Wednesday, 26 December 2012


It's Christmas. I was invited to a potluck Christmas lunch and it took me no time to come up with the idea of baking a yule log, or Bûche de Noël, as the French would call it. I've never made a yule log before seeing as I only started baking in February this year so this was my very first opportunity to bake for Christmas!

Friday, 21 December 2012


 Puff pastry. Yet another thing I've wanted to make for ages. I've made croissants before and I know both require the same technique of laminating a dough. I've been curious as to how one could possibly do 6 single folds without tearing the layers. This is because my experience with making croissants has taught me that three turns is about the most the dough can take without starting to get too elastic and stiff to role out (even with appropriate resting).

Anyway I went ahead and guess what it was so much easier to roll out than the croissant dough! And I did all six turns in one day without any tearing (OK, maybe just two tiny tears at one stage). Could it be due to the absence of yeast as compared to the croissant dough? Or maybe the hydration ratio? Or the fat to flour ratio? Who knows. It turned out great and I was happy.

I divided the dough into three portions and used one for my vol-au-vents. The scene of my home-made puff pastry puffing up like a balloon was a joy to watch.

I filled the baked shells with a goats cheese/Camembert mousse and topped it with a piece of oak-smoked salmon and a sprig of dill for decoration.

I chose to make them square instead of the traditional round shape simply because I prefer the neater look of square vol-au-vents. It was a bit of a pain to cut the squares out with a pizza cutter though as I didn't have any square cutters.

And just so you know, there was no soggy bottom. :)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Chocolate Entremet

I first came across this cake on Youtube (one of the few sources that I gain my baking inspirations from). It's quintessentially French and is composed of many different layers of mousse, cream (Cremeux, or Crème Fondante), Croustillant/Feuilleté and sponge. The idea is to produce contrarsting textures from the creaminess of the mousse to the crispiness of the feuilleté, silkiness of the cremeux and finishing off with a  tender sponge base. All these enclosed in a rich and velvety chocolate ganache and coated with a shiny glaze.

The making of an entremet requires a methodical approach. All the layers have to be made individually prior to assembly and frozen before masking with the ganache and the final glazing with the glaçage.

The end result is this:

I have to confess that I did spend HOURS making this. The exact amount of time involved was in the range of 10 hours. Yes, 10 whole hours. Here's the rant: I only had three mixing bowls, work surface the size of an exam desk, fridge space big enough for a packet of crisps and a freezer compartment with a shape that doesn't fit my baking tray. On the other hand, I had to make the seven components of the cake separately and froze them as I went along. That meant I had to wash my mixing bowls seven times and dry them in between washes. Also the... OK I won't bore you further with my endless rant. Essentially it would have only taken me half the time had I had enough mixing bowls to make all the layers in one go and do the washing up at the very end instead of an interrupted work pattern. Extra fridge and freezer space would've helped too. The joys of being student baker who shares one tiny fridge and freeer with three other fellow students.

Surprisingly it turned out pretty close to what I had in mind: