Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mogador - Who would have known it is de-li-cious

What is Mogador?....I didn't have a clue of what it meant. Perhaps it was the name of a city somewhere, I thought. I wiki'ed it found out it was an isolated city of Moroccan where the French Troop disembarked in 18th century. Nothing much related to the raspberry puree soaked cake I was about to make. (!?) If anyone knows, educate me please.

By the way, I doubt why the French named quite a few of their cakes after their cities? I know we have some city-named cake with description attached to the cake i.e. Boston creme pie or New York cheese cake or Mississippi mud pie but do you know how Paris-Brest or Mogador look like? Um....may be it was their tricks to keep our curiosity alive.

I searched the key word 'mogador cake' and finally saw chocolate mousse cake topped with jam. Not as fancy as I thought. Fine, I had to make this in class anyway.

In the demo class, Mogador was made with chocolate sponge. Good news, it's not quite an artery-blocking/buttery-buttery cake. There is no butter added in the sponge. The sponge itself is pretty dry but later will be soaked with tangy raspberry puree. Chef insisted repeatedly, more than 3-4 times in the demo that all of 130 ml of raspberry puree must go in to an 8 inch by 3/4 inch high round sponge cake. Wow...that was a lot. But you know what. She is right. All the good tangy-sweet juice m-u-s-t be there, or you won't get happy customers. Here is what I meant by soaking the sponge. Notice the color, the sponge was chocolaty before.

I live in the tropical. Raspberry is somehow a luxury kind of fruit (just like when I lived in Shanghai, my Durian-no-thanks is considered precious fruit of all times for Shanghainese durian lovers). The puree we used in class is of Boiron, of course, imported from France. Judging from fancy, nice, stylish packaging, I am sure it would cost me quite a bit to buy this finished product. After class, I swung by a wholesale grocer near by to check it out. I was wrong.
A pack of frozen raspberry costs me 1/3 less than Boiron. Imagine me making my puree at home i.e. boiling+ squishing frozen fruit, discard rough meat, then I would probably end up only 2/3 of what I bought. Which doesn't make much difference had I bought the fancy packaging puree, let alone the fussiness and kitchen cleaning at home. Well, don't bother, I buy Boiron then. Okay, soak them up ! zzzzchzzzz.

Oh, just in case if anyone is keen in making raspberry puree at home, here is what my chef suggested off the class.

Raspberry Puree (10% sugar)
120 g Frozen raspberry
15 g of sugar

Bring these two ingredients to a boil. Squish with mixer and strain into fine puree. Let cool completely before use.

Back to the cake. On top of the sponge, here comes dark chocolate mousse. Raspberry and chocolate are always paired up well together, believe me.

Here is the sad part. Sounds simple but stupid me I made lame mistake making split mousse in practical class. Yes, it split !!!. I saw meself hitting me head ('me head', sounds like cute reggae accent, doesn't it?) , didn't know what went wrong. Having lost my mind for 3 seconds, I wanted to scream but was conscious enough there after not to panick the class.

Chef Geraldine, the savior, walked around, saw my poor thing clumping up badly. She gave me a dry but encouraging smile and say 'you probably need to do that again so that we have good mousse in the cake." [I agreed]

You know what, almost all the ingredients in class (except eggs, milk, sugar and salt) are imported from France. Although this has been incorporated into my (reasonably high) tuition fee but I did feel guilty to waste the whole bowl of President creme and Cocoa Barry's 58% dark chocolate. Oh dang it, all the goodies.....I was then envisioning under-nutritioned children in the third world and that I was asking them to forgive me that I wasted this much of food.....unintentionally.

What went wrong: I did temper the ingredients by adding 1/3 of cold creme into warm chocolate but guess I didn't do it properly. Chef Geraldine guided that whipped creme was way to cold and it clumped up chocolate, especially when I put the whipped creme bowl over ice bath before the mixing procedure and that also made the bowl itself colder that it supposed to be. That's it. (!?) Well, I actually had a lame excuse to use ice bath...I fear that the creme would melt , that's why....silly me! :-P

I corrected the second batch by, of course, I threw away the ice-bath right away after I was done with whipping the creme. Then put 1/3 of whipped creme into (room-temp) chocolate bowl, fold fold fold until well blended. Then added the rest of creme into chocolate bowl. Happy ending. Thanks chef.

Quite an adrenaline rush when you see the rest of the class was proceeding to decoration while I was still struggling with the mousse. Who cares, I got good mousse and I learnt how tiny detail could have spoiled the whole thing....of course I was so glad I made silly mistake. (Although it was very tempting to learn from mistake again, I will opt to do it right first time around).

So I piped out smooth chocolate mousse in the ring before filling it up to the top and flatted out surface. Sure, I needed to do it quickly before this little monster set up into a chocolate bar. I wondered if the practical room was way to cold that day or it was just me that worked at snail's pace....chocolate mousse did set up pretty fast.

Apologies that I cannot publish recipe from the class here. Indeed, these are not fancy things. I suggest you get chocolate mousse recipe from my hero's page Alton Brown. It would yield pretty much same good result. But be sure to use good quality chocolate though.

Decoration is something new to me. I always use this word to describe my lousy decoration...i.e. because it was 'new' to me which is why the deco is tilted here and there and etc. Well, it's how I sooth myself. Somehow I thought this is just a matter of god's gift , a bless to some people. I noticed many in the class are really talented at masking , decorating the cake and yes we are all started at the same point, zero. I envy them. I rally do. For me, I am sure am not gifted (shoot!) , I believe I just need one word..... practicing. I'll push myself a bit on that.
And here is the finish product of Chef Geraldine in the demo class. It's classy, isn't it. See, now you know what I meant by 'it just the matter of practicing'.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What I love most - It's the croissant day!!!

Last week was what I'd been looking forward to, making croissants. Wow...wasn't that g-r-e-a-t to finally make this goodie. My past experience is dated back 10 years (or more perhaps?) that I tried to make croissant out of a 20-lined recipe. was a total flop considering hot/humid weather in Bangkok that made the butter ran out in every possible ways starting from rolling and proofing. Now that I know a how-to, all I can say is that it's all about the little tips and techniques. Those who want to get start, I suggest you get a recipe here and see useful discussion here

Some observations.

- If you cannot source fresh yeast, use instant dry yeast, just weight up 33% of what required for fresh yeast.

- Coldness is your very best friend. If you live in the tropical, prep this in air-conditioning room. Or if not, use margarine instead of dry butter. I myself don't compromise for margarine as the after taste is not so pleasant. so, margarine is a no-no for me.

- Proofing the dough is tricky. Comfy temperature for yeast to grow is around 25-30 C. I would say 27 C to be precise. Also, at 27 C, butter stays nice and cold and is trapped in croissant layers. If you don't' want a soggy croissant dough, 25-27C is safe zone as butter melts nastily at around 32C.

- Rolling it a little tight. Press down gently as you roll would be a big help in making handsome croissants. I found out stretching the the tail while rolling is not necessary. But may be you can try both ways to see the difference.

I brought these goodies home. My sister and my mom just loved them, they raved about it for days. The crust was crispy and the crumb was soft and chewy. They said these are even better than the ones bought at the Oriental Hotel (one of our favorite bakery shops) and requested me to make this at home. Hey..hey, my arms are still aching from the class. Spare me, please! :-D Actually, I'm flattered, and of course , the school and the my pastry instructor should get the full creditability for this. Salute to them all.

Here are some variation you can make with croissant dough, decorating with pastry creme and fruits (in syrup). Nice, aren't they?