Sammy the Seal

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Birthday cake: lime/cherry mousse cake

In delicious on Wednesday, 25 June, 2014 at 19:20

lime cherry mousse cake 1

This is make-up for an ugly birthday cake I made two years ago, with lime and blueberry.  I wanted to include similar flavors, but it is cherry season. Lemon olive oil chiffon cake base, topped with poached cherries, then covered in lime mousse (lime curd and whipped cream, slightly set with gelatin), cherry gelée, tempered dark chocolate plaques inscribed with tempered white chocolate, and “twin” cherries in the middle, with additional cherries (and whipped cream) propping up the plaques, and candied lime zest around the perimeter.

This one is less blinding, but is slightly out-of-focus.
lime cherry mousse cake 2

Or, in the dark.

lime cherry mousse cake 3

The sweet, sweet innards (utilization alert: I used the syrup the cherries poached in as the syrup for the gelée, so I hope it tasted of extra cherry):

lime cherry mousse cake 4

Clearly I was going for a striped effect around the cake, and I wanted more stripes, closer together, but it’s hard to get zest straight (or to hold well).

lime cherry mousse cake 5

It didn’t turn out too bad, though the process was painstaking enough that I decided to just space them out. Easily the most frustrating part of the whole endeavor. I was mostly satisfied with my ambition, so, unlike usual, I didn’t beat myself up too much about it.

Overall, quite proud. Birthday, so obviously I wanted to make the effort worth it. I would’ve liked to try some, but it wasn’t for me. Although, I do have all the components to make more, if I want to sample for myself. In other Saturday news, I successfully, quickly (first try!), parallel parked someone else’s car. (I’m sure if we were driving my behemoth, it likely doesn’t work out.)

parallel parking 1

Impeccable curb-spacing. It was a good day!

parallel parking 2


THE final exam

In delicious, You're a kitty! on Wednesday, 7 May, 2014 at 21:47

exam gateau 1

I forgot about this, my capstone exam over four weeks ago. B+ on the practical,written bumped it up to an A- though. I was hoping for a B- on the practical, so a mildly nice surprise. Cardamom genoise, filled with lemon curd and lemon-zested italian meringue buttercream. The filigree was slightly out of temper, at least my curls were good. The ganache for the rosettes (not the pour) was slightly broken, damn it.

exam desserts 1

Ginger bavarian with lemon gêlée, ginger was weak though, boo hoo. There was supposed to be a raspberry underneath the gêlée but due to a misunderstanding, my chef didn’t have them that day. So I thought I’d use them as a garnish, but he forgot them the second day. Not blaming, just explaining why it looks so plain. The red was supposed to make it pop a little. It doesn’t look as bad as I thought, for something with color. The crème brulée had a soupçon of both ginger and cardamom. Unfortunately I had to rush to get everything done on time, so that last couple weren’t burned so well. Oh, and the lemon zest kitty tuile. Which fell over. Nice job distributing the caramel sauce, eh?

exam desserts 2

That’s better, slightly. Hide it….

exam croissants

And croissants. No cross-section, I forgot to get one. Not so thrilling to look at. Yes, that’s how they look. They were arranged more nicely, but I didn’t get to photograph before they were disassembled (for grading).

The model for the tuiles:

tuile model 1

If she were really the model, the tuiles would been fatter. But then they would’ve dwarfed the dessert. The inspiration, anyway.

tuile model 3

One last time:

exam gateau 2

Fun time, school, but exhausting. At least now I’m getting paid, rather than paying, to wake up early.

Honey dough wine press

In delicious on Tuesday, 18 March, 2014 at 21:40

honey dough wine press 1

Speaking of belated pieces, this was a showpiece at a fundraising event here on campus in January. Honey dough is just a type of gingerbread, but it sounds a little nicer, and less familiar, than gingerbread.  I did everything but the bread, which the bread quarter students did, of course.

honey dough wine press 2

honey dough wine press 3

I wish I had gotten photos against a more picturesque backdrop than the lab, but it got moved around a lot. After I finished constructing the piece, it was spray-painted (unpainted piece is at the end), then filled with bread products, neither of which I was there for. This was the only time I saw it after I built it and before it got carted off to be displayed at the fancy dinner.

honey dough wine press 4

This high-angle photo is the best I could get, as far as photogenic quality. Slightly better than the hard edges and fluorescent lighting of the lab. Plus the leaves, which were made out of I-don’t-know-what by not-me look cute.

