With summer break and two-three week courses (principles of design and culinary), it had been nearly 9 weeks since we had classes in the bakeshop. I was very eager to get back to my love of pastry and baking with our new course, basic and classical cakes. This class is designed to cover many classic preparations, from tarts to opera cake to pithiviers. Some cakes I knew well and others were entirely new to me. Below is the Gâteau St. Honoré, a cake that I had learned about in first semester but had never made before.
The first three days began with an easier pace, allowing us to adjust to our instructor and to being back in the bakeshop. On day one we learned about the structure of the course and prepared crust to be used in our tarts. The tart dough is called 1-2-3 cookie dough, for its ratio of 1 pound sugar to 2 pounds butter to 3 pounds flour. Simple ratio recipes can easily be adjusted to yield smaller or larger batches.
A primary concern when making tart dough it to create a tender dough that is not overworked. To accomplish this we made the dough entirely by hand- no mixers, paddles, or scrapers.
I softened the butter before adding in the sugar. I did my best to use my hand as a paddle to aerate the butter and sugar, as is desirable during the creaming method. I worked in the eggs one by one until they were emulsified, before adding the flour all at once. Mixing by hand slows down the process and allows the baker to see exactly when the ingredients are incorporated sufficiently. This step is important as it helps prevents too much gluten development when mixing in the flour.
Day 2 centered around rolling out the tart dough, lining tart pans, and preparing our fillings. The dough should be rested often and chilled in the refrigerator. We par baked any crusts that were to be filled with pre-cooked or custard fillings.
The first tart that my team made was a lemon curd tart. I cooked lemon juice and sugar on the stovetop, and then tempered in eggs and cooked it until it was thickened and smooth. Lemon curd can be tricky as the eggs can end up cooked like scrambled eggs. I avoided this by tempering properly and cooking it slowly to 170°F. The tart itself was cooked a mere 6 minutes in the oven.
My team’s second tart was a Swedish hazelnut tart. This tart has a frangipane like filling made with hazelnuts, candied orange peel, sugar, butter, and eggs. We garnished it with chocolate ganache and sliced orange.
A neat aspect of the basic and classical cakes course is that all of the teams prepare different items that use the same preparation or techniques. The photos below are tarts made my classmates.
Dark chocolate tart with powdered sugar and chocolate shavings.
Instead of written homework assignments we were expected to practice our piping daily. We also occasionally had to produce marzipan roses. I find it amazing that something so delicate and realistic looking can be made with only a spoon, a ziplock bag, and a ball of marzipan. My first marzipan rose is below.