I’ll admit I wasn’t super excited for this week. Sugar work and Alternative Baking… neither of which I was the least bit interested in. As usual, I was pleasantly surprised, especially by the sugar work! It was a lot more fun than I expected and though I don’t see myself doing sugar work in the future, it was really cool to try new things and learn new techniques.
The sugar was not easy to pour into the tiny sections. You’re literally pouring it from a pot and sometimes more comes out that you expect. As you can see with our mangled disc below. Bit too much yellow…
Sophia later suggested we should have used a spoon to fill the small ones. Good idea! Oh well… we demolded all of the sugar and then left for tomorrow.
Next up was lollipops….
…then spun sugar….
…and sugar cages made from caramel.
We ended the day with some pastillage work…
… and at some point we also made fruit jellies.
We actually demolded and coated these the following day, but here’s a pic of what they looked like. They were tossed in sugar with some citric acid to give them a bit of a sour taste.
Started & Finished:
Caramel garnishes – cages, piping, spun sugar
Sugar syrup – casting, rock
Day #2 of sugar started with finally cutting into the Nougat Montmeliar we made last week. It was finally (sort of) soft enough to cut. This is not my favorite thing. I literally took one piece home for Ryan to try, that’s it!
Chef Warren showed us how to make a few things (marshmallows, gumpaste) then had us set up to focus on pulled and blown sugar for the rest of the day.
The first step is boiling sugar until it’s molten hot, pouring it onto a Silpat mat, waiting for a minute or two and then starting to pull it while it’s still molten hot.
I’m not kidding when I say this stuff is HOT. You can only handle it for a few seconds, and that’s with TWO layers of latex gloves. We used heat lamps to keep the sugar soft and workable. The lamps work surprisingly well.. you can put a chunk of solidified sugar under there and it will melt it down.
We made rose petals, leaves, and stems.
Putting the rose together was challenging as at this point the sugar is hard, and brittle. I got half a rose done with the petals I’d made, decided to make more petals, and it shattered on me as I was picking it up. Oh well, pretty half rose!
This was a happy accident when one of my green stems melted into our blue sugar under the heat lamp. I went to pull it away and got this.
Made some candy canes too! Unflavored though (too bad!), just messing around with rolling sugar. I made 3, this one came out the best!
After that we moved onto blown sugar which is really tricky. It’s hard enough to get an even shaped ball, but then to keep it from shattering is nearly impossible.
My fluke “whale” / “snail” that came from a flopped attempt at a ball.
Chef Warren showed us an awesome (and easy) technique with some isomalt and colored sugar (I think). Just pile the crystals on a sheet pan and bake. Love this effect! Super fragile though.
Lindsay and Haylee’s “Shooting Star” piece. Love the shooting star effect!
And Chef Stacy and Chef Warren’s crazy holiday piece!
Laura and Hogan’s piece shattered in transport :(. It was a total Food Network competition moment.
Started & Finished:
Blown & Pulled sugar
We started today with cutting up our marshmallow from yesterday. Each piece was coated in a mixture of icing sugar and conrnstarch.
The rest of the day was spent with a guest chef, Chef William, teaching us about gumpaste flowers and showing us some of his amazing creations. I had made gumpaste flowers before, about 5 years ago when I took the Wilton classes at Michael’s. In the Wilton classes we learned pretty basic, stylized flowers (you can see some of them here), which I still like the look of, but Chef William taught us how to make realistic looking flowers.
Here’s the progress on my rose.
Chef William then demo’d a bunch of different flowers for us, but mainly how to color the rose and how to make a poinsettia. Appropriate for this time of year, no?
Pretty crazy right??
After all the flower work we found out our partners for our big fondant cake project coming up in a couple weeks. Although I was hoping to be solo since I have experience with it and already had an idea I wanted to do, I’m really happy to be paired with Lindsay again to work on this together. It would be a LOT of work for one person and I’m sure I’d be a stress case throughout the week. We’re already planning our Holiday themed cake!! Of course we are.
That’s a wrap for sugar… three pretty intense days where we learned a ton of different techniques. Although I don’t see sugar work in my future, I certainly appreciate the time, patience, and sanity that goes into working with it. Sugar shatters so easily! Imagine spending hours or DAYS on something to see it crumble before your eyes. Emotionally, I don’t think I could handle that. On that note, if you haven’t checked out Kings of Pastry on Netflix it’s worth a watch. Just the trailer alone will give you anxiety!
Started & Finished:
Today we started looking at Alternative Baking, specifically Gluten-Free baking. I’ll admit that this does not interest me much (or at all). I want my baked goods full of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour…the good stuff. I expected everything we baked today to be bland, boring, and weird textured, but I was happily proven wrong (on most things).
Here’s a shot of all the different flours and flour blends that we used instead of wheat or gluten ridden ones. We used things like sorghum, brown rice flour, garfava, etc. Did you know it’s not just wheat that has gluten? Flours like spelt and barley do as well, but with these you can make products that are wheat-free.
To bake gluten-free you have to add in a lot different substitutes and ingredients. Aside from the flours there are usually starches (potato starch, tapioca starch) and gums (xanthan gum, guar gum) that need to be included. Where a normal recipe would call for 5 ingredients, it can be double that for a GF recipe. It’s a lot more work and effort for an inferior product, in my opinion.
First up was a sandwich loaf made with brown rice flour. This wasn’t your typical bread dough consistency. Because of the ingredients, it was almost like a cake batter.
But it baked up into a typical looking loaf.
Same taste/texture feedback as the others… better than expected, but not as good as normal bread.
Then we moved onto desserts. These had less weird ingredients and substitutions and more reasonable amounts. They were all delicious (well, almost).
Peanut butter cookies… the ones in the first picture used a sugar substitute called xylitol, the bottom ones used regular sugar. I actually preferred the ones with xylitol, but maybe only because the others were overbaked and dry.
Brownies. These things were delicious! Soft, moist, gooey. Less of a chew than regular brownies, but still really, really, good. We also made a batch of these with xylitol, those had more of a chewy texture and were much darker.
Linzer cookies, which we’ve made before, are also GF. I was happy to practice these again since they may be on our final.
Lemon coconut loaf that I had such high hopes for and it smelled amazing! This thing was not good. You know when you bite into something, expect it to have a certain taste (and it doesn’t) and you just stand there with it still in your mouth, not chewing, and not sure what to do with it? Yeah. This needed WAY more sugar. Like maybe 5x more…
We also made a GF sponge cake which we decorated with leftover icing. Again, good practice for the final.
And a pecan pie that I forgot to take a picture of. We didn’t cut into it today as it was still too hot.
So that was GF day. Better than I expected, but it has not convinced me. The real stuff just tastes better. I sent one of the PB cookies off with Ryan for my old boss, Dave. He texted me saying it was good, but needed more gluten. Hah.
Started & Finished:
Brown Rice Sandwich Loaf
“I can’t believe it’s not Rye” Pumpernickel
Peanut Butter Cookies
Lemon Coconut Loaf
I woke up with a sore throat today. It wasn’t horrible, but I’d been feeling run down all week so I decided to stay home. It was Vegan day today, so I didn’t feel too bad about missing it. Vegan baking means no animal products. At all. No eggs, no butter, no fun! 🙂
Here’s a picture Lindsay sent me from today.
Apparently the Lemon bars they made today were delicious. I’ll have to take their word on that… they have tofu in them and all… that just seems wrong!
Started & Finished:
Double Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies
Roasted Squash and Coconut Kamut Muffins
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Vegan Lemon Bars
Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding
Raw Cashew Cheesecake
Our Own Alternative Recipe