Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Plated desserts

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...
Praline teardrop


Teardrop with caramel sauce and chocolate merengue crumbs

Panna cotta

Friday, November 7, 2014

cooking and BIG NEWS

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.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Brownie Surprise

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!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pretzels and bagels

Sent from my iPhone

October wrap up

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.