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Everything posted by chefpeon

  1. Bloviatrix is right. You will get lots of different suggestions....everyone swearing what they do is the THING to do, because it works for them. I wouldn't be surprised if someone suggested to perform a voodoo tiki dance during the last 20 minutes of baking time with the oven door open. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks I guess. I won't argue. But I will say, that as a professional, it's important to keep things simple. It's a matter of efficiency. Professionals are professionals because they're good at what they do and know what they are talking about somewhat. You know how there are great strides in medicine during wartime? It's because you have surgeons trying to save lives and limbs in the worst conditions....and often with sub-standard or no equipment. A lot of times doctors have to take risks in the field and wing it. I liken that to what I do. Sometimes I'm asked to do the impossible in an impossible amount of time. It's like being in the war.......I'm in the trenches....I gotta figure out how to do it the best way and the fastest way without any casualties. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, I can tell you I learn a lot from the experience and I can do it better (or perfectly) the next time around. So, I guess my point is, you can take all those suggestions about leaving the oven door open, or cool it slowly, or cool it quickly, or don't overbeat, or run a knife around the outside, or use a springform only, or use a waterbath only, or using a different recipe, or doing the tiki dance, and try them. All points have some validity, and some may be critical depending on what type of recipe you are using and how you want the final texture to be. I just say, start with the basics. I know from experience, that most (but not all of the time), the reason that cheesecakes crack is from overbaking. Before you resort to the tiki dance, just try again and pull it earlier. It may be the easiest and most efficient solution for you.
  2. I do it all the time. No disasters whatsoever. Maybe you should try it sometime.....unless you live in some sort of parallel universe where inverting your cheesecake might interfere with the space-time continuum.......then, well, I could see your point.
  3. One word. Overbaking. My cheesecakes never crack. Ever. I bake them in a water bath. Always. I never use a springform pan because A) you don't really need them, and B) it's a bitch to use them in a waterbath. Even if you do line the bottoms with foil, there's always some kind of leakage problem. C) Once chilled, they are so easy to remove from a regular pan. Just heat the bottom slightly, invert onto another cardboard, then flip again. Voi-freaking-la! When I see students and people unfamiliar with cheesecake baking bake a cheesecake, they always pull the cakes out way too late. The whole jiggling thing weirds them out. They just can't believe it's done when it jiggles like that. But it is. Just the other day, my co-workers (who are experienced chefs-but savory chefs, mind you), really swore up and down that my cheesecakes weren't done. I said, "You wait and see". Next day, I unpanned them, and gave them a slice. Mmmmmmm. Creamy and firm. They now know how to bake crack-less cheesecakes. They aren't afraid of the jiggle!
  4. If that statement is true, then I need to go back to school, 'cause I know NUTHIN'!
  5. I echo Neil's advice on Creme Brulee. I also used to bake them en masse and did it exactly the way he does. I had never heard of drying out brown sugar and running it through a tamis. I think it's sort of an unnecessary step myself, and I think I would have a hard time detecting a flavor difference between that and white sugar since it all ends up caramelized anyway.
  6. Thanks Neil! I had a feeling I shouldn't have shocked the pan......guess I just needed an expert to confirm it. I took a class in pulled and blown sugar several years ago. I love the art of it. I had fun the first day I tried it, but the blisters that formed on my hands from handling the hot sugar made it PURE TORTURE from the second day on. I formed the opinion that I really didn't want to pursue doing any more sugar work from then on because it was too damn painful. My instructor told me that if you do it a lot you form callouses on your hands and the heat doesn't bother you anymore. I didn't even want to try to form the callouses, so I just bagged it. So what do you do? Do you wear special gloves? Do you just grin and bear the heat? Do you have callouses on your hands?
  7. No no no....adding more sugar will NOT thicken it. You'll end up with soup if you do that. I'm assuming of course, that you are making a french buttercream.....? You're making a sugar syrup and adding it in a thin stream to your thickened eggs, right? Or not? Sounds like a weird recipe.....whole eggs? Usually french buttercreams use yolks only. Anyway, if you want to thicken it, bring it out to room temp and re-whip. As you are doing so, add room temp butter in chunks until it's the fluffy consistency you want. You should be fine.
  8. Ok. So I did my bubble sugar trials on my days off this past weekend. Only partially successful. I did the method where you cook your sugar on the stovetop, then pour it onto the parchment or silpat. On my first try, I used rubbing alcohol, but after finding a very sticky piece of sugar on my silpat, I realized it was only 70 percent rubbing alcohol (the other 30 percent being water). Oooops. So, off to the store to get the 100 percent stuff. Second try, cooked my sugar to hard crack (about 302 degrees), then spritzed my silpat with alcohol out of a spray bottle. Poured a little sugar on one end, and lifted it up to let it run down. The sugar ran down, and formed bubbles somewhat, but what I didn't like was the fact that my sugar cooled so fast as it was running down the silpat, resulting in a fairly thick piece. It wasn't nice and paper thin like in Neil's pics. I don't like pieces that look thick and clumsy....I like the delicate lacy look, so I trashed them. What are my errors in methodology? I shocked my pan of sugar once it hit temp....should I have not done that? Do I have to pour a lot of sugar on the silpat instead of the little half cup or so that I was pouring? Should I have wiped my alcohol on the silpat rather than spritzing? Chromedome said: When I was doing it, the sugar had cooled too much for me to do the second slide back. I really wanted to try the two silpat or two parchment method in the oven, but I don't have matching baking sheets to do the sandwiching. I also don't have two silpats. Just one. 'Cause I'm cheap. Anyone care to guess why I'm such a dork?
