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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Culinary School - Session 7: Onion Tart and Chocolate Heaven Cookies


Culinary School: Session 7 (08.29.14)

Onion Tart and Chocolate Heaven Cookies



Down with the Imperialists!

Actually, down with the Imperial System. Today's class included some light academics - unit conversions in recipes. Ounces to grams, and back again.

Anyone who has been following Outside of the Breadbox knows I am 100% committed to using the metric system when cooking! Ounces will never never never make sense. Here's to studying Pastry Arts according to French tradition!

At the risk of geeking out too much, I thought it couldn't hurt to finally summarize a few of the basic conversions in one place. With these equivalents, you can easily take a recipe written in cups and ounces and convert it to grams, the way god (or at least Escoffier) intended.

Measuring Cup



Temperature
C = (F - 32) * (5/9)
F = C * (9/5) + 32

Knowing how to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit is useful, but there's a practical consideration in the United States the keeps even the most fervent metric-system devotees from making the switch. Good luck finding a consumer oven that actually reports the temperature in Celsius. As a result, even recipes that are otherwise 100% metric-system based will usually indicate temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit.


Weight
1 ounce = 28.35 grams
1 pound = 16 ounces = 454 grams


Fluids
1 fluid ounce = 29.57 grams
1 cup = 8 fluid ounces = 237 grams


Don't be dense!

Converting weight from ounces to grams and back again is straightforward enough.

But remember that grade school riddle... which weighs more... a pound of feathers or a pound of lead? They're always the same (ignoring the topic of mass and gravitational considerations, but let's keep things simple).  A pound is a pound. A gram is a gram.

The most common place I've seen errors in conversions is with volume and weight, because people fail to consider density. 

Which weighs more, a cup of oil or a cup of molasses? Molasses, with considerably greater density, is nearly 60% heavier than oil. A cup of oil is the equivalent of about 215 grams. Molasses weighs in at 340 grams per cup. Mistaking the two as equivalent by weight when converting a recipe would be a disaster.

So why do we even have a conversion equivalent of fluid ounces to grams?

The fluid ounce to gram conversion factor of 29.57 is specific to (pure) water. 1 fluid ounce of water weighs 29.57 grams and is also equivalent to 29.57 ml. You can use this conversion factor for liquids that are of similar density, like skim milk. However, other fluids may vary significantly, so be careful.

Food packing will always report the correct conversion factor for a specific product. If there is any doubt, check the label!

Serving Size Label



- Ingredients Running Tally -



We're almost at the 20 pound mark... Type II Diabetes is already within striking distance!

Ingredients used to date (08.29.14):
  • Flour: 2,775g
  • Eggs: 23x
  • Sugar: 1,755g
  • Butter: 1,580g
  • Milk/Cream: 1,310g



- The Recipes -



I'm sad to report that, once again, we failed to get the Fig Newtons into the ovens. They're rolled. They're filled. They're just raw!

With the last of the Safe Food Handling & Sanitation sessions behind us (exam on Wednesday!), I promise the final product is coming...

Assembling the Fig Newton Bars

Filled and Unbaked Fig Newton Bar




Item:

Onion Tart (Tarte a L'Oignon)


Description:
A galette or "rustic, free form" tart. This savory tart is formed without the use of a ring mold. The outer edge of the crust is shaped by hand.

Focus Techniques:
- Caramelizing onions and developing flavor through long, low temperature cooking.
- Shaping the tart crust by hand or "free form".
- Using an egg wash to seal the tart crust when shaping a decorative edge by hand.
- Docking the tart dough before baking to prevent bubbles from forming.
- Layering nuts under the other tart toppings to prevent burning when baking.

Onion Tart Mise en Place

Unbaked Onion Tart

Baked Onion Tart




Item:

Chocolate Heaven Cookies


Description:
A (nearly) flourless chocolate cookie that gets most of its structure from whipped eggs. The final dough is very liquid (more like a batter), and the final cookies have a brownie-like consistency. Coffee extract is added to enhance the dominant, dark chocolate flavor.

Focus Techniques:
- Whipping the eggs and sugar until light in color and significantly increased in volume ("blanchir") to create a shiny meringue-like outer coating.
- Melting chocolate in a double-boiler or "bain-marie" to prevent scorching.
- Optionally chilling the very liquid dough to prevent spread during baking; however, the final texture of the cookie can be somewhat compromised.

Baked Chocolate Heaven Cookie



Take a look at the full syllabus



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