Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Week 11: End of Viennoiserie and Start of Cakes I

Thank God viennoiserie has ended. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I just can't eat that much of it before I need to order my chef pants in several sizes larger. Last week we had one more class of viennoiserie, and then we started cakes on Thursday. I'm really excited for the start of cakes; it finally feels like we're getting to more challenging parts of the curriculum.

Using some of our brioche dough, we made a brioche fruit tart. The base was the brioche, and it was covered with some pastry cream, apricots, and blueberries before being baked. This was a big hit in my office. I really love apricots; they remind me of 5th grade. In 5th grade, I ate a peanut butter and apricot sandwich every day for lunch. I'd get stuck in year-long year cream cheese and grape jelly, another year just cheese on white bread. The apricot year was probably one of my healthier ones.

We also made a pannetone, which is a traditional Italian bread made at Christmas time. As far as breadish cakes with raisins go, I much preferred the kugelhopf, which was a lot more moist. The picture above was after the pannetone got squished in my tote on the trek from school to home to work. It was initially less misshapen.

Our last bread was a pain de mie, or Pullman loaf. This is a pretty simple white bread. Much better than Wonder Bread (as much as I love it). I had to give the majority of this loaf to a coworker to take home or else I would have made the whole thing into grilled cheese.

These ruche, or beehives, were so cute, and delicious. On the inside was 3 layers of brioche that was soaked with a honey/wine/lavender liquid. Those three things are delicious together. The layers were sandwiched with some creme legere (lightened pastry cream). The whole thing was then covered with a meringue, and then we took a blowtorch to it. I really love the blowtorch. Almost as much as I love this meringue. It tastes exactly like marshmallow fluff. We had made some bees out of marzipan to put on the hives the class before. Not realizing we were going to be making mini beehives, mine were on the larger side. Chef Cynthia called them killer bees.

Close up of the tiny bee face

Thursday was the start of cakes, which like I said before, is really exciting. I've seen pictures of what we'll be making, and some of it is really beautiful. All this is working up to when we eventually make a 3 tier wedding cake in Level 2.

Our first cake we made was a traditional genoise (pronounced jen-wahz). A genoise is a plain cake that is leavened simply with a meringue. There is usually no flavor added to the cake before it bakes. These cakes are frequently soaked in a simple syrup (sugar) or a flavored syrup. I will go on record and say that this cake sucks. It's dry and flavorless. I can't really see myself using this type of cake unless I'm compelled to for school. This particular cake in the picture was a plain genoise soaked in a raspberry liquor syrup with raspberry filling and a standard buttercream. Don't get me started on this pate a bombe buttercream either. My partner and I refer to it as "sugar flavored with butter." Not a good thing.

So cakes got off to a slow start, for me at least. We made these poundcakes, individual size. I LOVE poundcake. I would eat it everyday for breakfast if it wouldn't mean committing to being compared to Shamu for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, there was just something not right about these poundcakes. The texture was more like cornbread, then the buttery, soft poundcake I like.

To redeem the slow start of cakes, there was this dacquoise. A dacquoise is a cake made up of layers of meringue and buttercream. In this case, it was almond meringues and coffee buttercream. Being allergic to nuts, I couldn't try the whole cake, but the coffee buttercream was an improvement from the butter-sugar. I served this to my parents on Sunday, and they declared it the best dessert I've ever made. That's pretty huge being as I've made a lot of things they've sampled.

Continuing on the upswing was the angel food cake. This one was everything you'd want- great flavor and light, airy texture.

Also on Sunday for my parents visit, I got some low fat Cool Whip (I would have preferred homemade whipped cream, but cut backs need to come somewhere) and fresh strawberries and made the angel food cake into a really simple layer cake. This was hands down my favorite creation of the week.


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