My next class was a contemporary cake class. This is something I've been wanting to practice for a long time, ever since I watched my first pastry competition on tv when I was maybe 16/17 and saw my first entremet (real cake) and was blown away.
Even though I had learned how to produce all the products of this class before entering it, the class itself was extremely beneficial in that I was able to perfect these procedures. And I have a tip for any up and comers out there, it doesn't hurt to research a technique before conquering it. I have tried so many things in my life blindly or on a whim, and I have learned how to do it wrong so many ways as well. But if you take the time to study how something works, why it works and possible research how to make it better, you can achieve anything even on the first try because you will no longer be blind, even if that vision goes without experience.
Basically in this example I am speaking of the simple things like creating a perfect flat top by building the cake upside down as well as trimming the cake so the mousse flows around it for perfect sides, as well as using the piping bage supmerged into the mousse to decrease likelyhood of airbubbles especially at the surfaces, as well a using guids to make sure each layer is perfectly trimmed, in position and evenly spaced. There are plenty of other small things as well.
Before I came into this class I had never constructed a cake this way, but I have read so many different pieces of information to no exactly what to do. When I was finished with my "practice" practical cake my chef had a little stun when he looked at it (not knowing it was mine), he viewed over all the cakes stopping at mine and one of my classmates turning them every which way, cutting them open at different points and saying something like - well thats interesting, these two are just about perfect. Feels good to get it on the first try.
I must mention that, from here on we didnt have anyone in our group that was bombing as we had a couple the previous year. Our group shrank from I think 18 to start, to 15 at the end of the first year to a now stunning 11. We had a very small group. There were a couple that had there points of struggle, but up until the last class everyone seemed to handle there own pretty well. Many of the 11 had impressed me quite a bit since our extern break.
We made all kinds of cakes like this hazelnut chocolate mousse cake:
same thing just done in a different way:
That was the best thing about this class was, whatever topic everyone would construct the cake's differently with different garnishes and finishes to give the same flavor/texture profiles but a different look all together.
This was a praline cake of some sort:
And again in an entremet fashion:
construction of the hazelnut wrapped in tempered chocolate:
Pictures of the Chocolates class showpieces and candies during Grand Buffet:
I thought I would show them because easter is a pretty neat time for chocolates class and we just missed it really.
This is our set up of all our psatries. The super bright round red ones were me and my teamates. I had an idea to use mango and raspberry because they go well and I needed raspberries (which just came into season) to create the super bright red look to my new spray on glaze. My teamate told me she wanted to use tropical fruits and thought raspberry was a great idea, so we went with it. For some reason she lended to my ideas, which was nice because as the only male I dont expect to get any idea in edgewise. But the perception was wrong the whole school experience. I guess I am just defensive.
So the layering was a coconut soft dacqouise with a mango mousse, candied mangos, raspberry gel and raspberry (spray on) agar glaze. The garnish was whit chocolate curled petals fill with a beautifully small diced mango and fresh raspberries.
I screwed up the spray glaze on the first batch, thats why a few may look "thinned" on the side because the agar started to break down. I accidently blast froze the first layer of spray because I was having some technical difficulties with the power spray. And of course, its not good to freeze agar, but I was in a rush and not thinking straight. So the agar weeped off a bit. Regardless, the second batch was done properly and the glaze is a success. I gave the ration to my chef, and its possible he is still using it, but maybe not.
Our final project was to construct our own cake. Now being deeply influenced by chefs like Sam Mason, Pichet Ong, and Johnny Iuzzini, I just had to get a little wierd on the flavors.
I made a spiced grape and cashew cake. I may have went over board because I think my chef wanted me to use racipe ratios that were part of the class, but I did everything different. Yea yea I am a punk, but my enthusiasm is uncontrollable even by myself.
I really ran into time constraints too, I finished my garnish while they were halfway through critique on the last day, most people were done before we left for lunch (I did not leave). I tried to concentrate as much flavor as I could out of the black grapes chef got for me. And it took a while through several stages or sugar rubbing, freezing, chilling, steeping, reducing, blah blah blah. But if you ever made grape mousse from the juice alone, it is just too mild. I could have gone a little farther with it, but there just werent enough hours in the day. So my main idea was to create a texture effect different from that of any of the cakes my chef had put forward to us. I wanted several suttle layers of the same thing, so I created a praline like nut cookie that was 100% caramelized nuts and egg whites (kind of like a tuile). I made a paste out of the muts and then incorporated the egg whites in. The I refrigerated it like a cookie, rolled it ou very thin and cut circles, eight of them to be exact. So the end result was 8 thin layers of praline cookie (that was later baked) arranged evenly in the mousse.
The cake was then glazed on top with a grape glaze and decorated as you can see. I wish I had dextrose instead of powdered sugar, and I wish I had an apple pectin glaze, or a carrageenan glaze that would and formed a skin on top to keep the dextrose apparent instead of dissolving. But it was for a 5 minute effect so it worked.
Oh and by the way, the tanish/brown smudges underneath the purple glaze is simply bad reflection. I didnt notice it until I loaded the picture or else I would have taken a more properly lit picture.
here are some pictures of the cakes my other classmates made. I do not have all of them:
And that was it of contemporary cakes.