Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Earlier, I couldn't tell whether I was trying to force myself to go on a walk or stay inside. On one hand, I hiked about 4.5 miles through snow yesterday and my legs are really tired. But it was nice and clear and sunny, and (according to my computer) in the mid-30's! I compromised and went for a 3.5 mile road walk. It sure didn't feel like 34 degrees, though! The wind started up and the temperature dropped rapidly as the sun went down.

Today was a fun one for me - I made pretzels! Chewy, salty pretzels that we scarfed down with lots of mustard. I accidentally left out the butter in the recipe (a half pound), but they didn't suffer in the least. Maybe I discovered the trick to perfect soft pretzels (though generally, leaving any butter out of a recipe is about the worst thing I could do, ever).

I had forgotten just how good a banana cream pie could be when I had a bite of one in class today. All it takes is sliced bananas, pastry cream, and tons of whipped cream, but it's magic.
There was also a really delicious chocolate-banana cake, comprised of devil's food cake, caramelized bananas, a layer of thick chocolate-banana cream, all spackled with chocolate mousse.

We started preparing various laminated doughs for use tomorrow. These are doughs that are rolled out, inlaid with a thick sheet of cold butter, folded, rolled out, folded, etc, to produce several hundred to one thousand layers. The butter melts in the oven and produces steam, which puffs the layers of dough apart and results in really flaky, buttery pastries. Croissant dough uses yeast and less butter, puff pastry uses more butter but no yeast, and blitz puff dough is a shortcut method for making puff pastry that can be used for tart shells, tarte tatin, etc. All are delicious. In my opinion, nothing beats a warm croissant, torn apart and slathered with that divine substance, butter.

Here is the recipe for the chocolate sponge cake from yesterday. I've halved the recipe. It's a very resilient cake, so it would be perfect for rolling up for a chocolate cake roll. Just fill with whipped chocolate ganache or chocolate mousse, then frost the outside with whipped cream. Yum!

I would like to play around with the recipe and see if I could reduce the sugar by at least half, maybe adding coconut or almond flour in its place.

Flourless Chocolate Sponge

8 ea. egg whites

8 oz sugar

8 ea. yolks

2.5 oz Dutched cocoa

pinch salt

1.5 tsp vanilla

Whip the whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Stir the yolks, and drizzle into the whites while the mixer is on low speed. Add the vanilla and salt. Sift the cocoa into the eggs while folding together.

Pour into a sheet tray with sides (line the bottom with parchment).

Bake at 325*, until puffed and it springs back when lightly pressed. If using for a cake roll, dust the top with cocoa powder and lay a clean kitchen towel over it (while still hot/warm and pliable). Carefully roll it up and let it cool like that. Once it's cool, you can take out the towel and it will hold its shape.

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