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May’s Daring Baker Challenge is here at last.  For me, this one was an instant “no brainer”….upon reading what we were to do, I was all but done.

This year will be 8 years since I lost both my Mother and my Mother-in-Law and it is in their memory that this Challenge was made.

For “Ma” and “LuLu”, we miss you, we love you and we look forward to the day we see you again!

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Quick notes on the challenge:

Impressive presentation which is easily accomplished.

The recipe can be found here and also on Cat’s site, Little Miss Cupcake.

I followed the recipe down to the letter, other than the addition of rose water to the pastry creme.

This Pate Choux had some major puff!!

Some random pictures along the way…

Rosewater Pastry Cream in the works.

1st egg in the mix, I actually had to use 5 eggs instead of 4.

...Choux baked and ready to fill.


Once again, I am straddling the fence on being tardy, but not because this one wasn’t done in time, just I hadn’t edited photos and I thought I had one more day!!!  Same song, same dance, different day.

Since it was the photos that slowed me down, I am going to make this a pictorial post.  Of course, I will give you an idea of what I think about this month’s challenge…….. Fantastic!!!!  In this house we are not much for fruit desserts, unless it is an apple or cherry pie, so I was skeptical.

Tian ROCKS!!!!

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Jennifer chose a fantastic recipe with which to challenge us.  We were to make everything by the book with the only exception being, we were able to play with the citrus we chose.  I opted for Ruby Red grapefruit and I kicked the caramel up a bit with the addition of Rosemary.  The recipe can be found here, as well as on Jennifer’s site.

Now for the pretty but late pictures!!!!!

I began with the marmalade…

First Blanch of the grapefruit.

Dicing the blanched fruit.

Adding the sugar..... for some reason I particularly like this picture.

Next the fresh squeezed juice.

Marmalade in the works.

Processing the filled jars....

Next came the Pate Sablee, which I only have pictures of fresh out of the oven…someone didn’t make sure there was a charge in his camera battery…. No Names, PLEASE!!

Baked in the cutters to reduce spreading.....

Pate Sablee bases cooling......

Skinless segments, I alway enjoy cutting citrus this way....

Gathering components for assembly, but must do the caramel first....

The sugar and rosemary beginning to become caramel.....

Caramel all done.......

adding half the caramel to the segments.....

One tian down. And a glimpse at the layering process....

Finished, unmolded, now smile for the camera!!!!!

So this is a day behind schedule but then again “prompt” is not my middle name!!!!


Happy Mother’s Day to all!!

My Mom and my Mother-in-Law are no longer with me, so Mother’s Day is more a day for thought around these parts anymore.

This year however, I was given a Mother’s Day gift!!  Yes, I know, technically, I can’t be considered a mom but then again, I have a tendency to think of some of those around me as my kids.  So, in an odd sort of way I am a Mom!!!!

One of my kids, Widdah, is a culinary student specializing in pastry and yesterday she brought to work some practice icing and her piping kit.  As you all may recall “piping” is not my forte and it was her intent to teach me to make a piped rose…and my friends she did just that!!!

I am not known for my “warm and fuzzy” nature, quite the contrary!!!  Although, yesterday I was beyond giddy with the excitement of actually learning and succeeding at making a piped rose….so much so that my little Widdah was somewhat taken aback, as she has never seen that side of me.

“My Dear, it’s the little things…”

What you see above is what she taught me, although I did do a little photoshop work, as the practice icing was blue.  I think she understood a little how very happy this tutoring made me but what I think she doesn’t know is….

No matter where your externship and life takes you….

…every piped Rose I see from now on will remind me of you and how much I was thrilled you gave me a

Mother’s Day Rose!!!

So here it is, August’s DB reveal and I have but one word……AMEN!!!  Let me add a Hallelujia and a Yay to that as well!!!  Thanks go to the Hosts for this month, MeetaK and Tony.   They chose Eclairs from Pierre Herme in a book written by Dorie Greenspan.  I love eclairs, puffs and all things Choux, so I was not overwhelmed in the least.

This time around I am not so sure where I am gonna go with my post on this particular task, so PLEASE bear with me!!!!