I didn’t know they were going to paint it, I thought it looked nice and rustic as it was. Though probably too plain for a ritzy banquet.

honey dough wine press 5

Floral-themed pulled sugar showpiece

In delicious on Tuesday, 18 March, 2014 at 21:25

pulled sugar showpiece 1

A small one, anyway. This is almost three weeks old. I took a continuing education sugar class taught by one of my chefs, for kicks, to expand my horizons, etc. Fun, but also painstaking. I thought it would be rough on my baby-smooth hands (this is hot sugar– isomalt to be precise– after all), as the one or two times I’d handled it previously in the lab in previous quarters, it was ouch. Most of the pain came from the friction of manipulating, or “kneading” big hunks of sugar. The heat didn’t bother me much.

pulled sugar showpiece 2

We didn’t pour our own bases, but the rest we each did it all. Pulled rose, crocus, dogwood, branches, and leaves. The stones are pastillage, which we didn’t make, but we did shape, paint, and glaze them.

pulled sugar showpiece 3

Good thing it all looks nice together, as the individual detail (read: petals) were unpolished. I got the hang of it, only after lots of practice and asking for advice after the fact. It was all so simple. So much wasted time. Oh well.

These last photos are pretty much the same as the others, though at inferior angles, but what the hell, it looks pretty.

pulled sugar showpiece 4

pulled sugar showpiece 5

pulled sugar showpiece 6

Banana cream hazelnut torte

In delicious on Monday, 3 February, 2014 at 19:58

banana cream hazelnut torte 1

More catching up with last week’s production. Two layers of hazelnut sponge, with a rope of crème chantilly around the circumference of the bottom layer, thin banana slices overlapping in circles inside the rope, then the second cake layer on top, dredged with powdered sugar, then twelve cream rosettes with a banana chip in each one. If you don’t like bananas, don’t touch this one, that’s what I say. (Bonus points award to those who get the terribly obscure Izzard reference, found at 19:00–  ”F— off!” “I heard that!”) A lot less extravagant than a mousse cake, but, as I was told, we’re going for a rustic look. And this fits the bill, in its unassuming appearance and simplicity of design. I didn’t get to try this one, I’m sure it was delicious, not to mention a lighter eat.

banana cream hazelnut torte 2

The cake layers are made with hazelnuts roasted and carefully ground in a food processor (RoboCoupe!) by pulsing. Why pulse? Because if you don’t, and don’t continually sift out the powdered bits, you get a paste, which later clumps with the flour, and thus an ugly, unusable cake. Trust me. I should’ve snapped a photo, rats. Like night and day.

Not shown: a cake that was sliced too high (not by me!), and, being a cake that typically sinks in the middle upon cooling, one of the layers had a hole. Consequently, I took the remaining bottom and sliced that one in two, 1/4″ or so each layer. Pretty good for a sponge, and this one is even more tender than your typical sponge and was room temp, rather than easier-to-slice cold. But hey, I got a thumbs-up from the people watching through the window. I felt them staring, but it appeared to be a compliment of my utilization, and knifing, even. That cake was not as tall, and not as pretty, but at least I got the max of three cakes out of it. So, another look at one of the others:

banana cream hazelnut torte 3

And a fatty:

furry fatty 1

furry fatty 2

Mint chocolate mousse cake

In delicious on Monday, 3 February, 2014 at 18:43

mint chocolate mousse cake 1

From last week. Bombe base folded with milk/dark chocolate ganache and whipped cream, a little gelatin, with a gelatin-set disk of crème brûlée in the center, and a chocolate biscuit (joconde) cake bottom. Sprayed in chocolate, with a dark chocolate plaque, and the numbers out of some kind of icing. I did everything but the plaque, so I don’t know.

