26 July 2015

Molecular gastronomy

On this last day we got to experiment with all kinds of different powders. We started with a mini masterclass explaining what powder had what usage and how to use them.
I've always loved those pop in your mouth little juicy spheres so we decided to make them using a cantaloupe melon. First we had to clean the melon and make a puree which we had to strain to get a clear juice. To this we added some powdered sodium alginate and dripped it into a bowl filled with a cold solution of calcium chloride. After a couple of seconds we scooped the spheres out and rinsed them off in water. It was a lot of fun to make them, but it tasted really band. Next time I would add more flavor so it will be tastier. 
Then we decided to make egg on toast using some of the techniques that been shown to use. The egg white is made of whipped cream, but we wanted to make it with some coconut cream. The yolk is made with mango puree.

First we started with making the egg yolk. We mixed some mango puree with some gluco powder and to that we added a bit of xanthana powder. We dripped this mixture in a bath of water and alginate powder and rinsed it off with some water.
Then it was time for the egg whites.We heated the coconut cream with some sugar till about 70C. Then added some Kappa powder and cooked it on 70C for a little bit. With a spoon we scooped some coconut cream on a silicone mat and immediately added the egg yolks on top. Now that the eggs were ready we baked the slices of brioche bread with some sugar and cinnamon and placed the baked egg on top. Then we decorated it with some melon caviar. 
They looked so real! I would love to experiment more with different flavors and techniques. 

I can't believe we are already at the end of the school year. As I though this phase had 5 lessons as well I was a bit confused to hear that the week after we would start with our preparation of the end of the year competition! We had till Sunday to send in our list of ingredients so I was late. Luckily I got some extra time to send it in, so that was the first thing I did when I got home. Send out the list for the ingredients I needed for the stuff I would be making.

Liquid nitrogen

This is the start of the last couple of school days. We are now almost at the end of the journey. Again the group was divided in two. The group who were working down stairs were playing around with liquid nitrogen and the group upstairs were working with different powders doing all kinds of scientific stuff. 

My group started down stairs with liquid nitrogen. Fist we got an explanation of what it was, what it does and how to handle it (of course with lots of care!). Then the fun part started when they start dropping all kinds of stuff in the nitrogen and let us taste it. They also made some raspberry ice cream which was very tasty.

After that it was time for us to experiment a bit. The assignment was to make a little dessert plate and this is what we came up with in the end. We had a spongecake, fruit popsicles, a piece of Bros chocolate and some baked white chocolate.  We had all different idea's but non of them seem to work the way we planned. 
We used a Kidde (some kind of whipped cream dispenser) to make the spongecake. We basically made a cake batter, put it in the Kidde, add a gas charger and used it to fill a cup. We put the cup in the microwave and after a couple of seconds we had spongecake. We also tried to butter the cup first and then microwave the batter, but the results were horrible. The spongecake didn't came out right. We experimented a bit and only one spongecake came out the way we wanted.

Then with the same whipped cream dispenser we wanted to make a "Bros chocolate bar". First we had to mix the chocolate with some cocoa butter, temper it and fill the Kidde. We poured this mixture into a plastic bag and used a vacuum machine to make it bubbly. Unfortunately the chocolate didn't set and when it did it tasted horrible. Perhaps the cocoa butter was not good anymore. 

Then we tried to make ice cream using the nitrogen. Somehow this didn't work either since it turned out all sticky and glue like. 
The best part of the day was  when we made our own popsicle by dipping a piece of fruit and fruit purees it in the nitrogen.
I also dipped my popsicle in some piña colada  liqueur. Look how big my popsicle was!

One of my class mates wanted to make some baked white chocolate. The recipe was super easy. You melt some white chocolate, spread it on some non stick paper and stick it in an 170C oven till the edges starts to brown. This happens very fast so of course I burned one portion. The chocolate came out crunchy and so tasty. I bet it would go great with some vanilla ice cream. 

It was a day full of experiments. One other day to go before class ends.

