Wednesday 11 February 2009

Wednesday: the illogical French and a dodgy sponge

Really quite gruntled by today's goings-on. I made allumettes for the second time and they were much better (but not yet garnished so no photo), also made a cracking (French) meringue spiral and a nice looking sponge.

But it was with a rather odd recipe which had no butter. Even more strangely, tomorrow, the meringue spiral (diameter of 20cm) is going to be inserted into the sponge. I have no idea how this will end up. The French may do excellent patisserie but they can't do a decent spongecake.

The other day, our first foray into sponge, we produced these nut tarts. They consist of a pastry shell with a cm or so of dense sponge soaked in rum syrup with a thick and IMHO not very nice caramel on top. The border is almond paste. Simply horrible.

Since I've moved classes we've been made to use reusable piping bags for any produce which is going to be cooked whereas before we only used disposable plastic ones. The teacher keeps banging on about the cost of the plastic ones when it comes to working in industry.

Well, I did some sums. The plastic ones allegedly cost 20 cents each. Now, let's say you pay your assistant just €10/hour. That means for 20 cents (i.e. the equivalent of a disposable pastry bag) you get 72 seconds of his time. But a pastry bag caked in almond paste takes a good couple of minutes to clean to a hygenic standard and that's without taking the cost of the hot water and detergent into account.

Still, I shan't be telling my teacher this right away...

In other illogicalities, prof told us it took too much time to cut greaseproof paper discs to line the cakes tins and therefore butter was a better option. However, to ensure a sufficient buttering we had to do one layer of butter, refrigerate the tin until the butter set hard and then apply another layer. Hm.

Tip of the day was the way of making the sponge. The egg yolks and sugar were heated to 45° in a bain-marie (directly in the metal bowl of the mixer) before being whisked. The heat helps the sugar dissolve but, perhaps more importantly, the eggs start to coagulate which means the mixture should hold its lightness better. Well, yet to test the results but it sounds good in theory.

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