Sunday, June 1, 2008

Our Just Desserts

Our second night on pastry was no easier. We had to make a Genoise cake, Crème Caramel and delicate Tuile cookies. Genoise is something I am comfortable with – it is an whole egg foam cake with a simple recipe: 3 eggs, 75 grams sugar, 75 grams sifted cake flour (6” cake pan buttered, floured and a round of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan). The procedure is simple – beat the egg with the sugar over a water bath to double the volume and carefully cook the eggs. Once the egg foam has reached about 110 degrees it is time to add the sifted flour and carefully fold it in. The trapped air in the beaten eggs is the only way the cake rises so careful folding and beating are required.

While our cakes bake – we prepare our Crème Caramel. My sugar caramelizes too quickly and turns very dark, so I start again. This time I take the sugar off the heat much earlier and it develops a beautiful amber color. The trick is to get the hot sugar into the ramekins without getting any of the caramel on the inner sides.

Michele and I make our custard, fill our ramekins and pop them into a water bath into a hot oven. The oven was so messed up – half of the custards were undercooked and the other half were overcooked. The oven needed some serious calibration.

At the end of the night, our Genoise was cooled, cut in half and a light simple syrup was brushed on the cut halves, then a delicate layer of apricot preserves was added to the layer. We brushed the cake with an apricot glaze and added toasted coconut and almonds to the outside. Our Crème Anglaise pooled beautifully on the plate and the Genoise took center stage.

Once Chef reviews our dishes we offer them up to any of the students to enjoy them. It’s almost like a barter transaction, Genoise for a Boeuf Bourguignon that someone on the Saucier station had just completed.

Our two days on the Pastry station conclude and we gear up for Garde Manger – a fancy word for soups, salads and egg preparations. At the end of the night, I was ready for our next station assignment – hopefully soups and salads will cut us a break.

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