Pastry class in Texas when it’s 100 degrees outside is also a factor. It’s hard to concentrate 80+ degree kitchen! We were given the the following assignments:
Vanilla Custard Sauce
Fresh Fruit Bavarian
I was teamed with Eric and gave him first choice for 4 items. He picked Chocolate Mousse,
Creme Brulee, Lemon Curd and the Bavarian.
I thought things were going well as I was making my flan. It seemed pretty simple. I made pastry cream and then realized it was awfully thick and lumpy looking although I did everything according to the instructions (and I have made this before!) The creme anglaise looked fine, however I saw some signs of curdling around the edges of the pan so that should have clued me in on the fact that it was overdone but I have never made this before so I wasn’t sure. I now know what overdone creme angliase looks like though. My panna cotta looked pretty good but when it was tasted it was definitely a little too “tight”, meaning too much gelatin. Working with sheet gelatin is a little tricky so this will take some practice to get right. The pastry cream turned into a too thick, lumpy mass by tasting time. Surprisingly, the flan was very good but the sauce I attempted to create was not so good–brown sugar, syrup, nuts got very hard and sticky.
Eric’s mousse was good, the Bavarian cream OK, the creme brulee a little soft, and he did not get the lemon curd done. Although most of what we made turned out either mediocre to bad it was a good demonstration of the frustrating dynamic of failing to make something due to the situation. I could go into my kitchen right now and make very good pastry cream with a recipe from the textbook but I’m not juggling 3 or 4 other dishes using different equipment and around a lot of distractions. The factors at school that make cooking ordinary dishes hard are being timed, unfamiliar equipment, and unfamiliar ingredients. Also, making something for the first time is always a gamble. The pastry cream at school used flour but I prefer using cornstarch for smoothness. I would have also reduced the amount of flour but I didn’t know it at the time.
Now do I want to go home and practice making something with these ingredients?:
1 quart half and half
1 vanilla bean, split
12 egg yolks
10 oz sugar
Whisk eggs yolks and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Temper the egg mixture with 1/3 of the hot cream, return entire mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until thick enough to coat back of a spoon. Do NOT allow the sauce to boil. As soon as it thickens, remove it form the heat, strain it and put in a clean bowl. Chill over an ice bath.
(This is the recipe for Creme Anglaise)
I have a 5 year physical for my job coming up this fall so after culinary school for a year I’m afraid to see what the cholesterol level is going to be!