Half Sphere or Dome, it’s up to you? My 1st Attempt at proper Patisserie

Having recently attended a Chocolate School with the very talented Mark Tilling, I was encouraged to ‘stretch’ myself a little bit and broaden my skills beyond making a properly tempered bar of Chocolate!

This is a personal thing, learn something new and then keep going until I get to a point where I cannot go any further and call it a day. I am still on that journey and each month find myself picking up a new skill or learning about a new ingredient or technique in the international world of food.As my regular readers will know, I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes last year so I have made subtle changes to my diet, no Sugar in Tea is the main one, and Desserts are an occasional treat, which to be honest is the way it has always been, I don’t have a really sweet tooth.  So I was looking to stretch myself again and decided to have a go at a ‘Dome’ cake, they look a bit challenging and having tried one of William Curley’s from his Boutique in Richmond a while back, if I was 50% as good it would be a result.

Looking through various sources like William Curleys’ Chocolate book, the internet etc. I could not find a complete recipe for the flavour profile I wanted to achieve so decided to have a go at designing my own, but using snippets from all the resources I could. I was learning on the way as much of what was required I had not done before. There was also an issue of equipment, I did not have much as I am a ‘savoury’ person so started to research what would make life easier and the essentials I needed and looked to find out where It could be purchased.

Please Read the whole blog post 1st as I have split it into the elements that make up the complete Dome Cake. Each Section will describe what it is, the ingredients, what equipment I used (so you might need to buy) and the technique. It IS my longest post… through necessity though.

It wasn’t easy, my other half though I was having a mid life crisis but if you take it step by step it can be achieved by anyone who is methodical and can follow recipes. The results are well worth it as my testers said when they sampled the results earlier this week, one asking for the recipe. Have a read and if you feel like a challenge, have a go.Sablé Breton

  • 350g Flour
  • 250g Butter (Salted)
  • 20g Baking Powder
  • 3 egg Yolks
  • 125g Sugar

I decided I wanted a texture on the base, not sponge or a variant of which there are several so went for a french version of shortbread, Sablé Breton. On it’s own its a lovely buttery slightly salty biscuit, utterly delicious. Mine has an added edge of Pistachio nuts that have been through a processor, and ‘glued’ around the edge with some Chocolate, yumm. The recipe is from my good friend Richard Bertinet, published in his book Pastry, which is well worth getting.If you have warm hands I would wash them under cold water, we want to grate all the Butter into the Flour which has been sieved with the Baking Powder and Sugar. Do it in stages so you can lift the flour with your hands and coats the butter so they become like breadcrumbs, as in the picture. Someone in the house had used the Brittany Salted Butter I had planned to include so had a ‘lightly’ Salted Butter and just added a little extra.

Add the eggs yolks and combine carefully, you don’t won’t to work the mixture too much, it should combine together if you apply some gently pressure into a dough and end up like below.Stick it into the fridge wrapped in clingfilm overnight, or for at least 4 hours. You can then gently roll it to a thickness of 3-4mm and cut with a 6mm round cutter and place on a lined baking tray. This is where I made my 1st mistake, it needs to go back into the fridge to firm up and I used a fluted cutter that was slightly bigger.

After cooking at 180 degrees for 18 minutes they ‘spread’ out a bit and ended much larger than I wanted, you can see this in the picture of the final product, the visible gap between the dome and the edge of the Pistachio crumb, it’s all part of the learning!Mango Créme Brûlée

  • A Mango (not 2 as in the picture)
  • 200ml Whipping Cream
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Tbl Caster Sugar

I made the Brûlée the same day as the biscuit base as they both need some time to rest, or in the case of the Brûlée, freeze in little moulds. The moulds are 15 Cavity 3D Semi Sphere Silicone 29.8*17.4*1.9cm and available from Amazon for about £4. They took several weeks to arrive so you need to get an order in quick.We need to cook the Mango after it has been peeled and sliced. Mine took about 40 minutes on a low heat, I added a dash of Water half way through to stop the Mango sticking and burning on the base. We do this because Mango is quite fibrous and we want to break it down as much as possible. Brûlée’s should be smooth and silky so we will be sieving the final product anyway, but it’s worth going through this stage to get a much flavour as possible.Once the Mango is cooked it needs some serious blitzing. We have a ‘Ninja’ which made the Mango into a puree in no time at all. Brûlée means burnt or scorched Cream so we have to heat the Cream, Mango and Sugar up to a point that it has just boiled and started to rise up the sides of the pan, then take it off the heat.

