Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Boy Who Played With Fire 2: Blowtorch Boogaloo

And we’re off! The first day after finishing all the sanitation junk is FINALLY upon us, and it was so much more relaxed than before. Today was a big learning day in class, as we began studying about one of the most fundamental parts of French pastry: meringue. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Our first activity this class was making candied lemon peel. It was fun! We learned how to peel the lemon and remove the pith (the white, bitter part between the peel and the fruit). It was almost like fileting a fish, actually. Then, we learned how to properly julienne the peel into strips, which we then simmered in a simple syrup. The end result was really sweet and, well, candy-like! We used them later in class to decorate our lemon tarts.
Next we began our lesson on meringues. While a meringue is simply egg whites whipped into a foam with sugar, it turns out that there are 3 different types of meringue, each with its own function. In this class, we made both French and Swiss styles. French meringue is just simply cold egg white whipped with sugar. It is something that then gets folded into other things which will then be baked, such as today’s tarte aux noix (nut tart). We also made Swiss meringue, where you whip egg white and sugar over heat to cook the egg white, killing bacteria and making it safe to eat without further cooking.  We used this type of meringue later in class to decorate our lemon tarts.
From there, we went into making out nut tarts. We made a second kind of almond cream, this time with almond flour taking the place of almond paste. The almond flour lends a milder, nuttier flavor than the paste, which is made out of almond extract and sugar. We put a thin layer of jam at the bottom of the tart shell and added our filling, almond and hazelnut flour folded with French meringue to lighten it, and baked it off. It came out almost cake-like, although it was still in the pâte sucrée shell. A dusting of powdered sugar with a stenciled pattern, and voilà!

Not too shabby, eh? I could have been neater with the stencil, but we were rushing to get them done. So, yeah, next time I have to be more careful and take my time. Stop judging me like that!
We then made our lemon tartlets, using the lemon curd made in the previous class. After filling our blind-baked tartlet shells with lemon curd, we made a Swiss meringue and learned to pipe different patterns.
Then came the funnest part…blowtorches. As anyone who has seen a lemon meringue pie knows, it’s not any good unless the meringue is bruléed a bit, so of course, we had to do that to ours. Fun with fire! We took a blowtorch to those suckers and got them good and brown.  Oooh boy!

Well that’s it, I guess. I’m looking forward to next class where we’re making Bavarian cream and chocolate ganache!! I’m sure Adam’s office and/or Todd will get to enjoy most of it.


  1. Fabulous bruleeing. Yums. Lish. What's for Thanksgiving? Mom