Today we had more production than any other day so far! We started the morning by baking off our Diamant cookies from yesterday; we had made a vanilla batch of cookies and a chocolate batch. Both cookie logs get coated with egg whites and rolled in sanding sugar before slicing to bake. These cookies looked so pretty and were delicious!
After we finished with the Diamant, we moved onto frangipane, which is an almond cream. Frangipane is dense and bakes like a cake. The signature flavors of a frangipane are lemon, vanilla and rum. Once we had made the frangipane, we used it in our sucrée tarts (sweet tarts) that we had made last week. In our uncooked tart dough, we first spread a layer of raspberry jam and then topped it with the frangipane. We baked the tarts and glazed them with an apricot glaze, topped with sliced toasted almonds and a glacéed cherry. In dealing with glazes, I learned that products always glaze better when they are hot out of the oven.
I was very excited about our next production – Brioche. I have never made breads before, other than pizza dough, so this was new to me. It took quite a long time for the dough to come together in our stand mixer – about 20 minutes. After the dough was ready to come off the mixer, we let the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours before literally punching it down. After that, we put it in bags to rest again in the refrigerator overnight. Tomorrow morning when we go in, we will punch it down again before shaping the brioche. Once you bake brioche bread, you should use it or freeze it quickly – it will not last long because it dries out quickly… which is probably why so many restaurants use it for French Toast!
Before lunch, we finished our Sponge Buttons and Rothchilds that we baked yesterday and brought them to lunch to share with the culinary students. I always feel bad because we show up to lunch and they have done so much work for us, so it was nice to bring them a treat today. Lunch was also fantastic – we had a pea soup, which had these amazing bacon croutons on top, chicken breast with the skin on, spinach and rice.
After lunch, our next project was lemon curd. The curd is very versatile and can be used in a number of products. It has a really long shelf life – one month in the refrigerator and up to a year in the freezer, so it will be good for me to make and have on hand in case I am ever in a pinch. We took the lemon curd and used it to fill our other sweet tart, which was already pre-baked. To top the lemon curd, we learned how to make a Swiss meringue, which is a “warm” meringue. We whisked the sugar and eggs of the meringue over a double boiler to heat the meringue to a temperature between 140° and 165°. Our teacher had us all stick our finger in the meringue to test the heat – I was nervous at first because it was over the stovetop, but the temperature you cook the eggs and sugar too is actually not that hot. Once cooked, we piped the Swiss meringue on top of the lemon curd tart and used a blow torch to caramelize the top.