Sunday, September 28, 2008

Yogurt Granola Parafait

I used to be a big fan of Alton Brown and his Good Eats show back in the day when I used to watch the food network. Since I started this blog and following the repressed pastry chef blog, I rediscovered him and the Good Eats. I currently don't own a tv set, but having a computer, You Tube allowed me the luxury to catch up with couple of the Good Eats episodes. I happened to watch the 'Good Milk Gone Bad' episode. Featured in it was a home made yogurt recipe. I followed the Alton Brown recipe to make it myself and the result was a yogurt that not only looked good, but tasted great too. The recipe for the yogurt can be found here.
Ever since I made the yogurt, I was in search for some granola. To my joy, the 'Oats Cuisine' episode of the Good Eats featured a simple and quick reicpe for the granola which I made above. Take some of the granola and combine that with the homemade yogurt and top it off with the granola and wallaahh!'ve got the perfect Yogurt Granola Parafait! The yogurt and the granola recipe is something that I will definitely use over and over again for years to come.

Lemon Madelines

I have seen Starbucks sell the Madelines. Glancing over them at the Starbucks counter, I thought of them to be crunchy cookies. I have been tempted to try them at Starbucks, but I've never had. So when I learned that I will be making them, it was exciting and couldn't wait to make them. Now that I've made it, I learned that they are not crunchy, but a spongy cake. This is the first cake where we used the technique to heat the butter to the point where it is nutty brown and take it off the heat and then fold it into the batter. The end product is the shells with yellowish nutty brown color and it's finished off with the shifted powdered sugar. Overall, not bad for a spongy cake all by itself.

Petit Fours

Petit fours are small cakes and cookies served as part of a large buffet. Petit four is a french terms which translates to small oven. Yesterday, I finished my 'Basic Patisserie techniques' class. The petit fours pictured on the left were part of the sweet table setting. In the picture, from top to bottom, include: 1) Linzer Cookies with raspberry filling, 2) Florentines, 3) Batons Marechaux, 4) Petit Four Glace.
Linzer cookies, which I have written before here. It baked for slightly longer and therefore, more browned than necessary. The Florentines turned out well. The chocolate coating gave it a nice touch. The Batons Marechaux were also not bad. Despite the impression of it being curchy, it is more on the chewy side. It's topped with sliced almonds and the bottoms are coated with bitter-sweet chocolate. The Petit Four Glace could use more practice and work. They were also my least favorite to make, due to the tempremental nature of the poured fondant and the fact that the spongey cakes wouldn't stand still.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

This was another item we made as part of the class final. In comparision to the Petit Four and the Opera Cake, this was definitely a breeze to make. The components of this pie include: Oreo cookie crust, chocolate peanut butter pastry cream filling, topped with Chantilly Creme and chocolate flakes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gateau L'Opera

Opera cake was another component of our final exam. The cake comprises of the Joconde Cake, which is an almond sponge cake, layered with coffee french buttercream, chocolate ganache, coffee rum syrup and chocolate glaze. This part of the final was going to take the longest to make, hence the preparations for it started the earliest. Making a sponge cake has always been a chanllenge for me, due to delicacy of the batter and the care it takes in folding it. However, once the sponge is made well, it is a breeze to make the Coffee French Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Rum Syrup. Once all that in place, next is to layer the cake and freeze it until ready to glaze and cut it. After the cake is glazed it goes back in the freezer for the glaze to set before the slices are cut. Slicing this cake into its perfect 2 in. x 2 in. slices is a bit en-nerving for me. But with a chef's knife in hand and a good ruler, this could be accomplished. I still need work in the area of cutting those perfect 2 x 2 slices. Once that is taken care of, the cake is finished with piping the 'L'Opera' and topped with gold leaf. This cake is the traditional form of it, and to my delight, there are variations of these cakes which I of course, found on the repressed pastry chef blog, here. This cake is well worth the work and care that goes into its prepartions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

One of these days, I would love to get to level of Em, Jeanine and Jaime and many other inspiring blogs and in their level of baking, blog postings - (style and frequency), photographing and presenting their work. However, for now, I feel like I'm getting closer as I look at the picture above. Ever since I read the post on the Repressed Pastry Chef about the Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster, and looking at the great picture it made me want to make the cookie with that exact same recipe. However, I was making this on request and it was for Oatmeal Raisin. I also made a variation with cranberries - for the non-raisin lovers. I personally liked them both. I am also excited that I can actually post a recipe for this cookie.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

8 0z Butter or part butter and part shortening
1lb Brown Sugar
1 tsp Salt

4 oz Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 oz Milk

12 oz Pastry Flour or All-Purpose
.5 oz Baking Powder
.5 oz Baking Soda
2 tsp Cinnamon
10 oz Rolled Oats
8 0z Raisins

Method: Cream the butter and sugar and salt together until well blended. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and milk and mix until incorporated well. Add the dry ingredients - Pastry Flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon. And on low speed on the mixer combine oats and raisins until all folded. Use an ice-cream scooper to drop them and freeze them for atleast a few hours before baking them, this will allow the cookie to hold it's shape well and appear fluffy and desirable.

Linzer Cookies II

We are in finals week and have to make and present Linzer Cookies as part of our Petit Four Platter. When we made these in class we had to present only 6 of these and had most of the dough left over which I brought home and froze it. I brought out the dough from the freezer today to whip up the traditional version of these cookies.
When I made these in class, the cookie cutter was too small and according to the Chef it came out too thick. I found the cookie cutter's at Jane's Cakes and according to them it is the best ones they've found for cutting Linzer cookies. So I rolled out the dough, and froze it. Took it out in half hour or so and then cut into the shapes and then froze it again so that 'the fats don't melt before your proteins coagulate'. So this style does take a tad bit longer, but it's worth it. I used the raspberry jam again as the filling and topped with confectioner's sugar.
The recipe I found at Joy of Baking is very close to the one we used in class, minus the lemon zest. I think it's a great cookie and even though you have the option of using an almond or hazelnut meal, I'd definitely go with the Hazelnut!

Blog Update

As I was doing my latest blog entries, I decided to dig further into the 'Blogger' features. I made a change to the template which resulted in a blank Blog page. I tried to dig into the Help for this, but it's almost 2 am and I have to wake up in the next 4 hours. So I resorted to a quick fix for now where I renamed the blog to release that name and created a new blog with the same name and added the latest 2 entries that I was meant to do originally. I have the other posts saved, but will figure out a way to retrieve those along with all the comments at a later time.