Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cake, Roulade, and Hello Kitty

So this week's lab was really fun. For some reason it was more tiring than other labs but I am not really sure why. :-) We took our mousse filled Roulade's and covered them in fresh made chocolate ganache and learned how to ice our cakes and decorate them.

First: the ganache. YUM comes to mind. All you do is heat heavy cream and corn syrup on the stove until just boiling and then remove and poor over finely chopped chocolate and let the heat do it's work. After you are able to stir it to ganache consistency it was ready. I had prepped the roulade with chocolate mouse and smoothed it with parchment paper. One of my team mates then poured the ganache all over the Roulade and we let it drip down the sides. It looked so good!! We did a pretty darn good job if I do say so myself. It looked amazing and tasted even better! Here is a picture of it before we put it in the cooler to chill. It looks awesome when you cut a piece. Kind of like a HoHo! haha

Next we moved on to making buttercream. We had a choice of making our own batch, working in groups of 2, or working in groups of 4. I wanted to do my own so I just told my team. haha I guess they probably could have done a batch together but we all ended up doing our own batch. Which worked out well because Chef noticed and gave us props for choosing to do our own. She said that making the buttercream is on our midterm. YAY! I did a pretty decent job. The recipe is kind of a sucky recipe and even Chef doesn't like it, but besides a bit of bubbles, mine turned out pretty good.

Fist we learned to trim the "crust edges" off of the outside of the cake. Easier said than done. But, at least I learned how to do it because it really does make the inside cut of the cake look a lot better. We then started with a crumb coat. And although my cake was a bit wonky and lopsided and I had to have a little help from our lab assistant to make sure I was really doing a crumb coat correctly (I had never really learned the proper way to do it), I was well on my way. I used the speed icer to coat the cake after the crumb coat and I created what was my smoothest buttercream cake yet! I have worked so hard in the past trying to get a cake to look flat and smooth and with the techniques we learned, I was able to do a pretty good job! I still need A LOT of practice but I was happy with it. I tinted the rest of my icing light pink and got to the borders.

The only guidelines she gave us was that we had to use some of the piping techniques we had currently practiced in class. I was scared to ruin my cake because pink on turning back. But, all in all I did a pretty decent job. I am fairly confident with bead borders (more practice is needed obviously) but I was so paranoid to do the shells! But I went for it and again, not perfect but definitely my best go at it so far. YAY! That means I am getting better! I couldn't figure out what to put in the middle. My friend said that it looked like Hello Kitty should go in the middle. I got so excited and wanted to do that so bad...I mean, who doesn't love Hello Kitty??? haha But, without a picture I was afraid I would end up hating the cake. So, I tried to make some roses. Even though this is not something that was taught to us, I have done it previously. But, in the end, my buttercream had gotten too warm and even though the first rose I made looked pretty good, it fell right off of the base and slipped right on to the mixer. Ugh. I gave up. So, beaded border heart was what it was. I thought it kind of made the cake look a bit cheesy but oh well. I am still pretty proud of it for a rush job. So, first there is a pic of the cake so you can see the cheesy heart and the next is with a cut into the cake so you can see the pretty raspberry mousse filling with the white and pink icing. Pink and kind of cake! haha

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raspberry Mouse

So this week's baking lab was pretty simple. Well, I guess simple is the wrong word....

This week we were "building" on our cakes that we made last week. We made Roulade and Flex Cake that this week we learned mouse fillings for and how to cut and fill them. My team had decided to do the White Chocolate Mouse instead of the regular Chocolate Mouse until Chef said she would work with one team of advanced students to do Raspberry Mouse. She obviously was waiting for the right team to volunteer because hands went shooting up everywhere and she waited until my teammate raised his hand and she gave it to us! That was a compliment in itself because it was obvious that everyone wanted to do it but she didn't want to let just anyone do it and we have some pretty great students in our class.

