April 19, 2010

Belly up to the buffet

The last section of class. A dessert buffet project with a showpiece. Actually, 3 showpieces. One made of pastillage, one made of chocolate, and one made of blown/cast/pulled sugar. One item must be 6"X10" and the other 2 items must be 3"X5". The buffet must have 9 different items, 3 of each item, for a total of at least 27 pieces. The categories for the items are pastry (a 3-6 bite item), petit four (a 2-3 bite item), and candy (a 1-2 bite item).

Ok, so I went with a theme. I was going to do a lighthouse/coast theme but couldn't get it all worked out in my head. Instead I went with a movie theme. Alice in Wonderland. We had seen the recent one in 3-D with some of my classmates and I really enjoyed the look of it.

My pieces, well the Mad Hatter hat for one, Cheshire for another, and a drink me bottle for the third. My buffet items included eccles cake, lemon tassies (Scottish for small cup), and lime friands for the pastry items. The eat me cake (petit fours glacé, a huge production like before), meringue cookies shaped like hearts, and candied violet French macaroons for the petit four items. For the candy items I made nougat, orange-ginger jellies, and salt caramel filled chocolates. I was going for the afternoon tea idea and I think it worked out ok.

So, making a hat out of pastillage is hard. Originally I was trying to make the hat my large item, just the hat. Well, it didn't work out. I had to scale it down 4 times just so I could get it to a workable size. The pastillage just kept getting too hard to work with too fast. The one time I got a large piece shaped, it fell to the floor and broke into pieces. So, I taped some of the hard plastic sheets I had into the shape I wanted and let the pastillage dry on that. It did work and I only needed a small piece to fill the seam in the back. The top and bottom of the hat were much easier than the body. I don't know if you can see it in the pictures but I did use a texture sheet to get the paisley pattern just like the hat in the movie.

Now that the hat pieces were done, I needed to come up with a way to get the height back from the massive scale down. I made a red heart and a pile of cards. I scratched the suites and an 'A' into the cards. I glued the cards together, put them on top of the heart, and the hat on top of all of that and got the height I needed. I had to hide the entire piece in a closet at school for over a week. I was terrified that I would get broken before I could show it and get it checked off. Phew, it made it.

Next up was the chocolate piece. I went the route of a inlay piece. I found a cool picture of Cheshire Cat and colored some coating chocolate. I then painted it onto acetate using a blown up picture. I even wrote the words 'I really do like that hat...' I let it dry, put candy bars up around it, and then covered it with grey chocolate to get a solid slab out of it. I even made angled pieces so I could melt them on and it would stand up. This piece did not turn out like I wanted it to, not at all. The painted on pieces stuck to the acetate and I had to paint a lot of it back in the indents left by the painted chocolate. While trying to get the chocolate to come off the acetate, I smeared the words. It was so frustrating. I finally got it all done, cut off the words, glued on the angled pieces and had Chef Hall check it off. Then I chucked it. I disliked it so much I tossed it. I took a picture to remind myself of the work, the process, and what not to do in the future.

Next up was the sugar piece. I had to rework my plan for my sugar pieces a couple of times because I confused myself with the instructions about what it had to be for checkoff. I needed 1 flower, 3 leaves, 1 pulled/blown piece, and 1 cast piece all together. I decided to make a chessboard as my cast piece, a blue flower like in the movie, 1 red rose, and 1 white rose, all with leaves, and a bottle as my blown piece. This is not easy. This work requires patience and time. Expect that you will get blisters and burns. Expect that you will break pieces and have to do them over. I finally got everything made and pieced together but it took several days and 5 blisters. The chessboard turned out to be so fun that I decided to use it and a couple of my cake stands as the platters in my buffet.

In the end, I stayed in Portland and worked on the buffet items for that last couple of weekends. I worked 3 weeks straight in the kitchen on the menu items and the buffet items. And just like that, class was over. I ended up not doing as well as I would have liked over all with my buffet but it was a good experience. Less salt in the caramels, more lemon in the tassies, puff dough for the eccles, well, it did not go as planned and I did not have a plan b.

Being my own worst critic, I could go on and on with what I perceive as things that went wrong. All in all, I cannot really remember what happened. You are so focused on just getting it all done that you cannot comprehend what to do when you are done. I had fun, I challenged myself, and it all worked out.

1 comment:

  1. So much hard work, but I think it paid off since you created such beautiful pieces! I loved your hat, and I think the bottle, chessboard, flowers worked extremely well together.