Saturday, January 15, 2011

First Lesson--simple cakes

Going into this lesson, I thought that I knew everything that there was to know about baking a cake.  After all, I've been baking them since I was about 10...ands I've always been pretty good at it.  Of course there is a very famous flop that I had...I remember it well.  It must have been 30 years ago...I was in high-school and it was my parent's anniversary.  That would be almost exactly 30 years ago.  Anyway...I saw a recipe for a white frou-frou cake from Bon Appetite magazine (on the cover!)  I had never worked with chocolate before (or since for that matter!) this cake had chocolate sides and scraped chocolate in rings on the top.  I bought the ingredients without their knowledge and surprised them...Well, the cake was tasty, but the chocolate decorations weren't as easy as it seemed in the magazine...and the amount of mess that it parents never stopped reminding me about that.  It's been 30 years and when I told my father that I was taking a pastry class, he asked if I was going to learn to make a cake without messing up the whole kitchen...

So...we met the chef--Elinor.  She demonstrated the first cake and taught the method...called sablage.  The first step is "washing your hands."  Then carefully going over the ingredient list and to weigh out all the ingredients on a tray before use.  I didn't understand what she called this step--so I asked's called a mies en place.

We learned 2 new techniques--cremage and sablage.  The cremage method is mixing butter and sugar (soft) together, then adding the liquids and powders alternatively in steps--1/3 of the flour (powders), 1/2 of the cream (liquids), 1/3 of the flours, the rest of the liquids and ending with the powders.  The sablage method is very different--the oil method.  Start by mixing the eggs with sugar, add the pinch items (lemon zest, seasons, etc), this is with a whisk attachment, then switch to the paddle attachment and add the powders 1/3, then liquids 1/2, powders/liquids/powders.  Finally add any solids (coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, fruits, etc.)

All told we made 4 cakes.  Carrot cakes (made as small cupcakes!)--delicious and much better than the typical american carrot cake with frosting too sweet to come near, Chocolate banana and coconut cake, butter cake with raspberries and streusel topping, Cinnamon-nut cake and brownies.  We divided to different teams and each team made a different cake.  16 students--4 groups of 4.  My group made brownies.  (I would have preferred to make the butter cake with raspberries, but the brownies are actually pretty good)--We took home all the goodies in the end--except for the brownies.  Our brownies will be put in the freezer until a later class--used as a base for moose.

Now..what did I think of the class...I would say I am more advanced than the rest of the class.-- but I enjoyed the class.  The methods were superb--the quality of the cakes surpass anything I've made before.  Light and airy--rich and tasty!  My favorite--the butter cake with raspberries and streusel topping.

I'm excited about the class--looking forward to the next time.

bye for now--chef eli

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