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What I learned in 2007


gfron1
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What would a year-end be without the Year in Review?! For those of you who've been around a while, you know that I've made leaps and bounds in 2007. I'm more interested in playing around with ideas than practicing to perfection (hence odd assemblies, and odd flavors). But this year I had so many firsts that I probably won't remember them all. The most basic is buttercream. Had heard the word, but never made it. Now I've made easily a dozen different varieties this year (thanks to Amernick). Tempering chocolate...on purpose (thanks to Kerry and her back street sidekick gang). Cajeta...if I could just hook an IV up to me with this stuff (thanks to andiesenjie). Mirror glaze, spray painted food, bread from wild starter (thanks hummingbirdkiss), numerous Filipino desserts (thanks jumanggy), my first pithivier (didn't even know what that was), finally got around to Ling's brownie (needs more chocolate :blink: ), chocolate caviar (sodium alg), and my first macarons. And as of this morning, my first yule log (thanks chefpeon).

Not too bad for a year and there's still a week left. Note that virtually all of this list was learned on eGullet from all of you - so thanks!

So, what pastry techniques did you learn this year?

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I made my first molded chocolates right at the end of 2006, so 2007 has been a year of lots of learning and getting better at that for me!

Lots of fun with colored cocoa butter, and exploring a million different ways to decorate the same mold.

I took a stab at making my own transfer sheets (but not with a silk screen a la Kerry) and had mixed success.

Towards the end of the year I entered the cult of the marshmallow, and have had lots of fun playing with different flavors.

And just today I tried making spiky truffles for the first time.

On a related note, I also learned a lot about marketing and promotion and just how godawful long it takes to package and ship.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Amazing how we get ahead within a year, grow, change, find new aspects to ourselves and enjoy discovering a few of the world's secrets! This past year I took a leave of absence from my teaching job and opened a small business very slowly-still not quite there! I learned many things about small businesses in a course I took, practiced chocolate non stop, thought and dreamed of chocolate many nights, asked hundreds of questions (Sorry!) bought equipment, and am finally ready to start selling some. I still have a long way to go in perfecting details. I found egullet and fell in love, and am constanly amazed at all the creativity, desire to excell and offer help . I even ordered Corallo chocolate this week and am waiting to taste it soon!

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This year I have continued to perfect my chocolate skills. I managed to cast my own chocolate truffle spheres using a two piece mold and upgraded my equipment so I could increase production. I also designed and constructed my own guitar cutter. I think it was this year that I started producing dual layer truffles with pate de fruit and marsmallow. I'm edging closer and closer to starting a small business on the side.

On the pastry side I've learned just enough to become dangerous. After staring at various professional level pasty books for a long time I took Norman Love's class and learned that with practice I can tackle some of those recipies. Next year will be dedicated to more practice.

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Silk screening to make transfer sheets, using a guitar, cannelles (still need to try a few more recipes on that one), cooked my first duck breast (totally addicted now), mango-passion fruit caramels, guanciale, financiers, first try at mustardo (next try will be after I obtain some senape), first sous vide meats, macarons, taught my first class in another country, got much better at making soups (thanks to Anna), learned to wrap caramels (thank you John), sugar crystallization (thank you JP Wybauw), learned to be more careful with my meat slicer (thank you JBMH emerg), made licorice for the first time, dipping is improving (thank you Alana).

I'm sure there were a few more things, but they aren't coming to me right now.

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Macarons (practice makes perfect, after eventually producing thousands for several charity events)--thank you to everyone who contributed to the macaron thread:

gallery_35487_5530_20743.jpg

What else: Using a guitar, layering, dipping and decorating chocolate bonbons (thanks to everyone in the various JPW and other threads), croissants and other viennoiserie, more practice casting and sculpting chocolate, airbrushing chocolate and sugar, silicon moldmaking. I got the chance to solidify classroom learning on breadmaking and a hundred other topics by finally applying them day-in-and-out fulltime (doing things occasionally doesn't provide the same reinforcement and feedback necessary for learning).

And now finishing the second of eight weeks in a cast with a doubly-fractured ankle, I can't wait to get back to learning more in 2008 :raz: (oh yeah, and walking too)

Brian Ibbotson

Pastry Sous for Production and Menu Research & Development

Sous Chef for Food Safety and Quality Assurance

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Wow....let's see....

