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Posts posted by chefpeon

  1. But now what do I do with it?

    Any tips and recipes and suggestions for use would be deeply and greatly appreciated!


    P.S. and if you can phonetically spell out how to pronounce it, that earns you bonus points! :laugh:

  2. I've never run into a white cake batter that doesn't deteriorate as it sits.....I'm a believer in baking off fresh batter and freezing as opposed to bucketing up batter and baking off as needed.

    Either way, you look at slight deterioration no matter which way you go. I guess it's all a matter of what you personally think is worse......."old batter" or "frozen cake".

    Of course we'd all love to fresh bake everything to order, but that just isn't possible in this business.

    I do have a cocoa cake batter that is WONDERFUL to bucket up and save.....but I've never found the same for white butter cake.

  3. When I see a perfect shell, I know it's probably going to taste like a crumbly dry cookie, not a buttery rich crust, so I avoid them.

    You know this isn't always the case. If you're like me, and most people aren't (thank god), it IS possible to make a lovely buttery tart shell and have it retain it's shape. You just gotta work at it....perfect and refine. I am never happy if something doesn't look perfect. I don't care if people are put off by "perfect pastries", because I, as a professional, care a great deal. I SHOULD be able to make the perfect pastry because that's my job. And if I don't then I'll work to make it better. There's always a solution.

    At the job I had before the one I have now, I was actually asked to make things look a little more "homemade" and I wouldn't do it. I have since moved on, since that obviously wasn't the job environment I was suited for.

  4. Why not bake off cupcakes and cake layers and freeze them? That way you preserve the integrity of a freshly mixed product. I HAVE to do that, especially because most of my cakes are chiffon. I can't save chiffon batter, since it can't sit....it has to go right in the oven.

    There is nothing wrong with freezing stuff. If I couldn't rely on my freezers, I couldn't be in business. Refrigerating cakes and cupcakes does dry them out a bit, but freezing does not if they are wrapped well and not frozen for a long long time. :wink:

  5. but it is very difficult to tell when a chiffon cake is done.

    Um, no it's not. Chiffon cakes are what I bake constantly and they have a lovely little spring to them in the center when done. For me, they are the easiest cakes to make, bake and torte.

    If you are having trouble torting a chiffon cake because it's "crumbly", the easy easy way around that is to freeze it. A chiffon cake does not set up hard when frozen like a butter cake does. I actually prefer to split my chiffons when they are frozen.....they are very easy to work with that way.

    In my opinion, chiffon always needs a little syrup on it, I never complete a chiffon without some sort of soak. Right now, my strawberry cream cake has a triple sec/simple syrup brushed on layers.....really good.

  6. I baked some canneles today in the Sweetheart Rose pan and they came out ok - crust was crisp at the beginning and then softened as time went by... but it wasn't the same kind of crunch (and lingering flavour) that I experienced with a bought cannele. So I'm getting ready to try the beeswax but also getting a little nervous in case my Nordicware pan gets wax permanently stuck in its crevices - I want to use it for other stuff too.

    The wax gets mostly into the cannele and very little is left in the pan (if at all) when they are done. Cleanup with a little hot water and soap is all it takes.

    I used my rose pan for canneles and tried it both with the wax and without. In my experimentation, with my recipe, I really couldn't tell the difference between the beeswaxed ones and the non-beeswaxed ones. Maybe you'll have a different result.

    Also, baking the canneles in the Nordicware petit four moulds (about 1/10 cup capacity) resulted in very pretty pastries but with extremely thick crusts and virtually no custard left in the centres. Any advice on whether to reduce baking time or temperature, and by how much?

    I recently made mini canneles in a petit four shaped flower pan. I baked higher for shorter time, but because the suckers were so small, you just don't get a good custard/crust ratio. It's the nature of the beast I guess.

  7. This may be the exception to the rule but I don't have that problem. I'm a perfectionist, and I refuse to put anything out that doesn't meet my standards. Everything I make sells....from the Napoleons to the Brioche to the cakes and to the scones and cookies etc. I make everything from scratch and once you taste my stuff you know there's nothing "artificial" tasting in there.

    My theory is that people will buy something once strictly from eye appeal. They won't buy it again if it doesn't have taste appeal. Your repeat business ALWAYS comes from the taste...RARELY on the looks (if it doesn't taste good). If your stuff tastes as good as it looks, then you have a winning combination.