We can then tip a little of the mixture into the Egg Yolks and whisk fast, and then add that mixture into the remaining Cream and Mango, like making a Custard. We have to be careful that we don’t end up with scrambled eggs so take time over this.

You then have to pass the mixture through a sieve, it will need some help with the back of the spoon, you need a smooth silky texture so we have to remove all the fibrous Mango from the mixture otherwise it will be grainy. As we have in effect made a custard, we need to GENTLY cook it so set the oven to about 130-140 degrees add some water to the tray like a Bain Marie, and cook for about 18 minutes. Don’t overcook or it will split and you will end up with scrambled eggs!Then, pop in the fridge to set. After an hour or two, pop into the Freezer, we need them frozen to get their White Chocolate and Lime coating before going into the Coconut Mousse.

You will notice one of the Brûlée missing in the picture below, although I only needed 7 Dome cakes I made 12 and had some spare Mango inserts as I wanted to test each stage in case I went wrong, and have a couple spare for the family of course!These are the Sable Bréton after 18 mins at 180 degrees, golden and delicious they need to cool right down and go into an air tight tin as we won’t need them for a day or so.So we have our Frozen Brûlée. You could miss this next step but I wanted to add another textural component into the dish along with a subtle surprise of citrus in the form of Lime.

Firstly, Let’s talk Chocolate, well actually Couverture. Couverture chocolate is a very high-quality chocolate that contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter (32–39%) than baking or eating chocolate. This additional cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering, gives the chocolate more sheen, a firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy mellow flavour.

I get my Chocolate from Chocolate Trading Co, they have a good deal on at the moment HERE 3 x 1Kg Callebaut Plain, Milk and White (really good Chocolate) for just over £21.

The plan was to coat the frozen Brûlée in a layer of tempered White Chocolate with the addition of some Lime Zest. Using  a wire cooling rack, demould the Brûlée and place the rack over a baking tray to catch the drops and stick back into the freezer until the Chocolate is ready.The tempering process used provides the textural ‘snap’ that would not happen if you just ‘melted and poured’.  Traditionally quite complex tempering has been simplified by the use of something called MyCryo, which is readily available online and is in reality powdered Cocoa Butter.

You need to use 1% of MyCryo by weight so as you can see above, 195 Grams of Chocolate needs 1.95 Grams of MyCryo, hence the ‘posh’ scales which allow really small measurements to be made. The scales are an investment and cost about £30 but will last you a lifetime if looked after and can manage 0.01 gram increments which is also useful if you are looking at using MyCryo or agar agar gelling agent.As you can see from the notes above, for White Chocolate we need to heat to 40-45 degrees, err on caution and keep to the lower end. Use a Metal bowl over hot water, a Digital Thermometer is needed to do this properly, again easily available online for a few pounds.

Stir the Chocolate with a spatula not forgetting to add some Lime zest until the Temperature drops to 33-34 degrees, add the MyCryo and keep stirring. When the Chocolate reaches 29-30 degrees grab the frozen Brûlée from the freezer and gently pour over. It’s a bit fiddly as the Chocolate wants to set straight away but persevere and it will be ok, albeit maybe a little thick (2-3 mm).

Next time I will probably paint on using a small pastry brush to ensure a thinner layer, unless I can work out how to thin the chocolate without affecting its flavour and setting strength (i.e. not runny)!

Time to take a break until the following day……………………………………….