25 July 2015

Woezel & Pip theme cake

There have been a lot of first times this past week. It started with making a 3D boat cake, creating a fondant sea, modeling parrots and octopuses. This time it was making a Woezel & Pip birthday cake for an one year old boy. His mom has seen this particular cake online and she wanted to have the same one. This kind of limited my creativity, but since she like the cake so much I just made it for her. At that time she didn't know it but of course I would give it my own little twist. Just to keep it more fun. 
She wanted a square cake for about 20 people with the name Alec and his age. For the biscuit and the stuffing she went for a lemon vanilla biscuit with fresh raspberries, raspberry jam crème pâtissière and chocolate butter cream. A very good choice I might say. 

For me a birthday cake is not a birthday cake if it's not at least two layers so instead of one big square cake I made two slightly smaller ones so I could stack them together. 

Two days before the birthday party I baked two biscuits. For the bottom tier (8 inch square pan) I used this recipe:
- 400 gr eggs
- 200 gr sugar
- 180 gr flour
- pinch of salt
- lemon zest

For the top tier (6 inch square baking tin) I used:
- 200 gr eggs
- 100 gr sugar
- 70 gr flour

- 20 gr cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- lemon zest

Since we talked about either a chocolate or a vanilla lemon biscuit I decided to both 
as a surprise since I would have two tiers anyway.

I also made some crème pâtissière using this recipe:
- 500 ml milk
- 100 gr sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 35 gr custard powder
- vanilla pot/

The next day I started with making butter cream:
- 128 gr water
- 338 gr sugar
- 150 gr egg white
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 750 gr room temperature butter in cubes
- 200 gr melted dark chocolate

After the butter cream was ready I put half of it aside for crumble coating and to the other half I added the melted dark chocolate. 

Now it was time to cut and fill the cakes. I wanted to do the bottom layer first. I cut the cake in three pieces and I spread a layer of raspberry jam on each layer, then some crème pâtissière, stuck some fresh raspberries in it and covered it with a layer of chocolate butter cream. Then I used the plain butter cream to crumble coat the whole cake.  I did the same with the top layer. 
While the cakes were in the fridge I started modeling the two little dogs. It was quite difficult to get the color right and I wanted the color to be as close to the original as possible. Once I had the color I wanted I stared with making the bodies first. Then the tail and paws and last the heads and ears. Luckily I found a site online who had step by step pictures on how to model the dogs so I followed the steps and they turned out pretty cute. 
I also added my own little touch, a tiny heart on each dogs body!
I also made the balloons and stuck them on a piece of rice noodle. Uncooked spaghetti was a bit to yellow and to thick and these noodles were just perfect.  

As they were drying I made two mini birthday cakes including a candle, a bone wrapped in a ribbon and a picknick cloth. For the little house I used some brown chocolate fondant, modeled it and covered it with some white fondant. Then I used a wood textured mold to give it a wooden look. For the roofing tiles I stacked some heart shaped red fondant on top of each other.
Now it was time to cover the cakes with fondant. In the example cake they used blue fondant. As I would have two layers I decided to cover the top layer with some green fondant (Woezel & Pip are picknicking on the grass so green would be better then blue). The bottom layer was covered in blue since I want to at least keep as close to the original as possible. 

It took me three times to get the fondant on the top layer right. Now I know why I prefer round cakes. They are so much easier to cover!
I had no idea how to decorate the cake since the example had only one cake and I had two. I decided to make the top tier similar to the example and the bottom tier would be something from my own imagination. In the Woezel & Pip books and cartoons they use a lot of color. So first I worked on the edges of the cake. I used some green fondant so I kinda looked like grass. And I made a rainbow. This also helps to cover up some of the less pretty parts of the cake. 
Then I saw some butterflies online so butterflies it is. And in the picture there were clouds and flowers with faces and a cat. So I incorporated that all in this layer. Then I thought ladybugs, why not ladybugs who leave a trails so you can see where they have been. Ideas come to me out of the blue but mostly when I have some color fondant laying somewhere that I want to use so I make up a purpose for it. In this case I had some brown and red fondant so the perfect color for ladybugs.This layer is finished for now.
Time for the top layer. This was fairly simple since I had an example of how it should look like. I made a white ribbon on the bottom and made some bushes. To this I added some little white flowers. I placed the picknick cloth on top, the house in the back (I stuck it in the cake with two toothpicks) and the two dogs on the cloth with the cakes and the bone in front of them. Then I made little bushes with some white flowers. The example had a tree with fruit on it, but I didn't had enough room for that so I skipped it. I press out the letters for the name and place it on the frond. This layer is also finished for now. 
On the day of the birthday I had another look at the cake. I wasn't happy with the top layer since it was still missing some stuff. At firs I wanted to make a kite but then I changed plans and made a banner. This was suppose to cover the two sides in the back, but they looked so festive that I wrapped them around the cake. As the name was in the front I decided to make some more balloons to give it a finished look.
And I wanted to make some party hats for the dogs as well. I had some little stars so I used them to make the hats extra festive. 
Then I got the brilliant idea to use the stars on the bottom layer as well. Just to give it some extra dimension and to make it more fun.  