mint chocolate mousse cake 6
mint chocolate mousse cake 2

mint chocolate mousse cake 3

mint chocolate mousse cake 4


I couldn’t care less about the Seahawks, or football, for that matter, but what the heck. I guess it would’ve looked plain without the colors and accoutrements. They are pretty, and if I were a big fan of chocolate, I probably would’ve enjoyed the taste even more. Not minty enough, in my opinion, but that was my chef’s call, ha. And less sweet than normal cake, always a cook thing. I like these kinds of desserts better.
mint chocolate mousse cake 5

Peppermint red velvet cake

In delicious, You're a kitty! on Sunday, 22 December, 2013 at 13:09

peppermint red velvet cake 1

Red velvet cake, italian buttercream flavored with peppermint oil and pulverized candy cane bits folded in. Not surprisingly, this was for a holiday function. Despite my indifference/relative lack of enthusiasm for chocolate cake, I quite enjoyed this. However, I don’t know what the big deal of red velvet is–  it’s essentially chocolate cake with red food coloring! I think the use of the word “velvet” makes the speaker/consumer feel fancy. It’s chocolate cake, yo. Italian buttercream, however, always a good choice. It’s lighter and less sweet then American-style buttercream. (I like boiled icings, they’re fun.)

I often have trouble decorating and finishing cakes, mainly because I want something other than a standard type of border, rosette, flowers and such. Fortunately, crumb coating is easy and utilized all my extra scraps. But the rest took me a while. Thank goodness for my #96 tip. A smooth surface is nice, but I like texture. Plus, it hides any uneven parts, ha. That being said, I can’t keep replicating this, as pleased as I am with how lucky I got. I don’t want to have to resort to merely aping things I liked.

peppermint red velvet cake 4

The finishing part took a bit too. Simple worked better this time. I saved the larger bits of candy to sprinkle on at the end, but, having little icing left, I was wondering what to do to the top. Lines, flowers, rosettes? I kept changing my mind and screwing up, and the icing got soft and changed color a little from being piped over and over. It got so soft that I just decided to spread it on intentionally unevenly by pulling up at random, then sprinkled. The irony is that it had a better effect than when I was trying.  Messing up is great, eh?

peppermint red velvet cake 3

Once again, time to critique layering. It felt good, but somehow that bottom layer still got too much. But around the sides and on top, I thought I did well– not much thicker than the layers.

peppermint red velvet cake section 1

Unfortunately, the cake was still relatively cold, and I didn’t have a knife and pitcher of hot water, so this it’s kinda crumbly and ugly. I really wish I coulda sliced this when the icing was room temp.; with the exception of the bottom layer, I think it would’ve looked nice.

peppermint red velvet cake section 2

The slices look a bit classier though. With the close-up detail showing, I would once again like to thank my 96 tip.

peppermint red velvet cake slice 2

peppermint red velvet cake slice 1

peppermint red velvet cake slice 3

Unintended crumbing creates cute, photogenic touch:

peppermint red velvet cake slice 4

I think this is one of my better cakes, by far, even if the cake and icing was still a bit firm for cutting purposes. Oh well, can’t have everything.

peppermint red velvet cake 2


Oh, hello there, princess:

cute furry cat 1

cute furry cat 2

Turtles (pecan, caramel, chocolate)

In delicious, funny ha ha on Thursday, 19 December, 2013 at 10:42

turtles 1

Hey, they do look like turtles! I wonder if there’s a turtle shell mold somewhere, to get the indentation/pattern, that you build in reverse: chocolate, caramel, pecan. I guess slapdash is part of the charm. I was in a rush, so not in perfect temper, some streaking visible. But, no crappy oil or palm fat in the chocolate (commercially made boxed– ha– turtles), actual couverture.  Though I didn’t like this one. It was way too thick, even at 90°F. Whether hand-dipping or fork-dipping, pain-in-the-ass too viscous. Tried dipping some truffles recently, same problem. Different brand next time, and probably lower cacao percentage. This one was only 63%, I didn’t think it was that big a deal, but I am used to 52%. Also, with the truffles, I made peanut butter ganache, and I think the 63% drowned out some of the peanut butter. The taste was too dark, not enough peanut butter. Waste of money, that. I’m not fond of milk chocolate (even the real stuff) because it’s so sweet, but the peanut butter would be able to shine at least. Maybe just a 50% or so.

