Saturday, 8 February 2014

Home re-creation: salted caramel dark chocolates - attempt #1

After the chocolates & praline level 1 class - I was so excited to practise what I learned in class, at home. I was under the impression that these should be easy to recreate at home but my first home experience proved to be quite the opposite. 

I underestimated the level of difficulty in making chocolates at home without a chocolate tank and proper understanding of chocolate tempering. 

One of the main issues of my first attempt was not tempering the chocolate correctly. There are ideal working temperatures for each type of chocolate and I relied too heavily on my thermometer instead of the proper techniques of tempering. As a result, the chocolates did not contract properly from the mould and I had to bang the mould on my bench quite vigorously before the chocolates came off the mould.

Of course, I had too high of an expectation for my first attempt at home - I had hoped for my chocolates to unmould easily and have beautiful shine. Instead, I got dull looking chocolates with fat bloom. 

I did make the mistake of making too much in my first attempt - couverture chocolate isn't cheap and I wasn't going to just throw them out since the taste was acceptable, so I decided to enrobe them in white chocolate to conceal the fat bloom. 

Lesson learned: Tempering correctly is key! 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Savour school: Chocolates and Pralines level 1

Initially I wasn't planning to attend the chocolates class at all but I'm glad I did because it is something that is easier to recreate at home without the fancy commercial equipment as compared with gateaux.

However, I have to admit I underestimated the difficulty of chocolate making after this class. The whole process seemed so deceivingly easy during class - it seemed like all we had to do was mix, mould, pipe and done! But oh was I so wrong... but I'll leave that for the next post. 

Chocolate tempering:

Chocolate making is hard work - the amount of stirring required gave me sore hand, but maybe I was just using force wrongly. 
so.. much.. chocolate... 

Moulded chocolates:

Once we got past the physical stirring, scrapping, folding.. and generally just providing the chocolate with movement during tempering - the next step was to actually make the chocolates. It is not too hard once you get the hang of it, but a lot of patience is required in each step. If you rush through a certain step or if you're not careful enough, then your chocolates may not turn out well (taste and appearance wise).

Final result: Rows and rows of shiny moulded chocolates! We had to wear gloves and carefully unmould the chocolates! I got told off when I tried touching the chocolates without gloves :p I'm sure we all became chocolate snobs after this class. I certainly do check for scratches, dents and finger prints now whenever I walk past shops which sell handmade chocolates :) 

Enrobed chocolates:

Another process which tested my patience - enrobing praline in chocolate. Oh dear, this type of chocolate actually required you to enrobe each individual chocolate, one by one. It's not just something that is taught and enforced in class. I witnessed the way they prepared Christmas chocolates for their sponsors and they did in fact enrobe trays and trays of pralines individually! The level of patience they possess is something that I'm trying to achieve for myself!!! 

This is what happens when you don't clean your dipping fork after dipping each chocolate - things get stuck and your arrangement gets messy.

Lesson learned from previous batch - still slightly messy but I improved a lot when I tried making them at home :) 

Savour School: Petit Gateaux Continuing education created by Paul Kennedy

This was easily one of my favourite classes at savour. It was a 2-day class and we were taught quite a range of different techniques. Although it is unlikely for me to practise these at home in the near future, I'm still glad that I attended these classes as it has certainly made me appreciate desserts more knowing the amount of effort, thought and time that goes into each slice of cake!

This was easily one of the most interesting part of the class - when our instructor transferred the bamboo print onto the top layer of the 'Bamboo' cake. Chocolate was spread over a really fine mesh with cocoa butter - and voila, intricate design on cake! 


A seemingly easy task required patience and precision - a small mistake (or impatience) resulted in ugly edges. Patience is a virtue! 

Loved the salted caramel centre! 


Passion & Envy:

Macaron in a cake! Genius! 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Savour School: Reflection upon the completion of my classes

Today's class was my final class at Savour (in 2013) and it was as enjoyable and intriguing as ever. It was part 2 of the Level 1 French Entremets class.

