27 September 2014

Decadent triple chocolate mousse

The end of the first phase was marked with a big bang. Here I was thinking that we would be making a chocolate cake. Turned out we made a very decadent triple chocolate mousse cake.

We started with making a biscuit like batter for the bottom of the cake:
- 2 eggs 
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 egg whites
- 100 gr sugar
-  55 gr flour

Just as with the biscuit batter we started with warming the 2 eggs and the 2 egg yolks with about 80 grams of sugar. When it reached about 40C we mixed it on high speed till the color changed to almost white. Then we slowly incorporated the flour.

In a different bowl we beat the egg whites with the rest of the sugar till they form soft peaks. We added the egg whites directly to the egg yolk batter and it was very hard to incorporate it. Next time we should mix a bit of egg yolk with the egg whites first to loosen it up a bit and then mix the rest in. Luckily it went well and we spread a thin layer of batter on the, with baking paper covered, baking tray. We baked it for about 6 minutes till golden.

After we took the biscuit out of the oven we sprinkled a thin layer of fine sugar on the bottom of another tray, flipped the biscuit and slowly pulled off the baking paper. If we would leave it on the baking tray the biscuit would continue to cook and dry out. Now we had a nice and flexible biscuit. We left it cooling off while we started with the chocolate mousse.

This chocolate mousse only has 2 ingredients: chocolate (of course) and whipping cream. I've made chocolate mousse at home before but somehow this chocolate mousse tasted much better. It must be the chocolate they used.

All we did was whipping up the cream, just till it thickens and then incorporate the chocolate. So we added the chocolate to the whipped cream and not the other way around. If we would add the whipped cream to the chocolate it would become hard and not mousse like at all. So always add the chocolate to the whipped cream!

We started with a layer of pure chocolate, then milk chocolate and last the white chocolate and if that wasn't decadent enough we topped it off with some chocolate ganache.
It was extremely difficult to make neat identical layers of mousse because we made one batch for 2 cakes and the mall we used wasn't see through so we had no idea how it would look like. I know it looked a bit messy, but the flavor was awesome and the whole family enjoyed it.
We even had enough mousse for a mini triple chocolate mousse cake. The mini cakes were too die for and enough for two, if one of the two doesn't like chocolate that is.
From the left over biscuit we formed a log which we filled with mocha whipped cream and topped with some shaved almonds. We had some ganache left so we spread a thin layer on the inside before putting whipped cream in. It almost look like a real log, a real tasty log.
At home I made triple chocolate mousse in a jar. As I only made enough for 3 mini jars I didn't bother making the biscuit bottom.

I used:                                                              For one chocolate mousse cake:
- 30 gr pure chocolate                                      - 150 gr pure chocolate
- 40 gr whipping cream                                     - 200 gr whipping cream

- 35 gr milk chocolate                                       - 175 gr milk chocolate
- 40 gr whipping cream                                     - 200 gr whipping cream

- 40 gr white chocolate                                     - 200 gr white chocolate
- 40 gr whipping cream                                     - 200 whipping cream

Of course this recipe can be double or tripled. 

After each layer I would put the jars in the freezer so they could get firm enough for the next layer. After the last layer I covered them with plastic foil and kept them in the freezer. They were the perfect 4 o'clock work break snack.

Next week: the chocolate saga continues, 5 weeks long...

20 September 2014

Blueberry butter cream cake

I have a cake and I don't know what to do with it. I know it doesn't sound like a problem, but it kinda is. Since I'm in baking school every week I bring something home and then I also use the recipe to try out new things. So now I have a cake. 

Last Tuesday I already shared some calories aka mocha cake with the neighbors so I want to give them a break this week. The cake is in my fridge till I can find it a new home. But boy, I had so much fun making it. 

