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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Culinary School - Session 12: Linzer Torte and Quiche Lorraine

Culinary School: Session 12 (09.12.14)

Linzer Torte and Quiche Lorraine

Excuse me, Chef... but I was told there would be no caramel on this exam!

Session 12 brings the days of tarts and cookies to a close - our first of 16 Units comes to an end. But what is school without exams?

On Monday we will see who can really cook and who has been sneaking in Entenmann's as we spend the entire class in our exam.

The format is straight-forward enough. We start with a 45 minute written exam: terminology, food science and a dash of recipe conversion math.

And then it is on to the main event... the practical: organization, technique and execution.

As far as we can tell, each student will pull three recipes from a hat and get to work. No chef-prescribed timelines. No teammate support. Just you, a bag of flour and an appointment with the ovens.

On this first exam, it seems inevitable that a few dishes will go up in flames. Fingers crossed that there are no... well... lost fingers!

And then it's off to Unit 2 for some Pate au Choux.

Unit One Exam Study Materials

- Ingredients Running Tally -

... and a Diet Coke, please!

Talk about raiding the larder. We've only just finished Unit 1, and these numbers are hitting astronomical (gastronomical?) heights

Ingredients used to date (09.12.14):
  • Flour: 5,325g
  • Eggs: 2,350g (47x)
  • Sugar: 3,675g
  • Butter: 3,155g
  • Milk/Cream: 2,360g

For a Unit 1 Grand Total of...

  • 16.9 kg (37.1 lbs) of ingredients per person.
  • 253.0 kg (557 lbs) of ingredients for the class.
  • 62,995 calories per person ... about 22 marathons for the average adult.
  • 944,925 calories for the class ... about 2.6 months on the elliptical.

At this rate, we're on track to use about 2.5 tons of ingredients by graduation!

... that's an adult, male giraffe.

- The Recipes -


Linzer Torte

A (thankfully) not overly-sweet raspberry compote baked upon a layer of creme d'amandes in a lightly sweet and extremely flaky Linzer crust.

Nothing short of amazing - perhaps we were saving the best for last! 

This tart features a dough that is as unique as it is painful to work with. With an extremely high fat content, the crust achieves previously unseen levels of flakiness. The high fat content is the product of not only the requisite french-pastry quantity of butter, but also the result of adding boiled egg yolks to the mix (we'll take fat wherever you've got it). The high fat content means the dough very quickly becomes soft and prone to sticking when moved to room temperature. Nothing delicious was ever easy.

But the raspberry compote is the real surprise that makes this dish work. Unlike the traditional apple compote used in the Tarte aux Pommes, which tasted disappointingly monotone in its sweetness, this raspberry compote retains a sharp acidity. Combined with the creme d'amandes and the linzer crust, you have what is pretty much the perfect tart

Focus Techniques:
- Using boiled egg yolks, passed through a sieve, as an alternative form of fat that does not increase the water content of the dough.
- Using apple pectin as a thickener in the raspberry compote.
- Mixing apple pectin with sugar prior to adding any liquid to prevent clumping.
- Using a flour-dusted, five-wheel pastry cutter to form even strips of dough for the top crust lattice.
- Weaving the top crust lattice using very cool dough; freezing the lattice before assembling the final tart.
- Using an egg wash to bond the top and bottom layers of the tart crust.
- Trimming any excess dough that extends over the edge of the ring mold to make it easier to remove the mold after baking.

Linzer Tarte Dough in Ring

Linzer Tarte Filled with Creme D'Amandes

Linzer Tarte Covered with Untrimmed Lattice

Unbaked Linzer Tarte

Baked Linzer Tarte


Quiche Lorraine

An extremely creamy quiche with lardons of bacon and gruyere cheese in a flaky pate brisee crust.

This quiche bears little resemblance to anything I've had before. The texture is silky smooth, without the slightest suggestion of egg curd. The texture is due in large part to a high fat content - the product of a cream-laden custard poured over a generous helping of gruyere cheese.

Focus Techniques:
- Closely examining blind baked tart shells for any cracks or holes that may leak when filled with custard.
- Cooking bacon over low heat to render the fat without overly browning or crisping the bacon.
- Grating cheese with a microplane for easier melting.
- Despite the flavorful ingredients of bacon and gruyere, carefully seasoning the custard to avoid having a flat tasting quiche.
- Keeping air out of the custard by mixing gently and by straining the custard prior to baking. Keeping air out of the custard contributes to the desired, silky texture.
- Filling the tartlets with custard at the ovens to reduce the risk of spills.
- Baking the custard at a low temperature (i.e. 250 degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Quiche Lorraine Mise-en-Place

Baked Quiche Lorraine

Take a look at the full syllabus

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