana tart on chocolate puff pastry with chocolate chip ice cream, a jalousie (filled with almond cream and raspberry jam), a pitivier (filled with frangipane), and an apple tart tatin.

Puff pastry continued

Here is an apple tartlette, a conversation (a classic french pastry made with almond cream, puff pastry and royal icing), and a pear in cage.

More creations with puff pastry

Below are pictures of some more puff pastry creations that I made last week: cheese sticks, a pineapple-pistachio tart, and a round napoleon (layers of puff pastry and vanilla cream).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Puff Pastry

This week we have been making different items with puff pastry, which I've really enjoyed. Puff pastry is considered the most expensive French pastry dough because of the amount of labor that goes into making it by hand and the cost of the ingredients (i.e. lots of butter!). It is really rewarding to make though, because there are so many things you can make with it. It is a very versatile dough. We made 4 different kinds; quick, classic, inverse, and chocolate. Quick puff pastry doesn't rise as high because you just mix in cubes of melted butter with the dough. Classic puff pastry you wrap a basic flour dough around a block of butter and roll it out and fold it like a letter six different times until you have many layers. Inverse and chocolate puff pastry are a bit harder to make and require a pretty cool kitchen because the butter is wrapped around the dough and then rolled out and folded six times.

Here are the products we made on our first day of puff pastry: apple tartlettes and a fresh fruit bar tart.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Sorry for not updating in a while! This past week was quite busy. Here are some pictures from last week showcasing our last day of making pate a choux. We capped the section by making a croquembouche--the traditional French celebratory cake. It is typically made with cream puffs (or choux) filled with some kind of cream, dipped in caramel or some other topping and stuck together with caramel. We dipped our choux in pistachios, pearl sugar, cocoa nibs, and caramel. We then decorated it with piped dough. It was fun to have some creative license and our cake was chosen by the class to be displayed in the hallway at school!

Here is my first "kitchen tattoo," as they jokingly refer to burns. I got this one on a sheetpan right out of the oven.

Below is a picture of the inside of the croquembouche mold as we layered choux balls on top of one another, glued with caramel. Also, here is a picture of the choux balls waiting on sheetpans to be layered and a picture of our final product.

And finally, I was able to attend one of the chef demonstrations that the school periodically offers. Jacques Pepin demonstrated proper knife skills, showing us how to break down and cut many different types of vegetables, a whole fish, 2 whole chickens, and fruit. It was awe-inspiring to see him work.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Choux

Yesterday and today, we continued making products with pate a choux. I was not able to take pictures of what we made today - grougeres (savory cheese puffs) and St. Honore Cake (a choux cake filled with pastry cream folded in with Italian meringue). I do have pictures from yesterday, though. The first picture is of a paris-brest - a classic french pastry commemorating an old bicycle race, hence the round shape. It is filled with a praline-flavored pastry cream.

The second picture is of a swan made with pate a choux and filled with pastry cream, pineapples, and creme chantilly. They were fun to make!

The third picture is of profiteroles, one of my favorite desserts. The puffs are cut in half, filled with a scoop of ice cream, and then topped with chocolate sauce.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Today we made pate a choux - a pastry dough used in pastries like eclairs, profiteroles, cream puffs, popovers, and beignets. The dough is cooked twice - once over the stove and then once in an oven to puff it up and then dry it out, so it becomes hollow inside (or deep fried, in the case of beignets).

Today we made eclairs. We made the dough, piped it onto a sheet pan, cooked it in the oven, then filled it with three different flavors of lightened pastry cream: vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. We dipped the tops in vanilla, coffee, and chocolate icings to identify the flavor of the cream inside.

Piping and scoring the dough before it goes in the oven is tricky. It has to be done properly or the dough will burst on the top, creating fissures or holes that can later leak the filling and make it hard to properly frost. It will definitely take me more practice to perfect!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First Test, Top Chef Style

Today we had our first test reviewing our knowledge of Unit 1: Tarts and Cookies. The first 45 minutes of class we had a written exam. The rest of class we had a practical exam. We were not told in advance what we would be making. We found out when we walked in the door of class this morning. I had to individually make a caramel-nut tart, 4 quiche lorraine tartlettes, and vanilla crescent cookies and present them on a half sheet pan to the chef.

It was both fun and nerve-wracking. For some reason, the oven my team was using took a long time to pre-heat, leaving us with 25 minutes to bake off our tarts before time was called. The recipe cooking time for the quiche called for 25-35 minutes. I was so nervous it wasn't going to cook in time! It all worked out in the end. I pulled the quiches out with one minute to spare, threw them down on the sheet pan and raised my hand and yelled "Done!," as instructed. I felt like I was on Top Chef or Iron Chef :). I think I did well, having received good feedback from the chef. Here is the half sheet pan I presented for grading...

Yesterday's Class

Here you can see what we made yesterday in class. The first is a linzer torte, made with hazelnut linzer dough, raspberry compote, and almond cream. The second picture is of bourbon-pecan cookies. The third picture is a quiche lorraine in a tartlette shell.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Caramel Tarts

Today we made quick apple tartes tatin. You make caramel, pour it in a tartlette pan, put fresh apple wedges on top, lay a pastry dough round over that, and this is what you get...

It would be delicious with vanilla ice cream.

We also made a caramel nut tart. We made a caramel filling with sugar, walnuts, milk, and cream and then spread almond cream on top. It puffs and up and creates a delicious tart. I think it was one of my favorite tarts we've made.