Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Petite Four Class - Lesson 3

This is from the third and last lesson of my Petite Four Class. This lesson, we were taught to make mainly Petite Fours Sec. What you see in the picture starting from the top:
  1. Expresso Cheesecake - Little expresso cheesecakes baked and chilled. Dust with some cocoa powder and snow sugar and decorated with white chocolate and a coffee bean made of marzipan.
  2. Hazelnut Focus - A crunchy little cake made of hazelnut powder and meringue, decoarated with ganache and roasted hazelnut.
  3. Cranberry Almond Florentines - Made of sliced almonds and cranberry cooked in glucose which hardens when cooled.
  4. Orange Kisses - The base is made of Pâte Sucrée, topped with a chocolate orange chantilly and decorated with a slice of oranage and chocolate slice.

My personal preference are the Expresso Cheesecake which has a very strong coffe flavour and the Cranberry Almond Florentines which you cannot stop munching on once you start.

We were awarded with a certificate of accomplishment at the end of the course.

Cake Baking Lesson Stage 1 - Lesson 3

This is what we made for Cake Baking Stage 1 - Lesson 3. The one on the left is the Rainbow Roll, this recipe can be used to make the Rainbow Roll or the Feather Roll. This swiss roll was then filled with whipped cream and a nice strawberry jam. Very light and refershing.

The other swiss roll that we made was the Tiger Roll. The outer skin had to be seperately and after that, roll together with the inner chocolate roll. The reason why the outer skin wrinkles is due to the heat reacting with the flour in the batter. As it is a thin roll, it is also important to try to even out the batter throughout the tray so that the outer skin would bake evenly. As this is a thin roll, we need to be careful not to overbake it as it will result in it turning into a biscuit instead of a cake. Some skill is need to be able to make the skin successfully and beautifully. A ganache mixed with whipping cream was used for this swiss roll.

I like the Tiger Roll better as compared to the Rainbow Roll.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cakes - Tiramisu and Longan Peach

Last weekend was a super busy weekend, initially having to make 1 cake as requested by my hub's cousin - A for her 21st birthday, but ended up having to make two cakes as A called Wednesday night asking if I could make a small cake for her friend who was turning 21 also. We only have one 21st birthday a lifetime, so I agreed. Not knowing how many people will be turning up for her birthday party, I decided to make a 10" square fruit cake with fresh cream for A. which was the plan initially. With the additional request, I started to think hard again to decide if I should make the same flavour for the smaller cake that A requested for her friend as it would make my job easier. But then I thought that it would look boring if both cakes looked the same during the party.

After some thoughts and some inventory taking to see what other ingredients I had at home, I decided to make a 7" Tiramisu for A's friend.

I started all the baking and making on Friday night as I had some Mooncake orders to fulfil and Cake Baking Class on Saturday afternoon . I used my brand new Spa mixer to whisk up the cake batter for the Longan and Peach cake. This mixer definitely had power and the cake turned out light and fluffy compared to if I were to use a hand held mixer to whip up the batter.

I managed to finish both cakes by 11pm that night. A great sense of satisfaction and happiness to see the two cakes turning out well though I felt that the fruit decoration for the Longan and Peach Cake could be better. The other happy part was to see guests happily finishing up the cakes.

Walnut Moon Tarts

Walnut Moontarts with Pâte Sucrée and white lotus. These were made on request from hub for giving to some Taiwan colleague to bring back to Taiwan. These moontarts are very different from the traditional mooncakes because of how the crust is made.

Some of my friend's have requested to place some orders for these, thus I would be busy for the next 2 weeks with these little pastries.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Petite Four Class Lesson 2

I attended the Petite Four Class 2 last Monday. Lesson 2 was better in terms of pace as some of the items used were prepared in Lesson 1. Our instructor Judy emphasized on Mis En Place which means the preparation work head of time. For the Petite Four class, we made our Pâte Sucrée during Lesson1 and this will be used for the subsequent lessons.
In Lesson 2, we did four items, namely
  1. Apricot Passion Fruit Tartlets - a sweet crust pastry, topped with a Apricot Chocolate Ganache.
  2. Mini Fruities - Layers of sponge cake sandwiched with custard filling, surround by a layer of heart shaped chocolate sheet and topped with various types of fruits.
  3. Angle Head - Made of the sponge cake 'droplets' that we made in Lesson 1, sandwich with lemon curd and decorated with snow sugar and chocolate ganache piped on the top.
  4. Rhubard Rolls - Rhubard rolled between a thin layer of sponge, and a lemon curd filling.

Unfortunately no Rhubards where found in the local supermarkets, thus we have to substitute it with strawberries which tasted good with the lemon curd as well.

My personal favourite were the Mini Fruities which were light. We were taught to make various fruit base ganache. However, for some reason, I personally do not like the taste of fruit puree mixed with chocolate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cake Making Lesson Stage 1 - Lesson 2

Last Saturday was our second lesson for the Cake Making Stage 1 course. This week, my partner and I were not as unluckily as our first lesson. Well, at least we didn't break any bowl, and our cakes rose beautifully.

In Lesson 2 , we were taught to make 3 different flavours of chiffon cakes. Namely banana chiffon, citric chiffon and the pandan chiffon. At the end of the lesson, we were taught how to glaze and decorate the citric chiffon with a orange glaze made of jelly powder, orange juice and some colouring. The trick to have the glaze look beautiful and smooth was to pour the glaze quickly onto the cake before it hardens and DO NOT use any utensils to try to smoothen the glaze or else the glaze will turn drastically ugly if you do not do it fast enough.

