Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Ends of Cakes

It has officially been the longest since I have posted on this blog. More than a month. In fact, this is the second time I've attempted completing this particular post. I fell asleep the first time. (If even the writer is falling asleep, this is not a good sign.) Obviously I have been busy. I have finally made it to the end of a clusterf*** of a week-and-a-half that went something like this: two stories due, cakes final examination, out-of-town wedding that served as a nice break, three grueling days going through the first-year culinary tests , a 15-hour day at work, intense cleaning at school (I took on a deep fat fryer--gross) and some light-to-heavy drinking (whoops).

I have emerged somewhat unscathed. I passed my exams and assumedly my cakes final, the output of which you can see in these photos. I look at the cakes up close and cringe a little. They look so sloppy--look at that broken ladyfinger below. I swear none of the other ladyfingers broke. And that chocolate cake doesn't look polished at all. It's supposed to have these smooth finished sides. But, they did taste delicious.

For a project, our cakes instructor gave each of the students an artist to design two cakes and 20 petit fours for. I drew Maria Martinez, who is an American Indian pottery artist known for developing this amazing black on black technique. She is credited with being the artist to bring American Indian art to museums and collectors.

I really lucked out with her because she is from New Mexico, an area with a distinct culinary tradition. I developed my cakes around the flavors of the Southwest. Note: Do not attempt these at home. It took me six hours, including quite a bit of actual running, to finish on time. The pink cake has a corn meal sponge bottom followed by a layer of lemon curd mousse, a sunflower seed baked meringue (which was awesome), then a prickly pear mouse and surrounded by ladyfingers. The chocolate cake had a chocolate sponge base, then chocolate-cinnamon-cayenne pepper mousse and a brown-sugar bavarian cream with another sunflower meringue and topped with chocolate-cinnamon-cayenne ganache and chocolate feather cutouts. The petit fours have a lemon sponge with sage-flavored pastry cream filling, a poured fondant top and royal icing piping.

I enjoyed playing around with the Southwest theme and thought everything turned out alright, aside from the fact that I think the cakes are the equivalent of a third graders coloring book instead of a professional but whatever.

I really grew to adore mousse even more in this class. I hadn't realized how easy it can be to attempt, although I feel a long way from perfecting it. During my later examinations, I was chided for mixing the chocolate with the whipped cream when the chocolate was too warm, which causes the cream to break. But if the chocolate is too cool it seizes up and hardens mid-blending. It's such a subtle art this pastry, and I am not a subtle person.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do I recognize that scarf from Ecuador? Speaking of scarves I forgot to look for yours at g-mas. Will try next time!