I am psyching up to begin another pastry class next week. This one, Pastry II, goes until the very end of June. So, besides readying my psyche, there are a number of other things I need to prepare in order to launch quickly from the house come 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning. The supplies alone can require a pack mule--notebook, binder, textbook, recipe packet, apron, neckerchief, chef's coat and pants, chef hat, digital scale, digital thermometer, and the rather awkward and weighty knife-filled case that is the unmistakable identifying mark of a culinary student in transit.
Yesterday, while sorting through my papers from last semester, I happened upon the recipe for tuile dough that I used as one small part of my "practical final" exam in my Plated Desserts I class this winter. I'd always intended to make tuiles at home and blog about them, and this seemed like a good time to finally do it.
In case you're not familiar with them, a basic tuile (pronounced tweel), which means "tile" in French, is a very thin, slightly sweet, rather bland cookie made from an exquisitely short list of ingredients--typically just butter, powdered sugar, egg whites, and flour, though additional ingredients like sliced almonds are not uncommon. A tuile's most unique characteristic is the fact that it can be shaped/curled/molded by hand while it's still very hot.
Tuiles are not really something that one can mass produce in a short period of time at home, but that's hardly a concern. They allow for so much customizing and creative interpretation, they're worth the trouble. And, best of all, they're actually a lot of fun. Do they require some planning? Kind of. If you want to make them into particular shapes, then yes, definitely, because you'll need templates. Rubber or plastic templates specifically made for tuiles can be purchased, but they're pretty costly. The templates I used are my own; I made them using thin, soft, non-toxic craft foam from Michael's craft store. I cut the designs out of the foam with an exacto knife.
The sky's the limit in terms of shapes if you're making the templates yourself. The foam sheets are very inexpensive so it's no big deal if you make a few mistakes. And, if you just want to make plain round tuiles, you won't necessarily need to use templates at all.
Tuiles make perfect serving vehicles for other dessert items. Ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, and mousse all love nestling close to tuiles. They provide the perfect crunch factor and their lack of assertive flavor works to their advantage. Case in point: What might go well with a wacky item like blueberry banana sorbet? A thick chocolate cookie? Yuck. An overwhelmingly lemony cookie? Ehh, not so much. A lovely, crunchy, sweet-but-subtle tuile? YES!
About these recipes . . .
I adapted this sorbet from pastry chef David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop, including twice as much banana as the recipe called for, along with a bit more sugar and slightly more blueberries (yeah . . . I had to get rid of those speckled bananas languishing on the counter . . . again). It's a simple, casual treat, and it's even fat free. The flavor combo seems a little off the wall, but if it's good enough for David Lebovitz, well, enough said. You could make this and have it chilling in your freezer inside of half an hour if you're quick on your feet. It's easier than heck--no fussing required.
The tuile recipe is from Professional Baking, by Wayne Gisslen. That was the textbook used for my Pastry I class last autumn, my Retail Baking class a year ago, and even for my Plated Desserts I class that ended a couple of months ago. It's a pretty thorough volume. Another remarkably easy formula, it's practically impossible to screw up. And, you can make the dough ahead of time because it has to chill for at least an hour before you spread it.
Yield: One quart of sorbet and at least two dozen average size tuiles
Equipment for sorbet:
-- food processor or blender
-- ice cream maker, or ice cream maker attachment for your mixer
-- 1 quart container in which to chill finished sorbet
Equipment for tuiles:
Food scale to measure tuile ingredients
1 or 2 Silpats (silicone pan liners) or parchment paper
1 or 2 very flat cookie sheets
1 small offset spatula
flexible tuile templates
Ingredients for sorbet:
2 and 1/2 cups frozen wild Maine blueberries (They're little, very blue, and sweet; I buy them in large bags from Costco. Of course, if you have good fresh berries on hand, don't hesitate!) 4 medium size very ripe bananas 1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1 cup cold water 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
In a food processor or blender, pulse together all of the ingredients until the blueberries look almost pulverized and the mixture looks not-quite completely smooth.
Then process the mixture according to the instructions for your ice cream maker. (I used the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer, mixing on low speed for almost 20 minutes. Then, I put the sorbet into a container and froze it for several hours before serving. It doesn't freeze rock hard, and it scoops nicely.)
Ingredients for the tuiles: 2 and 1/2 oz. (5 and 1/3 Tbsp.) of unsweetened butter (An extra high-fat brand like Plugra is often recommended for tuiles.) 3 oz. cake flour or all purpose flour, sifted (one scant cup) 3 oz. powdered sugar, sifted (about 3/4 cup) 2 and 1/2 oz. egg whites (approximately, the whites of two or three large eggs)
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar; start on low speed, then increase to medium as the sugar mixes in. Add in the egg whites and flour alternately, mixing until combined. The dough should be kind of thick, sticky, and stretchy.
Scoop all of the dough into a disposable pastry bag with an un-cut tip (not critical to have a pastry bag, but helpful to do it this way!) and refrigerate it for one hour or more.
You'll trim the tip off the pastry bag right before you use the dough.
If you'd like to make decorative little designs in the tuiles after the dough has been spread on the templates, separate out a couple tablespoons of the dough before it's chilled and mix a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder into it.
Put this cocoa dough into a very small pastry bag, preferably one made of parchment paper (here's a site that shows how to make one of these; it's a foundation skill for cake decorators and pastry chefs!). It will need to have a tiny opening tip that you will trim with scissors right before you're ready to use the dough.
Once the dough has chilled sufficiently and you're getting ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325.
Take a perfectly flat cookie sheet without sides (or use the back of a cookie sheet with sides), and place your Silpat or parchment sheet over it. This process is stress free if done on a Silpat type of pan liner, just fyi. If you're using parchment, it should be cut to fit the cookie sheet without overlapping the sides.
Place your tuile template over the Silpat/parchment. Cut the tip off of the filled pastry bag, about an inch up from the point. Squeeze a plump line of dough onto each template shape you'll be using.
With the offset spatula, carefully spread the dough smoothly into each cut-out. You may need to hold the template sheet in place with one hand if you're doing this on parchment.
If you want to add decorative designs in the dough with the cocoa dough, do it now. Cut the tip of the parchment cone with the cocoa dough in it and create any designs you like, just squeezing a tiny line onto the plain dough.
When all the shapes you're using have been filled, gently lift the edge of the template and peel it off.
Bake the tuiles for approximately 6-7 minutes,just until they begin to get lightly golden. They bake quickly and burn easily; keep a close eye on them.
Using the offset spatula, carefully lift each piece, working with just one at a time, and mold it quickly with your hands or press it over a form (like a small, upside-down drinking glass) to make it into a bowl shape. It will be quite hot so use care. If a tuile cools into a shape you didn't intend, you can put it back in the oven to soften it and try again. The tuiles will start to harden within about 15 seconds, so you don't have any time to fool around once you start doing this. Store the finished tuiles away from moisture.
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Jane's Sweets & Baking Journalwas born of my ever increasing desire to learn more about the baking and pastry arts, and of my love for anything and everything related to baking. Just as food is meant to be shared, so is knowledge among bakers and among those who enjoy delicious foods prepared from scratch. So, please partake, and feel free to share your thoughts and comments. I'd love to hear from you.
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Visit the PBS site to reminisce about 2013's best food trends. They've assembled an entertaining look at what we foodies focused on--what we ate, cooked, read, watched, and blogged about--throughout the year. Click here!
Interesting article in the Los Angeles Timeson the resurgence in demand for the skills of professional pastry chefs. (It seems we still need them after all . . .but you and I have always known that, haven't we?)
The IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) announced winners of its 2013 IACP Food Writing Awards. Have a look at the list. (No surprise that the gorgeous Bouchon Bakery cookbook won for photography and styling; took about a dream of a book! It's gorgeous.)
Food journalist and cookbook reviewer T. Susan Chang, writing for Publisher's Weekly, shared her thoughts in the article "10 Things Every Cookbook Publisher Should Know." Chang clarifies, in a nutshell, what differentiates a great cookbook from an awful dud. I found myself nodding in agreement with every point she made.
An interesting variation on cherries jubilee . . .
. . . made with Grand Marnier, sweet black cherries, pomegranate juice, and homemade vanilla ice cream.