First change I see coming is my habit of posting the recipe as was written.  The challenge consisted of 3 components encompassing 4 recipes…

  1. Pate a Choux- 1 Recipe
  2. Glaze- Consisting of 2 recipes combined into the final coating.
  3. Pastry Cream- 1 Recipe (this is the only I will use again)

In my humble, non Pastry Chef opinion the Choux was entirely too wet, even after cooking and cooking and cooking to dry it.  It did not give me the “crispness” I am used to in the final product nor did it give me the “puff” I know so well.  The recipe I always use and love calls for a 1/4 cup less liquid (and only water, not a mix of milk and H2O) and an ounce less butter.  Now these were not what I am used to and it very well may have been that I made a Boo Boo (although I highly doubt it) but I will give them their due as far as they were very light and delicate.  As for the 2 recipes to make the glaze, combined they were mighty tasty but I tend to like a simpler “let’s get it done in as few steps as possible” approach, so it was nice to taste and give it a go but in future, not so much.  Now the saving grace on this, at least for me, was the pastry cream…HOT DAMN it was good!!!!  Usually, I fill my puffs and eclairs with a very stable whipped cream filling, as I am not a fan of creams and custards but this stuff really was good.  I mean REALLY!!!!!

Well that folks could be the end but hey its me here and that “ain’t” gonna happen just yet….

Where the hell is he gonna take us now?

Well…and there is a huge sheepish inflection in that “well”… I kinda am trying not to pitch a bitch but I don’t see that happening.  Well maybe I won’t pitch one but if you read further and were around the DBers last month you might get a clue.

For me, August 2008, SUCKED!!!!  It was fraught with everything that I wasn’t in the mood to deal with…sickness, excessive workload, not enough sleep, me being pulled in a million different directions and so on and so on.

  • Quick side note: The above being said, I OWE a HUGE apology to Michelle, I will finish my end of the bargain very soon!

Basically, I didn’t have time to think this month, I didn’t have time to breath this month and I sure as hell didn’t have time to bake and then write about it this month!!  When I had a moment to myself I used it in the manner most beneficial to my sanity…I zoned out!!!!!  I thought about the DBers and baking a few times but just couldn’t bring myself to the task.  I was down to “now or never” time.  Still I procrastinated.  I finally sent out a note to my “Peaches” and said, “I am thinking about opting out for this month.  You have got to tell me I am not allowed to do so.”  Did I get that response?  No, I got,” well you are allowed to skip a month”.  Hmm, don’t make it easy for me now, make me make my own choice….I see how you are!!!!!

I thought about it all and it came down to a very simple question… why did I join the DBers?  Did I join to

  • Bake only what I like?
  • Bake only what fits into my time constraints?
  • Moan and groan about others choices?

No, I joined to rise to a challenge, a challenge set by myself (and for me that challenge is writing kids, not baking).  I do this for me, not the “greater good”.  Ivonne and Lis ask very little…perhaps a few hours of our time each month and a bit of respect for this wonderful group and all its members.

I bring this up now only because I was rather troubled by alot of what I read last month.  This month the dust seems to have settled nicely, which leads me to hope it was all just a bump in the road.  But I ask just that we all take a moment to examine our intent.

If what we are to bake is absolutely horrific sounding to you… bake it anyhow! Drop it off at a local homeless shelter or Elder Care facility, it will be a most welcome treat and you will feel quite happy in your choice to do so.

If you have little time and are overwhelmed…bake anyhow!! That little bit of kitchen time might end up being just what the Dr. ordered for alleviating the stress of day to day living.

If money is tight…find a cheat!!!  I love Filet more than anything but I sure as hell don’t eat it daily, I have learned to make eye of round taste just as luscious!!!!!

That all being said, let’s remember this is “fun time” folks, there is more than enough “real life” in all our lives let’s leave it at the door!!!!

Oh, what was the title of this post?

Short and Sweet?  Well, that just isn’t me but it was the Eclairs!!

And now for the pictures.  I got me a new toy, a brand spanking new Nikon DSLR and I still haven’t taken it off the auto setting yet, so no you will not see Food Mag quality photos this month.  I have never done the whole aperture, F-Stop thing, so I am still trying to figure all of that out.  But “auto” works great!!!!

Oh and here is a gratuitous shot of my little boy…um well not so little he goes 160#

My Buddy!

My Buddy!

One final note, I PROMISE to resize photos from this point forward!  Promise!!!

Keeping the Flour Flying!!!

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