The end of the week took us back to patisserie and the lessons were making creme brulée, creme caramel, creme anglaise, fruit coulis, tuile biscuits and some decorative sugar work.
Chef Matthew took both the demonstration classes. One was the preparation of the cremes and coulis and the 2nd was in completing them and presenting them decoratively.
The first task was the caramel for the creme caramel. A little sugar was put into a pan and allowed to melt over a medium heat. No water was added. Once melted, a little more sugar was added and stirred in and allowed to melt. This was continued until all the sugar was melted and then allowed to cook until the right colour of caramel was achieved. Then water was added and boiled to the soft ball stage, then the pan was briefly dipped in ice water to stop further cooking.
A little caramel was poured into each ramekin and allowed to set.
The creme was then prepared. Milk was heated with a vanilla pod while eggs and sugar were mixed together. Once the milk was almost simmering, it was poured onto the eggs and sugar and mixed together, then cooled over an ice bath. Once cool, each ramekin was filled 3/4 full with the creme and placed on a tray to which cold water was added and then placed in the oven at 140 °C for 30 minutes. Then the creme caramels were allowed to cool and placed in the fridge.
The creme brulée was next and is quite similar but only egg yolks are used and are whisked together with the sugar. The milk is replaced by a mix of milk and cream. The ramekins are placed in the oven at on a tray filled with warm water and cooked at 120 °C.
The creme anglaise is better known by most people as custard! But only containing egg yolks, sugar, milk and vanilla. Not cornflour, like instant custard.
The egg yolks are whisked with half of the sugar, the milk heated with the other half and the vanilla. Once hot, the milk is whisked into the egg yolks and then all returned to the pan and cooked gently over low heat, stirring continuously, until thickened.
The fruit coulis was next. The chef prepared 2 types of coulis, one raw and the other cooked.
The raw coulis was simply raspberries and icing sugar blitzed in a blender and then strained through a sieve to remove the seeds.
The cooked coulis is a sugar syrup cooked to the thread stage, then fruit puree added and briefly boiled again before adjusting the taste and texture with a little lemon juice if required.
The chef made 3 cooked coulis: raspberry, mango and blackcurrant. In our practical we would just be making 1 cooked coulis, but we could each make different flavours.
The batter for the tuile biscuits is equal quantities of flour, icing sugar, egg white and melted butter, with the butter being added little by little to a batter of the other 3 ingredients.
The tuile batter was spread or piped very thinly in decorative shapes on a silicone mat and baked at 190 °C for about 5 minutes. Removed from the oven, they can be shaped in to curved shaped if done quickly as they harden within seconds.
The chef then demonstrated some decorative sugar work using an isomalt caramel, which does not crystallize the way sugar does. He made some sugar baskets on the bowl of a ladle, some spirals on a sharpening steel and some decorative fountains.
He then piped chocolate onto some plates to decorate them and used the coulis and creme anglaise too, as well as some of the sugar work and fresh fruit.
The creme brulée was completed with a sprinkling of caster or demerara sugar and caramelized with a blowtorch. The creme caramel was turned out and placed onto a decorated plate.
Here are the creme caramels and creme brulées the chef plated:
In the practicals, again with chef Nicolas, we made the creme caramel, creme brulée, coulis and tuile batter in pairs. We each made creme anglaise and some sugar baskets.
I had made creme anglaise before and was able to make it successfully in the practical. However, it’s easy to overcook creme anglaise and end up with scrambled eggs. Half the class did.
I made a really nice caramel for the creme caramel and they turned out well. The creme brulée was made by my partner though I got to do the blowtorching myself.
I made a few pretty tuile biscuits including a spiral that spiralled into the air, a lattice and a treble clef. I also managed a couple of good sugar biscuits and a very delicate sugar spiral.
Here are my plated desserts:
I hope you can see my sugar basket in the left picture and the sugar spiral on the fruit on the right picture.
I can’t say I am a fan of creme caramel as it tastes too eggy for me. I much prefer creme brulée, though I have made better ones with a smoother texture.