They’re naked!

turtles nude

Thank goodness for Puritan values, one of the few instances where they have a positive effect:

turtles 2

Whew. I found myself to be aroused and titillated by all this (reference at 4:26, but you need the background on the character first):

Folk Festival and Jelly-off. Ha. Classic sketch.

Dobos torte, failures and successes

In delicious on Thursday, 12 September, 2013 at 13:33

dobos 1st attempt 1

The Hungarian classic. I might as well disclose up front, the taste, specifically, the texture of the cake layers, was no good. Tough and chewy, yuck. I followed a recipe to the letter, rather than applying what I knew.  It was a separated egg sponge, and it said to mix the flour in thoroughly, then the egg whites. Tsk. Also, I was referencing another recipe  which had a different baking temperature and said to bake until brown. However, the recipe I used has less than 50% sugar than that one. So there’s your browning. So I ended up overbaking the layers by about 100%, as well as possibly overmixing (the recipe had 8 ounces of bread flour as well). Looked great though:

dobos 1st attempt 2

The caramel came out great too, perfect in my opinion. Oh, those dark bits in the icing? Chocolate got too cool when folding into the buttercream. Whoops. I should be ashamed for not folding quickly and more thoroughly, tsk.

dobos 1st attempt 3

Layering was fine, a bit thick on some layers. It looks good enough, so if I didn’t say anything about consuming it, no one would ever know. But, I’m trying to improve, not impress.
dobos 1st attempt section 1

dobos 1st attempt section 2

I was so disappointed and apologetic (and slightly ashamed)– I tossed out the last quarter of it– that I had to do it again the next day, just to get it right. I alternated the egg whites and flour, stuck to the one recipe’s baking time and temperature, paid closer attention (i.e., opened the oven door and touch-tested more) and it came out much better. These layers were soft and spongy, just like a sponge cake. I’ve seen this cake masked in almonds, and plain, but I already did the plain, so why not. Also, some prop up the slices with rosettes or nuts, some lay them flat, and I already did the former.

dobos 2nd attempt 1

Unfortunately, the sugar is way undercooked, obviously. I wonder if it even got to 300°. It was chewy and sticky, not crisp. (Damn it!) It looked amber in the pan, but it was just the concentration of the color. That and I’m always worried about burning sugar, even though sugar is cheap and the whole process takes but a few minutes. It should be dark amber, not light golden. Oh well. Damn it, just 20-30 seconds would’ve made all the difference.

dobos 2nd attempt 2

Less icing too, but only because I was using the leftover from the first cake and I had to make it last.

dobos 2nd attempt section

dobos 2nd attempt slice

If only I could switch the top layer of the first with that of the second, I could’ve had a cake where the entire thing is edible, fancy that.

Kalamata olive bread

In delicious on Monday, 9 September, 2013 at 14:29

olive bread first try 1

Made with a piece of tile as my hearth. I have no idea what the inside looks like, these weren’t for me. They look like how they did in school on the outside, but I don’t even remember how it looks on the inside, so even if I had cut it open, I wouldn’t know how to compare cell structure.  My stupid crappy oven runs hot, so between the time I put it in and checking on it half of the time through, the temperature had spiked about 50 degrees, so I have a feeling it may have been dense on the inside because the crust may have set too quickly.

I should do this stuff more often, it’s not as meticulous and fussy as pastry. It’s also not that photogenic, which is why I don’t have any pictures from 3rd quarter when we did bread and viennoiserie.  I mean, you have the finished product, which I couldn’t cut into because it was for an order, and photos of proofing.

olive bread proofing 1

olive bread proofing 2

Filler. Woo!