Saturday, March 20, 2010

Week 10: Viennoiserie

Week 10 continued with viennoiserie - breakfast pastry, generally enriched breads. This unit was not kind on my waistline.

These were raisin nut danishes...a big hit at my office. At the beginning of this unit, our class soaked a large container of raisins in rum to use in various recipes. They were a really great addition to everything we used them in.

Fruitcake is one of those things that the mere mention of elicits groans and eye-rolling. I was doubtful too, but this fruitcake has totally changed my opinion. It was a butter cake base with dried cherries, raisins, pears, and apricots. I want to make one of these cakes for everyone I know-- a one woman crusade to reverse the opinion of fruitcake forever.

The challah bread was really good. Very rich and soft. Chef Toni taught us how to do the more complicated 6 strand braid for this loaf. Having never really mastered the art of French braiding hair, I didn't feel very hopeful that I would be able to do this. My braid turned out pretty well though.


Kugelhopf is a traditional Austrian bread, that's kind of like a cross between a bread and a cake, and contains more of the rum raisins. I really loved this bread; it was moist and had a really tender crumb. Definitely one of my favorites of the week.

Brioche was sort of similar to the challah to me, but better. It was extremely soft and buttery. I think I ate half the loaf. Like I said, my waist is looking for a reprieve from breads.

These brioche a tete are supposed to look like little heads (tete means head in French). I'm not sure why you'd want to eat something that resembled a head, but this is just another quirky example of French-named pastries. Mine looked basically nothing like they're supposed to look like. I'm okay with having not yet mastered the art of making breads that look like heads.

The only scones I had ever had came from Starbucks. I like Starbucks for some things, but their pastries are not one of them. Their scones had led me to believe all scones were like hard, dry rocks. Not so with these currant scones. They were really delicious with a little bit of strawberry jam. Chef Cynthia made us her variation of this recipe, which was even more moist and amazing. I'm a new scone convert.

Stollen is another bread like the fruitcake, a cake-ish bread filled with dried fruits and nuts. The whole thing is then covered in melted butter and rolled in powdered sugar. It's a traditional Christmas bread, and is supposed to look like the baby Jesus swaddled in a blanket. I'm not sure I saw the resemblance. Maybe if you squinted and turned your head to the side.

Croissants are one of my favorite pleasures in life. Even bad croissants usually taste good. And these that we made in class were really terrific croissants. Croissants are made similarly to puff pastry - layers of dough and butter rolled out, and folded, but they have yeast added to help with the rise. We made both traditional croissants and pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants). The French traditionally bake their croissants (and other pastries) a deeper brown color than most of us are used to, but I think this just made them even better.

I used the leftover croissants to make croissant French toast Sunday morning for my parents. There's this restaurant in Hoboken, Amanda's, and they make the absolute best brunch. My favorite thing there is the croissant French toast with strawberry compote, and I tried to recreate that. Mine was good, but Amanda's has made me cry tears outside the restaurant when I can't get Sunday morning reservations.


Cooking Foodie said...

Delicious! All of these breads and cakes look yum!
BTW you inspired me to take a baking class at a local culinary place - nothing major it has 4 classes, 5 hours each for 4 weekends. Basic cookies, breads, pies and cakes. So thanks so much :)

Tara said...

That's so great!! Good luck and have fun! Hope you're blogging about it!

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