Sunday, December 16, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Today was my final class of Baking Arts and George Brown. I had a great time making new friends, baking new things and learning from Chef Jo. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who is interested in enhancing their baking skills.

I love strawberry shortcake, so I was really excited about class this week. But it is a bittersweet moment because the class is finished. I will definitely make some of these recipes again, and will certainly take another class at GB.

Here is a modified version of the recipe we made in class. It will make 2 cakes.

450 g - Bread Flour, Sifted
450 g - Sugar
15 - Eggs
1 g - Salt
5 g - Vanilla
2 L - 35% cream
16 - Strawberries, halved for garnish
3 lbs - Strawberries, sliced for filling
500 ml - Whipped Topping*
300 g - Coating Chocolate

*Can use Cool Whip instead

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
  2. In an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, whip together the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla for about 7 minutes on medium speed. The foam structure should be light but at the same time should be slightly firm.
  3. Fold in the sifted flour slowly, using your hand. By using your hand you will be able to feel the flour that needs to be incorporated and you won't disturb the eggs too much. Too much movement will cause the eggs to deflate.
  4.  Grease and flour 5"x7" cake tins. Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins. They should be filled 2/3 of the way.
  5. Bake at 400 F for about 25 minutes. The cakes should be of a dry appearance and spring to the touch. Set aside to cool.
  6. Whip the 35% cream to firm peaks.
  7. Whip the whipped topping to firm peaks.
  8. Fold the cream and topping together until blended. Set aside.
  9. Place the chocolate over a hot water bath until melted. 
  10. Prep your strawberries. 16 should be cut in half and dipped in chocolate and be the garnish. The leaves can be left on or cut off depending on your preference.
  11. The remaining strawberries should be sliced and then combined in with half of  the cream/topping mix.
  12. Slice the cakes in half to make two layers. Soak the tops with sugar syrup (can be store bought or home made). We used the juices from the cut strawberries and added sugar.
  13. Layer one side with the strawberry and cream mixture. Replace top later of cake.
  14. Mask with the remaining half of the cream/topping mix.
  15. Using a piping bag, pipe rosettes of cream on the top outer edge. We piped 8.
  16. Place the dipped strawberries on top of each rosette. 
  17. More decoration can be added -  we added shaved chocolate to the centre and toasted almonds to the sides of the cake.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fruit Flan

This week in class we made Fruit Flan!

Last week we prepped the Sweet Paste, also known as shortbread dough, which we used for the tart shells. This week we baked the shells, made the vanilla pastry cream and apricot glaze, and assembled the pies! The whole class spent a lot of time arranging the fruit and making their pies look pretty. I think mine turned out pretty well!
In class we each made two pies, so I donated one to a bake sale at my dad’s office and it raised $20!

This is a three step recipe so I will give you the steps in the order that we followed them in class. These are modified versions of the recipes we used in class.

Sweet Paste
Sugar                         300 g
Butter, soft                 454 g
Salt                             8 g
Vanilla                       5 g
Eggs                           2
Milk                             120 ml
Pastry Flour              875 g
Baking Powder         5 g

  1. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment cream together the sugar, vanilla, salt and butter until light and fluffy. This should take 4-5 minutes on low speed. 
  2.  With the machine running add the eggs one at a time. Stop between each egg and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Sift together the pastry flour and baking powder.
  4. Add the milk and flour to the mix and blend on low speed until incorporated.
  5. Remove the dough from bowl and knead on a floured surface. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill before using.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
2% Milk                      875 ml
2% Milk                      125 ml
Sugar                         120 g
Corn Starch              100 g
Eggs                           3
Vanilla Bean             1
Salt                             1 g

  1. Rinse a saucepan with cold water before adding first measurement of milk (875 ml). This helps prevent the burning of the pudding.
  2. Add the 875 ml of milk and vanilla bean to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally.
  3. When the milk comes to a good rolling boil, add in the remaining ingredients: mix the sugar and corn starch together before adding, then add the eggs, and then slowly add in the remaining measurement of milk.
  4. Return to heat and bring back to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour the pastry cream onto a clean, plastic lined tray and cover with another layer of plastic wrap. The plastic should touch the top of the pudding and there should be no air bubbles (this will help prevent a skin from forming). Cool in the fridge until ready to use (should be between 1-2 days).

