Thursday, 17 February 2011

Last of the Mousses

Im not sure whether or not it was due to the particularly high sugar content of our cakes this week, but the spirits in the kitchen were high. These are the last two mousse-y cakes we are making before moving on to chocolate next week. Not only are they full of cream and chocolate, but fun to make and provide the best guilty pleasure when eaten. That licking-out-the mixing-bowl type guilt. I'm sure when you hear about them you'll understand why.

Cake number one is the poires au caramel religieuses. It consists of: a chocolate sponge that is sprinkled with nuts before baking, caramel poached pears, a rich chocolate mousse, a chocolate glaze and, lovingly piped, chocolate pear decoration. The mousse and pears are layered inside the nutty sponge case and the combination is a real winner. It looks a little something like this:

In order to make the chocolate pears for the top we had to temper not only dark, but white chocolate too. White chocolate is the hardest to temper because it is the lease pure chocolate and thus can be a bit tempremental. Having said that, I followed the chefs advice, showing my chocolate a bit of TLC and even whispering it a few sweet nothings, until it set with the required snap and shine. Generally I'm quite pleased with how the cake turned out. I kept my piping simple again: a tactic that seems to be working a bit better for me. The only qualm I have is that I forgot to give my chocolate pears a good taps before they set so they are mottled with pesky air pockets. Nevermind, another lesson to learnt. 

The second cake of the week, white chocolate and pistachio entrement, is the real sugar kick. Although I think the cake is reminiscent of a childrens party, it would probably be a nightmare to have at one, unless your preared for some seriously hyper kiddies. Not only is this cake made with a wonderful white chocolate mousse, but it has a hidden layer of red berry jelly  waiting inside. The posh twist that moves this away from the toddlers menu is the pistachio sponge and the tempered dark chocolate decoration. The cake is finished with a white chocolate glaze with dark chocolate marbling.

As you can see from the rather galactic finish on the chocolate, we got to play with a little bit of shimmer this week. Having pots of gold and silver glitter in the kitchen was a bit like being allowed to play with your Mum's make up when you were younger. Should I go for silver-violet or silver-pink? Decisions, decisions. Once the big choice was made, we brushed this onto an embrossed acetate sheet, poured over some tempered chocolate, and scored in the shapes we wanted. I had a slightly scary moment when I was removing my cake ring which caused the mousse to drag a bit but other than that it was smiles all round.

What I like best about this cake, apart from the taste, is that from the ouside it looks quite grown up and posh, but when it is sliced the inside has fun layers of green, white and red hiding under the surface. 

Now who wouldn't want to dip their fingers in those mixing bowls?

Friday, 11 February 2011

Whats a-kir-ring?

For the first time since being at school we swayed away from the sweet side of life with a technichal class about savory petit fours (or canapes).

The chef slaved away producing hundred of minature treats for us to enjoy and to top it off at the end of class produced several bottles of wine, a bottle is cassis, and proceeded to make us all a class or Kir to enjoy them with. After our miniture drinks party we were giggling and ready for our practical class.

Ive said it once and I'll say it again; best school ever. 

Trouble with Sabrina & Charlotte

Last week I promised to be better with my camera. The week before I swore to practise and improve my piping. Have I dont either of these things? Seemingly not. This weeks class followed the same pattern as the last two, learning one of our potential exam dishes and one other cake.

The exam dish this week was the Sabrina cake. This cake is taken from 1954 film, Sabrina, whereby a girl heads of to learn to bake in Paris, falling in love in the process. She also, apparently, has a particular penchant for strawberries. The cake therefore is a rolled sponge, filled with a strawberry mousse. It is topped with chocolate covered marzipan, piping, pistachios etc etc. This cake is apparently the one students dread the most for the exam, but strangely score highest on. Because the base of the cake is a spiral of sponge and mousse, when it is cut into it has lovely, (hopefully) even stripes running through it. Although I had, again, forgotten my camera in class, fortunately I had my phone to snap the chefs offering

The demo of this was okay. I was pleased to of tempured my chocolate on my first attempt. Heat to 45˚C, cool to 27˚C, warm to 31˚C by touch and hope it sets with a shine. However, I was not pleased when I swiftly ruined my beautifully tempered chocolate by holding my knife at the wrong angle when marking it and leaving a bit of a mess behind. Alas, C'est la vie. Other than that I'd say my efforts were average, passable for the exam, but not high scoring.

Next up was the return of the Charlotte. Some of you may remember from last term that I kind of fell for Charlotte so I was pleased to have her back in my life. This time we were making a chestnut (Marron) mousse encased in a sweet ladyfinger sponge. The idea is to pipe the sponge so that it holds its shape and  gives the outside of the cake a bit of class. The decoration for this cake is a marzipan scroll piped with "Marron" (not Moron/morron/momman). The cake is finished with a white chocolate border

I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear that it was the piping that the main problem of this Charlotte. Shockingly piping on the wibbly wobbly scroll was pretty much impossible and at the end of class we had many interesting versions of "Marron" across the class. I swiftly avoided the moron trap, instead piping something that the chef interpretted as a cry for my mother "Maman". Seeing this, he advised me to keep my border as simple as possible, I did and it turned out better.

Despite this, I do still have a soft spot for Charlotte, I might even ask her to spend Valentines with me.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Hungarian Hippos

Technology has not been on my side this week, or at least not on my mind.  My week began with the disappearance of my beloved iPhone putting me out of communitcation, never on time and a bit lost. This set me up nicely for forgetting to charge my camera meaning, I'm afraid, this blog is a bit sparse. I managed to use the last second of power to quickly snap my three offerings but couldn't take any of the chefs, nor attempt to get a decent picture. Nonetheless, on we plough.

This week we made the second potential exam dish - the Opera cake. This is layers of sponge, ganache and coffee buttercream. My taste buds have only just matured towards coffee and can be a bit hit and miss, but this cake really is delicious. Its topped with a lovely shiny glaze and, of course, piped with chocolate. This week I was surprisingly pleased with my piping. It was perhaps a bit  simplistic after seeing the chefs swirly border (which I'm sure you can imagine by now) but it was neat enough and my writing was at least legiable this time!

The next cake of the week was a traditional Hungarian cake called the Dobos which is a thin biscuit-y sponge layered with mountains of ganache. The stacked cake is cut at an angle in half, shaped into a triangle and covered in more ganache and a glaze. The cutting is quite tricky because of the different textures of the cake and the unusual angle. In demo I thought the cake was a tad dry so I gave it a good rum syrup soak and it seemed to go down alright.

The third cake of the week was a very pretty raspberry roulade that made me go over all girly and giggly whilst making it. It is what I think should be called hippopotamus pink and tastes light and fluffy like a raspberry cloud. What a delight!

As pretty as a...

I've got my camera fully charged and ready to go along with a new phone so next week I will be more on the ball.