Sometimes you got to know when to stop and luckily I knew. A couple of hours later I delivered the cake while it was raining cats and dogs. I always put the cake together on the spot so nothing can happen to it in the meantime. I also added the age and the balloons to finish it.

Birthday boy's parents loved the cake so mission accomplished! Although she wanted a specific cake I gave her an one of a kind one made just for her birthday boy. 

19 July 2015

Jake and the Never Land Pirates theme cake

My neighbor approached me some weeks ago with the request of making the boys birthday cake. Since their birthday is in the same month they celebrate it together. The party theme was Jake and the Never Land Pirates. I have vaguely heard about this children's tv show, but never actually watch it so I had to look it up. I had no idea what to make but it had to be two cakes so they both can have their own. 
I came across this very cool 3D cake and I decided to go for it and make one for the boys. Two days before the party I started with baking the biscuits first. I started with baking two rectangular chocolate cakes using this biscuit recipe:
- 400 gr eggs
- 200 gr sugar
- 170 gr flour

- 30 gr cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- lemon zest

oven temperature 170C

Then I baked two vanilla cakes. For the bottom cake I used:
- 300 gr eggs
- 150 gr sugar
- 130 gr flour
- pinch of salt
- lemon zest

And for the top tire I used:
- 200 gr eggs
- 100 gr sugar
- 70 gr flour
- pinch of salt
- lemon zest

While the cakes cooled I made some crème pâtissière using this recipe:
- 750 ml milk
- 150 gr sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 50 gr custard powder
- vanilla pot/essence/sugar
- pinch of salt

Then the next day I made butter cream I using this recipe:
- 128 gr water
- 338 gr sugar
- 150 gr egg white
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 750 gr room temperature butter in cubes
- 200 gr melted dark chocolate

I put about half aside for crumb coating and to the other half I added some melted chocolate.

Because there wasn't enough I had to make  more:
- 85 gr water
- 225 gr sugar
- 100 gr egg white
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 500 gr room temperature butter in cubes

- handful small diced fresh strawberries
After all this mise and place the day before it was time to put the cake together. I started with the 3D boat first. I wanted to recreate Bucky, Jake's boat. I found a template online, but this boat wouldn't be big enough for 40 people so I carved the boat shape myself. I started with one, then put it on top of the other and carved out the second one. One sheet of biscuit would be the bottom, the other one will be used to shape the boat in height. Since the bottom was too thick to leave it like that and it was actually a bit too thin to fill it, I carefully slice it in half. I  sprayed it with some sugar syrup, spread some raspberry jam and crème pâtissière on it and on the other half I spread the chocolate butter cream.

Where possible I would fill the cake. On some places filling it would make it less stable so I would just use some butter cream. After that I crumble coated the cake and put it in the fridge. 

Then it was time for the two tire cake. I started with cutting them in three parts. After spraying all the parts with some sugar syrup I spread some raspberry jam and when I run out of that I used apricot jam. The next layer would be some very thinly slice fresh strawberrys, some crème pâtissière and I ended up with strawberry butter cream. I kept doing this till all three layers were filled. These cakes also went into the fridge. 
Now I had time to do some modeling. I wanted to see if I could make Jake from fondant. And I also like Skully, the parrot. For both I found a video which I watched over and over until I could get it right. Jake was very tricky to make since he has lots of parts. Since it took me so much time to make it, I skipped some miner details. Skully was slightly easier to make, but again I had to skip on some details. Both turned out pretty cool. As I didn't had any green fondant, I made a blue and a purple parrot. Since they didn't had the right color I decided to make them Skully's friends. After I had green fondant, I of course made the "real" Skully. 