So, we got our ingredients together and Chef came over to help. By that time another team had begged her to let them do it too, so there ended up being 5 of us (ours was a team of 3). It was awesome to have direct instruction from her, especially since we were all working with sheet gelatin for the first time. The only mistake we made (and this was because Chef was in a hurry and thought that we would be okay) was that the raspberry puree mixture wasn't cooled down enough when added to the whipped cream. Well, if you have worked with whipped cream before, you know that when you add something warm or hot to it, it melts. So, the gelatin didn't set up as quickly as it should have but after giving it a bit of refrigeration (with lots of checking on it to make sure it wasn't gelling on the top and sides) and some folding, it got up to a good consistency and we were able to fill our cakes.

We also learned the proper Pastry Chef way to level and cut a cake in half. Wow....a lot more difficult than it looks. Almost everyone in class had problems with it, even people like me who have experience leveling and cutting cakes. It will take some practice, but I see how it will be a more efficient way to do it.

We also filled our Roulade with leftover Chocolate Mouse from Chef's demo and rolled those. Well, I rolled mine. I had the other half of the one from the demo because each Roulade was cut in two and our team had 3 people. Well, our Roulade was put on the bottom of the stack when it was put in the make a long story short it had to be thrown out because the one above ours was stuck to it. The parchment paper ripped the Roulade in half and it is very thin to begin with. Sadly, the one above ours had to be thrown out too because of the same problem. I was happy I decided to take the demo!

So, with our cakes cut, touched up with simple syrup, wrapped with plastic molds, filled with mouse and wrapped in plastic wrap, they were ready for the freezer. We got out way early too. Even after clean up we were still out an hour early. Next week will be the fun week. We will be icing and decorating both the cake and the Roulade. Not sure what the Roulade is going to look like but right now it looks like a Jelly Roll....or one of those things made at Christmas that look like wood logs....I can't remember what they are called! But, we will be making buttercream too! Let's hope it stays cool next week! The bakery was a scorcher this week with the temps in the 70s and 80s in Orange County.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Okay, so I decided to try another recipe from the Babycakes cookbook. This time I tried the Johnnycakes. I had no idea what they were and had never heard of them before this book. However, they are like a mix between a soft cookie and a scone.

I, of course, made some modifications. This time: sugar! haha So, after switching nothing but the flour (instead of spelt I used all-purpose gluten free flour) I realized that using that flour made the batter a bit too dry. So, I added about 1/4 c. baker's sugar first (it is finer and dissolves easier) and then started modifying using the current ingredients to get a better taste and a better consistency. I added some more coconut oil here, some more agave there, and a lot more hot water. Finally I found a good consistency and I scooped the batter.

I wasn't too sure how these were going to turn out as batter with gluten free all-purpose flour never tastes very good. Plus, this one also had uncooked cornmeal. Ick. haha But once I sprinkled some more sugar on top and baked them up, they came out pretty and very tasty. Better than the scones in my opinion. The sugar helped off-set the gluten free flour a bit and the agave drizzled on top adds a little more sweetness.

They taste like a cross between a dry scone and shortbread but with the consistency of a soft cookie. I enjoyed them. I have yet to share them with the non-gluten free community so we will see. I hope to get a verdict tomorrow. Although, the scones got an a-okay and I didn't like them. haha!

Here's a pretty picture:

Just a disclaimer regarding the Babycakes recipes: I am sure the recipes the way they are written are amazing. However, not all of their recipes are gluten free so with the modifications I have to make to make them gluten free, it takes away from the taste (therefore the adding sugar, etc). I hope to try one of their as written gluten free recipes soon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vegan Raspberry Scones

Okay, so today I decided to try a new recipe from my Babycakes NYC cookbook. With my Mom's birthday being Monday, I let her pick which ones I would make. So, raspberry it was. I wasn't too stoked on their use of spelt flour so I decided to use almond flour instead. Main reason is because I wanted to test out the flavor AND I am allergic to wheat. Although spelt is supposed to be easier to digest for those with wheat allergies I just didn't want to chance it.

