Meredith circa 1982

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back on Track!

Back in the swing of things! Sorry I’m a little behind with putting up a new post – my school schedule was a little strange the last three weeks but I wanted to get you up to speed before we start our Bread and Yeast Doughs Module this weekend!

After having President’s Day weekend off, we jumped right back into things finishing up our Frozen Dessert work making Bombes. Bombes are like an ice cream dessert, but instead of the custard mixture being churned, you add air to it by incorporating whipped cream or whipped egg whites. We had the choice to make a wide variety of flavors, so my partner and I chose to make Banana, Pineapple Coconut and Raspberry! We were trying to feel tropical on that cold February Saturday morning!

Bombes are layered into flexible molds and then unmolded before presentation. We had fun layering in our three flavors and the combination turned out to be a hit!

I forgot to take pictures of our bombes, but they were cute. I found this picture online - ours were similar but were a pale yellow color.

When we left the ICE building to commute home, we all made sure to not mention we had made Bombes that day – that could get you in a whole bunch a trouble in NYC!

The more exciting part of that weekend was that we began our journey into pastry related production – Pate a Choux!!! Pate a Choux is used to make Eclairs and choux puffs (Crème puffs) and Paris Brest.

The translation of Pate a Choux is “cabbage paste” and it got this name way back when because when the dough would bake in the oven, it often looked like little cabbages when it puffed up. The neat thing about Pate a Choux is that when it bakes, it puffs up and leaves a hollow center that you can fill with all kinds of yummy stuff!

We made Pastry Cream (vanilla & chocolate) and Whipped Cream to fill our Pate a Choux and we also made a Chocolate Glaze and Fondant to coat our pastries. Here I am piping vanilla pastry cream into an Eclair.

We used different pastry tips and techniques to form the same dough into various shapes. This tray has éclairs and choux puffs on it and I’m using a knife to poke a hole in the bottom of each one so that we could pipe our pastry cream inside.

The dessert below is called a Paris Brest - and it is a classic French dessert. The story behind the name is that prior to the Tour de France, there was a bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris and this dessert was created in honor of that event. The pastry is round and some say represents the circle the actual bicycle route made while others say it represents the bicycle wheel.

Either way, the circle of Pate a Choux is brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with slivered almonds before baking and after it cools, is cut open and filled with pastry cream and whipped cream then dusted with powdered sugar.

These are two Choux a la Creme that I filled with chocolate & vanilla pastry cream, sliced strawberries and dusted with powdered sugar. Nice two-bite treats!

Here is a tray with some of our completed Eclairs and Choux Puffs - we filled them and then decorated them using our Chocolate Glaze or Fondant (not to be confused with rolled fondant used on cakes) and then made them fancy using our cornet skills to decorate with a contrasting color.

You may be wondering where the rest of those choux puffs I was putting holes into ended up since they aren't on this tray? Well, we used the rest of our choux puffs to make mini - Croquembouche!

These were a bit more involved and really fun to make! Martha Stewart has made these mainstream by making large Croquembouche for Wedding Cakes.

Please note - I did NOT make the above picture! I would still be in class working on it if I had because these things take forever!!!

To my fellow Dunkin Donuts fans, these may look like munchkins - but they are actually the little choux puffs, dipped in caramel, filled with pastry cream, and then "glued" together with more hot caramel to form a cone shape.

And that was the last thing we made in Module 1. Our written and practical exams were last weekend and I'm happy to say that I made 50/50 points on our practical! We each had to make Creme Anglaise and Chocolate Souffle and were graded by Chef Jeff on our technique, procedures and final product and had to complete our products at a specific time. It was a bit nerve racking, but now I know what to expect for future practical exams and am happy that I did well.

Tomorrow morning we will start Breads and I'm very excited about it!

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