Cakes, Pastries & Bread – Lesson 4 – Breads + Easy Chocolate Muffins

Boy oh boy…..time just got away from me over the past few weeks. Work, as always, has been busy, then there has been college and preparation for each lesson, not to mention the MAMMOTH assignment that I needed to finish asap so as I could restart some weekend commercial kitchen experience. To top off an already crazy time, a bevy of builders have practically demolished the back part of our house to start the long overdue repairs due to a huge Angophora (tree) falling on our house last year. Phew…that’s a long way to say…this post is late. 

Week 4 Lesson Plan

This was Bread Week and as you see from the lesson plan, we made some fruit buns, bread rolls, a baguette, a standard white cob, some lavosh wafers and mini chocolate muffins. First we made the dough for the white bread which we used for the rolls, baguette and the cob. Whereas I have worked with yeasted breads before, my preference is to use a sourdough starter (mine is hibernating in the fridge at the moment as I’ve been too busy to bake). Having said that, this method is less time consuming as once the dough is made it only needs to rest for 15 minutes before its portioned out and shaped. Once shaped they only need 35 – 40 minutes of proving time before baking. 

Chef decided that with the fruit dough we would make 6 fruit buns and 2 hot cross buns. As the mixture had no spices added I don’t think it was really suitable for hot cross buns. I make a few batches every Easter and I think the addition of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves is essential for a good hot cross bun……what about you? It’s amazing what a bit of glazing does to the finished product.

As there was a function on, the college also caters for various functions, chef changed the plan from making 12 standard size muffins to making mini muffins. These took about 10 mins to whip up, including greasing the muffin tray, and only 12 minutes to bake. If making the mini muffins, simply adjust the temperature up to 190C (the smaller the item the higher the heat). These freeze well and will keep up to 5 days in an airtight container. Where as the recipe we made called for the addition of nuts, I prefer them without (recipe below). 

Chocolate & Nut Muffins

I didn’t think the lavosh was a great success. Chef made the dough for the whole class and we rolled our portion using a pasta machine. It was late in the class and there was just so much going on that people lost focus and some were overcooked. The lavosh dough is simply bakers flour, egg, butter, salt, sugar, milk and sesame and/or poppy seeds. I can see these working well if more attention is provided. 


Only one more lesson in Cakes, Pastries and Breads, in which we will make 12 Danish pastries and Tiramisu, including the sponge fingers. Hope to see you then.

Bon Appetit

Kathryn πŸ’™πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Chocolate Chip & Nut Muffins

A quick and easy recipe for chocoholics or for someone who likes the occasional chocolatey treat. These no fuss muffins tick all the boxes!

  • 300 gm Plain flour
  • 13 gm Baking powder
  • 5 gm Baking soda
  • 20 gm Cocoa powder
  • 114 gm Unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 200 gm Castor Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 250 ml Milk, (buttermilk or full cream)
  • 15 ml Vanilla extract
  • 275 gm Chocolate chips (dark)
  • 40 gm Nuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 190C and spray muffin tin and paper liners with non-stick cooking spray

  2. Whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients and gently fold until JUST combined – don’t over-mix.

  3. Divide the batter into 12 muffins cups and bake @ 190C for 5 mins. Reduce the temperature to 180C and continue to bake for another 12-15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

  4. Be careful not to over-bake. Turn out on to wire rack to cool for 5-10 mins and enjoy warm or cool.

  5. Note: Muffins taste best the day of baking but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Posted in Commercial Cookery, Cooking at Home, Culinary School, Recipes | 10 Comments

Cakes, Pastries & Bread – Lesson 3 – Puff and Shortcrust Pastry + Apple Jalousie Tart

If I had to choose between savoury or sweet, savoury would win hands down every time! What about you? Moving into some savoury baking is very welcome and in this lesson we made, Salmon and Cherry Tomato mini Quiche, Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pies and Apple Jalousie Tart.

