Saturday, January 14, 2012

shots.

I haven't been writing much lately, but i thought i'd start a new post with less words and some shots of desserts i've been working on lately. some of these photos are not mine, they were taken by my happy customers.






Ben Sia Patisserie is now in business! (You can follow me on facebook). I recently went to a printing company and had some professional looking boxes made. At a big cost though :( But i wanted to showcase my macarons in a polished looking box. I think my signature colors will be black and grey.

Recently dabbled in a bit of chocolate making as well. these were tempered by hand, but it would go so much smoother with a tempering machine.






I'm not a big fan of lemon desserts myself but this lemon tart i did for an order just looks beautiful!

Monday, November 21, 2011

japanese strawberry shortcake.



The japanese version of strawberry shortcake utilises a sponge cake instead of a scone. I can think of no other dessert more ethereal than this; with the moist and tender cake, layered with chantilly cream and sweet strawberries.
For the longest time, I had been struggling with this dilemma. I liked the idea of using chiffon for cream and mousse type cakes. However, the only problem was that the cake was so delicate that it was difficult to slice horizontally; and i always wound with with wonky layers. To overcome this, i simply divided the batter amongst 3 pans and voila! no more layering.

Cake:
50 gm sugar
50 gm canola oil
50 gm cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, separated
1 whole egg

a. Cream 3 egg yolks, whole egg, oil, 25 g sugar, flour and powder in a bowl till thick and creamy.
b. In another bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with the remaining sugar till stiff. fold a little of the meringue into the mixture from (a) to lighten, then fold in the rest carefully using a large whisk.
c. Divide mixture equally amongst 3 seven-inch round pans. Bake at 160 C for 15 min or until baked. Once baked, the cakes must be cooled upside down to prevent collapse of the delicate structure. R2move the cakes 30 mins later.

Chantilly cream:
2 and 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
5 tbsp icing sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp of gelatine dissolved in 6 tbsp water
scraping of 1 vanilla bean

a. Stir the icing sugar and the vanilla seeds into the cream.
b. Beat the cream, when it starts to form soft peaks, pour in the gelatine in a thin stream and continue whisking to stiff peaks.

Strawberries:
if your strawberries are sour, macerate them with sugar for 30 minutes, then drain the juices.



Assembly:
a. Layer each cake layer with a portion of cream and sliced strawberries. I find using a mousse ring the easiest for this; I simply pour the cream in and use a spoon to level it out.
b. Pressed toasted almond flakes up the sides and decorate as desired.

Friday, August 26, 2011

plaisir sucre..



Plaisir Sucre (sweet pleasure) is the third pierre herme recipe i've tried. the first was the chocolate sables and the second, the lemon tart. i've put off doing this recipe for so long because i'd no experience with tempering chocolate. i don't know why milk chocolate is harder to temper than dark... i only successfully tempered it on my 3rd try. to temper it, i melted 150 g of chocolate to 120 F, remove from stove, add remaining 50 g of reserved chocolate to the melted chocolate, and stir until the temperature drops to 83 F (it takes about 30 mins of stirring, so you'll really get defined forearms from this... hah!), once it reaches that temperature, put the bowl of choc back on the simmering water and let it reach 86-87, don't go higher than that! and your chocolate should be tempered and ready for spreading on the acetate sheets...
the other five components weren't too difficult (hazelnut dacquoise, chocolate ganache,chocolate whipped cream, praline feuilletine (I sub-ed with crushed corn flakes).. it seems like a lot of effort but it was worth it when a friend proclaimed 'the best dessert i've ever had'. since this was my first time, making it - it seems kinda a clumsy attempt. i would make the dacquoise layers thinner next time and the ganache was kinda drippy too.. i would make a slight adjustment to the recipe in future.

Monday, August 22, 2011

a thousand leaves.




I've always adored the flaky and ethereal quality of puff pastry and wanted to make a millefeuille. But to rush off to the supermarket and buy ready made pastry would be cheating, no? So I decided to make my own. There is something infinitely satisfying about making puff pastry.. and seeing all the beautiful layers rise like magic in the oven.

For the creme patisserie, I used Michel Roux's recipe but made a few substitutes replacing part of the milk with double cream for a richer taste. You definitely do not want to use low fat milk to make pastry cream!