    I had a very long stressful day today. We just opened a new cafe, so now I'm making products for not just one, but two cafes. Today my boss came in and happily told me we had a line out the door of the new cafe for 3 hours during lunch-ish time. We nearly sold out of everything. Right now I'm at a loss to figure out how I'm going to keep up with this madness. Right now, instead of being the perfectionist that I am, I'd rather throw a cookie dough ball at someone and say, "here bake it yourself!" :wacko:

  8. I want one! I wonder which one is better though. After looking at both of them, I'm thinking the beater blade may do a better job........

    I would also love one of those pastry/knife blades for both the KA and a 20 qt Hobart. I'm mystified at why they stopped making them!

    And if they could make the beater blade for professional mixers I'd be even happier. To this day, I hate scraping down the bowl......... :laugh::angry:

  9. Rather than react to some of the more vitriolic responses to my, I thought, friendly and respectful queries, I'll just say thank you to everyone for your input.

    I wouldn't so much say our responses were vitriolic, but rather emphatic in our verbiage that this business really isn't for "dabblers" or casual career seekers.

    Speaking for myself and some others, I can say that after working as long as I have in the baking business, you get a bit cynical. And for good reason. We work HARD, and the money isn't that great. People like myself stay in it because we love what we do, as tough as it gets. We are people who wouldn't be caught dead in a cubicle or an office. We need to create, produce and see the end result of our labor. We also crave the occasional "yum, this is the best X I've ever had" from the customer. This is what moves us. We're in it for the long run, and as much as we complain, it's the only thing we do, and what we know.

    Personally, I have had so much experience with job seekers; both career changers, and pastry school grads. Unfortunately, I have to say that with both, probably 10% have ever lasted in the kitchen with me (and believe me, I'm a NICE boss). The people that I've hired and kept are mostly the people that know the business and have no romantic notions about it. What struck several of us about your posts is that you seemed to have some unrealistic romantic notions, and we felt it was our duty to say, "hey, what you visualize and how it really is are two completely different things". 'Cause REALLY it is. Baking at home and baking for a living are NOT the same. Not even remotely.

    We weren't trying to discourage you, only give you insight, which is what you requested. We also questioned you because you seemed to be going back and forth and every which way on what your actual goals were. We were confused.......vitriolic...no.....asking for clarification...yes.

    Whatever you decide I hope it works out for you and especially any future employer. If you decide to start your own business I wish you the best of luck.

  10. To a certain extent, I think you can choose between bread and sweets as a specialty, just as some choose chocolate as a specialty, and if you hate decorating cakes, there are jobs that involve few or no wedding cakes. You know, you have your cupcake bakeries (hopefully soon to go the way of bagel bakeries), your bagel bakeries (well if it were still the 90's), your artisan bread shops, your cake shops. Some do a little of everything, but some are more specialized.

    But yeah, more skills are generally a good thing if you want to make a career of it and not be too limited in your job options. The industry is small enough already.

    Yeah, that was my general point.....having a specialty and trying to find a job in that specialty is a lot harder (especially now), than if you have a larger skill set and you have a wider range of jobs to choose from. Of course we all want to follow our bliss, but we still gotta pay "the man". :laugh:

    Ha.....you're right about cupcake bakeries.....that's a phenomenon I don't quite understand and another thread altogether! :laugh:

  11. Interestingly, two of the last few posters have presented two glaringly opposite experiences. One gal went to pastry school, worked her butt off for years in professional kitchens and has the scars to prove it. The other gal did not go to pastry school (at least, not long-term), worked her butt off in her own home and rented kitchens, got some notoriety on the farmer's market circuit, and now owns her own business. One proclaims to be burned out. The other appears to be quite happy. Please forgive the armchair analysis, but if I had to choose Door A or Door B, it wouldn't take even a millisecond of thought.

    I gotta be truthful and say this upset me a little. After having spent nearly 20 years in the baking business one gets burnt out a bit. There isn't one baker (or pastry chef) I have known that has been in it as long as I have and not experienced it. This is not to say I don't like what I'm doing. I do, otherwise I'd get the heck out. But it's tough. It's not like I "dabble in baking all day". You can't just "dabble" and make a career out of it. Also, bear in mind that the person who is happy and owns her own business hasn't been doing it nearly as long as I have. That makes a big difference.