Dutch apple cake . . .
. . . it's divine!
What We Talk About . . .
. . . When We Talk About Banana Cake!
JANE'S FAVORITE BAKING BOOKS
About Professional Baking: The Essentials, by Gail Sokol. This is a textbook, but not one that's intimidating. It contains lots of useful info, including interesting personal profiles of professional chefs.
All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett. Another winner of the IACP award. Loads of good looking cookie recipes with lots of very appetizing photos. (Don't you love cookbooks with tons of pictures? I do.)
All-American Dessert Book, by Nancy Baggett. Wonderfully detailed, with very reliable recipes, Baggett does it again in this valuable cookbook. Definitely worth your time!
Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet. This large Gourmet Cook Book Club Selection is a feast for the eyes. I love the page layout, the photos, and the author's reassuring tone. Recipes range from the quotidian ("classic sugar cookies") to the ridiculous ("Moroccan-spiced sweet-potato tiropetes") to the absolute sublime ("duo-tone chocolate pots de creme"). Worth acquiring.
Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, by the Culinary Institute of America. This is a heavy duty textbook, not for the faint of heart. Intimidating, sure, but also kind of fascinating if you're an obsessive bake-a-holic like me.
Baking with Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan and based on the PBS series hosted by Julia Child. Yet another hefty and dazzling coffee-table-worthy cookbook. Wonderful to have around. (My copy was autographed by Julia herself!)
Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, published in 1950 and available in a facsimile edition, holds a special place in my heart. This is the book my mom primarily used, or so it seemed, when I was a kid. The photos are such period pieces, and the little notations that accompany recipes are pricelessly cute and corny. I have an ancient copy that I still use. Every girl needs a copy of this in her house, for good karma if nothing else.
Bitter Sweet -- Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate, by Alice Medrich. Much more than just a cookbook with a focus on fine dark chocolate, this is also a memoir of sorts from a legendary chocolate-dessert creator. Medrich is often credited with awakening American tastes to the finest aspects of superior chocolate. Very interesting read!
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes,by Jeffrey Hamelman. An indispensable book for anyone who is seriously interested in learning to make fine yeast breads, Hamelman shares far more than just technical knowledge. Like fellow bread guru Peter Reinhart, his warmth of spirit and deep love for the tradition of bread baking shines through on every page.
Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham. Not to be confused with the character of the mom on Happy Days, the real Marion Cunningham has a long list of writing accomplishments, the most well known being that she completely revised The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. A contemporary of the late James Beard's, she is still held in high esteem.
Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is really into the science of baking, which can be helpful in some respects and off-putting in others. Like gardeners who talk mostly about soil components without conveying their joy in the plants themselves. Maybe I'm too sensitive? Probably so, as many consider this to be an invaluable classic. Despite my reservations, I wouldn't part with my copy. One of several highly detailed books by Rose. Her latest book, Heavenly Cakes, is much more down to earth, loaded with photos, and truly beautiful.
Cake Book, by Tish Boyle. I've called it a treasure trove before and please allow me to say it again here. This book is jam packed with wonderful stuff that's well explained. I used the Sacher-torte recipe in the fall of '09 for a culinary school project and it didn't let me down. I can endorse this book without reservation. I love it.
Complete Book of Pastry Sweet & Savory, by Bernard Clayton, Jr. When this book appeared in 1981, famed food editor Craig Claiborne praised it in the NYT as "one of the most important cookbooks of this year, if not of this decade." No photos, but don't let that dissuade you.
Craft of Baking, by Karen DeMasco & Mindy Fox. In 2009, some great new cookbooks were published and this was one of them. Down to earth, straightforward without being condescending, this smart guide offers creative and simple twists on dozens of diverse and well-proven "cakes, cookies, and other sweets."
Dessert University, by Roland Mesnier. As the White House executive pastry chef for over two decades, Mesnier has a lot of wisdom to impart. He does so well in this book, which is designed specifically for home bakers. A good book!
Grand Central Baking Book, by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson. Readers are welcomed into these pages with a tone of warmth and familiarity. The photos alone will have you scribbling a grocery list. Try the berry kuchen recipe--simple and scrumptious.