The Lesson Plan
Lesson 3

There is a lot of resting time with pastry, but there was more than enough to do whilst the pastry ‘relaxed’ in the fridge. Puff pastry takes the longest to make and is a labour of love, which pays off if your pastry turns out buttery and flakey… which I’m pleased to report mine did. There is a lot of pinning, (aka rolling), and folding which creates the lovely layers you are looking for. I’ve made Puff from scratch a few times but have never used ‘sheet butter’ before, using this means you don’t have to bash the cold butter to the required shape…what a good idea. Once the base ‘Puff Paste” has rested, it is pinned to what should be a cross shape, the butter is placed in the middle and the four edges folded in, pinned and ‘turned’. For this pastry we did 5 ‘turns’; 1st roll x 2 turns then rest, 2nd roll x 2 turns then rest, 3rd roll x 1 turn then rest. After the final resting period the pasty should have nice lamination & is good to go.

NZ sheet butter
Turned and in fridge for resting

Making Shortcrust Pastry is much more straight forward and the quality points are; don’t over-mix once the flour is added or it will get tough, don’t over handle or it will get tough, use your finger-tips only as your hands are warm and will heat the pastry, roll/pin the pastry in different directions to reduce shrinkage, keep a well floured board when working with the pastry so it doesn’t stick, be fast and finally, rest the pastry sufficiently after each roll. A good little cheat to speed things up is to grate the cold butter into the flour ( I love these little tricks). Look at the difference in colour of the Puff Paste, before the butter is added to the shortcrust which has the butter added….

Grated butter

The Shortcrust pastry was used for the base of the pies and the mini quiche, whilst the Puff was used for the tops of the pies and the Apple Jalousie. The mini quiches were easy. The tart tins were docked to assist in cooking the base, the pastry was rolled to 3mm and cut to size and moulded carefully in the tart tins before distributing the salmon, dill and tomatoes amongst them. The quiche mixture, (eggs, cream, a pinch of cayenne and seasoning), was added to 3/4 full and a final flourish of grated cheese was added before popping in the oven to bake at 175C for 30 – 35 minutes, or until light brown.

Mini Salmon and Tomato Quiches

The Chicken and Leek Pies were very tasty and the quality points are; ensure the pie filling, (chicken thighs, leek, mushroom, garlic, seed mustard, chicken stock, flour, sour cream, tarragon and seasoning) is cold when it goes into the chilled tart cases and don’t overfill them, spray and dock the tart tins but not the pastry itself, ensure the puff pastry tops are cut slightly larger than the bases and make incision on top after egg washing to allow steam to escape. The bases were not blind baked before filling, topping and baking at 175C for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden.

Chicken, Mushroom and Leek pie

The final task was to make the Apple Jalousie Tart. In French, the word Jalousie can either mean jealousy or shutters and the tart borrows its name from the second as, usually, the top is slashed with horizontal lines which when baked resemble shutters. Ours did not have this particular decorative finish, but looked lovely just the same. The pastry was pinned to 4mm thick and the bottom docked before piping frangipane (almond cream) down the middle and covering with thin slices of Granny Smith apple and the edges egg washed. The slightly larger top was put on and sealed before making the slashes and crimping the edges. The top was egg washed and the tart was baked in a hot oven for 12- 15 minutes.

Look at those layers
Apple Jalousie Tart

The next class is all bread, it’s yeasted bread and not the kind I usually make at home, which is sourdough using my sourdough starter, but nonetheless a process with which I am very familiar. I hope you come back to see the last lesson in this block. Until then….

Bon Appetit

Kathryn πŸ’™πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Apple Jalousie Tart

This is very easy but impressive looking tart, particularly if you use a good quality shop bought Puff Pastry. All you need is some frangipane (almond cream) and a few uncooked Granny Smith Apples…can’t get easier than that. Once made, a sprinkling of icing/confectioners sugar finishes the tart nicely.

  • 50 gm Caster sugar
  • 50 gm Butter, unsalted
  • 50 gm Almond meal
  • 1 Egg
  • 10 gm Plain flour
  • .25 Lemon zest, of a lemon
  • 2 Apples, Granny Smith
  • 1 Egg
  • 50 ml Milk
  • Water, dash
  • Icing sugar to dust
  1. Make the frangipane:

    Beat the caster sugar, softened butter and grated lemon zest until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and almond meal until just combined and place in a piping bag. 

