I had never made a gingerbread house before! I kind of became obsessed once I started making this one. I mean, it was fun, but dang! I really needed to give myself a time limit. NEXT YEAR (if indeed there is another gingerbread house in me) I will plan better, and collect fun candies for decoration weeks in advance! I think a modern house would be rad! Or a Flintstone's house, or a backyard pool or skate ramp or something! (see, how I get obsessed?!) Definitely will require a trip to a proper candy store.
These are super easy and good! The only thing I'm not sure why it happened was after shaping the rolls and letting them sit for a second proof, I then applied an egg wash before baking them. After the wash, the surface started bubbling, as if the egg wash prompted air under the skin. I noticed it twice because I made 2 different batched in a week. Is there something I should know? I'll have to ask at school....
This is my Final (plated dessert with all kinds of marks I had to hit: sugar work, custard needed to be involved, at least three textures, at least 2 temperatures, etc.). Here it is: Butterscotch pudding with pine nut rosemary shortbread cookies, caramel sauce and whipped topping.
I was so excited to try this design on the crust! It was so easy and looked so cool. It did, however, sort of disappear once cooked. And I forgot to take pictures of the finished pies. Oh well. I'll just have to make more pies.
We are ramping up for finals week, and have been learning a few new techniques and brushing up on old ones. We have learned so much, "plated desserts" is all about putting all of those techniques to use on one plate. Just insert your artistic eye!
Here are some of the things we have been working on...
Teardrop with caramel sauce and chocolate merengue crumbs
Last week in baking class, we had a party where a fellow student and I made pizzas. Although this involved technique and knowledge about dough and baking, it also involved some savory cooking know-how. I realized whilst roasting garlic, making sauce, chopping herbs, sautéing sausage and assembling actual food (not just pastry) that I really missed cooking. Since starting this professional baking program, I haven't been as active in the kitchen cooking food. I am usually too burned out when I actually have time to do so. This realization though seems to have kick started my interest in making food-to-eat again, which is a really good thing. The other day I made a delicious butternut squash soup that I have been feasting on all week. I decided I was too lazy to go to the store, so used what I had on hand, and therefore had to pull from a couple different recipes. The recipes were essentially the same, just different add-ins. The one thing I purposely improvised on was that I roasted the butternut squash beforehand. I think this made a huge difference in really concentrating that primary flavor. It seems I rarely free-wheel a recipe and have it work out wonderfully, but when I do I find it a particularly satisfying win! OK, here's the BIG NEWS, and strangely it has not ruined my week or caused me to crumble. The jury is still out, we will know more in a couple weeks, but I may have Celiac Disease. Cruuudddddd. A couple thoughts on that: it's not the worst thing ever, I know people who live full lives with this challenge, and I think I can figure out ways to work around it. I am accepting this possibility as a challenge as opposed to a sentence. Maybe I become a gluten free baker extraordinaire! Maybe it's mild and I just need to be careful. Maybe, it will turn out to not be the case... Other thoughts are - if this is the problem causing my oft upset stomach, then Hallelujah that we have found the problem so that we can work on the solution! It's hard to have a pity party when this discovery only means relief is at hand! For now, I'm going to continue to bake, discontinue eating any wheat, and do a 2-week cleanse. We'll see where I'm at in 2 weeks. Other fun news - I will be making some desserts for Thanksgiving this year. I'm kind of excited! I really want to make a couple of pies, but considering I may not be able to eat them, I think I will limit it to one pie and try to find another dessert that will be gluten/wheat-free. Now the question is - if I only make one pie, what should it be? The obvious answer is pumpkin, but I just found a recipe for butternut squash pie that apparently rivals traditional pumpkin. It roasts the butternut squash as well, which I am now a big fan of. There is also a pear cardamom pie recipe I have been dying to try. Well, we'll see. Should be an interesting couple of weeks of food and baking.
I saw a post online that showed a fun way to use up leftover Halloween candy. Basically you make brownies, pour half of the batter into the pan, place unwrapped fun-sized candy bars on top of that layer, then pour the rest of the batter on top and bake per brownie instructions. Every year we run out of candy to give trick-or-treaters because there are so many in our neighborhood. But this year, thanks to the rain starting half-way through the night, we were left with half a big bag. So I made these brownies!
We made lots of good stuff in Baking School in October... Peanut brittle, chocolate truffles and marshmallows, focaccia and challah, cinnamon rolls, baguette, chocolate cupcakes with italian buttercream frosting made to look like daisies, roses and sunflowers, parker house rolls and cinnamon bread, whole wheat rolls, pain aux raisins (with chocolate instead of raisins), bostock, rustic rosemary bread, pizza, sourdough, naan, french macaroons, and more pizza: pesto, white pizza with arugula, sausage and herb, and roasted onion and mushroom.
A little late, but here's September's baking wrap-up: Chocolate chip cookies, molasses chews, almond biscotti, and pecan shortbread; pecan alligator, pecan bear claws, apricot danish, and pinwheels; marbled chocolate bundt cake, pineapple upside down cake, salted caramel buttercream frosted yellow cake, chocolate cupcakes with italian buttercream frosting (decorated like flowers), carrot cake with basket weave frosting, pecans and fondant "carrots" on top, classic white birthday cake with italian buttercream frosting and cherry blossom design, yule log, opera cake, plum jelly, vanilla extract and mountaintop chocolate rolo cookies
I had never even heard of such a thing when I started this class! But apparently, many common items, such as danishes are made with just such a dough. I made the dough in class, then put it away to chill for a couple days. When the day came to roll it out and assemble in class, I had to leave early. Luckily, I took really good notes and photos in lecture, so that I would be able to finish it off at home. The results? Delicious! Not as pretty as the teacher's, but I am proud that I was able to accomplish these delights myself. Side note- teacher's always looks gorgeous - something for which to strive.
I have been following this awesome blog called the Quitting Chronicles which is awesome, and you should totally check it out! I am inspired by her for several reasons, which I won't go into here. But, I really like that she does a monthly wrap up of her progress. I am steeling that idea (fake it till you make it, right?) but I'm doing a summer wrap up of my cooking and creative endeavors. Mostly baking because that's how I spend most of my free time. No wonder why I need a vacation! Here are the pastries, baked goods, and the like that I have made from July-August. Sheesh!
Freedom Cake, banana bread, pumpkin/chocolate swirl muffins, dried currant scones, cheese biscuits, flan, panna cotta, bread pudding, chocolate soufflé, cheese soufflé, crème brûlèe, new york cheesecake with raspberry drizzle, baked alaska, meringue discs, granita, sorbet, puff pastry swans, éclairs, croquembouche, coconut cream pies, apple pie, sweet potato pie, peach and strawberry crisp, blueberry pie, plum galette, fresh fruit tart, quiche lorraine, plum frangipane tart, lemon tart, mushroom galette, napolean, apple tarte tatin, croissants (pain au chocolat, prosciutto and gruyere, plain and almond), palmiers, apple turnovers, butterscotch banana cream pie, traditional banana cream pie, chocolate pudding and huckleberry pie. (breathe) Plus white sangria, chicken kebabs, italian pot roast, taqueria short ribs with cabbage slaw, roasted peaches with burrata, basil, spicy honey drizzle and walnut crumble, slow-cooker short ribs, herb potatoes, zucchini turkey meatballs and hazelnut cauliflower salad. to name a few.
I got my first gig! That is, my neighbor friend asked me to make a couple of banana cream pies for a shower she was having at her house. I was so honored and excited!! I made two banana cream pies, one traditional with a graham cracker crust, the other with butterscotch pudding and a traditional pie crust. I think they turned out great! I could use a little practice on decorating and finishing, so that will be a fun task for the future!