In my last blog post, I extended an invitation to local friends to challenge me to make something for them. The only requirements were that they covered the cost of the ingredients, and I got to pick the recipe.
Right away I received facebook messages from two friends asking me to bake for them. The first wanted cookies, but I talked him into petit fours glace, and the second wanted a cake that included chocolate in some fashion.
Petit fours are an interesting creation. The french will call lots of tiny desserts “petit fours,” but a true petit four glace is a square, bite sized dessert assembled in a certain way. Traditionally, they’re made of a sponge cake called genoise (jen WAHZ), and sliced into two or three thin layers, coated with a flavored syrup, filled with jam, topped with a layer of marzipan, and then dipped in a liquid fondant icing. Practically speaking, it’s a little cake filled with something and covered with something. I made one batch of traditional petit fours like I described above, but then I made a batch with butter cake, chocolate ganache filling, and orange liqueur syrup enrobed in a dark chocolate glaze and topped with a spiral of ganache.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of mine, but here’s a recipe for some traditional petit fours with a picture.
Next I made a Christmas Eve cake for my friend Kelli. First I made a chocolate sponge cake and sliced it into two layers before filling it with a chocolate Sabayon cream. I coated the cake layers with a coffee syrup, and then iced the whole thing with a buttercream infused with chocolate and espresso.
Here’s a picture:
This week I watched the movie Kings of Pastry (available on Netflix watch instant) and realized that I’m interested in the pastry arts as a whole- not just cakes.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my newfound pastry passion. I got a stand mixer and a lovely cake stand and some other baking supplies for Christmas, and I’m thinking about taking a class this summer at the San Francisco Baking Institute. (website here.) I have apprenticeships in mind for down the road, and I’m really interested in traveling to France to interview pastry shop owners and learn their secrets. For the time being, however, I think I need to read a lot and bake a lot and develop a working vocabulary of the subject and a technical body of knowledge and skills.
This week I’m planning to make puff pastry from butter that I made from cream that my roommate Tara dumpstered from the Amazing Savings. How Asheville is THAT?!
P.S. My offer stands: what can I bake for you?
P.P.S. Not to blatantly advertise or anything, but I’m really excited for this program. I feel like Blake is throwing a party for all my friends here in Asheville!