The focus for this week was our major Entremet Project. This included not only creating and making our own entremet from scratch, but also writing out all the recipes with methodologies, and costing out the entire thing. We also had a day full of doughnuts, and the rest of the week was spent practicing for next week’s midterm.
This day was a practice day for our entremet. We could make the entire thing start to finish, to make sure it all worked and tasted good. As soon as we were told about the project, I knew I wanted to do something Halloween themed. I was initially thinking maybe something with an orange and black mousse or maybe mousses with the colors of candy corn, but then Ryan suggested that I do a “Coffin Crisp” cake. I love Coffee Crisp and it is a good play on words… So, I decided to go with the Coffin Crisp and try to make a cake that tasted exactly like a Coffee Crisp and make the theme come through in the decorations.
Before we got started on that though, we had to finish up our practice entremet from last week, the one where my partner and I could each choose a mousse to make. We used the opportunity to practice the mousses we were going to use in our own entremet projects, so I made coffee mousse and my partner made salted caramel. Sounds okay so far, but… we had certain other mandatory elements we had to incorporate as well, like a poached pear, meringue sticks, and an apricot jelly layer.
I’m not gonna lie, this thing was both hideous and disgusting. Somehow the combo of a salted caramel mousse, coffee mousse, and an apricot jelly layer didn’t quite work (go figure). Not to mention our pear was HUGE, and we cut the pieces way too thick, so it looked like sushi. I wasn’t going to take a picture of this thing, but Lindsay suggested I should, just so you guys could see what a mess it was.
You’ll just have to trust me on the taste. My coffee mousse was a huge fail by the way, so I’m glad I practiced it. I ended up going with a different recipe.
After this, we moved on to our practice cakes. I didn’t take any pictures, as I was too busy and didn’t remember to. There are some pics of the final version later on.
Practice Entremet – Solo
Practice Entremet from Friday
First thing this morning, we finished up our practice entremets from yesterday and tasted them. A few of the instructors and culinary students came by as well, so we were able to get a lot of feedback. I was really pleased with how my practice cake looked and tasted, though it was a bit on the sweet side. It did taste exactly like a Coffee Crisp, so I was so happy about that! I did end up adding some chopped roasted pecans to the final cake (per Chef Stacy’s recommendation) to tone down some of the sweetness.
Once that was out of the way, we moved on to the main focus for today…doughnuts! I took a ton of pics, so here they are.
We started with cake doughnuts and doughnut holes.
Doughnut holes coated in cinnamon sugar.
Look how perfect this little guy is!!
The cake doughnuts were dipped in a variety of glazes (chocolate, fondant, dulce de leche) and then topped with a variety of sprinkles.
Almost too pretty to eat!
Then we moved on to yeast doughnuts, which are my favorite. We had to proof these guys just like the breads from a couple weeks ago.
Decorated with the same toppings as the cake doughnuts.
These were meant to be filled, but neither Lindsay nor I like pastry cream, so we only filled like two of them, ha!
Next up were the crullers.
I’m not a huge fan of these to begin with, and unfortunately they lived up to my expectations. Maybe it’s because we undercooked them, but they just weren’t very tasty.
We used leftover scraps from when we did croissants for these. We thawed the dough, mashed the scraps together, and rolled them out.
I’ve had cronuts before, and find them greasy. There’s already SO much butter in the dough, and then you deep fry them… I don’t get what all the hype is about!
Started & Finished:
French Cruller Doughnuts
This was Entremet project day. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit stressed out, but all the time we had to practice really helped with that. I felt confident about what I was going to make, I just had to make sure I executed it properly!
First thing in the morning, 9am, we had to hand in our report. I’d spent a LOT of time on this. The costing, the recipes, the timeline… it was a lot of work, but I actually kind of enjoyed it.
We also had to do a drawing of our cake and all the layers. Obviously art is not my forte, but I think I got the gist across pretty well! This will also give you guys a better idea of what all the layers were.
Feuilletine is a crunchy layer usually made with milk chocolate and hazelnut paste. I skipped the hazelnut, as I wanted to stay true to the Coffee Crisp flavor.
Three different types of sponges: classic (your standard sponge), japonaise (a crunchy meringue sponge that gets softened by the mousses), and jaconde (decorative outer sponge).
So many people were curious about how I did the jaconde! I wish I had taken more progress pictures, but it was literally the last thing on my mind. The only picture I actually remembered to take was this one.
To make the jaconde, you first spread some chocolate paste onto a Silpat mat (or parchment – silpat is better though). Think toothpaste consistency chocolate paste, so pretty thick. You can spread this on the entire sheet pan and then use a comb or your finger to create designs. I created a template.
Holy crap this template took me a long time. From research, to finding an image, sizing it, and the worst part, cutting it out. The plastic I had was pretty thick, so it was hard to cut through. Start to finish I probably spent about 3 hours on this. I’m so happy with the way it turned out, but I don’t know if I’d do it again :).
