Pastry School — Lessons 6, 7 & 8

Lesson 6 was all about fruit. We got to taste all sorts of different varieties: stone fruits, tropical fruits, melons, citrus, dried, candied, and more. Did you know that candying fruit should be a 30 day process to remove all of the water and replace it with sugar? Each day boil the fruit in a simple syrup and up the sugar to water ratio of the syrup.

Did you know that stone fruits (peaches, plus, nectarines) do not ripen off the vine? How about that rhubarb skin in very large quantities is toxic, too much pineapple will give you vitamin C burns (they look like cancer sores) and that meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and an orange!

In lesson 7 we got to put our fruit skills to the test by preparing fruit in 5 different ways: drying, candying, poaching, roasting and macerating. My group got to make dried apples, candied lemon rind, roasted apples, strawberry salad and poached pineapple. We then got to try everything that was made by all the groups!

In lesson 8 we spent some time with the miracle pastry food group, eggs. We spent 4 hours whipping egg whites to various consistencies: frothy, soft peaks and hard peaks and got to play around with adding sugar to them at various times. Whenever you add sugar to egg whites they immediately begin to deflate. If you add in too much sugar at once you deflate your egg whites and they can’t reach their full volume potential. If you add in sugar slowly after they’ve reached soft peaks you allow them the chance to fluff back up again. So we spent a lot of time experimenting with just the right timing. After playing with the whites, we got to use the yolks a bit by making Sabayon and mayo. Sabayon is used in many desserts and is a combination of egg yolks, sugar and liquor. It is whipped by hand over a bain marie (water bath) and then transferred to a stand mixer to beat until cool. Though ours was very sweet, probably partially due to the Marsala wine used, I could see the potential this custard could have in desserts. Even just over some berries, the dessert already looked pretty fancy.

We ended the class making some mayonnaise. This took forever and really tired your arm out! You combine an egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice in a bowl and whip in some canola oil one drop at a time by hand, whipping completely in between. Do you have any idea how long it takes to whip 6 oz of oil one drop at a time into mayonnaise? Forever! But, after what seemed like an eternity we did finally get it done! I have to say, although ours tasted much better, I’ll never take Hellmann’s for granted again!

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