My partner and I could proudly say that our glaze is one of the nicer looking ones out of the many groups in our class. Though I already have some basic knowledge on making chiffon but I was surprised that there were some secrets in making a good chiffon that I wasn't aware of. No wonder my chiffon sometimes turn out good and sometimes turn out not so light and fluffy.

This Cake Making Stage 1 course is a very popular course at the school and is fully booked for the subsequent months up till the November class. Can you imagine that!

I suddenly remembered that I had once met a lady in one of my classes previously who had critised that the courses held at BITC which stands for Baking Industry Training Centre was better. And how she determined that it was better was because the school didn't weigh and prepare the ingredients ahead for the students while at Creative Culinaire, the ingredients would usually be weighed for us before the start of the class.

I didn't share the same thoughts as this lady as I wonder why would I want to be paying $340 for 4 lessons just to spend 1/2 the time rushing around with the other classmates to weight out the ingredients for the lesson. So what if we attain the skill of weighing each item perfectly but yet not able to use the correct skill and technique to bake a good cake. I would think the skill and techniques are more difficult to master than the skill of being able to weigh out ingredients accurately. Don't you think so?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Petite Four Class Lesson 1

This month of Aug is a busy month for me as I am taking both the Basic Cake Making Class which consists of 4 lessons and also the Petite Four Class which consists of 3 lessons.

The first lesson for Petite Four, we were taught to make four items as shown above, starting from the top.
  1. Bananarama - a light banana cake coated with chocolate ganache.
  2. Amore - made from a very frangrant sweet crust pastry, topped with a chocolate cream, strawberry and a piece of pretty heart shaped white chocolate.
  3. Raspberry Chocolate Jewels - made of sweet crust pastry and a raspberry chocolate mousse.
  4. Coffee buttons - consists of a sponge cake with a coffee ganache filling.
I like the Bananaram the best as chocolate and banana goes really well together. It amazes me how a chocolate ganache can be further mixed with whip cream and flavouring to become another filling or decoration item. In this first lesson, we were also taught how to make some parts of a pastry item ahead of time and assembling the item before it is being served.

I really like the thought of being able to eat a variety of mini pastries as compared to eating a large slice of cake. Well, I like variety and perhaps it is self-consoling to feel that I am eating a small portion of a sinful dessert = less fattening?? This theory may or may not be true though but the thought of being able to eat more variety is definitely delicious.

Pooh Bear Birthday Cake

I have again put my cake decoration skills to practice. This time around is a cake requested by my dearest niece who has turned 7 this August. A picture of Pooh Bear and Piglet to be on the cake was her request. She actually wanted a chocolate sponge cake but as she just recovered from flu infection, thus she was advised not to eat so much chocolate.

At first she suggested strawberry sponge, but I thought it would be safer to just do a normal sponge cake as the strawberry essence may not be that acceptable to her taste buds. This cake took me 2hr to decorate. The colouring of the picture took the most time but I am glad everyone loves it and it is very satisfying to see everyone eating happily.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Cake Making Stage 1 Class (Lesson 1)

Last Saturday was the first lesson of Cake Making Stage 1 class at Creative Culinaire. I was looking forward to this class as I registered for it since June. Lesson 1 was not very smooth going for both me and my partner. The lesson started off with about 2hrs of theory by Judy the instructor. After that, it was our turn to make the cakes. The first cake to make was the Walnut Butter cake. My partner and I started creaming the butter but found it very strange that the butter was slightly greyish in colour. Initially we suspected that the mixer was leaking oil into the butter. Judy changed a mixer for us but the same thing happened and we could not figure out was was actually wrong. The third round, Judy suggested we use a smaller mixer and this round, the same thing happened... grey streaks of oil look alike substance in the butter mixture. I finally realised that it could be due to the metal peddle that hit the sides of the metal bowl that created the grey streaks that looked like oil in the butter. In the end, we were advised to use the plastic bowl instead of the metal bowl and things were all right.

The reason why grey streaks appeared in the butter was because I, the smart alec slightly tilted that mixer bowl so that the peddle could beat the butter as the quantity of the butter was slightly too little and this resulted to the peddle constantly hitting the sides of the bowl, creating the grey streaks of oil like substance. For the subsequent cakes, I just carefully lifted the mixer bowl once a while so that the paddle could mix the butter and not constantly hold the bowl.

On top of all the frenzy about the mysterious streaks of oil look alike substances appearing in the butter, my partner drop a glass bowl and broke it. We were lucky we didn't have to pay for the bowl and Judy was so nice to make sure that my partner was all right and not hurt by the broken glass bits.

Despite all the initial 'bad luck', our walnut cake turned out pretty well, lightly fluffed up and soft texture. The taste was good as well.

The second recipe that we had to complete was chocolate cupcakes. This was to be done by a group of 4 people. While we struggled with the walnut cake, our 2 other classmate that shared out table did the chcolate cupcakes. It turned out very soft and definitely better than some of the cupcakes that I tasted outside.

We get to decorate our cupcakes into sunflowers or with chocolate and colourful candies. The sunflower was decorated with yellow coloured buttercream which was not at all tasty and on top of that, fattening. It was on the whole, very pretty. It will be nice to put some chocolate cream inside the cupcakes. Each of us got to decorate 3 cupcakes in total to bring home.

The third recipe that we made was the marble butter cake which uses another technique slightly different from the way the walnut cake was might. The pyamids were made using silicon moulds. The texture of this cake was slightly denser compared to the walnut cake but on the whole soft and moist. Judy made hers into roses which is definitely much nicer compared to pyramids.

Next Saturaday is National Day, so there won't be any class. Looking forward to Lesson 2 where we will be learning Chiffon cakes. Hopefully our luck would be better next lesson.