Anyhow, I placed the template down on the Silpat mat and spread the chocolate paste on top of it, removed the template and did that 3 more times on the mat. The whole thing goes into the fridge while you make the jaconde sponge. It’s a cake batter so when poured on, it sits right on top of the chocolate paste. You spread the cake batter to cover the hardened chocolate paste, and bake it for about 5 minutes. It’s critical to not overbake this – if you do, it will be crunchy and hard and basically unusable.
Once baked, you flip it out, cut it to size, and line the inside of a cake ring with it. Here’s a pic from the first entremet we did so you get the idea.
After that, it’s making and layering the other mousses and sponges. We started this day right at 9am and I think I was done everything by 1pm or so. Well, everything aside from the very top ganache layer and the decorations, which would be done tomorrow. I knew we had a lot of time today, so this really helped with my stress levels. I took my time and didn’t rush things, as I knew I would still be able to get it done in time.
Entremet Project – Coffin Crisp Cake
Judgement Day. This day was so stressful. We had to finish decorating our cakes and then wait to have them judged. Once your cake is done, it’s a waiting game, which is so painful!
This morning started with making the silky ganache layer that goes right on top, and while that’s setting in the fridge it was time to make chocolate decorations. I wanted to carry on with the Halloween/Coffin theme, so I made some trees and tombstones from tempered chocolate. Sorry about the blurry pic, I needed to clean my phone lens!
I made a few just in case some broke in the process. Once that was done, I put everything together.
I added coffee beans as “rocks” and used feuilletine to make a path.
I’m so happy with how it turned out!!
I had to wait almost an hour before it was my turn for judging. Individually, we had to bring our cakes over to Chef Stacy and Chef Jonathan who would judge them on both appearance and taste. Honestly, it was so stressful. I don’t know why it was, but it was! I knew I wouldn’t do poorly, but I don’t know, the waiting was horrible.
After what seemed like hours, it was my turn. It was less painful than I had imagined, and I got some really great feedback on my cake from the chefs. There were some things I could have improved on, and it was good to hear about both the good and bad so I knew what to improve on next time.
The pics below are actually from the practice cake from Tuesday, as I completely forgot to take pics of my cut final cake.
The rest of the day was meant to be a practice day for the midterms next week, but I was so spent after the judging (as were a few of my fellow classmates), that we decided to leave for the day. We just needed a break and couldn’t focus on anything.
So Lindsay and I went for lunch, and then I stopped by VFS to visit for a couple hours. In typical Olivia fashion, I felt SO guilty about leaving school and not staying to practice. As such, I decided to make macarons at home. Basically as soon as I got in the door I started making them.
The first batch was a complete fail. I underestimated how many it would make, so only prepared one pan with parchment and I totally undermixed the batter. After realizing this, I put the rest of the batter back into the bowl and mixed it some more. The second pan was better, but I didn’t have the circle templates drawn on this one so the sizes were all off.
Undermixed batter ones on the right, wonky sized ones on the left.
The undermixed ones baked up puffy and didn’t really have “feet.” The others baked up well, but there were only a few of them and the sizing was off.
Unsatisfied with this effort, I decided to make a whole new batch before the first was even out of the oven. Seriously. I mean, they don’t take that long to make, but who DOES that?? Especially considering I had the next day at school to practice as well.
At any rate, the second batch turned out pretty much perfectly, much to my relief.
I took these to school so I could make the ganache and fill them there.
Entremet Project – Coffin Crisp Cake
This was a practice day for the midterm. Anything we felt we needed some work on, we could practice. We didn’t have time to practice everything, so I chose to do the poppyseed cake, creme anglais, and hazelnut ganache.
I didn’t take any pics today, as it was all stuff we’d done before. The only thing I had problems with was the creme anglais, which I overcooked. This is tricky to get right, as you have to cook it to a specific temperature and no higher/lower. I made it again at home on Saturday and it turned out better (but still not perfect), so I think it will be a challenge under the pressure of the midterms.
The bonus of making the creme anglais is that it’s what you use to make vanilla ice cream, so I got to try out my brand new ice cream maker! That turned out great.
Started & Finished:
Hazelnut Ganache for Macarons
Next week will be intense. Two full days of midterms — 3 hours of theory Monday morning, then into practical work for the rest of the day and all day Tuesday.
Here’s the schedule we worked out for ourselves and it is TIGHT. That is a lot to do in a day and a half. Especially to do it perfectly.
After 2 days of midterms we move into Chocolate for the rest of the week and next. I’m on my own again next week, so we’ll see how it goes! I’m happy about the extra space during midterms, but not totally looking forward to chocolate week. I mean, I like to eat it, but I can’t see myself enjoying making little chocolates. Plus chopping chocolate for melting suuuuucks. It may just be the worst thing ever. Who knows though, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised!
The past few weeks at school have been awesome. I really loved working on cakes! It really helped having great partners too. It makes such a difference. There’s another major cake project coming up in a few weeks (a fondant cake) that I’m excited about… but also stressed about (naturally). Already thinking of ideas for it!