Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another day in boulangerie

We've had three boulangerie days in a row. Aside from it being way too hot in the bread baking lab, I really do enjoy these days since I'm generally bringing home carbs instead of carbs and fat. Plus its a lot easier to justify eating a baguette for dinner than a pastry, at least for me. Today we made brioche, baguettes, and croissants.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cepes for Mary

Its nearing the end of cepe mushroom season here. Cepes are the French name for a variety of mushrooms akin to porcini. Cepes are also known as the "king of mushrooms" or the "poor man's steak" as they are hearty and flavorful. The mushroom season for cepes has been quite long this year and some people have attributed it to the "canicule" aka heat wave that we had in August.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Olé for pain au lait

What a whirly dervish of a weekend. It's been busy, but fun and I'm feeling slightly guilty for not posting lately. Friday we had another boulangerie class and baked off our pain au lait we made last week. We also made some butter croissants and brioche, but they're going to be baked off another day.

Here is the pain au lait prior to baking. We made a lot of fun shapes and animals. However, the proofer made them expand too much and some of my animals lost their eyes!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saint Honore, bread, and more!

I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of playing catch-up with my blog posts. I think it's because we bake so many things each day and I feel like every pastry needs to have its own blog post to reflect the amount of work that goes into them. But alas, waking up at 5 AM doesn't really lend a lot of energy to that, so instead... I have photos!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Conversations and Paris brest

So today we made conversations and Paris brests, which are two traditional French pastries. The former is made with puff pastry and the latter with choux pastry. I don't know where/how the conversation got its name, perhaps the pastry struck up some lively banter when it was first made? The Paris brest (not breast) is supposed to resemble a wheel, more specifically bike wheel, as there is a yearly cycling race in the town of Brest.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chocolate and coffee eclairs

As I'm typing up this blog post with a cup of tea at hand and a dozen eclairs in the fridge, I know there's no possible way I could even stomach eating one. Though eclairs are held in just as high esteem as croissants when it comes to French pastry, like many things I bake in bulk, there's just no way I can handle more than a taste.

Yes, the soft choux dough full of pastry cream and topped with gooey fondant is beckoning, but thank goodness the calls of temptation fall on deaf ears. Perhaps I'm not so excited about them because I've made choux pastry countless times. From cream puffs, to ice cream filled profiteroles, to a croquembouche, throwing together some choux dough is more than familiar. It's times like these that I wish I could teleport pastries.

When I think of eclairs, they slightly make me nostalgic of the custard filled chocolate bars of my childhood. In a sense, they're a sophisticated donut replacement, but yet... not quite. I also think about the eight dollar atrocity I saw at a bakery in Mountain View, which was about four times the size of my eclair, but filled with whipped cream and strawberries. Oh the horror.

Anyhow, today we made chocolate and coffee eclairs, starting with a simple dough made out of water, butter, sugar, salt, eggs and flour.

The flour is added to the boiling water/butter mixture to create a thick paste, and removed from the heat once it pulls away from the pan. Then eggs are slowly added until the dough is smooth and all eggs are incorporated.

We then piped the dough out using a pastry bag and tip, and popped them in the oven until they came out looking like tiny hot dog buns. Mine weren't completely straight. Sadly, my morning coffee habit is resulting in jittery hands.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pain au chocolat

I have warm memories of pain au chocolat, known as a chocolate croissant to most. My mom used to always buy them for me as a child from the local French bakery. Flaky crust, tender dough, and hidden deep in the folds of pastry was what I savored the most; chocolate. I used to gingerly eat around the edges saving the chocolate for last.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Loads of loaves

I'm loving the loaves.. but loathing the lethargy with lumbering to lab before its light out. Okay, I know a baguette isn't quite a loaf, but I couldn't help throw in a mild alliteration. Today class started at 6:30 AM. That meant getting up at 5:00 AM. Which means that if this blog entry is riddled with spelling/grammar errors and nonsense... you know why.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Puff the magic pastry

This week we learned how to make puff pastry. Normal puff pastry where you envelope butter in flour and roll it out countless times...and inverse pastry. Inverse pastry requires enveloping dough in a mixture primarily made out of butter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pierre Herme tarte au cafe

The last few days at school, we've been slowly assembling one of Pierre Herme's recipes. At first glance, his coffee tart doesn't seem that impressive. I've never purchased one and now that I can make one, don't intend to. But then again, with all the work that went into it, I doubt I'd make one of these suckers for myself. Perhaps if someone commissioned it, or for a birthday, I'd consider it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's tarting to get boring

It's not until you spend over a week making tarts that you realize how many different variations, doughs, fillings, etc you can have. I guess that goes for most desserts, but all I can say is that I'm getting pretty freaking good at rolling out a circle of tart dough.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No one is perfect...

...except maybe our chef. Today was just one of those days. Our kitchen was 20 degrees Celsius instead of an ideal 16, which made it very difficult to roll out a new tart dough recipe we were trying. All I have to say is sweet dough with creme fraiche = FAIL. One of my classmates was nice enough to let me take a picture of her lemon curd tart; how mine should have looked like if it hadn't died.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More tarts!

Continuing with the theme of tarts, today we made a pear tart, an almond tart, and a mirabelle tart. All three tarts were lined with a base layer of frangipane, which is a cream filling made out of butter, sugar, almond meal, eggs, flour, rum and vanilla.

The pear tart:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tarte aux pommes part deux

If practice makes perfect, then repetition is a must-have at Ferrandi. Today we made another tarte aux pommes. This time I painstakingly arranged my apples. I didn't want any more comments about aggressive claw-like slices! Fortunately it came out pretty well and chef said it was "tres bon". Hurrah.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tarte aux pommes

So this week at Ferrandi, the first recipe on our list was tarte aux pommes, an apple tart. The tart consisted of dough, applesauce, and sliced apples. Sounds relatively simple, doesn't it? Well don't be fooled by the french version of an apple pie.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Making every day count

So today was the first day of class. As I eagerly made my way into a room already full of apprehensive and expecting faces, it finally dawned upon me. Holy crap, I'm actually doing this. I have to make every single day count. I won't be doing any justice to what I've worked so hard for, unless I make like a sponge and pull everything I can out of each and every day of this experience.