First I used the recipe for that ubersoft, light and fluffy, no butter cake:
- 200 gr eggs
- 100 gr sugar
- 100 gr sifted flour
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
oven temperature 170C

I put the egg, sugar and lemon zest in my mixing bowl and put the bowl in some boiling water continuing stirring the mixture till the eggs were somewhat lukewarm. Then I beat the mixture on high speed till it was fluffy and light yellow. Then bit by bit I added the flour, slowly incorporate it in the mixture, trying to keep as much air in as possible. 
I poured the mixture in a baking tin that I already lightly buttered (the sideds) and lined the bottom with some parchment paper and baked int in a 170C oven for about 25-30 minutes.
It came out perfectly.
The cake was high enough so after it cooled I cut it in three layers (YEAH!!). I made sure I turned the cake upside down (the bottom layer has a flat surface so that has to be on top) before I started. And I placed the cake on some plastic foil so it's easier for me to put it in the box later.

At first I didn't know what to use to fill the cake, but I remembered I had some lemon curd in the fridge and some blueberry in the freezer so a blueberry lemon curd cake it is. Unfortunately I forgot to take out the lemon curd and I didn't remember until I was done decorating. I made butter cream for the first time and I was so exited about it that I totally forgot about the lemon curd. 

I did however made a little blueberry jam spread with some frozen blueberries and a bit of sugar.

I couldn't make the Italian meringue recipe because I don't have a candy thermometer. So I searched online for a recipe that would work for me. I found that some people made butter cream with butter (of course) and lots of sugar and some indeed made it with egg whites or meringue mixture. For butter cream made with meringue there was one simple rule. Just as simple as 1-2-3. That reminds me of the 1-2-3 dough recipe, so easy to remember.

For the butter cream I used:
- 60 gr egg white (1)
- 120 gr sugar (2)
- 180 gr butter cut in little cubes (3)

Actually I only used 140 gr butter and a bit more egg white and I added some lemon zest, so it is possible to tinker a bit with the recipe.

I warmed the egg white with the sugar au bain marie (in a bowl on top of boiling water). I stirred it till the sugar dissolved. Then I poured the mixture in my mixing bowl mixing it on high speed till it was glossy and could form peeks. Then one by one I slowly added the butter cubes till it was incorporated and the mixture was smooth and light. At this point it was ready, but because I wanted some color I added some blueberry jam juice and mixed it for a little bit longer. Then I scooped it in a piping bag and got busy with it. 
On the first cake layer I spread a small layer of blueberry jam but left some room on the edges and then covered it with some creme patisserie. On the edges I piped some buttons with some butter cream.
Then I place the second layer on top. I spread the remaining blueberry jam in the middle and added another layer of butter cream buttons. I also jazzed it up a bit by adding some fruit liqueur to the blueberry jam.
By this time I didn't had enough butter cream to cover the whole cake, so I covered the top with lots of button shaped butter cream.
Just for some color contrast I added the meringue buttons. So there you go. I have cake...

Biscuit deeg

|'ve been searching for half an hour for the English name of this particular cake batter that we made in class this week but only found the France name: Biscuit de Savoie. In Dutch we call it "biscuit deeg" and it's a cake batter made with eggs, sugar and flour. It's super light and ideal for any stuffing, frosting, icing; basically it's a great basis for any cake (occasion).

I will start at the beginning. This week we made a "Hema" cake. Hema is a well known sort of department store in Holland that sells pretty much everything. They also have their own cake and pie section. If we had to describe a Hema cake or pie the first thing comes in mind is a cake filled with whipped cream or mocha cream and decorated with nougatine on the sides. And that was exactly what we were making. 
Also we were taught how to make Italian meringue which can be use as a base for butter cream.

We started with making the batter for the dough. We used:
- 200 gr eggs
- 100 gr sugar
- 100 gr flour
- pinch of salt
- lemon zest
Baking temperature 170C.

For a light dough it was important to heat the sugar and the eggs to 40C, then bead it on high speed till the batter turned very pale yellow, almost white, and last to gently fold in the flour, trying to keep as much air in as possible. Since this dough doesn't have any rising agents, the eggs are the ones keeping it airy.

