Friday, July 13, 2007

Remainder of the first week

Here is a classic French Apple tart, characterised by chunks of apple laid in a flaky shell and held in by custard. I don't think I tasted this one, but by the end of this first week, I don't think I mind too much! Look at what else we covered yesterday and today...

We were introduced to, in two traditional shapes. The recipe we had for brioche ws not very sweet, but it was perfect for munching on solo, or for French Toast. Yeah, our $16K tuition included a short lesson and quick two-bite breakfast on French Toast. The key takeaways? STRAIN your custard to get those nasty chalazea (the little bit that attaches the egg yolk to the white and gets gummy when cooked) and use clarified butter. The Nantere is the one with the eight bumps in the foreground, and the Parisienne, on the right, is composed of four logs.

Here are our extremely vibrant and au courant Gerbet macaroons cooling. Tomorrow is Bastille day, so the red, white, and blue ones are for an embassy event tomorrow. My partner Kell and I made the green ones. Traditionally they're supposed to be in pastel colors, but the food coloring squirted out faster than I thought it would. Oh well...apparantly vibrantly-colored gerbets are all the rage in France now. In case you don't know, Gerbet macaroons are those mysteriously smooth-looking little sandwiches of unidentified origins that you see in a rainbow of colors at French pastry shops. They are meringues with almond flour whipped in, and inside they hide a flavored buttercream middle. The greens were pistachio-flavored. We had blueberry, cherry, chocolate, coffee (AWESOME!), hazelnut (also excellent), vanilla, and lemon curd. They're a bit sweet, but they're not hard to eat at all. ;)

We also learned all about savarins, which are close to brioche in construction, but once it's baked, the bread-cake is left in a warm oven to dry out until it feels as rough and brittle as a brick. Then you soak the cake in a light syrup, spritz with rum or kirsch, glaze with apricot, and serve with creme chantilly and fruit salad. As you can see, all we had were apples and oranges, so the pictures don't do the cake justice. When made with raisins and rum, it's also known as baba au rhum, which is more commonly known than plain old savarin. It's really light and can be deliciously boozy. A perfect summer treat. See how open and almost custard-like the crumb is once it's been soaked?

Yesterday Chef showed us a classic meringue dessert - a sandwich of two meringue cookies with creme chantilly in the middle. The chocolate and cherry are more for color than flavor.

Oh, and here is my tiny classic French Apple tart, which had a frangipane base...I have yet to taste this one. We had so many things to taste, we ended up putting these in the freezer for next week. For some reason, we are not allowed to remove any food from the school, at all. I had a half-finished bite of caramel walnut tart yesterday and someone chastised me for wanting to wrap it up to nosh on later at home. Sheesh.

And here is Chef's 9" French Apple tart, with crushed pistachios on the edge. Pretty, huh?
Oh, and finally, a Danish black cherry tart. It's just frangipane (almond batter or almond cake) with Briotte cherries pressed in. After all the other things we tasted, this was rather blah. Briottes are soaked for a year in kirsch and syrup and they taste much better - they have more kick - before they are cooked and the alcohol bakes off.


Lana said...

Ummmm.....warm, fragrant brioche. French toast! Apple tarts! I'm so jealous!

MooCow said...

Sugar high!!!