  9. Hey Neil It looks like the bubble sugar you made with the isomalt looks more opaque than the bubble sugar you made with regular sugar. Is that the case, or is it just the way the photos came out?
  10. Well, here comes pie season, like it or not! I love blind baking my crusts, because I have found it's an unbeatable method for avoiding the ol' soggy crust syndrome. This, of course works great for single crust pies. But what about double crust pies? Once the bottom part is blind baked, it's pretty darn hard to seal a top crust to it. I suppose I could wash the top edge with water or egg wash and that would work, but then I don't get to have a pretty fluted edge......just a flat edge with fork marks or something. Is it an impossibility to blind bake a bottom crust and have a pretty top crust with a nice high fluted edge, or am I missing something in the aspect of methodology? Any suggestions or help is mucho appreciated!!!!
  11. Not even rubbing alcohol, like what is used for first aid purposes? Wow, I didn't know Muslims couldn't drink! That's interesting!
  12. If DiH was using a conventional oven at 350, and you tried it in a convection oven set at 350, the convection is actually baking about 50 degrees hotter, so you're really at about 400. Try your sugar experiment again and set the oven at about 300 and see how that works. I'm going to try bubble sugar soon, but I think I'm going to do it by cooking it on the stovetop to the right temp, then pouring it onto the parchment after I've rubbed alcohol on it. Seems like one has more control over it that way. We'll see, huh?
  13. I've actually seen quite a few double yolked eggs in my time.....and I will concur, if you get the jumbo eggs you see a lot more of 'em! My husband used to raise chickens. And actually we will be raising them again this spring. I can't wait! We'll be getting some Buff Orfingtons and some Rhode Island Reds. Maybe a few Aracanas. But I digress. I asked him if double yolked eggs, if fertilized, would mean you'd have twin chicks. He said, technically yes, but they don't survive. Still though, I wonder if any twin chicks have ever hatched successfully? Have any of you had the pleasure of cracking and eating a super fresh egg? It's wonderful. The yolk is such a bright orange and stands up so nicely, and the white is beautiful and firm....not runny at all. That's why I'm so excited to get the chicks in the spring.....I'm going to have these beautiful fresh eggs! Another bonus is that you don't need to color the eggs at Easter time either.....different breeds of chickens lay such colorful eggs on their own......from pinks, to greens, to blues, to browns......some are lightly spotted even! The eggs I use at work are SO runny in comparison......makes me realize how old they must be.....and they aren't even Grade B!
  14. Yep, everything Sinclair and simdelish said is right on the money. I have nothing more to add other than my opinion......since......all I do all day long is mix cookie dough, scoop cookie dough and bake cookie dough. Ok, I do other stuff too....but mostly....it's cookies. I will say this. Nothing has challenged me more (other than baking bread) in regard to being able to CONSISTENTLY crank out PERFECT product than cookies. Except for bread....that's even harder. Cookies are second. Truly, cookies are fussy li'l creatures. A scoop of extra sugar, and you've got a completely different batch of cookies than you mixed the last time. The oven is hotter because it's been going all day, as opposed to being on the cool side because you just fired it up will affect the cookie. A full oven as opposed to an semi-empty oven will affect it. If you bake them on a dark baking sheet as opposed to a shiny baking sheet will affect it. If the dough is cold as opposed to freshly mixed, you'll get a different thing. If the dough has been sitting awhile it will be different. Even though eggs are packaged according to size and grade, even natural subtle variations in eggs will affect your cookie. One time my supplier gave me extra fine sugar instead of the regular granulated that I use in my cookie doughs, and I knew I would have to make adjustments for that, but it was a wild guess on my part. I knew I'd have to use less extra fine sugar....but how much less? Turned out it wasn't "less" enough....the cookie doughs I made with the extra fine sugar spread like crazy and were super crisp on the outside and nearly raw in the centers. What a nightmare. I should have just returned the sugar! Oh well. Live and learn. I know my cookies and my ovens so well now that I have it down to a science. I know which cookies I want to put on the dark baking sheets and which ones I want on the shiny baking sheets. I know which kind to put on what shelf in the convection oven. I know which cookies need a lot of flattening with my hand prior to baking and what ones need just a light press-down. I know that my convection ovens have so many hot spots, that to get an even bake, I have to spin my sheet pans and rotate shelves midway through baking time. It's a chaotic cookie bakin' circus I tell you! And, like simdelish said, a lot of times, it ain't the dough, but the operator. My boss admits he's not a baker, but he helps me bake cookies off a lot. Bless his heart....but he messes me up! On Saturdays, when I'm by myself, I love it, because I do all of it.....and they're all PERFECT. I love Saturdays.