The cake is ready when you don't leave any finger prints in the middle of the cake and it sort of bounces back on your touch.  

After a long cooling period (the cake has to be completely cooled) it was time for decorating. As we each made a cake we could make either a whipped cream cake, a mocha cake or both. I decided to do half whipped cream and half mocha, getting the best of both.

The mocha cream wasn't made with butter cream with some coffee added to it, but with something they called "patiecream". It's somewhat like whipping cream, but not made with dairy so it couldn't be called whipping cream. I've never heard of this before, but it was great stuff. So many possibilities as we could whip it up with anything we liked in it without ruing it. It was great for filling and decorating the cakes.

The cake wasn't high enough for three layers so I kept it simple and only cut the cake in half. On the first half I spread a thin layer of strawberry jam, but only on half of the cake because the other half would be mocha and I didn't think strawberry would go that nice with mocha. Then I added some thinly sliced fresh strawberries on the jam layer for some extra flavor and freshness. I piped some mocha on the other half of the cake and didn't bother even it out because the other layer of cake would come on top. To the strawberry layer I added some whipped cream to level it to the mocha layer. Then the cake layer was placed on top. I marked the cakes with an incision so I knew how to put both half back in the right place. I spread some mocha on top and side of the mocha half and whipped cream on the other half covering the whole thing. Then I pressed the nougatine on the sides covering it all.
 And this was the end result.
For the mocha part I didn't want to make rosettes. So I though I would just pipe it on and see how that goes. Unfortunately it looks less pretty then I thought so I gave it a try with the whipped cream part.
It looked much better. But both sides tasted great. I had a huge slice for lunch the day after.

For the Italian meringue we had to heat up sugar syrup (225 gram sugar and 85 gram water) to 121C and slowly add that to 100 gram egg whites that we already beaten up a bit with 75 gram sugar. After quite some time the mixing bowl cooled down and the mixture was light and shiny. We didn't want to make butter cream so we didn't add the butter. Instead we piped little meringue buttons and baked them in the oven on 90C. This was to keep it white and slowly dry them out.
These were the little buttons we baked in class. I filled them with some butter cream at home making it a nice mini treat.

It was great learning how to make the cake batter and it was much simpler than I thought. This would be my to go for cake batter for any cake. 
Another eye opener was the "patiecream". I can't wait to experiment more with this.
The Italian meringue is a bit tricky since the sugar syrup has to be on 121C and I don't have a candy thermometer at home. I'm sure there are other ways to make this.

Next week: chocolate pie!

14 September 2014

Puff pastry

I was very exited about this class because were were suppose to make chocolate pies. So imagine my disappointment when I found out that the plans were changed and we were going to make puff pastry. 

Puff pastry is a dough that I would stay away from making it myself because it always looks so difficult to make. That plus I can get it very cheap at the supermarket and they work just fine. In America however I will have to really search for it and on top of that they are EXPENSIVE! So on my next American trip I will make puff pastry especially now I know that it's not that difficult to make at all. 

The key of getting the layers in puff pastry is by folding the dough. The butter will have to be in between the layers so the layers can bake individually. There are 3 folding session and about 30 minutes resting/chilling time in between. Every folding session is called a tour and only 3 tours are enough. More tours doesn't make more layers because then the layers will be smoothed out in one clump of dough. To mark a tour we pressed one, two, or three wholes in the dough before chilling.

There are 3 ways of making puff pastry: the Dutch way, the France way and the fast way. The difference between them is the way a tour is being made and how the butter is incorporated in the dough. We were tough the Dutch way.

In class we worked in pairs again and made one big batch of puff pastry. And this time I had my camera so I could take more pictures. 
This is what we end up bringing home each. Not bad for a day of  hard work. We had "kaneelvlinders", "kaasvlinders", "Arnhemse meisjes", "Victoria's", "kaasstengels" and "tompoezen". A lot of Dutch names and for most I don't have an English translation.

