Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 18: Butter Cakes

This was another day in which we got to experiment, which was fun!

We started the day by having cheesecake for breakfast. Now, I'd already had cheesecake for breakfast as I had all those mini-cheesecakes from Monday and wanted to make sure I'd tasted all of them, so I cut two of them into quarters and had my share of each. However, once we got to school we took out those two NY Cheesecakes and cut one up for Second Breakfast. It was creamy and wonderful, even if it was cracked on top! I believe Chef took the other one home.

Sadly, there was no time for Elevensies or Luncheon, or even Afternoon Tea, as we spent the rest of the day making cakes based in butter. First we made a large rectangular cake with rum soaked raisins and maraschino cherries. Later in the day it was cut into six large squares and each square was spackled with marzipan and washed with egg yolk. After Chef decorated a few with a fork, I took over and made a fun basket-weave on the remaining three. These were left to dry out for a few hours and then briefly baked to brown the marzipan. I can't wait to try it!

Next, each team made a batch of Pain de Genes, as we need these for a future project. Ultimately we had eight cakes which we froze. Then each team made an additional butter based cake before we started on our individual experiments. There was pound cake and Sacher cake and Quatre Quarts. My partner picked the Gateau Basque. We'd been warned ahead of time that it was a "pain in the Basque" and I'm here to tell you that is SO true. I may never make this cake again. Even though it tasted amazing. Why? It was the fiddliest dough I've ever seen. It's butter, flour, almond flour and sugar, with a little rum. You're supposed to roll it out and then line rings with it. Well, we rolled it out between parchment sheets in four batches because it was so sticky and soft. The texture was more like a very soft cookie batter. We stuck those in the freezer to harden while my partner made a double batch of almond cream for the filling.

When the dough had set up a bit, we tried to get it into the rings. Ultimately we peeled the parchment off the top, set the rings on the dough and used a knife to cut out perfectly fitting rounds and transferred them with the bottom parchment still attached. We then had to use spatulas to smear the dough on the sides of the rings which took ever so long. Every once in a while Chef would walk by and say, "Aren't you done yet?" with a knowing smile. Finally all the rings were ready and filled with almond cream. It rises a lot so we didn't put very much in although some clearly had too much as the cream oozed out during baking. I then had to cut more rings of dough with the parchment paper for the tops and then we were able to peel the parchment off once we had the tops on. It helped to dip our fingers in ice water to seal up the crusts. These were then washed with an egg wash, decorated with fork lines, and baked. As I said, incredibly tasty.
Gateau Basque, Pound Cake and Quatre Quarts

Back: honey lemon, rosewater, apple walnut
Front:Blueberry lemon, honey quince, lemon pistachio
Lastly, we were given a set of parameters for ratios of sugar to flour, eggs to fat, and so on, and tasked with coming up with our own recipe. Our only initial guidance was to start with four ounces of butter. From there, we could play around however we wanted. Each of us was to make eight cupcakes so we could share them. I chose honey, lemon zest, and almond flour and made a dense, sweet little cake. The others used lemon and blueberries, lemon and pistachio, honey and quince, apples and walnuts, and rosewater. All of them were yummy, there were no failures. (We were told sometimes there were failures.)

As we had lots of cakes left over we gave them to the savory students and got a nice dinner of roast lamb and other lamb and grain dishes. I am so spoiled.

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