I'm not a pastry chef or in the industry for work, I have recently finished studying a totally unrelated degree at University and was fortunate enough to have the support (financially and emotionally) of my family and boyfriend to go through a series of classes.

I'm not sure if it is normal for someone to take 9-10 classes all in one go over the span of 1 month (besides their VIP students), but I'm really glad I did it. I have other plans early next year and I didn't really look into classes at Savour until October this year, so I didn't have much time to apply for their VIP Program*.

There is no doubt that I have gained a lot out of my time at Savour. I am naturally an impatient, aggressive and careless person - you put three of those together and it would be a disaster in this field. As Paul (he is the instructor for most of my classes) put it: "you need to step back and think/listen, don't just go go go!". It is a very true analysis of my personality and behaviour and it is something I have been working on (slowly) in all aspects of my life.

To see the teachers come into Savour every day full of energy and positivity, it really helped lift my spirits a lot. Coming from a completely different background (in terms of studying) and being currently unemployed and still on holidays, I felt quite guilty because of the costs of the classes. I also had so much self-doubt before my classes at Savour even started mainly due to the costs and the (potentially limited) application of such skills in my future given that I am still unsure of my future direction.

At that point, I have already attended 2 short courses at the William Angliss Institute, which depending on your view, would have been enough for someone who isn't in this profession yet or isn't planning to enter this industry in the next 2-5 years.

My worries and doubts all disappeared as I started my very first class at Savour, and it morphed into more interests and a lot more passion in chocolates and patisseries. The enthusiasm of Robyn, Paul and Kirsten really influenced me. They are also fountains of knowledge and are very approachable! They answered all my questions even though some or most of them may have been dead simple and 'common sense' to people who have more experience. I never felt stupid in their classes, only constantly learning.

Of course, as an absolute beginner (seeing most accomplished pastry chefs start their journeys as young as the age of 15 as an apprentice and have 30 years of experience), I made more than my fair share of mistakes, but I am learning. I am still learning every day because I try to recreate the products at home, at least the chocolates because they are more manageable without an expensive set up (read: blast freezers). Although the initial costs of equipment/tools (e.g. moulds, Silpats, aluminium trays etc) are not cheap, it is definitely worth the investment if this is something that you love, even if you're not doing it for a living.

I love it when my friends and family give me constructive criticisms, or when they really enjoy what I make. They are one of the reasons why I keep myself working hard and refining my skills from the multitude of mistakes I make everyday. I baked or made chocolates almost every night after each class, which meant that I was on my feet for at least 12 hours every day at one point because I just wanted to practice everything I learned in class in a different setting right away to test myself. But I loved every moment of it no matter how exhausted I felt at the end of each night.

I am really thankful for the instructors at Savour School: Kirsten Tibballs, Robyn Curnow and Paul Kennedy. Although I may not have been the best or most talented student, their patience, passion and enthusiasm definitely made a positive mark in my life.

I am also really grateful for the opportunity that I got from Kirsten to help out with some recipes testing and chocolate making. Overall, I spent about 13 hours practicing the skills that I've learned while helping out. Although I also made mistakes, I learned a lot by just making those recipes on my own.

I am already looking at some classes in February next year to fit into my tight schedule! Hopefully I'll be able to learn some more in the Savour classroom before I embark on a new journey next year!

Stay tuned for more posts (and photos) of the classes that I have done in Savour!

*The VIP program is a 3/6 month program (Costs = approximately $3k or more) where you attend all of their classes for the duration of the program. Some people (such as my friend) go on to create sweet treats for friends and family, some may use their knowledge and skills in their profession or businesses and one lucky individual ended up as Savour's first ever apprentice. They take about 4 each round after an interview process with Kirsten or Paul.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Savour School: Petit Gateaux

My main interest in patiserrie is gateaux - playing and experimenting with layers, flavours and different textures & colours. The best part? Revealing the cross section after cutting the cakes, satisfying! 

The gateaux class at Savour was actually quite different from the William Angliss one - it was very hands on and we were shown different techniques. I think I've learned a lot more at Savour - but there were also times I appreciated my experience at William Angliss because I was able to build on what I learned there. 