Fruit Flans
Sweet Paste Dough, chilled          1 recipe
Coating Chocolate                          500 g
Pastry Cream, chilled                      1 recipe
Strawberries, Kiwis                          As needed
Canned Peaches                            As needed
Canned Mandarin Oranges           As needed
Apricot Jam                                       1 cup
Water                                                  ½ cup

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Knead the Sweet Paste dough on a floured surface for about a minute before rolling out. You should have enough dough for 4 4”x8” Flan pans. The dough should be 1/8” thick.
  3. Pre-bake the tart shells at 350 F for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Once cooled, the bottoms of the shells may be coated in melted chocolate to prevent soggy bottoms. “Paint” on with a pastry brush.
  5. Using a silicone spatula scrape the pastry cream from the tray into a bowl. Whisk gently and then divide between the 4 shells. Smooth out with a pallet knife.
  6. Arrange your fruits in an artistic design, making sure to cover all the cream.
  7. Heat the apricot jam and water in a saucepan. Using a pastry brush glaze the entire top of the pie.
  8. Chill before serving, but eat within a day or 2. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Swiss Rolls

Finished Product!

This afternoon in class we made Swiss Rolls! This was a two-step process, starting with baking sponge sheets that were filled with raspberry jam, rolled, coated with whipped cream/topping and then decorated.
It was a little tricky to roll the sponge sheets tightly. You can see in the photo above that the one on the left is rolled tighter than the one on the right. I rolled the one on the right first, and adjusted my method for the second one. I think they look really nice, but they certainly aren't my favourite thing we've made in this class.

These are modified versions of the recipes we used in class.

Sponge Sheets
Eggs*                         16
Sugar                          300 g
Salt                             2 g
Lemon                        2 g
Vanilla                         2 g
Bread Flour (sifted)     270 g

*warm the eggs in a bowl of warm water. Keeping the eggs warm will maximize their volume.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350/375 F
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer add the eggs, then sugar, and then the salt, lemon and vanilla.
  3. Whip the mixture on high speed for about 7 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and whip for an additional 2 minutes. The eggs should be light, yet somewhat compact.
  4. Fold in the sifted flour using your hand. By using your hand you will be able to feel the flour that needs to be incorporated and you won't disturb the eggs too much. Too much movement will cause the eggs to deflate.
  5. Divide the batter between 2 parchment paper-lined pans (15" x 21"), spreading evenly.
  6. Bake at 450 F for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and spongy to the touch.
Baked Sponge Sheet

Swiss Rolls
Sponge Sheets                  2
Raspberry Jam                  600 g
35 % Cream                     1 L
Whipped Topping*           250 ml
Toasted Almonds              150 g
Chocolate Vermicelli         150 g

*Can use Cool Whip

  1. Whip the 35% cream to firm peaks.
  2. Whip the whipped topping to firm peaks. 
  3. Fold the cream and the topping together until blended. Set aside.
  4. Turn the sponge sheet upside down to release from pan. Remove the paper from the bottom.
  5. Slice the sheet into 2 pieces (10.5" x 15") and place each half onto clean parchment paper.
  6. Evenly spread a thin layer of jam on the top (this it the side that was face up when baked, it's brown compared to the bottom) of both sheets.
  7. Using the parchment paper roll up each sheet from the short end.
  8. Mask the rolls with the cream and remove any excess.
  9. Decorate with with toasted almonds and/or sprinkles.
  10. Can be served as a whole or as individual pastries.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Piped Spritz Cookies

This week in class at George Brown we made Piped Spritz Cookies. According to The Joy of Baking, "Spritz Cookies, also known as Swedish Butter Cookies or Pressed Butter Cookies, are a very popular Christmas cookie, not only in Scandinavia, but also here in North America. They have a lovely vanilla flavor and a rich buttery texture that is tender crisp. As their name implies, "Spritz" is German for "spritzen" meaning "to squirt", which is exactly what is done with this cookie dough." We filled piping bags with the dough and created a variety of shapes that turned into beautiful cookies once baked.

This is a modified version of the recipe we used in class.