For the most part, they turned out pretty good. I substituted the almond flour and away I went. It was a pretty simple recipe and went quickly. The end result was not too bad. However, even though I love Agave Nectar and use it for many things, I really wanted to taste a real sugar flavor in the scones. Especially since there was such a strong almond flavor. The almond flour did lend to a pretty moist scone though! So, although they taste pretty good and I would consider it a mild sucess, I think in the future I might use a little less almond flour, add in a bit of cornstarch for binding purposes, lessen the agave, and add some real sugar. I might even substitute out the coconut oil and use something like grapeseed. I will try that last. So, I might be making another batch tomorrow. :-)

All in all a pretty decent run for a first time vegan baking adventure. I am hoping to perfect the recipe to my liking though because I really love scones!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

School is underway!

Well, the school semester has begun. And it looks like it will be a fun and fantastic semester.

First day of school I did start the day by leaving a few minutes late. Although this didn't impact me like I thought it would, I got to school and as I was driving around looking for a parking spot (on a new side of campus for me) I realized I had forgotten my parking pass. Crapola! So, instead of putting a bunch of quarters in the meters, I thought it would be more cost effective to drive 3 parking lots over to get a day pass for $1. Although more economical, it was more time consuming leaving me with no choice but to park even FARTHER from my class. I managed to make it to class on time but was dying of an asthma attack by the time I got there and walked up the 3 flights of stairs. LOL

One of my friends from my classes last semester is also in all of my classes this semester! So, it was nice to get to my art class (2D color and design) and see a familiar face among all the art majors. That class seems like it is going to be a lot of fun and I am totally looking forward to it. It is going to be a lot of "doodling" so to speak. A lot more is involved and I am looking forward to sharing my projects!

Speaking of, even though this isn't baking related, it is art related. I am very proud of a present that I drew for a friend for her birthday. She is a HUGE Twilight series fan. So, wanting to try something challenging, I drew the cover of the book of Twilight for her. Here it is:

I was pretty proud of it and she seemed to really like it.

So, today I had my first baking lab of the new semester. This semester is going to be so much fun! Our class seems like a good group. We had 5 of us in there from the same lab last semester and another guy who was in a different lab, but was also in my math class. So, it was nice to go in and know people. And this semester is going to be a lot of cakes! We are going to learn fillings and icings, etc. There are a couple of more challenging things but I am looking forward to them. In May the school has a night for all the Honors students. Well, our class prepares the desserts. So, in lieu of a lab final for the class, we put in work for the Honors Night celebration.

Today we practiced piping skills. She had us use whipped up butter instead of buttercream icing so it would be something that we could use again. Good idea. I am so going to practice on butter at home! Way cheaper than making buttercream. Anyway, we had to get used to those big pastry bags you see them using on TV on all the bakery shows and cake competitions. WAY different than what I am used to using from my Wilton classes! Same concept, bigger bags. We also have a Chef's assistant this semester so we get more one on one time with someone that can help us with technique. She was very helpful in showing me some things as I have not piped a shell border for over a year! After the piping lessons, we moved on to chocolate.

WOOHOO! That was a total blast. I thought mine looked awful but Chef and the assistant both said it looked great. Then Chef asked me if I had taken art classes. (teehee) I just answered "Well, umm....yeah." She laughed and said that it was obvious. I didn't think so from the piping I was doing but I was going to take the compliment. HAHA! While everyone was practicing, Chef and her assistant were standing right next to me chatting about chocolate and cookies, etc with me. I mentioned my cookies I made over Christmas and pulled out my cell to show them a picture. Before I got to the cookie picture, I came across the Twilight drawing above. Chef said "You DREW that?!" I said yes. She turned to the assistant and said "Can you imagine how awesome she will be in the pastry class?" Oh MY Gosh! I of course was super excited inside. Well, for 2 reasons. 1. That is a huge compliment in my book and 2. Maybe that will get me IN to that class in the fall seeing as I have a problem with the internship class and getting into it! LOL

All in all it has been a great 2 days. Tomorrow I go back to 2D design and then we have lecture for baking. I am really looking forward to this semester as we are finally going to be doing cakes and stuff that I have been wanting to learn.


Happy February (And Groundhogs Day!)!!