    Whether you go to pastry school or not is a moot point. The point is that this is a tough business to be in, and you can't have these fantasyland visions about it. The whole point of my blog entry that I referred to in my previous post is to get you thinking about the reality of the baking business. The kind of job applicants who don't do their homework about what the food business is like, are in and out of my kitchen so fast I should install a revolving door.

    I don't mean to sound negative at all. I wouldn't do anything else for a career....it's all I know, and it's what I'm good at. But it's not for wimps. It's not for dabblers. I have my whole heart and soul into this business and every day I work to perfect my skills even more than the day before. I've created my own job security by being good at not just cakes, but laminating doughs, slapping bread around, mixing all sorts of doughs and batters, merchandising, purchasing, scheduling, planning, managing, training, babysitting, etc etc etc. You can't just jump into a baking career and say, "well, I only want to do X". You gotta learn to do it all, or you're just not valuable enough to a potential employer. Then to add to that, owning your own bakery is another thing altogether. If you think the hours are long as an employee......yipes...being an owner is worse. You don't own the bakery. The bakery owns you.


  12. For my diatribe on what it's like to be a pastry chef, click here.

    The last person that told me "I love to bake" only lasted 3 days til she quit. She really thought she knew what she was in for, but she did not. My boss keeps kidding around with me, saying "What did you DO to her?" But I didn't do anything....I just wanted her to work! When she saw what work really meant, she realized she didn't love baking that much. I hope you just dive right in, get a grunt job in a cafe, bakery, or patisserie, and experience the true work environment. That will tell you all you need to know about whether you should get into this industry or not. :wink:

  13. I'd like to add that it all depends on your cake (whether you syrup it or not).

    I syrup my genoise and sponge and chiffon cakes, but my chocolate cake I do not. It's already moist and sweet enough as it is. Syrup would be overkill. If your cake is fine on it's own, don't overly sweeten and moisten the layer if it doesn't need it!

  14. Brides often choose cream cheese icing for outdoor weddings. rolleyes.gif

    You don't accommodate that request, do you? That's nuts. I don't put cream cheese icing on the outside of ANY wedding cake.....heat or not. I do put it inside as a filling though.

    I don't have much experience with 7 minute icing, but I can say it's hard to get a nice smooth look on the cake with that stuff. It has the consistency of sticky marshmallows.....K8 has a good point about it acting like flypaper.

    Is there a reason you have ruled out buttercream? If you make it 50% butter and 50% shortening, it should hold up to heat......reasonably. :smile:

  15. Since I'm just starting to add wedding cakes to my business, I really don't want my very first cake to be blue. In fact I don't want any of my cakes to be blue. Period. I can't help it. It makes me crazy. Thankfully, I managed to talk the couple out of the blue cake.

    Well, all I can say about that is, if you want to be in the wedding cake business, be prepared to handle special requests. Color is very trendy these days. If you turn down cakes simply for the fact that the bride wants color in her icing/fondant you may be cutting off your nose to spite your own face. :wink:

    I know I'd lose half my business if I had that policy. :laugh:

  16. As a specialty cake designer, I've used all sorts of colors to decorate cakes with. Fondant doesn't so much color the teeth as buttercream does. Most people really don't eat the fondant, judging from all the returned plates with the fondant pushed off to one side.

    Also consider the fact that if you ARE going to color a cake blue or black or deep red, it's preferable to use fondant simply for the fact that you CAN choose not to eat it. It's a bit more difficult to "peel" buttercream off of a cake and avoid eating it. I always tell my clients this.

    If someone does insist on something as horrible as black buttercream, then I get a secret kick out of imagining them all with black teeth and purple tongues. :raz:

  17. Soooo, if you can download it, why subscribe? If you go to the online editions and select print all pages, you then download it as a PDF and you can print from the PDF. Maybe they aren't going to have all editions online? Free pastry porn? ohmy.gif

    Well, I'd subscribe just to support them, because I want to support any good publication that has to do with pastry and my industry. Not only that, if I downloaded and printed out back issues, I'd probably spend the same amount in printer ink than if I just subscribed in the first place! :laugh:

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