Hershey's Chocolate Treasury, published in 1984 by Hershey Foods and chock full of old reliables. The recipe for Black Magic cake is one I've used again and again--invaluable!
How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri. The writing style is matter of fact and fairly informal. That's one of my favorite things about Malgieri's books.
Magical Art of Cake Decorating, by Carole Collier. Sometimes at a used book sale you find an old gem like this. Published in '84, I found it very encouraging when I first began decorating cakes. The recipes are rock solid reliable.
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, by Maida Heatter. Famed baker (apparently her "Palm Beach Brownies" are known far and wide), whose work has centered on wondrous chocolate desserts, Heatter received a James Beard award for this book, one of many she's published over several active decades.
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, by Martha Stewart. Beautiful photos, but I must admit I've come to have reservations about the reliability of some of the recipes. Is it just me? Though I love flipping through the book for ideas, I'm a bit on the fence with this one when it comes to actual usage.
Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart. Talk about a stunning and inspiring book! Chances are you may never decide to actually make one of the cakes from this glorious volume, but it's enough just to page through the gorgeous pictures and interesting recipes. Expensive? For sure, but worth it.
Passion for Baking, A by Marcy Goldman. If you're curious about how professional bakers manage to make things come out nicely every time, you'll appreciate this book. Goldman, in her highly approachable style, divulges many of their simple--but enormously helpful--tricks and techniques, and shows readers how to implement them throughout the wondrous array of down-to-earth recipes that pack this great book. Loads of enticing photos, too! I love this book!
Perfect Cakes, by Nick Malgieri. Can't say enough about Malgieri's books. Absolutely worth using, versus just reading! The white and dark chocolate cheesecake is to die for; I've made it a few times, along with many other recipes from this book, and it is superb.
Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday, by Peter Reinhart. This book is a revelation for anyone who approaches yeast recipes like a vampire approaches the dawn. Talk about down to earth, encouraging, and flexible! This guy knows how to talk to rookie breadmakers. Well worth reading, and using, this volume will find a comfy place in your cookbook collection--a worthwhile purchase, undoubtedly!
Professional Cake Decorating, by Toba Garrett. I get the impression that this book is perceived as the most thorough and comprehensive text available for serious students of cake decorating. This is the text that we used for my culinary school Beginning Cake Decorarting class (which means I finally own my own copy!).
Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, by Sarabeth Levine. Almost too pretty to use, but use it anyway! This big book is so appealing, and the photos so remarkably enticing, you'll want to pick it up like a sandwich and bite right into it. Fine recipes for updated classics, well explained, from the famous Manhattan bakery. Worth buying. (You'll love it!)
Secrets of Baking, by Sherry Yard. A must have, bakers! This cookbook's forte is the way it's organized; master recipes are presented with full explanations of how they can be used, and related recipes follow, section by section. An exceptional manual to refer to. Get your own copy!
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. Huntsman is the professional pastry chef behind this beautiful book, filled with many tempting recipes, all designed specifically and scaled perfectly for three layers. I've made the Devil's food cake thus far, and it was exceptional--it rose well, was very moist, and had great depth of flavor. I'll be using this book more in the future, without a doubt. Love the photos also!
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I'm a mom with two great sons (both now in college), and a really nice husband. I left a long editorial career in reference publishing a few years ago and I've had nary a regret. I recently finished (after four part-time years!) a Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate program in the Culinary Studies Institute at a local community college. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and I am so glad I did it. These days, I do a lot of freelance editorial work, something that I really enjoy.
"Jane's Sweets" was the name of a very small baking enterprise that I started in late 2007. It bloomed a bit, for a little while, with encouragement from my husband, my aunt, and my first cake decorating teacher, Cindy. Because my Aunt Lydia was my most ardent female supporter in this baking endeavor (she was a lifelong independent business owner herself), this blog is dedicated to her memory. If heaven is real, then I know she's there with my mom, baking up a storm. Like Lydia said one day, just before her 80th birthday, while she and my mom and I were baking in my mom's kitchen, "It's been a fun ride. I'd do it all over again!"
If my house were on fire, I'd grab my family, then I'd grab my KitchenAid mixer.
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