Victoria's are puff pastry rounds topped with a mixture of sliced almonds, sugar and egg white (those are the burned ones in the right upper corner). These will have to be baked on high temperature first so the dough can puff up and then on lower temperature so the topping doesn't burn. With 20 people using the same oven baking different kinds of pastry it's hard to get it right. 
These "kaneelvlinders" are made with cinnamon sugar. They are also know as palmiers. All I had to do was cut a square piece of puff pastry, dust the top with lots of cinnamon sugar, fold the ends together and roll it to cinnamon sugar again so it's coated on the inside and outside. Then cut it in pieces and bake it in an 200C oven.

With the same cinnamon sugar we made "Arnhemse meisjes". I have never heard of these before and I don't think there is an English name for it but they were easy to make and very tasty. I use a round cookie cutter, or a class to cut the puff pastry. Then I put it in a tray with cinnamon sugar and made sure all sides were covered. Because these are oval cookies all I had to do was rolling my pin back and forth until they were oval shaped. After they were done baking they looked so tasty. And to make it tastier we filled them with some crème patisserie. Normally they are not stuffed, but I can highly recommend it. 
We also tried to make cones but this didn't work out as well since we did't made them correctly they weren't keeping their shape while baking. This is one of the better looking cones...from this angle...
From this angle it has a big gap on the bottom part.                             
We also made savory puff pastry bites. Twisted cheese sticks with a sprinkle of dried herbs were great to nibble on. 
Then of course "kaasvlinders" or palmiers with cheese.

Looking back at this day I had more fun then I thought. I was so proud to see all the layers in the baked goodies (YEAH, we did it correct!!) and I never felt more satisfied sinking my teeth in one of of them.

The ultimate test came when I tried to make puff pastry at home by myself using the same recipe as in class:
- 250 gr flour
- 130 gr water
- 5 gr salt
- 225 gr cold butter cut in little cubs
Oven temperature: preheated oven 200C to start with, if needed turn it down to 175C

Instructions are quite simple. I poured the flour on my kitchen counter, made a well in the middle and put the rest of the ingredients in the well. Then I mixed everything together. I tried to touch it as less as possible because I didn't want the butter to melt so as soon as it all comes together it's good to go. 

I shaped the dough into a square and start rolling it, while turning the dough to keep it square shaped. When the dough got stuck on my counter I dusted it with some flour. I also dusted the top of the dough to prevent it to stick on my rolling pin. At first there were still lots of lumps of butter, but this will "disappear". 

I used "roomboter" since I didn't had the butter for puff pastry. It works ok, but the butter gets soft real quick so I had to work super fast. Also the dough was quite sticky so I had to dust it with a lot of flour. I also chilled it in the freezer(!) after the first tour because I noticed that it didn't chill enough in the fridge. I will try to get the butter for puff pastry, because that butter doesn't soften as fast, giving me more time to properly work the dough. If I can't find that special butter maybe next time I will try to freeze my roomboter before using it.

Since it's a bit difficult to explain how a tour goes I thought it would help if I did a paper tour and put the pictures up.
step 1 and 2
So I started with a square dough. Then I put the sides together so they could meet in the middle.
step 3 and 4
Then I folded one side on top of the other side, making one log. I turned the dough horizontal and folded sides so they could meet in the middle.
step 2, 3, 4 and 5 
At the end one side was folded on the other side making it a square again.

I wrapped the dough in plastic and put it in the fridge so it could rest for 30 minutes. 

Then I started rolling the dough out again, trying to keep it square shaped and began the second tour. 

After 3 tours I had to trace back my steps because I forgot to mark the dough with one, two or three holes so it's important to mark it so it's easier to see how many tours the dough got.

