Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 18: What a Difference a Day Makes!

Brand new day. Clean slate. Yesterday is already in the past.
Today we made a cake. It took us all day, and all we made just one cake each - a Genoise.

We started with lining the cake ring and forming a bottom for it with (God's gift to people), parchment paper. Then we buttered and floured it and got it set up and ready for batter.

Then we started beating and warming our eggs, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bain-marie, (water bath) heating the mixture until it was just above blood temperature. My partner and I worked quickly and quietly, soon we had our mixture locked and loaded into the kitchen aid and beating as much air as possible into our egg and sugar mix.

Ten minutes later, when the mix had tripled in size, we poured it out into a big bowl and sifted in our pastry flour and a few tablespoons of butter - and then quickly into our pans and into the oven.

It was at this time that Chef T announced that whoever got the best rise would join him for lunch! Woo-hoo!

You see this is a sponge cake, it has no baking soda or powder to give it rise; it's all about eggs and air. The more air that gets in and stays in - the better. So you've got to be careful not to over-stir the batter, not to bump the pan and not to slam the oven door.

Twenty-five minutes later our cakes were out, and ours looked quite a bit higher than some of the others in the class!

The cakes were measured. A winner was found - team 4. Hey! That's US!

Chef T took us to a Lebanese place where we talked about travel, food, family and particularly - grandmas. Time flew by! Soon we were back in the classroom, working on butter-icing for our cakes.

This cake has actually been cut into three layers and had thin layers of chocolate ganache icing spread between the layers before it was re-assembled. There is also a "soak" of spiced white wine we used to poach pears in.



(A classmate was having a bad day and felt utterly frustrated
with every step of this cake. This is his cry of angst.)

More classmate cakes!

Pig or pug? I'm not sure, but I like the wings.

I really like this one. Stating the obvious.

And finally, my cooking notes and creme brule. But not a run-of-the-mill creme brule, this one was flavoured with ginger and star anise! I LOVE this stuff! (I'd even add more the next time I do this.) Luckily my partner didn't care for this one bit, so I get another one with lunch tomorrow!

I left school with my cake carefully wrapped in toothpicks and saran wrap. What a good day! Lunch with Chef T, a cute little cake to share with friends, even the pastry instructor complemented my piping skills!

In the block and a half walk to the bus, five people stopped me and asked about my cake, "Wow! Nice!", "Looks delicious!" On the bus, my little cake sparked a conversation between a group of strangers about the best birthday cake they'd ever had.

I got off the bus and went straight to my friend Marlene's house and shared my little cake with her, her friend and two little girls, and left the rest behind for her husband. Not too sweet, just yummy!

Lately, I've been wondering if the pastry course was really for me. Today I learned that it may be. There's something special about a cake. I guess that's why we need them for birthdays and weddings. The smiles on stranger's faces as I passed by them was heart-warming in this drizzly grey city, and being able to share my creation with Marlene and her little ladies warmed me even more. Everyone wants to be your friend when you've got cake!

Mine! My flowers turned into Butterflies at the last minute.
(I've only ever piped royal icing, and
this is melted chocolate - much runnier and
slippery than what I'm used to, but looks nice.)


  1. I'll be planning to be down for my birthday FOR SURE! Fantastic! Cakes cakes cakes! Hip Hip Hooray! Its a beauty!

  2. Awesome! I'd never heard of a Genoise but I want one! Your artistic ability comes into play here. I like the stitching effect around the edge too.

  3. All I can say is, "Lucky Marlene and family!"

    Well, I suppose I should also say, "Hats off to the chef." It looks gorgeous and delicious, the highest praise any cake can aspire to in my book:)