  2. Prepare the Apples:

    Peel core cut in half and slice apple into thin slices

  3. Prepare the pastry: 

    Roll out to approximately 4mm thick. Cut 2 strips, 1 at @ 10 cm wide (bottom) and the other @ 11cm wide (top). 

  4. Dock the base only and pipe the frangipane down the middle – don’t pipe too much. 

  5. Place the sliced apples atop the frangipane.

  6. Egg wash the sides, top with the other strip, seal, crimp, make slashes across the top and egg wash.

  7. Bake in hot oven (200C) for 12 – 15 mins.

  8. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Posted in Commercial Cookery, Culinary School, Recipes | Tagged | 14 Comments

Cakes, Pastries & Bread – Lesson 2 – Choux & Sweet Pastry + Fruit Tartlets

This week the lesson was not only Choux & Sweet Pastry but also decoration of the finished products. Once upon a time Choux Pastry was my friend, I could turn out the puffiest profiteroles, but now it seems they are my nemesis, or at least the piping of them. I need to go back and find the Vogue recipe I used ‘way back when’ to see if there was a trick I can’t recall (probably not). Today’s effort wasn’t too bad but quite frankly my eclair piping was tragic! Today we made 6 eclairs, 6 profiteroles and 6 fruit tartlets, with creme patisserie and various glazes and icings, and the class went so quickly.

Lesson 2 – Choux and Sweet Pastry

A few of us always get to the kitchen early, around 7.15am, and we use the time for our mise en place. Apart from getting all my utensils out, setting up my work area and collecting all the saucepans, pots, & bowls which were required for class, I also set up 3 trays for the ingredients, 1 for Choux Pastry, 1 for Sweet Pastry and 1 for the Creme Patisserie. It just makes it easier to have all the ingredients for each recipe together.

My workstation

As the pastry for the fruit tartlets had to be rested twice, making the pastry was the first task we tackled. Unfortunately I was unable to use a stand mixer in the class as the power at my workstation was not working, so everything I made was done the old way, by hand. Luckily I usually make Pate’ Sucre by hand, so it wasn’t a big issue.

Pastry made and in the fridge, I turned my attention to the Choux Pastry. Chef informed us that there are three quality points regarding choux, (I actually think there are four, as terrible piping can ruin the end product), 1. not cooking out the flour, 2. adding the eggs too early and 3. having the oven at the wrong temperature. Generally the oven is 190c but chef cranked it to 200c as he wanted them very crisp. It is important to add the eggs to the panada (mixture of water, salt, butter and flour) one at a time & only when the mixture is a temperature between 40 and 50c. To assist in dropping the temperature, move the mixture to a cold bowl you’ve pre-chilled in the fridge. Once the eggs have been added and the mixture is at ‘drop’ stage, you can fill the piping bag and pipe the mixture as desired. As you can see, we used templates under the baking paper to ensure consistency in size of the end product. Bake in the oven for @ 40 mins until firm, cool on a rack and decorate as desired.

The Creme Patisserie took no time to make and it was a good recipe which I will be adding to my favourites (recipe below). As we needed enough for 12 choux pastries and 6 tartlets, we made quite a lot. There is no plain flour in the recipe only cornflour and I think it made a big difference to the end product. A few quality points to observe are; ensure your saucepan is clean, when stirring the mixture get right into the edges & keep an eye on it as it is quick to ‘burn’ at the edges. Also, ensure the mixture is cooled slightly before adding the softened butter and when storing in fridge to cool down, ensure the cling film is touching the surface to avoid a skin to form.