Savour did seem to be better equipped - we had access to silpat mats, flexipats, robocoupe etc and it was a great experience to learn how to use those to create amazing gateaux.

Another highlight (though not the main purpose) of the class was probably making garnishes - candied fruit peels, chocolate curls and most excitingly, the ganache spray!! 

Praline Lemon Dome:
- Cocoa sponge, praline cream, lemon mousse, meringue, chocolate shards 

This was easily my favourite cake because I really like citrus-y desserts. The decorative meringue on the outside added further taste and texture to an already amazing cake. 

I've always wondered how the patisseries achieve the dome shaped cakes whilst having different layers inside - now I know! It is because of the wonderful flexipats! Those are so expensive but oh so good and handy in creating gateaux of different shapes and sizes! I'll definitely invest in these when I make pastries commercially in the future (:p).. one day, one day... 

Orange Chocolate Sapphire:
- Cocoa biscuit, milk chocolate citrus cream, Blood orange cremeux, chocolate glacage  

Highlight of my day! Watching the ganache spraying process - spraying warm ganache on frozen cold gateaux resulted in a velvety texture on the outer layer. 

Same cake but with a glaze instead of spray.

Passion Champagne:
- Olive oil sponge, passionfruit jelly insert, champagne mousse, Italian meringue

This wasn't my favourite cake because I didn't like the champagne infused mousse but I learned something new from making this cake - using olive oil instead of butter to make the sponge, that was interesting and it resulted in a really moist sponge. 

Overall, I loved my experience during this class and it definitely further ignited my interests in patisserie! Stay tuned for my post on the Continuing Education of Petit Gateaux! 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Savour Chocolate & Patisserie Cooking School: Desserts Level One

Hi everyone! 

Today I will be sharing my experience at the Savour Chocolate & Patisserie school. I went for my "Desserts Level 1" course yesterday and it was really amazing! Everything was really well set up and organised, the recipes were easy to follow and weren't too overly technical so we were all able to follow. 

Unlike the kitchen at William Angliss, the one at Savour has a less commercial feel to it, it felt slightly more cosy because it was smaller and also not everything was stainless steel (e.g. the bench tops weren't..) so that was different. Our class size was also very small (of 8 people), mainly consisted of people who were older than me and also 2 caterers. 

One of the highlights of this class was when my instructor asked me "may ling, are you a pastry chef?". Which of course, the answer was no.. "Oh, I thought you were one because you're so good in the kitchen!". Definitely one of the best compliments I've ever received in my baking experience :) 

Our instructor was Robyn and she was definitely very nice and knowledgeable, very patient and very good at demonstrating the techniques. 

We made three different desserts in the class: Rosewater Panna Cotta, Apples & Popcorn and Chocolate Brownie. Each dessert had many elements to them, including sorbet/gelato, so it was a good experience trying to create each element!

Rosewater Panna Cotta 
Making desserts really called for the creative flair in each of us because plating up is all about being artistic and good with textures and colours. There wasn't a set standard as to how much of each element we had to put and the order of them, so it was up to us to prioritise certain colours, flavours and textures. 

Panna Cotta on a plate

Panna Cotta in a cup 

My panna cotta and I

Apples & Popcorn
This was so much fun! Popping popcorn, making salted caramel and poaching apples - it was my first time creating all of these and it was definitely very rewarding :)

Dessert plated up by me!

Chocolate Brownie with Passionfruit Cremeux

At the end of the day, we were all just sitting around the board table eating all three plates of desserts!! I wasn't able to bring anything home for my family due to the delicate nature of these desserts so everything had to be consumed on the spot.. definitely gained a few pounds yesterday! :p

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Home re-creation: Macarons making in a commercial kitchen

Here are some pictures from when I made macarons and meringue melts with my friend in a commercial kitchen.


Passionfruit melts 

Dusting passionfruit powder on melts

Green pistachio shells 

FEET :p cool oven :)

Match making macarons 

Black currant shells 

Macarons Galore !

Dusting strawberry powder on melts 

MMMM so much of these went into my friend's and my tummy that day.. doo doo doo 

Mocha shells