Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Exams, Biscotti and Fondant Made From Scratch

Whip Out That #2 Pencil
Our class is FINALLY finished going over the ServSafe book and completed the exam this morning. It was about 80 questions long, all multiple choice and not too difficult. According to those who have taken the SafeServ exam before for previous food service jobs, the questions were a bit harder than they had been in the past. Hopefully everyone passed, but we won't know for a few weeks. Cross your fingers!

Biscotti Break
Chef Todd made a batch of almond biscotti which we got to sample today. It's surprisingly simple to make considering how much your local coffee shop charges for them. Plus, the scratch batch was MUCH softer and tastier than what you normally find in a cafe. If you are a fan of biscotti, consider making your own. Just be sure to bake it twice — the first time as a solid log-shaped roll, then slice up the roll and bake a second time at a low temperature to get the crunch by drying it out.

Is Anyone Fond of Fondant?

The evening pastry class (they are further along in the curriculum) is working on wedding cakes as a final exam. So Chef Todd decided to make a large batch of fondant made from scratch so that the class will have it to use in lieu of frosting. Fondant can be purchased pre-made but it is VERY expensive for a small amount and it really isn't hard to make it yourself.

Most people that I know don't like the taste of fondant and often wonder why it is used at all. While it's true that fondant pales in comparison to buttercream frosting in terms of taste, it is great for achieving the clean, polished look that is often desired for wedding cakes. Buttercream can be smoothed out as well, but it would take a lot more time to perfect it and that could impact the cost of your cake. Also, Buttercream doesn't hold up as well as fondant when placed outdoors or in heat. Because the consistency of fondant is comparable to modeling clay, you also have more flexibility in design and for creating figures and other decorative pieces. So basically, it all comes down to aesthetics.

To make fondant yourself, you just need gelatin (for consistency, the gelatin that comes in plastic-looking sheet form is preferred over powdered), lots of powdered sugar, corn syrup and water. That's it! First, you'll want to melt the gelatin down into a liquid. Place the gelatin sheets in a container with a bit of cold water. If you dump the gelatin sheets in all at once, they tend to clump together and end up with a gelatin mass. So instead, place the gelatin sheets in the container individually to avoid that. The sheets will break down into a malleable goop which you should place in a strainer and squeeze to remove excess water. Then you will place this glob of gelatin in a container that will sit inside a pot of simmering — not boiling — water. Heat until the gelatin is liquified.

Then you will sift a LOT of powdered sugar to make sure that there aren't any clumps that might make your fondant lumpy. Then mix the powdered sugar, corn syrup and gelatin in a large mixer until it turns into a modeling clay-like consistency. Water can be added if it's a bit dry. Now you have fondant for your cakes, cupcakes or other baked goods. Fondant dries out very easily, so be sure to wrap it in plastic and store in an air-tight container. If stored properly, fondant can last a very long time.

1 comment:

  1. Tracey...your blog is fantastic! I am so glad you are in this class with me and that you found Paige. Looking forward to the next six months-- especially in the lab. Bake on!



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