Pastry week began with a very simple, but important lesson: You need to be precise.
These were Chef’s words of wisdom, and it’s not as intimidating as it might have been about a month ago when we first began using scales to measure every ingredient. Now, it’s second nature to pull out my digital scale to weigh out how much flour or butter I need. And it’s the biggest piece of advice I can give you: Buy a scale—your baked goods will come out differently. (And if you don’t believe me, scoop out one cup of all-purpose flour and weigh it. It should weigh 95 grams (or the equivalent of one cup).)
We started our morning licking spoons covered in Crème Anglaise, or vanilla sauce. This was the first of three custards that we attempted today, and it was the hardest. It’s one of those recipes that’s incredibly easy to destroy. It’s only milk, eggs, vanilla, and sugar, but if you cook it for too long you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Cook it not enough and the custard won’t set up. So it was learning the “feel” of when this sauce was the right thickness. Chef was quickly sweeping past us checking our consistencies to make sure none of us curdled our eggs. (If I accessorized him with a cape, I think he’d remind me of Professor Snape. He has that type of urgency in his walk when a dish is in danger. I bet he’d be really good at flinging a cape around too.) Unfortunately, a few slipped through his supervision, and broke. But a smooth sauce will taste like vanilla ice cream. (In fact, we’ll be turning it into ice cream tomorrow!)
We also made a baked custard, which my partner and I accidentally overbaked. But so did most of the class. Tricky caramel custard. This tasted like flan, but I was hoping it would taste like crème brulee. But this caramel crème has less egg yolks than brulee, making it more flexible. So flexible, in fact, that we could invert the entire ramekin of crème onto a plate. Quick way to tell if a custard is overcooked? Look for pit holes in the custard. The divots in the sides mean it cooked for too long…like mine. (Still tasted good though.)
Tomorrow is ice cream day. What will you be doing at work? (Don’t hate me.)
TIP OF THE DAY: Whipped cream will set up faster if you whip it over ice.
Want more dessert ideas? Check out Cheat Day, dessert ideas for cheat treats, once a week.