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archive for May 2007

mark of the professional

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

I don’t think that expertise necessarily means everything you do is perfect. In fact, I think expertise means that you are able to maneuver through adversity and salvage/save/recover where amateurs and peons would crumble and whimper in failure.

Case in point, today in class Shan was showing us how to assemble a triangle torte. He didn’t like the cake recipe given in the book, so he substituted his own. While the cakes were baking, he commented to me that they shouldn’t be rising. After they had cooled and he released them from the pan, he noted that the texture wasn’t strong enough. Turns out he forgot to adjust for high altitude (he realized this while working with the crumbling cake as Allison, Katherine, and I were discussing our adjustments for chocolate chip cookies at elevation). As he transferred one delicate sheet of cake on top of the chocolate hazelnut praline filling, we could see it begin to break apart in mid air. My partner stood behind him, watching, with her hands clasped about her head in suspended horror. But he pieced it together and no one would be the wiser who ate a slice.

Later my partner said aloud, “You know, Shan, I’m so glad to see that you screwed up because it makes me feel better about how often I screw up.” The difference is that Shan is a professional – even his screw ups turn out.

We made more petits fours tonight, but these were more along the lines of what I always considered petits fours – cake layered with filling.

spreading the batter for chocolate chiffon cake

**Jump for more butter**

the kind of stuff that makes your day

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Jeremy and I went out for dinner this evening. When we got home, there were flourescent squares on our door. Imagine my delight when I opened the envelopes and found these:

the best report card i could have wished for

**Jump for more butter**

grand fours

Monday, May 28th, 2007

I wanted to try my new petit four molds. These are larger than the ones we used in class, but I liked the symmetrical shape and I also wanted to be able to use them for savory appetizers. Call them grands fours then. The pâte sucrée came out flaky and delicate this time. Jeremy said the ones I brought home from class were more crumb-like… That’s because my partner overworked the dough. She also let them sit at room temp too long before baking.

chocolate mousse petit four

pastry cream petit four – this is fabulous with semi-sweet chocolate

Yeah, if I had to make more than a few dozen of these pastries, I would find myself in quite the foul mood. It’s a lot of work for something so tiny.