By this time the cakes were ready to be coated with fondant. For Bucky I used a kilo chocolate fondant (Satin Ice) which was very easy to work with, mixed with one kilo marshmallow fondant. This was too much, I think I ended up only using one kilo. I made the railing, the slight, the windows, the door, the ladder and used yellow fondant for outlining the boat. I also added the number 3 and 5 since that was the boys age.
For the bottom layer of the two tire cake I used some blue fondant. I didn't know what I wanted to make, but since it's a pirate theme cake I thought about making something with and ocean theme. Then I made some waves with different shades of blue. 

Since I still had lots of chocolate fondant left I used some for the top layer as well. No idea what to make there, but I would figure it out on the fly. 
I also carved out two swords (the one Jake uses) and thought I might use them as decoration.
On the day of the party I had all morning to figure out what I wanted to do with the two tire cake. I also had time to add some details on Bucky. Since I had so much room on the back of the boat I added one boy's name. There was no more room for another name so his brother's name went in front of the boat, of course on the side of his age.

I've seen some really fun cakes with octopuses so I wanted to make some also. I made the first one so fast and it was so much fun I decided to make two more. I put the bigger octopus on the boat to cover the seams and to make it more fun I punch out some golden and silver "coins" and sprinkled that around the octopus. Now it seems like he's been dragging or stealing the money.
The other two octopuses went on the bottom of the two tire cake. Also surrounded by coins of course. Then I wanted to make two Skullys. One would be in front of the ship and the other one will be used on the bottom of the two tire cake. They would be different in size as well. The one on the ship is slightly bigger.
To make the ocean more alive I added some coral and some seaweed. At first Skully was on a big raft, but I found out that I didn't had enough room for my second layer so he had to move to a much smaller raft. 
By the time I got to the top layer I didn't had much inspiration. I didn't want to make it to busy since the bottom layer was already very vibrant. I used some chocolate fondant to make wooden planks and used it to surround the cake. I placed the two parrots on top and surround them with golden coins making them guarding the money. Then with Jake's colors (red and white) I made a banner. 
Last minute I decided to turn Skully's friends into pirates as well by giving them a pirate bandanna. I also made tiny tiny little skulls, just like Skully's bandanna. Gotta love the details. 
After I placed this cake on top of the ocean cake I had to make room for Skully. He's now on a very tiny raft with just a bottle to keep him company. 
These cakes were a 3 days project (without much eating or resting) but it was lots of fun. And very satisfying seeing the reaction of the birthday boys and their guests. 

12 July 2015

Apple pie retro dessert

The assignment for the last day of this phase was to take an existing dessert, cookie, candy and make it something new out of it. People still have to recognize the original in the whatever idea we would come up with. Some people actually made something new, some only came up with an idea. 

Just inventing something is not as much fun as making it so I wanted to make something. I decided to use the ingredients of an apple pie and turn it into a dessert using the same ingredients.

I started with braking down the ingredients:
- apples
- cinnamon
- cookie
- optional raisins

I decided to go for a cinnamon bavarois topped with some apple confetti with a cookie hashtag. I didn't know how I would present it yet, but I would figure it out on the go.
First I had to make the dough for the hashtag cookies. I made a simple dough using 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour and one egg. I baked the cookies on 180C till they were golden.

Then I made the cinnamon bavarois and froze them in little molds.
In the meantime I sliced an apple and cut out little disks. The slices looked so cute I didn't want to through them away so I dried them in the oven so I could use them as decoration.

I baked the apple disks in some butter so they weren't "raw" anymore and added a bit of apricot jam.
Then I toasted some almond slivers and it was time to plate up. Since I had no idea I tried a couple of things.
First attempt was covering the cinnamon bavarois with some chocolate, add the almonds, place it on an apple and top it with the cookie.
It looked really nice except for the cookie. That one looked a bit out of place.
Then I tried it without the chocolate coating with different positions of the cookie.
I liked the first one the most so I worked with that. And the powdered sugar gave it an extra finishing touch. So there it is, my version of an apple pie.