Creme Patisserie ready for the fridge

The fruit tartlets were the last item of the day (recipe below). We used the ‘cream’ method rather than the ‘rub in’ method to make the pastry, either will produce a nice one. Some of the tips that Chef shared with us were; don’t handle the dough too much once the flour is added, be quick & gentle and move it to the fridge to relax the gluten…over working it will make the pastry tough. Placing the pastry between two pieces of clingfilm when rolling out will avoid it sticking to the work surface (at home I use a marble slab which does the trick). Always roll the pastry in various directions, this combats shrinkage. Finally, if possible, only use ‘virgin pastry’, pastry which has been rolled and cut only once, when making your tarts as this too will reduce shrinkage. All in all the tartlets turned out well.

Next week the focus will be Puff and Shortcrust Pastry, Mini Apple & Frangipane Jalousie, Salmon, Cherry Tomato and Dill Tartlets and Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pies (yeah – savory 😊). I hope you pop back to see how it’s all going and leave me a comment if you like.

Bon Appetit,

Kathryn πŸ’™πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Glazed Fruit Tartlets

Crisp sweet pastry tart shells filled with Creme Patisserie and topped with glazed fruit. A lovely sweet treat to share for morning or afternoon tea or as desert after a light lunch.

  • 125 gm Butter, unsalted
  • 75 gm Castor sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 5 ml Vanilla essence
  • 250 gm Plain flour
  • 250 gm Milk, full cream
  • 1/2 Vanilla pod
  • 2 Eggs
  • 125 gm Sugar, castor/super fine
  • 35 gm Cornflour
  • 30 gm Butter, unsalted
  • 6 Strawberries, cut
  • 1 Kiwi fruit, peeled and cut
  • 12 segments Mandarin, tinned
  • 6 Apricots, tinned – halved or sliced
  • 12 Grapes, black
  • 100 gm Apricot conserve/jam
  • 25 gm Water
  1. Make the pastry: Blend the softened butter and sugar thoroughly. Gradually add the egg and vanilla essence. Fold in the sifted flour but don’t over work. Form into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge at least an hour.

  2. Make the Cream Patisserie: Heat the milk with half the sugar and the vanilla pod. In a bowl combine the eggs, sugar and corn flour. Pour the milk gradually to the egg mixture, mix well and return to a slightly wet saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook for two minutes stirring continuously (be careful not to let it burn at the edges). Add the butter to the slightly cooled mixture. Pour into another bowl/container and cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.

  3. Make the tart cases: Lightly grease 6 individual tart shells. Roll out the pastry to a an even thickness of 2mm. Line the tart shells with the sweet pastry. Rest the tart cases in the fridge for 30 minutes.

  4. Bake the tart cases: Dock the bases of the tarts & blind bake the tart cases (using baking paper and baking beans/rice) at 190C until the pastry is cooked to light brown, approx. 40 minutes. Remove the blind baking beans and if bases aren’t fully cooked, put them back in the oven for a few minutes. 

  5. Fill the tart cases: Using a piping bag, pipe the creme patisserie into the base of the cooled shells. Decorate with the cut fruit and, using a pastry brush, lightly glaze the fruit with the heated apricot jam and water.

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Cakes, Pastries & Breads – Lesson 1 + Genoise Sponge

This week was the start of the second last course of Commercial Cookery; Cakes, Pastries and Breads. There are 6 lessons in this course block after which I move onto the final course, Deserts. The end is in sight, even though I still need to complete the required 48 service periods in a commercial kitchen under a trained chef. In this lesson we produced, Genoise Sponge filled with Strawberry Jam and Chantilly Cream, Madeira (Pound) Cake with Lemon Icing and Gluten-free Raspberry Friands.

Lesson 1 – Cakes, Pastries and Breads

As Baking is an exact science, there is no more joint preparation of ingredients, we are individually responsible for our own mise en place and weighing properly is essential. I enjoy baking, it makes sense and I’m really looking forward to this part of the course.

Mise en Place done

Chef spent quite a bit of time to show us how to prepare a cake tin, including those which have no base. Where as I am no novice when it comes to preparing cake tins, it is important that the teaching is at the level to inform the least knowledgeable students in the class.

