Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gingerbread Houses & Dead Dough Ornaments

On Wednesday, my friend Mandy came over to help me make gingerbread houses. I had this excellent idea to make two gingerbread houses that I will transport back to PA with me so my friends Kristen and Abbie and their little ones (Hannah and Ellie) could decorate them. For Mandy and I, this was the first time we've ever attempted to bake our own gingerbread house pieces. Let's just say, we're not quite sure we have it 100% figured out.

We learned a lot, experimented a lot, and laughed a lot so it was definitely a fun experience. Mandy took these random photos of me, covered in flour and sizing up the gingerbread.

After mixing the gingerbread dough and waiting for it to chill in order to be rolled, we played with some dead dough (like in my artisan breads class) and made some dead dough ornaments.

I love the reindeer so much I made more of them today! Haha. Who knew I could be so crafty?!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Last class of the semester

On Tuesday, I had my last class for the semester, and it included my final practical exam for my laminated doughs class. For my final, I drew out of a hat which two types of product I would make to be graded. I drew fontaines and fleur style danish. For the fontaines, I made a filling of apples, pears, golden raisins, and caramel. These turned out really well.

For my fleur style danish, I used a cream cheese filling with cinnamon chips (like chocolate chips). This turned out not to be overly successful while baking; after they cooled, I added the remainder of my apple/pear/raisin filling on top of the cream cheese so it ended up working out for the purposes of the assignment.

All in all, I performed well for this practical exam. I really enjoyed this class, and I have come to really enjoy making pastries. It's a lengthy process, that requires a lot of attention to detail, but the end results are definitely worth it.

I'm looking forward to having a couple of weeks off before the spring semester starts. In all honesty, I've been looking forward to a break for the past few weeks. It's not that I haven't enjoyed school, because I have enjoyed it immensely, but grinding away day to day in the school cycle can be exhausting. I think the break will be rejuvenating in many ways, and I am ready for some relaxation.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Phanatic 2.0

You may recall that I made the Philly Phanatic for my "dead dough" project in my Artisan Breads class earlier in the semester. About a week after the project, the Phanatic could no longer support his own weight and he fell to the ground. Luckily, he broke in such a way that his body and head remained in tact. His legs broke and part of the field he was standing on cracked, so I spent some time over the past few days repairing him. I also made some adjustments.

After I recreated the playing field base, I decided I would display the Phanatic facing the outfield instead of facing home plate. I also decided he needed a sturdier base in order to support himself, so I made a giant baseball - it's actually pretty close to real size - that he could sit on. I reconstructed his legs in a more suitable fashion. I also made a bat and a pennant. Since he is still holding his bread plate, I chose to keep his bread peel and I made some additional bread pieces like pretzels to scatter on the field. All in all, I am really pleased with the upgrade. Here's a few photos so you can see the new and improved project.

I'll be taking the project on the drive home to PA so he can enjoy his new home at my parents house. My mom is anxious to see him in person and to put him on display. Let's just hope he survives the drive in one piece because I'm not quite sure I'd have the patience for a third reconstruction!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Country Biscuits and Muffins

In Thursday's laminated doughs class, we took a step back from the laminated products and worked on some other breakfast items. We also prepared our croissant dough for our final exam, which is on Tuesday. We made country biscuits and muffins. Our muffins had chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans.

Cream Puffs and Eclairs

In Tuesday's afternoon bakeshop class, we had our final exam. It had four components, which included making pate a choux, pastry cream, chocolate ganache, and chantilly cream. We then had to assemble two eclairs and two cream puffs. The chocolate for my eclairs thickened a bit too much, so that photo doesn't look great, but my cream puffs were spot on. It was another successful final practical exam.

Brioche Dough

In Tuesday's laminated doughs class, we made brioche dough which is an enriched bread with generous amounts of eggs and butter. We learned a specific process for mixing the dough appropriately, which results in a final product that is soft and tender.

Our first application of the brioche dough was to make French Toast. We took pieces of the dough, rounded them, dipped them in egg, covered them in cinnamon and sugar, and placed them side by side by side in a loaf pan. After proofing and baking, they puffed up to be pieces of French Toast. Absolutely delicious.

Our second application was to make lattice style brioche. We did this by using a circle cutter for the bottom piece of dough. We filled it with chocolate chips and vanilla pastry cream. To make the lattice, we used a lattice tool and then placed those pieces of dough on top. After an egg wash, these were baked. This is also delicious.

Finally, we used the dough to make Brioche a Tete which is a traditional shape for brioche dough. These were made in individual pans. Before baking, some were covered in cinnamon and sugar while others were covered in garlic salt and oregano. Some we left plain to fill after baking; these were filled with nutella or raspberry marmalade and dusted with powered sugar.