Coconut Mousse

Apologies but I didn’t manage to capture a couple of the pictures for the next stages as I was partly doing things as I went and it was becoming a bit mentally challenging. I had to convert American cup measures and work out how to use professional gelatin which I had not done before, and some of the volume calculations were interesting!

Searching the web, the majority of Coconut Mousse recipes also contained Chocolate something I didn’t want as it would be too sweet so ended up looking at a couple of ideas and ‘knocking up’ my own! The Gelatin Sheets I used from Sous Chef are 23cm x 7 cm and weigh 2.5 grms (approx). Each sheet can set 100ml of fluid into a soft texture, but are affected by milk products, sugar (sets firmer) and alcohol (too strong sets looser).

You may recall in the recipe the Coconut Milk needs to go into the fridge, this helps the Cream rise to the top and the Water to the bottom. Carefully remove the Cream from the top into a measuring jug as we need to know the quantity to work out how much Gelatin we will add. Note the Cream quantity add the Coconut Cream quantity round up to the nearest 100ml and use 1 sheet per 100ml plus 1 extra to take into account of the alcohol we are using, we will end up with a firm set Mousse (hopefully)!

Whisk 3/4 of the Double Cream with the Sugar, Malibu and Salt until firm, over whipping and you will have Butter! Fold in the Coconut Cream and put into the fridge. The Gelatin needs to ‘bloom’ or swell in cold water (5 times its weight) for 5- 8 minutes before squeezing and adding to a small pan with the remaining Cream on a low heat to melt.  Heat to 37-40 degrees stirring all the time.  Take off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes, then fold into the Coconut Cream mixture and put back in the fridge.You can see in the picture above the Mousse layer, with the White Chocolate covered Mango Brûlée in the centre of the cake. You will now need 2 x Large Hemisphere dome silicone pan 6 holes 29.5 x 17.5 x 3.3cm, about £3 from Amazon.

Take the Brûlées out of the Freezer, lay your moulds on a baking tray and 1/2 fill with the Mousse. Place a Brûlée dome side down in each ‘hole’ and fill to the edge with the Mousse. Be CAREFUL not to overfill as thy will not sit on the base properly as some of mine didn’t.  Place in the Fridge for an hour or two until set, then into the Freezer overnight.

Next day……………………………..

The Dome Cakes need a glaze, a shiny coating to finish them off. I looked at several, White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Cocoa based but opted for a recipe in William Curleys‘ Book ‘Patisserie‘, this time using the Callebaut Dark Chocolate. It’s a brilliant book, buy it!

Dark Chocolate Glaze

  • 260 ml Whipping Cream
  • 50 grm Caster sugar
  • 40 grm liquid glucose
  • 250 grm dark chocolate (chopped)

Add the Sugar, Cream and Glucose to a pan, heat until boiling, slowly add the Chocolate stirring all the time until melted, pour into a jug and put in Fridge to cool a bit. That’s it.Let’s sort out the Sablé Breton next. Take a good handful of Pistachio Nuts and blitz them in a blender, not too fine as we want a bit of texture. I use Pistachios a lot, in Middle Eastern Cooking and find the ones in the shops are ‘ok’ but usually have a brown skin which will not look (or taste) nice. They are also quite expensive so I made an investment and purchased a Kilo of skinned Iranian Pistachios as in the picture above, again from Sous Chef who are a very good online supplier.

Melt a handful of Milk and White Chocolate and gently roll the edge of each biscuit in the crumb, press gently and set aside to set. They are moorish on their own, you could also use Hazelnut’s but the flavour profile will be different, this is a sort of Far Eastern concept.This bit was challenging as I had never done it before. The glaze needs to be at about 70 deg F (runny but not hot). Take the domes out of the Freezer, de-mould and place flat side down on a cooling rack over a baking tray. I had a sheet of baking paper underneath to capture the excess. Gently pour over, I started at the middle and used a gentle circular motion slowly moving to the outside. Put back into the Freezer for 5-10 minutes. Repeat the the process and back into the Freezer. Almost done!!!To serve I put a bit of the leftover glaze in the middle of the Sablé Breton and using a small offset stepped palette knife gently placed the dome on top. Then Enjoy.

