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.