Piped Spritz Cookies
Shortening (softened)               320 g
Butter (softened)                      330 g
Salt                                           5 g
Vanilla                                     10 g
Icing Sugar (sifted)                 400 g
Eggs                                        6
Milk                                        150 ml
Pastry Flour (sifted)               500 g
Bread Flour (sifted)               500 g
Raspberry Jam                       150 g
Coating Chocolate*                500 g
*Coating chocolate can be found at Bulk Barn. It contains no cocoa butter and therefor sets quickly.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
  2. In an electric mixer on low speed, using a paddle attachment, cream together the shortening, butter, salt, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs until incorporated.
  4. Sift the flours together and add to mixture. Mix until blended.
  5. Quickly add the milk and mix until incorporated. Leave the machine running for an extra 30 seconds which will create gluten which will help the batter keep its shape after piping.
  6. Add the batter to a piping bag with a star tip. Pipe the cookies onto parchment paper lined trays. Leave enough space between the cookies (approx. 1 1/2") for expansion and to allow proper heat distribution. Typical shapes for piping include rosettes, shells, hearts, and fingers).
  7. Bake the cookies at 375 F for approx. 10, until they are a light brown colour.
  8. Allow the cool and then decorate with raspberry jam and chocolate.

Chocolate Eclairs & Profiteroles (Cream Puffs)

According to Wikipedia, an éclair is an oblong pastry made with choux paste dough filled with a cream and topped with icing. The dough, which is the same as that used for profiterole, is typically piped into an oblong shape with a pastry bag and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside. Once cool, the pastry is then filled with a vanilla, coffee or chocolate flavoured custard (crème pâtissière), or with whipped cream; and then iced with fondant icing. The icing is sometimes caramel, in which case the dessert may be called a "bâton de Jacob".
The éclair originated during the nineteenth century in France where it was called "pain à la duchesse" or "petite duchesse" until 1850. It is a popular type of cake served all over the world. The word is first attested both in English and in French in the 1860s. The first known English-language recipe for éclairs appears in the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln, published in 1884.

The dough for the éclairs and profiteroles is the same.
This is a modified version of the recipe we used in class in Baking Arts and George Brown College.

Choux Paste Dough
Water                  500 ml
Butter                  250 g
Salt                     10 g
Bread Flour         370 g
Eggs                    12

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Place water, butter and salt into a sauce pot and bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Add flour to the mixture and cook until the paste (roux) is formed, about 1 minute. It should come away clear from the side of the pot and leave a white film on the bottom.
  4. Transfer the dough to a bowl of an electric mixer. Mix the dough on medium and count the 20 to allow the mixture to cool.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each egg until the next one is added. Scrape down the side of the bowl occasionally.
  6. Add milk IF NECESSARY to adjust the consistency of the choux paste. The correct consistency may be defined as being stiff enough to form stiff peaks, yet soft enough to start spreading while still luke warm.
  7. Using a piping bag with a plain tip (for the éclairs) and a piping bag with a star tip (for the profiteroles) pipe out the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. The éclairs should be about 3" in length and the profiteroles should be the size of a toonie.
  8. Bake at 400F for 30 minutes.
Here are some Video Tutorials for piping éclairs and profiteroles.

Chocolate Eclairs & Profiteroles
  1. Once your éclairs and profiteroles have cooled, cut off the top thirds of both and place the to side.
  2. For the éclairs, dip the tops in pourable fondant* and allow to cool.
  3. Using a piping bag with a star tip, pipe a generous amount of whipped cream onto the bottoms of both the éclairs and profiteroles and replace the tops. 
  4. Dust the profiteroles with icing sugar, and serve.
*To top the éclairs we used a pourable fondant and added chocolate fudge. Here is a recipe if you want to make your own pourable fondant.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Creme Caramel & Bavarian Cream

Creme Caramel

This week in Baking Arts at George Brown College we made Creme Caramel & Bavarian Cream!
Bavarian Cream is actually a no-bake dessert and is made using gelatin (for vegetarians you can use Agar Agar as a substitute).
Both turned out really well and look so pretty!

Here is a modified version of the recipes we followed in class. This will make about 12 3" ramekins of Creme Caramel and about 22 3" ramekins of Bavarian Cream.