If you don’t have a bottom to your cake tin

I was delighted with the Genoise Sponge I turned out (recipe provided below). Past efforts to make a high and light sponge have resulted in varied success. From the get go Chef assured the class if the measurements were right and the process followed, all of us would make a good sponge which would be sold in the college shop for $25 each! The trick to making the sponge rise is to ‘pre-condition’ the egg and sugar mix by heating it to 40C before whisking it to 3 times its volume, after which you gently fold in well sifted flours and finally the melted butter. After the cake is baked, and superbly light and high, it needs to go into the fridge for a few hours to cool right down before the cake is cut and filled. Chef was right.. there was only 1 ‘pancake’ in the class.

Genoise Sponge with Chantilly Cream

Madeira cake has always been one of my favourites. I remember many afternoon teas with my Nanna, a good cup of tea and a slice of Madeira cake made everything better. I prepared some garnishes at home for the 2 little loaves made in class. I did fumble the turning out of one of the cakes, nothing that a little icing and decorating didn’t save.

Edible flowers make a pretty garnish

The gluten-free friands were easy to make and delicious. I haven’t done a lot of gluten-free baking but have a friend who makes gluten-free cakes and treats for her celiac husband, so I’m glad I now have this in my repertoire. Frozen raspberries are ideal for these. The batter was piped into the muffin papers, 3/4 full, and the raspberries were placed on top. Once cooked a liberal sprinkling of icing sugar was all the finishing these little cakes needed.

Gluten-free raspberry friands

At the end of the class, there was a bounty of baked goods to sell at the college shop. I kept two of the friands to take home, one for Aron and one for a work colleague for whom I was intending to make a birthday cake, but wasn’t able to as I did a service period at the Golf Club after college. Hope I see you back for the next lesson which will cover choux pastry and sweet pastry.

Tray of baked goods for sale

Bon Appetit

Kathryn πŸ’™πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Genoise Sponge

This is a simple, light as air, Genoise Sponge filled with Chantilly Cream and Strawberry jam….afternoon tea anyone? 

  • 280 gm eggs
  • 190 gm Sugar, Castor (super fine)
  • 95 gm White Bakers Flour
  • 95 gm Cornflour
  • 60 gm Unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 150 gm Strawberry Jam, thinned with a little water and warmed through
  • 1 punnet Strawberries, fresh (halved)
  • 25 g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 5 ml Vanilla extract
  • 300 ml Cream, thickened (heavy)
  • 1 23 cm Cake Tin, spayed and lined
  • 6 cm Acetate roll (optional)
  • 1 9 inch Cake Board (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 180C 

  2. Prepare Cake Tin – spray and line bottom and sides

  3. Add flours and sift several times

  4. Combine sugar and eggs in stand mixer bowl, place over a Bain Marie and whisk by hand until temperature reaches 40C. This will ensure the sponge rises.

  5. When temperature achieved place in stand mixer and whisk until light and fluffy (3 times volume) and ribbon stage achieved.

  6. Fold in the sifted flours gently by hand, getting right under the mixture to incorporate the flour whilst preserving the air in the batter.

  7. Fold in the melted cooled butter with a pallet knife

  8. Put batter into the prepared cake tin 

  9. Bake for 35min or until skewer comes out clean. Leave for 5 mins in pan before inverting onto sprayed bakers paper on cake cooling rack. Place in fridge for 2 hours to totally cool.

  10. Cut the sponge through the middle in half using a bread knife.

  11. Spread both halves with the thinned and warmed jam

  12. Spread generously with Chantilly cream  – not quite to the edges

  13. Decorate around the edge with the halved strawberries – pushing against the cream. Place top on and gently push down. make any adjustments to the strawberries around the edge. If transporting, place an acetate ring around the middle and tape to close.

