What a relief! 3 and a half weeks (well, 3 and a half days, but you know what I mean) and the sugar flowers and rich fruit cake are done. Done I tell you! Much as I’ve loved learning how to make them, and will eventually, post course, try and develop my skills, I’ve truly missed baking. So, this afternoon we returned to making sweet things and I have to say I’m really quite pleased.
Today we learned how to make sable pastry – sable means ‘sand’ in French and the pastry has a delicious granular quality to it. We made biscuits using a piping bag and when cooked (about 20 minutes at 180 deg) and cooled we dipped or swirled them in chocolate. A useful tip that my tutor gave us and I’d like to share with you is that the longer you cream the butter and sugar together, the easier the mix is to pipe. Swirls, waves, circles – all piped out and baked. The mixture does not retain its shape in the heat of the oven but you can see the definition of the swirls and pipings in my picture. An idea our tutor gave us was to pipe a circle of sable around the top of an ‘open’ mince pie, leaving a hole in the middle, instead of a pastry lid. I shall have a go at that should I get inspired to make any mince pies this year.
The other thing we made was a sweet paste – a gorgeous pastry, but really hard to roll out, especially in a hot kitchen. My tip is to make it, wrap it in clingfilm and then put it in the freezer for a while to rest. You don’t want to over handle it as it will make it go tough and lose the delicacy of its texture, but without chilling it down it truly is monstrous to roll out. We’ve made it before but my bench is right in front of the ovens so we’re always struggling to beat the heat. However, the tarts turned out beautifully. A treacle tart, a pecan tart and a lemon sabayon tart. I usually send my stuff in to AJ’s work for the geeks to eat, but this week I think non….
Lemon sabayon is interesting – eggs sugar butter and lemon juice beaten constantly over a bain marie. Oh there are stages to it, so don’t just chuck all of the above in and hope. I promise I’ll be putting recipes up soon! Anyway, one thing I learned (apart from ‘go to the gym more frequently’) was that if the sugar and the eggs sit around for any time before being whipped over the bain marie, the sugar starts to ‘cure’ the eggs, and you’re far more likely to end up with scrambled egg… Very unpleasant and a useful tip. Thankfully ours went ok. I’m determined to invent a machine that will do the beating over the bain marie whilst you get on with your life. My triceps are killing me!
Anyway, back to baking, and I hope you like the pics (and they don’t make you too hungry!) I must apologise about the treacle tarts – the ‘top’ came off them in transit as they were packed when still warm. I’m pretty sure they’re going to be scrummy though.
Oh, and the pink rose thing is the trail of roses for my fruit cake. I was really quite pleased with myself. Everything in the spray is made of sugar paste apart from the wires and the stamens. They weren’t terribly hard to make, but took concentration and calmness. Neither of which I am renowned for. Back next week with choux creations – gateau St Honore, Croquembouche and Paris-Brest. Oh I do love to make things with paste….