Creme Caramel (this is a two-step recipe)
Caramel (dry method)
White Sugar                 400 g

  1. Place a medium saucepan on the stove on high heat.
  2. Add just enough sugar to cover the bottom of the pot. Let it melt before you add more.
  3.  Continue this process until all the sugar is melted and turns into a nice amber colour (it should be the colour of a shiny penny).
  4. Remove from the heat and immediately pour a small amount into the bottom of each ramekin.
  5. Let the sugar cool completely before adding the custard mixture (see next step).
Eggs                            8
Sugar                          200 g
Vanilla Extract             5 g
Homogenized Milk     1000 ml

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar until blended.
  3. Add the vanilla and milk slowly while mixing. Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps
  5. Pour the custard evenly into the ramekins. Remove any foam with a spoon.
  6. Bake in a water bath at 350F for approx 40 minutes until the custard has set.
  7. Once cooled, slide a knife around the edges to release the custard from the ramekin. Flip upside down to serve.
Bavarian Cream
Milk                            500 ml & 20 ml
Sugar                          250 g
Gelatin*                      20 g
Eggs                            4
Salt                             2 g
Vanilla Extract             5 g
Whipped Cream         500 ml

*can use Agar Agar as vegetarian substitute, but use 1/2 - 10g

  1.  Place milk in a medium pot and bring to a boil
  2. In a small mixing bowl blend together the sugar and the gelatin.
  3. Whisk in the eggs and salt
  4. Add second amount of milk to this mixture and whisk to blend together. Ensure that the gelatin has disolved
  5. Once gelatin has disolved, additional flavour may be added if desired. Such as, frozen fruits, flavoured emulsions, cocoa powder, coffee powder, etc.
  6. Let the mixture cool.
  7. Once cooled, add whipped cream and fold gently to incorporate. The mixture should be thick, but still runny.
  8. Pour evenly into ramekins and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. Can be served in the ramekin, or slide a knife around the edges to release the cream from the ramekin and flip upside down to serve.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tea Biscuits and Bran Muffins!

This week Chef Jo taught us how to make tea biscuits and bran muffins. I have made scones and muffins before, but I’ve never used currants or worked with bran. This recipe made so many biscuits and muffins that I’ve already given some away and plan on bringing the rest to work tomorrow to treat my coworkers (and get some feedback on the baking).

As a recent OCAD graduate I’m finding it strange to make something and not have an in-class critique on it. Chef Jo made samples of each for us to taste and get a sense of what the “product” should look, feel and taste like. But, that isn’t the same as having the expert taste what we’ve made and tell us how we’ve done.

Here is a modified version of the recipe we followed in class. This will make about 3 dozen muffins and 4 dozen tea biscuits.

Bran Muffins
Baking Soda                            30 g
Baking Powder                        10 g
Bread Flour                              200 g
Milk Powder                            75 g
Brown Sugar                            600 g
Salt                                          10 g
Whole Wheat Flour                  650 g
Bran                                         150 g
Raisins                                     200 g
Walnuts (roughly chopped)       150 g
Vegetable Oil                           460 g
Water                                       900 g
Eggs                                         4
Vanilla                                     5 g


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Sift together the bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and milk powder. Do not sift the wheat flour as this will remove the wheat.
  3. Add the rest of the dry ingredients (salt, whole wheat flour, bran, raisins, and walnuts) and blend with a wooden spoon.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs and oil until blended.
  5. Add the water to the egg mixture and whisk together.
  6. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture. Fold together until just blended. Do not over mix.
  7. Let the mix rest for approx. 20 minutes so the bran has time to soak up the liquid.
  8. Grease the tops of 3 muffin pans and line with paper muffin cups.
  9. Once the mix has rested, deposit the batter into the cups with a #10 ice-cream scoop.
  10. Bake muffins at 400F for approx. 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center.
  11. Remove muffins from tins directly after baking to prevent “sweating”.

Tea Biscuits
Bread Flour                  1200 g
Baking Powder             60 g
Butter                           250 g
Milk Powder                50 g
Eggs                             4
Sugar                           250 g
Salt                              20 g
Currants                       250 g


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Combine with butter in an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, for approx. 4 minutes until it reaches a mealy stage.
  3. Dissolve sugar and salt into the milk and eggs and add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix just until the dough is just slightly “developed”.
  4. Add currants to the dough and mix only long enough to incorporate.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead gently for about 1 minute to ensure all ingredients are properly incorporated and the dough is smooth.
  6. Roll out the dough to approx. 3/4” thickness and cut into rounds using a 3” cookie cutter.
  7. Place the pieces of dough into pans lined with parchment paper and coat tops with an egg wash (eggs and water).
  8. Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.