  14. Place the cooling rack on top and give a gentle sprinkling of icing sugar (this makes a nice pattern

Posted in Commercial Cookery, Culinary School, Recipes | Tagged | 9 Comments

Meat – Lesson 5: Revision + Meat Curry

The final class of ‘Meat’ was a revision/assessment, in which the class was required to prepare, plate and present three of the meat dishes we had learned over the past four weeks. Chef would not guide or instruct, but rather observe, taste and appraise the presentation of each plate. We were informed in advance of the time each dish was to be presented to chef and the presentation was our choice. A workflow was required to be done prior to the class and submitted in class, if not it was to be done by the end of the class or no pass. Chef was only ensuring that we are ready for a commercial kitchen, he means business and I like it! The three dishes were, Goat Curry with Minted Yoghurt Sauce, Marinated Grilled Rump encrusted with toasted Sesame Seeds, Pan Fried Lambs Liver with Garlic Mash and Onion Rings.

Revision Day

Even though it was the last dish to present, the Goat Curry took the longest to cook so it needed to be prepared and in the oven first. At the end of the last class (week four), Chef asked for a volunteer to make the curry paste and rice for the entire class (15). I volunteered for the curry paste but when it came for a volunteer for the rice…it was the sound of ‘crickets’…stuff it…I would make my own Pilaf! It was the last dish plated and I brought plates and garnish from home for presentation. I was pleased with the result after 2.5 hrs of cooking (recipe below) and I received a good assessment.

Goat Curry with Rice Pilaf and Minted Yoghurt Sauce

The first dish to be presented was the Marinated Rump steak. A few tweaks to the presentation made a good impression. I thought this dish in the last class was somewhat bare…I added salted turmeric potatoes and grilled red onion. I managed to serve it medium rare as required with the help of my trusty and inexpensive IKEA meat probe.

Marinated Rump Steak with Dipping Sauce

Next I turned my attention to the Lambs Liver (still not a fan) and the accompaniments. The garlic potato mash was made and set to rest over a bain marie, the onion sauce was prepared and put aside to reheat before service and the onion rings were fried. All this done, I then cooked the liver (medium rare) and made ready the garnish, which again I brought with me. The finished plate looked inviting but….it was still Lambs Liver! Where as I received good comments on the dish, Chef mentioned that the look of the sauce would have been improved if I had added a mix of corn flour and water to the sauce.

Ready for tasting

I enjoyed creating my version of these dishes. I enjoyed planning ahead and simply cooking… it was a joy. Next week we start the Cakes, Pastry & Bread lessons..Hope to see you then 😊

Comments from Chef

Bon Appetite

Kathryn πŸ’™ πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Meat Curry

The recipe I made used goat meat but any secondary cut of red meat, lamb or beef, would work just as well. The paste is generic and can be amped up or down to taste. Served with steamed or Pilaf Basmati rice and minted yoghurt …it’s delicious. 

  • 60 ml Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Bay leaves, dried
  • 6 gm Cumin seeds
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 4 Cloves
  • 2 Red Onions
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 20 gm Ginger, fresh
  • 6 gm Turmeric
  • 6 gm Paprika
  • 2 Chillies, green long
  • 12 gm Curry powder
  • 30 gm Tomato Paste
  • 30 gm Flour, plain
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 400 gm Shoulder of Goat, Lamb or Beef
  • 1 Cartouche made of grease proof paper
  1. Preheat oven to 190 C

  2. Make the Curry Paste: 

     – Grind the ‘woody spices’ (bay, cumin, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves) to fine powder.

    – In a food processor, add the onion, garlic and ginger and blitz. Add the ground ‘woody spices’, the chilli, dry spice (turmeric, paprika and curry powder) and tomato paste.

  3. Season the flour and flour the meat. Shake off excess flour.

  4. Heat the pan and then add the oil. Add the spice and meat and brown, if it sticks, add a little liquid (water of stock) and loosen the meat from the bottom of the pot. 

  5. Once browned add enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to boil. Cover with cartouche (reduces evaporation) and cook for approximately 2.5 hrs – but check after the first hour to ensure there is enough liquid. 

  6. Serve with steamed or Pilaf Basmati & a yoghurt and mint sauce (with a touch of garlic and sugar). 

Posted in Commercial Cookery, Culinary School, Recipes | Tagged , | 6 Comments