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Everything posted by chefpeon

  1. As far as baking cheesecakes goes, or any other custard, I tell people there are two kinds of jiggles. There's a wavy liquidy jiggle and a "Jello" jiggle. It's done when you get a "Jello" jiggle.
  2. I think that judging when something is done baking is one of the most difficult parts of learning about it. I remember as a young pastry student being very distressed when my instructor would make a statement like, "you bake it til it's done". And I'd say "For how long?" And he'd say "Depends." And I'd say, "On what?" And he'd say, "On what your oven temperature is, how full the oven is, how large the item is, what kind of pan you bake it in, how many times you open the oven door......." And I'd say, "Then how do I know when it's done?" And he'd say, "I was waiting for you to ask that question." He was a good instructor. I think recipe writers should stress what my baking instructor always stressed, and that is, that baking times are ONLY A GUIDELINE. There are just too many variables involved for anyone to estimate an exact bake time. Recipes should always tell the baker what to look for when the item is done and the verbiage for the bake time should be worded like, "bake for approximately 20 minutes, but do not remove from oven until ________". Now that I'm a seasoned baker, I only set my timer so I don't forget about stuff in the oven and burn everything. My timer says to me, "Hey! Do you remember you put cookies in here 15 minutes ago?" And I'm like....."Oh......yeah, right." There is only one thing that I bake now, that I feel I need a timer for, and that's brownies. I can't tell if they're done by touching the top, or inserting a toothpick, because perfectly baked brownies don't pass the toothpick test.......the toothpick is SUPPOSED to come out fairly gooey. So I have this one brownie recipe that I always use and I always know how long it bakes in the particular oven I have at the time. If the oven changes, then I usually have to screw up a batch and readjust my baking time. Getting a perfectly baked brownie can really be a bitch sometimes.
  3. I would never trust just pastillage on it's own to support the weight of a cake. I would only use it to cover a cake board, but never as the board itself.
  4. And don't forget, as I mentioned in another thread, there are several items that now cannot be shipped to the US, due to differences in regulations the FDA has over certain food colorings that are allowed in Europe. Many of the items I came to depend on, like certain transfer sheet patterns and patterns for joconde biscuit are not available to me unless I order a huge amount, at which point they consider it's worth their while to make US approved color formulation for that production run. Which, of course, I cannot afford. It is my hope that PCB will regularly use US approved colors and do production runs so that US customers, both large and small can order from them. I don't see why they can't do that now.
  5. I say Pyrex all the way. I use pyrex at home when I bake pies......I sure wish I could use them at work. Glass takes longer to heat, but once it heats, it holds and maintains the heat well enough to give you a well set and browned bottom crust, which seems to be the dilemma of many a pie maker.
  6. I look forward to the day I can say "I'm an American Pastry Chef" and not feel like I have to be defensive about it. Someday I hope, there will be the same respect for us as there is for the French.
  7. I love pastry bags for their simplicity. Easy to replace, easy to clean, easy to store, easy to use. Sure there are cookie presses (even electric ones), but you don't quite have the control over them like you do a pastry bag. Also, they don't hold as much and you have to keep refilling them. If you get into large scale production bakeries where pastry bags are unrealistic, then you are looking at large machinery (like depositors) that do the same job as a pastry bag, but much quicker and much more precisely.
  8. I'm a pastry chef too, and I'd just like to say I can't live without my chef's knife and my paring knife. Like any chef, I don't know what I'd do without my knives!
  9. Damn! You got me! My crushed up brain cells failed to think of that!
  10. Then, if you're like me......after having spent 17 years in the pastry business, and somewhat cynical and burned out, you've reached the "Aw, f*ck it" Phase and you just crush up the Butterfingers.
  11. Try this place...my favorite! CalJava/Sweet Inspirations
  12. The advantage that large importers and vendors have over small-timers like myself is that they can afford to order the 125 sheet minimum that PCB requires to print their designs in FDA approved color formulations. There's no way I can afford that. I don't even have a vendor locally that carries transfer sheets, period. Being in a tiny podunk town is a real drag sometimes. Regarding the issue about yet another ingredient that has been found to cause hyperactivity in children, I could give a rat's ass, actually. I'm more worried about the children in third world countries that don't even have clean drinking water.
  13. Hey......maybe I can get a "co-op" of people who want the sheets and we actually can order the minimum (125 sheets of each) and split it all up............. Hey Kids.....I'm actually serious about this. If any of you are, PM me and we can get something going!
  14. Yes, I've seen that website.....they have some nice stuff, but I like the pcb designs better. I know that if I can't get the transfer sheets from pcb anymore I can buy from a lot of different vendors in the US. The item I'm primarily concerned with is the transfer sheets for Joconde. The only other place I've seen that sells them is Albert Uster Imports, but there's only three really boring designs. pcb has really pretty joconde transfers and that's what I want the most. If there's really no way I can get their joconde transfers anymore, then I'll have to invest in full size silpats and sheet pan size stencils so I can resort to the ol' cigarette paste method of getting a pattern on the cake.
  15. Yep, I think Tri2Cook is on the right track. Most likely you probably don't even need to add the extra peanut oil depending on the peanut butter you use. And in this case I would NOT use the all-natural type peanut butter that separates easily on it's own. Another trick to try would be to add a little powdered sugar to the bottom layer recipe to absorb any excess oil.
  16. Choux I notice that you are up in British Columbia. You probably got your stuff without a problem because I suspect Canada doesn't have the same import regulations that the US does.