At the beginning of this exercise I was hoping to achieve 50% of what William Curley does with his amazing patisserie, and think I was pretty close. Lots of learning on the way which is always good and the end result is quite impressive in looks and tastes delicious.

……………….Until next time……………….L8ers…………………..

Fragrant Gnocchi, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Chocolate Mousse, More Courses & Glasgow’s Finest!

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The weeks are flying by at the moment, the trip to France is booked, a week at the Gascony Cookery School in early June is something to look forward too. Being impatient and keen to add to my culinary knowledge I spent another day in London with the ‘Pukka Paki’, Sumayya and what an event it was! I had recommended the school to a colleague at work and by sheer coincidence he decided to pick the same day as me to attend. Glad you enjoyed it Tom.

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You HAVE to attend the cookery school to appreciate the subtle techniques involved in cooking Pakistani food, its mostly hands-on and you would not get anywhere near the same from reading a book. There were four of us on the course, all keen foodies (and blokes!!) and we had great fun learning new skills and understanding the differences between Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani cooking.

On the menu was Beetroot & Beef Curry – Chaukandar Gosht, fragranced with Cardamom and Cinnamon, Green Masala Chicken Biryani – infused with Mint, Coriander, Lemon and Green Chilli’s and whole garam masalas, Channa Daal with Takra of Curry leaves, red Chilli, Cumin and topped with Tamarind, Homemade Naan breads with Poppy Seeds & Qawami Seviyan – sweet Vermicelli with Cardamom, Saffron, Cloves and Pistachios.

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After time spent learning and cooking we all sat down to a hearty (and very tasty) lunch. I cannot recommend Sumayya enough, her courses are also available through the Divertimenti Cookery School in London, if you want to learn some new skills her courses are money well invested and great fun.

Moving away from the exotic spices of Pakistan, last weekend saw my 1st attempt at Gnocchi which were surprisingly straight forward.

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The potatoes were boiled in their skins from cold, about 30 minutes and then peeled with the back of a knife, SIFTED flour to keep things light was added after the potatoes had been through a ricer. If you are careful, you end up with soft pillowy (if there is such as word) Gnocchi, which are rolled on the back of a fork to create furrows for the sauce to stick.

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As you can see the final presentation needs some more practise. they are very soft so might benefit from some time in the fridge before finishing off. Unlike the usual sauces that accompany such delights, I went for a more unusual (in my mind) combination to go with the Gnocci, Slow roasted Tomatoes, Feta & Middle Eastern Flavours!

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This element needs starting early, the Tomato’s are going to be SLOW roasted for about 8 hours at 100 degrees. Take about 10 Tomatoes, cut them in half and place on a baking tray that has had some half decent Olive Oil spread on the surface. Sprinkle with some Sea Salt and make sure they are well coated in the Oil, they should be CUT face down. Add to the tray a halved head of Garlic, a chopped Onion and sprinkle everything with some Thyme, Coriander Seeds, Sumac and Pepper! Stick them in the oven and wait for the aroma’s to fill the kitchen, this does take a while (8 hours of course). Keep an eye on them as ovens do vary.

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To add to the interest, a vegetable medley was prepared consisting of Onions, Peppers, Garlic, Aleppo Pepper, Thyme and some more Sumac. The Gnocchi was put into boiling water (but not moving, so they don’t risk breaking up), until they popped to the surface and then drained briefly on some kitchen paper.

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The Gnocchi were then lightly fried in some Butter and Ras Al Hanout sprinkled on top , ensuring an even coating and imparting the ‘exotic’ element of the dish. The presentation could do with  a bit more work but I was preparing for a trip to Glasgow so rushed. Place a bed of the vegetables on the plate, then surround with the roasted Tomato’s and place the Gnocchi on top. The final flourish is some Feta Cheese, broken up and distributed around the plate. Finish off with some cracked black pepper it was really tasty.