I learned enough to know I want to spend my life doing this! Danish pastry has to have room tempurture (sp?) butter (better bake, can't spell!) DON"T SNIFF THE RISING BREAD! That hurt! Challah bread, caramel, working on chocolate and cupcakes. How to break into the pastry biz.

I look forward to next year when I will order my first chocolate online!

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Hmm.... I learned the how much I love marzipan, especially fresh marzipan. This led to the lesson on NOT killing my food processor while making marzipan. I also learned about caramel rulers and how to use them for wonderful multi-layered confections (thanks Chef Greweling). Then I moved on to learning about pre-made truffle shells and using softer ganaches to fill them. And most amazingly of all, I learned that people are actually willing to PAY ME (who knew? :rolleyes: ) for my products?

I'm sure there are many other lessons learned this year. This just makes me want to learn even more.

Happy holidays to you all. :biggrin:

Steve Lebowitz

Doer of All Things

Steven Howard Confections

Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt - Alton Brown, "Good Eats"

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So, what pastry techniques did you learn this year?

Pastry, eh? I did a lot more baking in general this past year. I even removed the words "and I suck at baking" from my eGullet member profile.

If I had to pinpoint a farinaceous highlight I would say it's my new ability to make good puff pastry. Its not really that hard, you just need to be mindful of the temperature.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Great topic!

I started playing with molded chocolates and got more comfortable tempering. I finally made croissants, found a good graham cracker recipe, and have made a lot more bread than before. A job change has put me in more of a management position, which I am definitely still learning how to do. I am also learning metric and how to adapt recipes to 2300 meters elevation.

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What have I learned in 2007? I learned that I don't have enough time to try all the different recipes and ideas that everyone has shared.!!! All of you have at various points of time have been extremely helpful with recipes, or trouble shooting!! I would say that in terms of my chocolate making that what I have learned in 2007 thru this forum and thru some Callebaut demos in my town, that my knowldege quadrupled. Yes, I learned more in 2007 than in the 12 years that I have been making chocolates.

What has also been very helpful is people helping to source different ingredients, and the postings about all the different chocolate books that came on the market. For example, I was able to purchase some awesome vanilla beans thru EBay because of what others shared in this website.

Today I am making a turkey stuffing, and I got the recipe off of the Cooking Forum. I plan on making a contribution to this website because this website has been EXTREMELY helpful.

Merry Christmas.

Deb.

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Great topic!

I started playing with molded chocolates and got more comfortable tempering.  I finally made croissants, found a good graham cracker recipe, and have made a lot more bread than before.  A job change has put me in more of a management position, which I am definitely still learning how to do.  I am also learning metric and how to adapt recipes to 2300 meters elevation.

Hi! I have tried a few graham cracker recipes too. Would you mind sharing yours so I can compare?! Thanks!

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Great topic!

I started playing with molded chocolates and got more comfortable tempering.  I finally made croissants, found a good graham cracker recipe, and have made a lot more bread than before.  A job change has put me in more of a management position, which I am definitely still learning how to do.  I am also learning metric and how to adapt recipes to 2300 meters elevation.

Hi! I have tried a few graham cracker recipes too. Would you mind sharing yours so I can compare?! Thanks!

I'm not promising perfection, but they work for me.

Graham Crackers

¾ cup AP flour

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (atta)

½ cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

110 g cold butter

¼ cup honey

¼ cup water

½ tsp vanilla

Put dry ingredients in the robot coupe and mix briefly. Add cold butter, cut in small pieces, and process until crumbly. Add the honey, water, and vanilla, and process until the dough forms a ball. Dough can also be mixed by hand.

Divide the dough in half and roll each half thin on a sheet of parchment. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then cut into squares with the pizza cutter.

Bake at 325F/165C for about 15 minutes or until browned, crisp and dry. Cool, then store airtight.

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Seems like 2007 was the Year of Chocolate for a lot of folks. I don't care for it much myself (ok, so I find it pretty disgusting... I think I might be a little allergic,) but my family loves it, so I branched out. Discovered Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies, learned to temper chocolate and make truffles, invented a confabulation that results in what I call a s'mores casserole, discovered the fun of making my own marshmallows (I guess that's not technically in the right category, is it?) and made so many cream puffs I think I could do it in my sleep. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, too... but it's definitely been the year of sweets... my crew has enjoyed that, for sure!

