Saturday, August 22, 2009

Week Eighteen: More Cakes

I missed my first pastry class on Monday evening. I had to go have the stitches removed from my finger and, while I was told I would be able to make an appointment, a receptionist with a major attitude problem informed me I would most certainly not be able to schedule an appointment.

I skipped my lunch break on Monday so I would be able to leave at 4 PM. That gave me almost two hours before class started and since the clinic was just down the street from school, I hoped this would be plenty of time to have my stitches removed.

Three hours later I was finally called back to see the doctor and after another hour, the doctor actually made an appearance in the exam room. He complained about his day as he removed each of my stitches, a procedure so simple I could have done it myself in about five minutes.

I had not regained the full ability to bend my finger, but it has gotten progressively better over the past week.

Needless to say, I missed class that evening, as it is policy to not allow students to enter the kitchen after the first thirty minutes of class. It was annoying, but I did know from reading the lesson that I was not missing a critically important lesson: the evening was a production class where students were to prepare cakes for the remainder of the week.

I was happy to be back in the kitchen Tuesday evening, where my classmates and chef-instructor assured me I had missed nothing important. So we set about creating our desserts of the evening, two Italian treats: zuccatto alla ricotta and tiramisu.

I worked in a team of three this week, which made everything go much faster. We broke down the recipe so each person was in charge of a different portion. Before I knew it, our zuccatto alla ricotta was chilling in the blast freezer and we started working on the tiramisu.

The tiramisu was to be frozen overnight and unmolded in the following evening's class. But the zuccatto alla ricotta was ready to be unmolded, decorated and enjoyed that evening.

After we removed each dome from their flexi-mold, my partner sprinkled the tops with toasted, chopped pistashios.

They were placed back into the blast freezer for another five minutes, just enough time to set the topping.

I thought the individual portions were visually very appealing, but I was a bit underwhelmed with the taste. The cake portion of the dessert had been soaked too heavily in the rum syrup, which made the taste quite harsh. The rum overpowered the filling, made of smoothed ricotta, chocolate chunks and chopped pistachios, which I am not certain I would have enjoyed anyway.

On Wednesday evening, we first composed a grenoblois, which is a rustic French cake. A walnut buttercream separated two layers of walnut flavored cake. After the cake was coated in the crumb layer and chilled, chopped walnuts were folded into the ordinary ganache which was then poured over the entire cake.

The second cake of the evening was a symphonie: hazelnut cake layers, praline butercream, rich ganache and an ordinary ganache on top. A few flecks of edible gold leaf were strewn across the top.

Lastly, it was time to unmold the tiramisu from the previous evening. Our chef-instructor was more than happy to demonstrate using the blowtorch to free the metal frame.

I think I only have tiramisu one time before this evening and I remember not being a particularly big fan. But I loved the cream, sweet consistency of this recipe.

Thursday evening was a complete disaster. Chocolate ribbon cake was the only cake of the evening and the preparations and cake assembling was finished by 7:30 PM. After that, the chocolate plastic, which is pretty much a gourmet Tootsie Roll, had to be rolled thin and molded.

Ten thin, long strips had to be molded into ribbon forms. But I could not get my ribbons to look like the instructor had demonstrated. I asked for help, but our chef-instructor said I was doing fine.

Two hours later, all of the chocolate had been molded. But just as I had suspected, my ribbons were not formed correctly. It was the ugliest looking cake I have ever seen.

I do not enjoy doing things incorrectly and I certainly do not enjoy ugly pastries (that take four hours to make). But I met up with Mike after class and the cold beer helped remedy my temperament.


  1. Val said she would take your stiches out! You should have taken her up on it :) I would LOVE to taste some of these!!!

  2. I have never had tiramisu but after seeing it would love to try it. Yum.........


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