The Shandon Belles – A taste of Glasgow

I had a couple of days in Glasgow last week, and a couple to come this week so an excuse to try some new restaurants. Looking at Trip Advisor there were a few that caught my eye, the 1st being The Shandon Belles, in Argyle Street, WHAT a find. The place is steeped in history and sits below another famous landmark, The Buttery where Two Fat Ladies is situated.

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Dishes on the Menu included Whole grilled Sardines, dressed leaves, soft herb dressing, pink Prawns, sweet Chilli & Coriander Mayonnaise for starters and mains, Pepper filled with vegetable Cous Cous & smoked Mozzarella, dressed leaves (v), Meat loaf, Chive Mash, Tomato Jus.

I decided to go for the Fish of the day special, which was Ling, with cheesy Mash and Soft herbs. Never had Ling before, will certainly order it in the future, cooked to perfection and utterly delicious, the fish was served with roasted vegetables and certainly hit the spot. To be honest I was that tired I only managed the one course but plan to re-visit at at later date.

The service was impeccable, the place is steeped in history and when I was chatting with the waiter and talking about the blog, he presented me with a folder to look at, with pictures from the past and menu’s going back to the 70’s which was fascinating. Imagine Steak Tartare being more expensive than Lobster, and Tongue and Sweetbreads on the menu, delish!

Highly recommended, great value and well worth a visit.

The Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn – Another taste of Glasgow!

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The following night I was in a different part of Glasgow, my own fault and due to some confusion with hotels! I am really lucky to have some great technology at my disposal, which includes several smartphones with integrated GPS and some useful software. I use them to good effect when away, searching for places to eat that are within walking distance, but also linking to Trip Advisor to get a view of quality.

The Tiki Bar and Kitsch Inn was one such find, a 15 minute walk from the hotel it promised some interesting Thai flavours, freshly cooked and no bottled sauces in sight (as stated on the menu!).

While I was choosing what to eat the lovely waitress bought me some water, and delicious Spicy Crackers with a Sweet Chilli dip to munch on, a really nice touch. They were very crisp and  not at all greasy like some of the Prawn Crackers you usually get served in oriental establishments, they certainly got the taste buds dancing.

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I was pretty hungry so thought I would go for a starter, the divine (and spicy) Crying Tiger Beef Salad, Grilled marinated beef, served cold with a Thai style green salad (beef is cooked medium rare). YUMMMMMMMMMMM, the beef was cooked perfectly and the starter really set the evening off beautifully.

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Mains were Pla Tod Yum, Crispy fillet of Coley dressed with fresh Mango and Cashew Nuts in roasted Chilli, Lime and Lemongrass sauce with Jasmine Rice, another stunning dish and another 1st as I had not had Coley before either. Dessert, yes I WAS hungry, was a delicious Coconut & Mango Panna Cotta, which slipped down and did a great palate cleansing job.

Like The Shandon Belles, I cannot recommend this restaurant highly enough, awesome food, fantastic service and another lovely evening. Give it a try if you are in the area.

Back to the kitchen for one final flurry, Chocolate Mousse. Never made it before so onto the Internet to look for some guidance and another well known chef and food blogger, David Leibovitz came to the rescue. David is a Pastry Chef originally from the USA but now living in Paris,  has written a number of books and also has a fantastic blog, (click on his name above to take a look).

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The recipe I went for is originally from Julia Childs, details can be found HERE. My version added some Mandarin segments, I like the fruity tang against chocolate, and I did not add the alcohol (didn’t have anything appropriate in the cupboard at the time).

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The process is like making a Sabayon, whisking Egg Yolks and Sugar over hot water to create a light and airy mixture, just follow the instructions in the link above and you shouldn’t go wrong, I went technical and used an electric whisk rather than the hand method.