The completed millefeuille. Now this can come out from some chi-chi patisserie. Even Mum who isn't a big fan of desserts gobbled this right up.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

say cheese..



I have to say every baker must have a good cheesecake up their sleeve. Since trying this recipe, I haven't been tempted to try anything else. Sour cream really elevates the flavor and gives it a really creamy soft texture. for those who love 'dense' cheesecakes, this is not for you. but i like this one as you can eat a whole slice and not feel queasy. and to make it even more decadent, I baked this with chunks of brownie in the batter.



This is my first experience with tempering chocolate. Of course, you can use plain melted chocolate, but it won't set and it just won't shine (or heaven forbid, chocolate cake covering) I don't know why I was so hesitant to try it before; it really wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. For these chocolate dipped berries, 200 g of chopped dark chocolate couverture was used. 2/3 of that goes into a glass bowl over simmering water and melted to past 105 F. Upon reaching that temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chopped chocolate into the melted chocolate and start stirring like mad. When your temperature gets between 88 to 89, you are ready to start dipping. My biggest worry was whether the temperature would spiral down too quickly but I was quite surprised to find that the chocolate does maintain its temperature for a while. If it dips down below 88, simply place it over the simmering water but don't let it get above 90. Sounds tricky I know, but it wasn't so bad.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pie it.





I must admit I'm not a fan of lemon meringue pie, but it is a classic and I like to master the classics. I hate the strong eggy taste of traditional lemon curd so for these tarts, I used a vegan recipe stiffened with agar. It turned out divine, without that dreadful eggy taste, but I would probably dilute the lemon juice next time; I like my lemon desserts verging on the sweet instead of the puckeringly sour. For the meringue, I used the italian method. the last time I used the french, the meringue collapsed in a matter of hours in this humidity.



These caramel and chocolate tarts were done for a recent order. I was very happy when a customer gave me some positive feedback, saying these brought her right back to Paris. I was initially quaking in my boots when I learnt that she was there for many years. She must have had the best of the best, and here I am - still an untrained pastry novice, what hope did I have? Lol. but thankfully she loved them.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

lately.

I can't believe I've neglected this blog for quite a while now. yes, I've busy in the kitchen as usual but sometimes I'm so lazy to write about what i've been doing, you know? anyway, these are some of my projects lately.



The recipe for these brownies comes from the BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking Cookbook. The batter called for both cocoa powder and expresso powder to be added so the resulting brownie is very dark and rich. Out of all the brownies I've tasted, this one came out the least sweet, a plus for those who like less sweet things but I'll probably add a bit more sugar next time..



I've always wanted to attempt an opera cake, but i didn't want to do the classic coffee version, so I thought of matcha. I was surprised by how easy it was to do and how delicious the results were. Normally, I'm a big hater of buttercream but it paired really well with the green tea joconde and bittersweet chocolate ganache. One word though - when the recipe calls for soaking the cake layers with syrup - make sure to do so liberally - these type of cakes really come alive with moisture. I will definitely do this cake again and Im thinking of a caramel and white chocolate version this time... I also thought the cake was kinda tall, Upon further reading, I found out that an opera cake should not be more than 3 cm in height, so I reduced the quantity of the batter the second time round and this is the result.





These are some recent macaron orders. The purple-black ones are filled with olive-oil and vanilla ganache - a pierre herme recipe I always wanted to try. If you love olive oil, you'll be over the moon. But the taste wasn't really for me, I guess. It tasted good right after being made but the olive oil was so overpowering..



Am I the only person obsessed with the perfect pie crust?? I've found a combination of shortening and butter gives the flakiest results (I don't like the idea of using lard). The recipe for this pie crust comes from http://www.food.com/recipe/the-flakiest-pie-crust-333273. It will be my go to pie crust recipe from now - it's so delicious! The only thing that wasn't delicious were the granny smith apples I used - it was so sour; I think I'll do a sweet-tart apple mix next time. And the crust turned out to be soggy and uncooked on the bottom. so the second time, I baked - i placed the pie pan directly on the bottom of the oven, brushed egg white over the crust and sprinkled cookie crumbs before piling on the filling. this time, it worked like a charm :)