  15. chefpeon


    Love the wedding favors Candy! Beautiful job.....! But we wanna see what's INSIDE the silver baskets!! Definitely ask that instructor what the deal is with Macarres!!!! Then share with us!!
  16. I guess the question is, does the ketchup make a superior pie, or is it just a substitute for not having the spices on hand other than cinnamon? Of course, the reason the recipe exists is to sell more ketchup.....we all know that. Anyone ever try that Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie? I did. Doesn't even come close to the real thing.....and what's weird is it's more expensive to buy a couple boxes of Ritz than a couple of Granny Smith apples!
  17. Actually, the glowing macaroon sold immediately! One of the customers whom we marched back to witness the miracle, bought it on the spot.......and we charged regular price! D'oh! Oh yeah, and I don't think it is certified a relic til it's at least a week old! No secret really! After I cook the mixture on the stovetop, and it cools to room temp, I scoop them with a small ice cream scooper thingy. Then bake about 20 minutes.....voila!
  18. Me too! If that happens, there would be a pilgrimage to our little ol' kitchen by the believers who want to witness the miracle. You know what that would do for business?!
  19. Ok, so like, today at work I made my 50 millionth batch of coconut macaroons. Thank you, thank you....but that's not the cool part. The cool part is that from this batch of macaroons, came the HOLY ONE. The Trinity. The one that made me flash back to my time in pastry school, where Master said, "Ahh.....Glasshopper...someday you will attain the ultimate knowledge of baking...and when that day comes.....you will KNOW. There will be a light...a bright light, and from that light....you will achieve, uh.....ultimate enlightenment". THE LIGHT!!!! I saw the light! I took a picture of it too. Behold.....the Miracle of the Macaroon....... Oh, allright. Here's what really happened. Just a normal day at work, and I bake off some macaroons. I'm running around doing a million other things while I'm waiting for them to cool. Just happen to glance over at them because a bright light catches my eye......and there it is, a GLOWING macaroon. The nature of them is sort of translucent anyway....and this tiny little pinpoint of sunbeam caught it in exactly the right way. I laughed and said to my co-worker, "Hey Hope, check this out!" She comes running over and she goes, "OHHHH! How cool!" So she runs out to the front where our other co-worker, Candace is helping customers. She says, "Candace, you gotta see this!" So Candace says to the customers waiting in line, "Let's all go see this!" So she brings all the customers back.....and we're all standing there going, "Ooooooooooh." It was so damn funny. One of customers said, "It's a miracle!" And another guy said, "My limp is gone! I'm healed!". At that point we were just out of control laughing. A fun day for sure. Yet another reason why I love my job. May you all have your own "Macaroon Miracles"!
  20. Perhaps this should be topic for a new thread. Here's how I see it. Let's say I decided to try the recipe for the Opera Torte out of Gourmet Magazine. Follow the instructions and it comes out just like the picture. Eat a bit of it and like how it tastes. Feed it to my friends and family and they like it too. So what's "wrong" with that? Maybe it's not the EXACT classic Opera torte created by Mr. Frenchy so-and-so, and maybe it's now how we learned to do it in pastry school, but if it looks good and tastes good, who cares? In my career as a PC, I have seen so many variations on so many classic desserts it makes my head spin. Some are better than others. But are some "right" while others are "wrong"? I don't think so. I believe one of the great things about being a PC, is that we have the freedom to use our creativity to put our own signature on the things we make. I'm always toying with recipes.....I don't want to be some baking automaton that just does what the recipe tells me to. I want to utilize my skills and talent and make MY mark. I bet a lot of us do that. It's our nature I think. I certainly don't want to make an Opera torte that looks like everyone else's......do you?
  21. Thanks you guys! I was hoping I could achieve the bubble sugar effect without having to use Isomalt......yay! Here in Tinytown, all that stuff is hard to get. You rock!
  22. Ok, so on another thread, the topic of bubble sugar came up. There's some folks that want to know what it is and how to make it. Anyone want to explain? I know what it is, and I read about how to make it once, but I completely forgot. I'd like to know too....... anyone?????
  23. chefpeon


    Just bumping this up 'cause I'm still hoping for that Joconde recipe...... and answers to my above questions......
  24. chefpeon


    My husband LOVES 'em.....when we first dated, he said, "Here you have to try one!" So I did.....almost spat it out......TOO sweet! I know that sounds funny coming from a PC and all......! I want to find a picture of one of those things though.....they sound like they are really neat looking!
  25. Well, you're certainly better humored about it than I would be. She put you through all that with the cake sampling, etc, you work your butt off, do your research, sweat through details, then she says, "Oh never mind, I'll just order from a bakery." I don't suppose she offered to reimburse you for any of your trouble? I'd be royally pissed off. Even if she WERE my mother.
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