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Great topic!

I started playing with molded chocolates and got more comfortable tempering.  I finally made croissants, found a good graham cracker recipe, and have made a lot more bread than before.  A job change has put me in more of a management position, which I am definitely still learning how to do.  I am also learning metric and how to adapt recipes to 2300 meters elevation.

Hi! I have tried a few graham cracker recipes too. Would you mind sharing yours so I can compare?! Thanks!

I'm not promising perfection, but they work for me.

Graham Crackers

¾ cup AP flour

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (atta)

½ cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

110 g cold butter

¼ cup honey

¼ cup water

½ tsp vanilla

Put dry ingredients in the robot coupe and mix briefly. Add cold butter, cut in small pieces, and process until crumbly. Add the honey, water, and vanilla, and process until the dough forms a ball. Dough can also be mixed by hand.

Divide the dough in half and roll each half thin on a sheet of parchment. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then cut into squares with the pizza cutter.

Bake at 325F/165C for about 15 minutes or until browned, crisp and dry. Cool, then store airtight.

Thank you very much!

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I learned that baking all of the bread for a family of four is doable and even fun.

And that baking bread is a lot easier on the waistline than the pastry/cake side of things.

(I also learned that I need something more than my wimpy 350W KA. Kitchenaid 600 Pro, here I come!)

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I learned that licorice doesn't melt as easily as i was hoping for making icecream. I learnt how easy it is to make baklava and how to cook a chicken in a microwave (thanks mum)

Next year when it cools down to winter i WILL learn to temper chocolate.

"Alternatively, marry a good man or woman, have plenty of children, and train them to do it while you drink a glass of wine and grow a moustache." -Moby Pomerance

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I learned that I could stop worrying about everything I make having to be "perfect" before I invited friends for dinner. This resulted in many more wonderful dinner parties and lots of experimenting. I also encouraged my husband to cook more and now his list of things he likes to think of as his specialties is growing and he's enjoying the process.

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Great topic, Rob :smile: (and: thank you as well!)

Everything I know about Pastry and Baking I learned in 2007! Last year I could only really make chocolate chip cookies, plus everything I retained from watching "Baker's Dozen" as a kid and "Sweet Dreams", but only in my mind. This is the year I learned by doing.

Cake: butter/pound cake, genoise, dacquoise, cheesecake, joconde, clafoutis, some piping and decorating, french and American buttercreams

Cookies: rolled cookies, finally!

Pastry: pate brisee, pate sablee, pate a choux, working with puff pastry (I couldn't ever make it... too hot in these parts)

Bakin' Bread (well... to some extent.)

Extras: lemon curd, mirroire glaze, ganache, pastry cream, mousse, crepes, meringue, classic fondant, rolled fondant, dulce de leche, souffles.

... And I couldn't have gotten the courage to do any of them without eGullet and you lovely P&B folks. (Obviously I'm the kind who has to hear about everyone's experience with something to minimize failure as much as possible, heh)

I'm buying Healy and Bugat's The Art of the Cake as sort of a cheaper alternative to Friberg/Gisslen. Trying to push my limits this coming year!

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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Early in the year I learnt a lot from Kerry's Confectionery demos - tried nougat for the first time and surprised people at work with the home made snickers.

The Grewelling book has been a huge source book this year for technical info and flavouring ideas, and I think that book will be my favourite for a long time.

The pictures of everyone's chocolate classes have also been fantastic for ideas and tips and I am truly grateful for the one that showed how to cover the melter base in cling wrap to ease cleaning up afterwards.

Thanks everybody!

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I'll keep the chocolate theme going.

After struggling with my Christmas chocs in 2006, I took chocolate courses in January, February, May and November and learn't proper moulding techniques, hand tempering, how to make a good nougat, PDFs, an amazing array of chocolate fillings, proper hand dipping techniques, use of transfer sheet, chanblon mats and structure sheets, marshmallows, luster dust, coloured cocoa butter and who knows what else. Christmas chocs for 2007 were a lot easier (all 700 pieces) and looked a lot better.

2008 will be a year to continue learning my chocolate techniques (I am doing Level 3 chocs later this month and Level 4 is calling me). I am also becoming more and more interested in pastry - the chocolate & pastry school I attend has just started a macaroon course . . . .

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