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The chocolate is melted over a ‘Bain Marie’, hot not boiling water with a bowl over the top (NOT touching the water as the chocolate will burn), with the butter. Use the best you can get, my preference is Willi’s Cacao, you can get it online or in Waitrose. In this recipe I used the Rio Caribe 72% Chocolate Drops, really tasty, rich and sublime.

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The final process is to whisk the Egg Whites to soft peaks and gently combine with the Chocolate/Butter mixture, folding gently combining the two and loosing as little air as possible.

I placed the Mandarin Segments in the bottom of Martini glasses and spooned the Mousse on top, then popped into the fridge for a few hours to set.

The feature image for this post shows the results, to find out what they taste like have a go yourself, they were Mmmmmmmmmm.

That’s it for now, flying back to Glasgow tomorrow for a couple of days so looking forward to trying another eatery. I am hoping to get some time to test a Danish Pastry, Kringles in the near future.

I stumbled across them on a Twitter post by Yotam Ottolenghi, so have been researching recipes so I can have a go. They take a few days to make and the diary has been pretty full recently but look really interesting as there does not seem to be a huge amount written about them.

Till next time, L8ers……………….

 

A Brownie or not – You decide!

I’m very fortunate to have a great team supporting me at work, doing admin booking hotels and flights as I travel up and down the country. With this in mind, and as a way of saying thank-you I decided to bake them something nice, so what to cook.

I remember watching Willie Harcourt-Cooze on television in 2008, when the series ‘Willy Wonka’s  Chocolate Factory’ appeared on Channel 4, and told his story of buying a chocolate plantation, setting up a processing factory in the UK, and persuading Waitrose to range his specialist chocolate. I have used ‘Willie’s Cacao’ several times, its fantastic chocolate for cooking and was going to be the star ingredient in my treat for the team. I purchased his first book around that time, it has some great recipes in it including one for brownies. My attempt is a variation on his recipe with some subtle changes, so read on to see what I did..

As your saw from the heading picture this is not a slimming treat, Organic Unsalted Butter, Unrefined Golden Sugar and lots of eggs being needed, but I was determined to include one of the ‘5 a day’ so fresh Raspberries were going to be a hidden surprise.

Before starting gather all the ingredients, a habit I have got into as it makes cooking so much easier. Switch the oven on and set to 175deg (fan),  then line a 20cm x 20cm square baking tin with butter and parchment paper, this makes removing the final brownie so much easier.

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250g of Willie’s Drop’s are placed into a bowl over simmering water with 300g of unsalted butter and slowly melted, you can see the glossy mixture in the picture above, silky smooth and decadent. I used the 71% Sambirano Single Estate Madagascan which is beautiful and readily available.

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6 Eggs and 3 Yolks were added to 300g of Golden Caster Sugar and processed by the trusty Kenwood Chef using the Balloon Whisk attachment. I set the beast going at full speed to create a very light, pale and airy mixture, this helps to lighten the final brownie, it took about 6-8 minutes and significantly increased the volume of the mixture.

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With the Chocolate/Butter mix melted and combined, add to the Egg/Sugar mixture and gently fold in 100g of Plain Flour, this is more than the original recipe as is the extra Egg Yolk. You should end up with a smooth batter like the picture above. The next stage is to pour in about 1cm’s worth of mixture to cover the base of the tin, then place the Raspberries  as seen in the following picture.

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Pour the remaining mixture gently into the tin, the mixture can dislodge the fruit so go slowly, then add more raspberries pushing them into the mixture so that they are just below the surface of the batter mix.

The Brownie/Cake mixture needs baking for about 30 minutes, then remove from the over and LEAVE IT ALONE TO COOL DOWN SLOWLY……..  If you don’t do this, when you try and remove from the tin, you will end up with  mess.

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When the Brownie has cooled down, you can remove from the baking tin by gently lifting by the parchment paper, then dust with Icing sugar.

It was absolutely delicious, quite light and moist for a Brownie, I think its more cake like but the team loved it, as did several other people who where in the office at the time.

If you like chocolate, you should have a go at this, its quick to make and just scrummy……. Enjoy