Hello again friends!
My apologies for the long wait, I have two weeks of catch up….but what a WONDERFUL two weeks! I also have a new set of photos for the regular top of the blog – everything I have made in class, and I have to say I feel my level has really gotten higher from this experience!
Monday October 11th: TARTS! We started with the tart dough…sablé! What did I learn most from this class (and will be repeated as needed): COLD DOUGH, HOT OVEN. You have to keep your dough cold if you want it to be GREAT! It’s not easy when you’re a warm-handed person! The tart for tonight: Poached Pear! This is a tart with frangipane – I haven’t heard of this before (I only knew or even cared for three tarts: Chocolate, Lemon with Meringue and Fresh Fruit with Pastry Cream – YUM!). Frangipane is more like a cake… Along with the crust and frangipane, of course a lot of time was taken poaching the pears, but I think you will agree the results look tasty!
Wednesday, October 13th: The Classic French Fruit Tart! Well folks, I can tell you this was not my night! After all the instruction and work (making the vanilla shortcrust dough, pastry cream and cutting fruit for the top), my first crust baked too much – I wasn’t able to finish my tart until next class, but hey – who’s complaining when it looks like it does! (Thank you to my friends at Time, Inc. who were the testers…good reports back!)
Saturday, October 16th: the DREADED!!! PIES!!!!! Flaky Crust!!! I do have to admit I was thinking I would do my best and move on – I never had good success with pies. It certainly was a fun experience and I learned a LOT. With the biggest reminder for dough: COLD DOUGH/HOT OVEN! We all had to keep working our dough a bit then putting it in the refrigerator to cool before working more. It’s all about those pea-sized clumps of butter – that’s the key to flaky pie dough!!! Along with finishing my French Fruit Tart (above), I made TWO pies: Poached Pear and Cranberry (the pears were left over from Monday – and were they ever deep burgundy and beautiful), and an Apple Pie with a lattice top – take a look (YUM!). And if that wasn’t enough for a full day, we also made mini-tarts…my favorites too! (Lemon and Chocolate – with a raspberry on top) :
SPECIAL THANKS TO THE PIE TASTERS – Angelique’s workplace folks!
Monday, October 18th: Crisps and Cobblers! I just LOVE a good crisp and cobbler (specially peach or blueberry!). For class, I decided to try the French classic Apple Charlotte. The catch? I made them “individual” size which meant a LOT of work, and VERY buttery hands! I was happily surprised I got it accomplished before class was one. First was softening the apples – have you ever done this with Granny Smiths? Well, it took 45 minutes!!!! And I still had the bread placements to deal with…cutting pieces small enough to fit into cupcake pans… Suffice to say I was last into the oven. But of course someone in class mistakenly turned off the oven while trying to clean (I said I was late into the oven!). Luckily we caught it in time, and my Mini-Charlottes were a hit (thank you Katie and Christina for the photos)!
Wednesday, October 20th: Ice Creams!!! While I don’t have pictures from this class, it was SO MUCH FUN! Of course we all had to compete for saucepans (practically every ice cream we were making starts on the stove…). It was looking like we were going to need more ice, and it just so happened that Mike and I had a LOT of ice left over from Blue Angels day. Also, while up in Napa with Angelique a month ago we found this incredible chocolate port wine at Trentadue – Chocolate Amore. It’s the deal! SO…I made a deal with Chef – I’ll go home and get some ice (remember, I live not even a block from school), but in return I wanted to make an ice cream with this port. She agreed! Chef also helped me along the way with how to adjust the recipe for this change. I do have to admit – while it was milkshake (too many of us using the freezer for it to set properly), it was DELICIOUS! I ended up taking it home to try churning it in this little, put-the-can-in-the-freezer type of ice cream maker – BEST LITTLE GUY! – the ice cream came out WONDERFUL!
So I HAD to try more and exotic ice creams since we had an off-weekend (more “Try This At Home”)! Impatience got the best of me, and on Thursday I made two other ice creams – Orange/Vanilla/Anise and Black Tea/Fresh Mint. I really enjoy the first one – the anise isn’t strong and gives it a very nice aftertaste to the experience. The black tea (inspired by my sushi chef – he said I make a good one, he’ll try it) was too strong – for tea drinkers like me and my friends Renee and Christiana it was okay, but it still needs work. I have ideas on how to do so, so experimentation will ensue!
Before I sign off, I want to take a moment to thank all those who are my tasters. Your feedback is SO important – and so is the fact that you’re eating this instead of me. I’m going to have an uphill battle with adding pounds (I DO have to try my creations!), but testers help keep that – hopefully – manageable.
More to come, my friends!
Cheers and Happy Baking!