Posts Tagged ‘cook

31
Aug
08

Three Cakes, One Day

So I worked as a pastry chef for a good chunk of my cooking career, and although I love pastry, I no longer do it professionally.

I currently cook for a major corporation and am attempting to further my education in food science. (I’m refraining from naming my employer because I’m not exactly sure of the legalities and implications that could be involved if I ever write an article about a topic closely related to what we do, and I’ve signed confidentiality agreements with some of our major corporate customers. In other words I wouldn’t want to lose my job or get sued.)

Needless to say, I don’t get the chance to flex my pastry muscles all that often anymore. However, I have been known to take on the occasional pet project for friends and acquaintances.

A few weekends ago a co-worker requested that I do a birthday cake for her niece. I figured little girl’s birthday cake, no problem.

Well, one cake turned into three, and a quick Saturday afternoon of baking became a late Friday night (2:30am) of prepping the cakes followed by an entire Saturday of finishing. Oh, and everything had to be done in rolled fondant. Oh, and only two specific colours per cake. Oh, and they each want a different flavour. Oh, and… you get the idea.

I’m pretty used to that, though. I think that sums up rather nicely the life of a pastry chef. Long hours and little creative input. Fortunately I’m fairly well set up at home to be able to accommodate these requests.

Anyway, here’s the result:

 

The cakes turned out great, but the pictures were taken in a bit of a rush, so I’m not so thrilled about their quality.

The most satisfying part is knowing that three little girls got exactly the cakes they wanted for their birthday.

Well, that and the nice cold beer I had on the deck when I was finished.

25
Feb
08

Top Five Most Useful Pieces of Kitchen Equipment

This is just a list of equipment that I personnally couldn’t do without in a kitchen. I’m sure others will have something to add to this list.

1. A good quality Chef’s Knife.

Proper knife handling technique is crucial in a kitchen, for safety as well as efficiency. A good quality chef’s knife is as important to a cook as a hammer is to a carpenter.

2. A digital scale (the one I have at home does metric and imperial).

Consistency is key when you are doing a recipe you make frequently. A digital scale ensures that you get the quantities right every time. I found that I use the scale more for pastry than cooking, but it makes setting up much faster. Many home recipes are in cups and tablespoons, but I even tend to convert them to metric so I can use my scale. All of my recipes from my professional life are in metric.

3. An imersion blender

Perfect for getting just the right consistency for puree’s and soups, without having to pour a hot liquid into a small blender. No other tool in the kitchen does quite the same job as efficiently, without making a lot more mess (and dishes).

4. A digital thermometer

I learned how to temper chocolate by feel, but there’s no way I’m sticking my finger into a pot of boiling sugar. Temperature is a vital component to getting the results you want, every time.

5. Parchement paper

Probably one of the most under-appreciated tools in a kitchen, it allows you to make a mess with minimal clean-up. Cheap and disposable, it can be cut to whatever size is needed, and rolled into a piping cone for many uses. Tip for the home cook: make sure to use parchement paper, not waxed paper. There is a major difference.