Since I still had shredded cheese I decided to make cheese palmiers. It took me about 30 minutes to bake them in a preheated oven. I actually had to turn the temperature on 175C when they were done puffing so they could cook all the way through.

I used a lot of cheese on the inside, outside, basically everywhere!
Even though the butter was giving me a hard time the result was still nice. The fruits of my labor were several savory cheesy hearts.

I think puff pastry is one of the best dough to work with because it goes well with both sweet and savory. And I never though I would say this, but I would definitely make it again! But not when I'm in a hurry =)

07 September 2014

Choux pastry

The second day in class we talked about choux pastry. Choux pastry is a light half cooked dough made with water, butter, flour and eggs. There is no rising agent so basically what makes it rise is a combination of high temperature and steam.

We used choix pastry for making profiteroles and eclairs. I have made profiteroles before and sometimes they rise and sometimes they don't. And I never knew what went wrong. For something that only has 4 ingredients it's still a bit tricky to make. Too many eggs and the profiteroles will rise too much and crack. If the dough is not cooked enough, it doesn't produce enough gluten to hold everything together. If it's baked in the oven on high temperature too long the outside will burn while the inside is still not cooked.

The trick of getting it right is to carefully weigh all the ingredients, cook the dough till it's shiny, add just enough eggs to make a batter and turn the oven lower after the dough has puffed till it can't puff no more. Even then it's not easy to get it right.

In class we had to work in pairs to make the dough. Everything went well till we added the last egg. That last egg did it. It made the batter thin and because we couldn't fix it we baked it anyway. With a pastry bag we piped some piles for profiteroles and some for eclairs. The profiteroles and eclairs came out huge. Huge and flat, because I turned the oven temperature lower too early. So we learned 2 things that day. Too much egg is bad and not letting the dough rise enough is bad.

In the afternoon we learned how to make crème patisserie. Crème patisserie is just a fancy word for pastry creme and it's basically a thick custard. After cooling it we mixed it together with some whipped cream so we could stuff our profiteroles and eclairs.

We didn't want to dip our profiteroles and eclairs in chocolate because that would make them too sweet. Instead we just decorated it with a bit of chocolate.
Our profiteroles and eclairs might not look pretty, but they tasted pretty good. 

At home I tried to make the dough again, this time using half the recipe we use in class:
- 250 ml water
- 125 gr butter
- 125 gr flour
- 4 small eggs (or as much as needed)
oven temperature 225C Celsius till they don't puff up anymore then 175C

I cut the butter in small cubes and started cooking them in the water. After the butter melted I took the pan of the stove and stirred in all the flour. Then the pan went on the stove again and I cooked the dough till I could see a small layer of fat (the melted butter) on it. The pan went off the stove again and I mixed in one egg at the time. First the dough is lumpy and doesn't want to form a batter but by the time I got to the forth egg the dough had the right consistency.
I put all the dough in a pastry bag and start pipping the piles for profiteroles and eclairs on baking paper. I tried to make them all the same size so they could cook the same.

I baked them till they were nice an puffed and took one out to check the inside. Since the inside wasn't cooked I lower the temperature to 175C Celsius and let them cook for a bit longer. I don't mentioned any time because every oven is different and it also depend on the size of the profiteroles and eclairs. Bottom line is: I start with 225C and after they are done rising (and if they aren't cooked in the inside) I turn the temperature down to 175C so the inside can cook.

I didn't had enough ingredients for the crème patisserie so I made a different stuffing. While the profiteroles and eclairs were cooling down I whipped up 200ml whipping cream. Instead of putting sugar in the whipping cream I added 1,5 tablespoons of homemade lemon curd. I figured that they were going to be sweet enough with a chocolate topping anyway. 
I used a scissor to make a little hole in the bottom of the profiteroles and I used a pastry bag to fill them. I did the same with the eclairs. After that I dipped them in some melted chocolate.
These look like proper profiteroles.
Piping skills on the eclair can be better, so there is definitely room for improvement.