Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Day 3 and 4 of BPT – Tarts, Custards and Pies – Oh My!

I’m really starting to dig on this baking thing. On Day 3 we made tarts and a lot of them. Well for me it was a lot, it was only 4. Lemon Curd, Chocolate Ganache, Fruit with Vanilla Cream and a Jam with Crumb topping.

The lemon curd took a while for it to cook up and as it did the smell just kept intensifying. I wanted to just put a spoon in it and eat it right there. Now we didn’t assemble this tart today as the curd has to be to completely cold thru. The fruit tart was a lot of fun. I have always seen these in the bakery windows and on display and marveled at how colorful and tasty they looked but had never eaten one. I so wish my digital camera worked better because it was beautiful! The crumb tart everyone used raspberry jam so I went in other direction and used apricot. I love it on my toast and/or bagel so it’s gotta be good in a tart. The ganache tart was a chocolate piece of heaven. I’m really looking forward to assembling the lemon curd one because we will be making Italian Meringue to go on the top and then we torch it.

We also assembled and put the ganache topping on our Boston Cream Pies and let them set up. We’ll present those tomorrow. This was interesting. Apparently the Genoise cakes are so dry and unappetizing that after you cut them in the half and put the cream on you brush them with sugar water (simple syrup). I’m thinking why not use a cake that is more tasty then? Now of course hindsight for me is 20/20. I cut my cake in half, and I was one of the lucky few whose cake didn’t fall as it was baking. It was a very nice and uniform height. I coat the top half and set it aside and now the bottom half goes onto the cake stand, for easy rotation and I begin dipping the brush into the syrup and coat the bottom half of my cake. Next the cream is gently spread on top. Time to coat the top half of my cake and create a ‘sandwich’ of cream. Rut Oh. Seems I was not paying attention and every time I dipped my brush into the syrup and lifted it, it dripped all over the top part of my cake. Well can’t hurt if the cake is as a dry as they say right? Next is the crumb coat. This is a trick I wish I had known years ago!! Would have saved me a lot of frustration. You take a small amount of your frosting, glaze etc and smear it all over the top and sides. You’ll still see the cake through the crumb, it’s just to seal the crumbs to keep them from flaking off while you’re frosting. You let this set in fridge and then when you frost or coat it, it goes a lot smoother. After that chills thoroughly the top coat goes on and it looks so smooth and creamy. That goes back in the walk in until tomorrow so it has time to set up.

I like these tarts so much, particularly the fruit tart that I plan to make these for neighbors. The hardest part will be finding the freshest of fruits.

Side Bar – Learned the coolest way to peel a kiwi! I’ve always cut the top and bottom off and used a paring knife. This gives your then sliced kiwi an octagon or hexagon shape. Well no more! Take a spoon that cups the side nicely. Cut off the 2 ends and slide the spoon between the skin and flesh and slowly turn it around the kiwi. This will remove the skin and keep the kiwi with a nice round shape. How cool is that?!

Day four has us doing apples galore! I must say the smell in that lab was heavenly. All that sugar, browned butter, cinnamon and apples. Our agenda included presenting our Boston cream pies, lemon curd tarts, making an apple pie, 2 apple tarts, 2 baked apples, and a batch of apple sauce.

We got our lemon curd tarts out and placed them into the oven for about 5 minutes to get the curd to set up an bit. These went back into the walkin to allow to fully chill. Next was our dough(s) for our pies and tarts since this too has to chill for a while. While that’s happening we get started on our baked apples and apple sauce. I do like baked apples but I had never done them in the oven (cringe). I cheated and did them in the microwave…ok ok don’t stone me! That was before I started really cooking. These were done in a cast iron skillet with brown sugar and browned butter. I would have added raisins but we didn’t have any. Once done they were tender and very flavorful. Browning the butter before putting it on the apples adds a whole new layer of flavor.

I also presented my Boston cream pie. Yeah…remember that simple syrup that drizzled all over the top of my cake. Well turns out you can put too much on. Haha!

Time for Apple Pie. We used Granny Smith apples and the pies were the small 5” pie tins. In a normal pie I would have mixed apple types to give it texture as some will get really soft and others with be tender but still have some resistance to them. I like the mixture of flavors as well, sweet, sour etc. They are then brushed with an egg wash mixture and we had the option of leaving it as is, putting cinnamon/sugar on them. I chose to use raw sugar. I like the way it bakes up on the top. Our tarts were kind of the same way. We used Fiji apples for these and they were open ‘free form’ tarts. You took your dough and rolled it out about 1/8” thick in a 6-7” circle. Place the apple mixture, which was diced apples and spices and then roll the outer edges of the dough and crimp along the sides. The apples will still be visible in the middle. (This picture is not of my tart but an example only obtained from google)
But my favorite thing for the evening was the lemon tart. First we made our meringue. We take our egg whites and put them into the mixer with a bit of cream of tartar to act as a binder. Next on the cooktop we took 1 cup of sugar and about 1 ounce of water (enough to make it look like wet sand) and allowed that to come to a boil and reach a temperature of 240°. Next this is very slowly drizzled into the mixer down the side trying not to let it hit the whip attachment. All this does is fling cooked sugar all over the side of your mixing bowl and create a mess. (side note – this happen, the mess part, to me when making our dough for our tarts. My flour came out of the parchment paper in big KaBoom and I had flour everywhere) Keeping your mixer on high let this whip up till the bowl is cool to the touch. They will not form stiff peaks like most probably expect when you whip egg whites stiff and then rain in granulated sugar and whip again. This is much more creamy. It is then put on top of the cooled tart and you can use your spoon to dollop it and form peaks or you can use a pastry bag. This is the option I chose and made a lovely pattern with ridges and peaks and then torched it to turn the edges a nice toast color. I really didn’t want to cut in to it for presentation. I even made a small one for a fellow student in another class. These are fun and whenever I can I like to use the pastry bags. You can get so creative with these things.

My mother in law loved to make apple pies and cakes and so when she passed I inherited her cake decorating items. I’ll need to get new bags but my gosh this woman had so many different tips. I’m going to have to play with them and see what all they can do.

I don't think Chef True is 100%. He didn't look to well last night and seems to be very sluggish. I'm hoping he's not coming down with something. It'd best for him to stay at home and now and get some rest rather than wear himself down further run down and then really be out sick.

But you know how men are.."I'm fine! No really I'll be ok. I'm taking my vitamin C *slight cough* don't worry about it. I can handle it.." And then BAM they're laid up for 4 days whimpering and snotting and "I don't feel good..this sucks..." Not to mention the fact that if you're sick stay away from others and keep your cooties to yourself thank you very much. You might be just fine and that's all well and good, but when I get something like this it's never minor. So for all those reading this...if you're feeling sick or ill STAY HOME!!

Ok well that was a fun soap box :)

Tomorrow we’re doing custards. So Until Then!... Posted by Picasa


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