  17. In the past, I have successfully ordered items from pcb Creation in France. The items I order most are chocolate transfer sheets and transfer sheets for biscuit (Joconde). I order via the web, and even though the stuff comes all the way from France, I usually get it faster than if I ordered something via UPS Ground from the next town over..... I've always had a good experience with pcb.....they have good customer service. So I'm all excited to order more chocolate and joconde sheets for the upcoming holiday season (fun new patterns....yay), so I place my order. I got an email back from the export department that since they have to use special FDA USA approved colors for the sheets they send to the US, they cannot pick from their European stock and now I have to order each pattern at a minimum of 125 sheet packs! I'm confused. I've had no problem ordering from the European stock before. Did something change? Did the FDA all of a sudden determine that the food coloring used in Europe is dangerous to Americans? For crying out loud. Does anybody know any info about this? Does anyone else order from pcb and encountered the same problem? And I'm wondering.....if I had my order shipped to someone in Canada, could I possibly bypass having to order the minimum of 125 sheets?
  18. Artisan Bread: Bread in which a number of overworked, underpaid bakers create, for the love of baking, flavorful crusty loaves. They live and die by the starter and how hot the shop is. They pray for the night when every loaf is perfect. They wonder why they do it.....until they slice open a loaf, straight from the oven, and slather butter all over it, and eat, what could be, the most heavenly thing on earth. Maybe not official, but a definition nonetheless.
  19. Hey, when I make pies at home, I'm ALL OVER the leaf lard.....I can't say enough good things about it. But when it comes to the pies I make at work, I know my customers aren't ready to see "lard" on the label quite yet. Not to mention the fact that there are a lot of vegetarians and vegans out there, and lard is an animal based fat, unlike trans-fat free shortenings.
  20. Check this out: Interesting, huh? I didn't know that. One would think that a shortening that is now fully hydrogenated, would perform just as well as the partially hydrogenated kind. We'll see I guess. But yeah, the latest food scare du jour, mostly just amuses and inconveniences me. If the trans-fats don't kill us, something else will. Life and living it, is inherently bad for your health. And worrying about what will eventually lead us to pushing up daisies is even worse still, since stress is bad for your health too.
  21. The key to no lumpy butter (or margarine) chunks in your laminated doughs is having the butter at the right temperature. The butter must not be COLD, but COOL. A "test" that I use is pressing my finger in to the dough and the butter. If the butter feels about as firm as the dough, you're good to go. If the butter feels like a brick, you need to leave the butter out at room temp for a while til it's cool, but not cold. This is what I always do when I do a laminated dough: Put butter on the mixer with a certain amount of bread flour (the flour acts to soak up the water content in the butter). Mix it around til it is smooth with no lumps and still COOL. Form butter into a square on a piece of parchment paper, and put it in the fridge. Next, I mix the dough. Once mixed, I form the dough into a square, on a flour sprinkled parchment lined sheet pan. I put it in the fridge to rest for 30 mins. Next I take out the dough and butter squares, and usually 100% of the time, the butter is cool but not cold and the dough is nicely relaxed and cool too. I put butter square into dough square. Bring up the corners to encase the butter, and roll. No lumps. Truly.
  22. Yeah.....I think the real drag is that we somehow have to find our quality again with a somewhat substandard ingredient. I make pies at my shop and this has affected my pie dough greatly. For some stupid reason, one of our wholesale clients wants us to use not only trans-fat free shortening, but it has to be ORGANIC too. Makes no sense, since nothing else in the pie is organic. So anyway I've been using this organic trans-fat free palmfruit shortening and I just loathe the stuff. I do make a mostly butter pie dough, but there is shortening in it (the palmfruit) so I can have a little extra flakiness in there. I'm trying to get the boss to negotiate with our client that the organic shortening isn't really necessary in the pie unless everything else is organic....then we can truly say the pie is organic. Right now we can't. I'm advocating for a trans-fat free brand that is more readily available, like Crisco, which is now trans-fat free, and much cheaper. I'm curious to see if the Crisco will behave better than the palmfruit. Cheers.....Annie
  23. Hey, thanks for those great ideas so far everyone! CanadianBakin', I fill the cases for a small bakery/cafe/coffee house.....I do all the frou-frou desserts. There's other guys that work there that do all the artisan breads, danishes, croissants, pies, and coffee rings. The stuff I do is stuff like, specialty cakes and tortes, small and large tarts, individual pastries along the lines of Napoleons, cream puffs, eclairs, rum balls, tiramisu, creme brulee, pots de creme, specialty cookies, and bars and brownies. Cupcakes........that sort of stuff. I'd love to do ice cream, but we have no way to keep and serve ice cream. I can do warm desserts (the staff can reheat items in the microwave). I also need to try to do items that don't require special packaging. I might do a warm bread pudding with a whiskey caramel sauce, but I have to look for attractive bakeable disposable cup-like things. Cheers....Annie
  24. Ok, I'm a pastry chef with a really fried brain. I've been spending most of my time this summer taking care of my Mom who is ill and has dementia. I'm just frazzled. My creative part of my pastry brain has atrophied to the size of a pea. I need to come up with some fall dessert stuff to replace summery type items that won't sell so well in the fall/winter. So far, I'm doing Tarte Tatins and Cranberry Orange Hazelnut tarts. I'll bring in yule logs for the holidays and Sacher Tortes. I might do Pumpkin Creme Brulee too. Depends. Throw me some more ideas, or maybe books you like that have unique fall themed desserts in them. What seems to sell in my cases are "old standards" with "new twists" on them. If I get "too weird" then people don't buy (at least in my town). Anything you wanna throw out there, would be ever so much appreciated! Cheers......Annie
  25. Equally brilliant Drewman! Especially nice since with computers and printers these days, you can make your own iron on transfers too......... I gotta remember this stuff.
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