Cookery Course – The Whole Story – Day 2

Here comes the last installment of the Puddings & Pastry cookery course. On day 2, we started out making pizza dough, from which we would later on, after proving, make pizza and focaccia. Again, this dough was a very wet one, not like the dry version I was familiar with. As with the spelt bread dough, when you took it out of your mixing bowl and slapped it onto the work surface, it looked more like cottage cheese than yeast dough. And same as with the bread dough, you had to work it for about 10 minutes before it looked like pizza dough. If I hadn’t seen the chef do it, I would never have believed it would work. You have this cottage cheese-like blob, and with one hand you hold on to the mass while with the other you keep stretching it forward with about three strokes, then gather it into a lumpy mass again and so on for 10 minutes. Even though it finally looked like the real thing in the end, when it came to rolling it out into shape I was cursing under my breath because it looked like the thing was getting the better of me again. Quick call to the chef, and I finally got it mostly right.

For the topping, our chef had prepared a quick and easy, very yummy tomato sauce (which I’ve already recreated at home). A little parma ham, parmesan, olives, and buffalo mozzarella, and it was good to go in the oven.

For the focaccia, the dough was rolled into a loose shape, adorned with some rosemary, olives, crushed sea salt and olive oil, and baked. The pizza we had for our lunch, the focaccia we could take home, and I had that as a cold snack at the airport the next day.

While the pizza/focaccia dough was doing its thing, we baked the gooey chocolate chip cookies that were prepared on day 1 and put in the fridge for day 2. As mentioned before, I don’t have any pics because my camera did some weird thing.

While the cookies were in the oven, we made profiteroles and eclairs. I have made choux pastry lots of times before, for what we call “Windbeutel” in German, the literal translation of which would be “wind bags” and the dictionary says is “cream puffs”. They’re not small little choux balls like profiteroles, but rather large creations spooned onto the baking sheet with two tablespoons, then cut open after baking and filled with stabilized cream. Quite a mess to eat, actually, but very delicious. As I said, I’ve made it before, but I never stuck to the instructions to fold in each egg until it’s completely incorporated. I chucked them all in, and everything was fine. Guess I’ll make it “the right way” from now on, because this dough seemed easier to handle. And a chef said it needs to be done this way. 🙂

I have to say, though, that I prefer the profiterole version, filled with the pastry cream we made on day 1. My learning to wield a piping bag at the praline making course last year came in very handy.

Next were the sticky toffee puddings. The chef had prepared the toffee sauce on day 1 and put it aside, then today, the puddings were made, then left in the oven to steam while again we prepared other things. I have to admit I didn’t think I’d like these, but when I tried a forkful from my baking partner I was amazed and decided to have a whole one after all. I will definitely make these at home, they seem like the perfect dessert for an autumn dinner.

On day 1 we had prepared sweet pastry for our fruit tartlets that were to be assembled on day 2. After baking and cooling the tart cases, we painted the inside with molten chocolate, then later spooned in some of the pastry cream we had used for the profiteroles, and filled them with fresh fruit. We also learned how to fillet an orange, which was really neat, and even with my knife phobia I managed very well. The fruit was then glazed with warmed-up jam and decorated. Unfortunately I didn’t feel very inspired and was a bit disappointed with my fruit tartlet. I know I can do better…

The last item for day 2 was the Greek yogurt & honey panna cotta that was prepared on day 1 and stored in the fridge for setting and to be consumed on day 2. If you’ve been here before, you know that I love panna cotta, especially trying new variations with regards to scenting or infusing them. The Greek yogurt made it extra rich but sooooo delicious. Something else that’s on my “to do” list to make at home.

Another thing I learned with huge eyes: gelatine leaves in the UK are twice the size they are in Germany! I just made a note of that in my panna cotta posts that use gelatine leaves. If someone were to try one of those with double-sized leaves it would be quite horrible, I imagine, more of a brick than a blancmange consistency.

Day 2 was brought to a conclusion by everyone picking out a few dessert items they would like to consume with our tea, the rest was to be packed up and taken home. Sadly, I couldn’t take much with me on the plane, but I shared some of my profiteroles with my B&B hosts.

So that’s it, folks! As you can see, we were incredibly busy, and it was such enormous fun. I would do this again any time, and I’m keeping an eye on the course schedules to see what I might want to do next.