By Liz Castner

 

When you go to pastry school, there are certain things you know you’re going to make. Cake, right? Chocolate, of course. Plus pies, tarts, and maybe some fancy pastries you’ve never heard of.

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But there are certain items that, if you’re like me, you don’t even think about…like croissants. I’ve always loved croissants, but never imagined that I could make them. I don’t know if I ever pictured anyone baking them, except maybe some mystical French elves. It just never occurred to me that I could craft something that amazing—mainly because I didn’t have any understanding of how a croissant is composed, shaped, and becomes so miraculously flaky.

One of my classmates prepares pain au chocolat (like chocolate croissants) with laminated dough.

One of my classmates prepares pain au chocolat (like chocolate croissants) with laminated dough.

That all changed at ICE, the week we learned about laminated dough. It’s a silly name for a very serious thing. When an office worker or an elementary school teacher says they need something laminated, they mean they want their paper encased in a coating of plastic for protection. When a chef says laminated, they mean a dough with layers and layers of butter folded into it.

 

Croissant and danish doughs are laminated, but the most incredible, well-known laminated dough is the one and only puff pastry. This is a big deal in dessert, so naturally, each aspect of the puff pastry process has a French name.

The many layers of butter and dough that make up puff pastry.

The many layers of puff pastry almost look like the rings of a tree.

First, you have to prepare the détrempe (pronounced “day-tromp”), which is a dough containing some butter, but not a lot, and is rolled out fairly thinly. The real butter moment comes next – known as the beurrage (buhr-rahge). Here, butter is pounded in flour and rolled out with a rolling pin. The last step, known as the paton (rhymes with baton), involves placing the butter sheet on top of the détrempe dough and then sealing up the butter within a dough envelope. The paton gets re-folded and rolled out a total of four times before it is ready to be used for production.

Fresh fruit tart with puff pastry crust

Fresh fruit tart with puff pastry crust

My chef described this dough as miraculous, and she’s right. The miracle is the puff. When you bake it, it traps air in a magical way that can’t really be described in words. The other incredible thing about puff pastry its versatility. For example, we made a gateau pithivier (my chef called this one of the most elegant French pastries), which is essentially a cake made of puff pastry with a delicious center of frangipane. From there we baked flaky apple and fresh fruit tarts, cinnamon-sugar palmiers and everyone’s favorite: twisted cheese and herb straws. We also made gorgeous millefeuille by layering pastry cream between layers of cooked puff pastry. I loved it all, and what’s more, each pastry tasted distinctively different.

Millefeuille of layered pastry cream and puff pastry

Millefeuille of layered pastry cream and puff pastry

It’s tough to express how awesome it was to make these desserts. Pulling them out of the oven was like unwrapping a present on Christmas. In addition to puff pastry, we also made croissants and danishes. The dough process is similar, but the fun thing about croissants, of course, is rolling them. After cutting the dough into carefully measured triangles, gently rolling them into their renown crescent shape is the happiest feeling. And oh, how they tasted—buttery, flaky and so, so satisfying. I’m not a mystical French elf, and I made those!

Unbaked croissants, freshly rolled.

Unbaked croissants, freshly rolled.

By Kathryn Gordon

Food Start Up Help is a consulting group started by colleagues at ICE, which assists entrepreneurs in bakery-related start up concept definition and business planning, financing, menu profitability, production and operational efficiency. Today, we celebrate the success story of one of our clients, ICE Professional Pastry Program Alum and Chef/Owner of Cocoamains, Kathleen Escamilla-Hernandez.

Inception and Planning

Kathleen finished the ICE program in January, 2011 and was hired out of her externship at Bouchon Bakery. There she began dreaming about starting her own business – something she had always wanted as a goal.  Food Start Up Help supported Kathleen with initial concept planning and menu design.

Kathleen:  “I had been developing a variety of baked goods but wasn’t sure what products would sell.  Any entrepreneur in the food business needs unbiased feedback on their product. Chefs Jeff and Kathryn helped me develop my menu and figure out where to sell my product.”

cocoamains3

Farmers Market Launch

Since Kathleen is the kind of person who never sleeps, she was able to keep working at her bakery production job while researching farmers markets, obtaining licenses and insurance and locating a commercial kitchen for production. FSUH pitched in with ingredient sourcing and recipe cost analysis for Kathleen’s pound cakes, bar cookies, madeleines and macarons.

Kathleen: “I was able to handle many aspects of my new business independently, but appreciate that Chef Kathryn was able to verify my cost estimates before I finalized my retail and wholesale prices. Nobody should go into business without solid knowledge of their cost structure.”

Packaging and Design

Kathleen got a fantastic lead to sell her macaron line to Macy’s on an exclusive basis, to be sold as a refrigerated grab-n-go item. But at the last minute, before the paperwork was signed, the VP of the purchasing department decided that Macy’s should also sell gift boxes of Kathleen’s macarons.

Kathleen: “Food Start Up Help guided me in choosing a custom packaging design, since I needed very quick production and turn around. My husband works in graphic design, so he worked with the box manufacturer. In the end, I am so happy with my Cocoamains packaging!”

Cocoamains Valentine

Increased Production / Troubleshooting

Cocoamain’s production levels soon outgrew the original commercial kitchen that Kathleen was renting. She located a larger incubator facility, but then had to switch ovens. French-style macarons are sensitive to subtle changes, and chefs often have to reevaluate their baking strategy when they relocate to a new kitchen.

Kathleen: “I actually had to switch ovens two times in my new commercial kitchen location, which is a macaron baker’s nightmare, since each oven requires a bit of tweaking. Chef Kathryn – a macaron expert – held my hand through the production troubleshooting. Thank goodness, I now have a brand new oven and everything is back on track!”

Internet Sales

With her production and packaging logistics all figured out, Kathleen was ready to start selling Cocoamains macarons online. But to sell pre-packaged macarons at Macy’s and on the internet, she needed to provide the nutritional content of her product lines.

Kathleen: “Food Start Up Help analyzed the ingredients per my recipe formulas and helped generate nutritional labels. Now that I have product, packaging and accurate labeling – we’re positioned for our first full year of Cocoamains sales!”

We look forward to seeing Cocoamains distributed at Macy’s and online. It’s been an exciting journey, and we wish Kathleen all the success she deserves. 

If you, like Kathleen, have an idea for a great product, but aren’t sure where to start, consider our “How to Successfully Open a Bakery-Related Business” class at ICE. We also offer a unique, free weekly blog magazine, featuring stories by food entrepreneurs and tips for success by subject matter experts. Learn from their lessons so you don’t have to! www.foodstartuphelp.com

chef scottThis month, in honor of the holidays, we’ve asked our Culinary Arts and Pastry & Baking Arts instructors to share their favorite festive recipes. Last week, Chef Kathryn Gordon shared an Australian holiday treat: mince tartelettes. Today, Chef Scott McMillen, one of our core Pastry & Baking Arts instructors, gets nostalgic about a classic American cookie.

My mom would make snickerdoodles once, and only once, each year. Every Christmas Eve we would leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. The crisp outside and soft interior highlight the sweet holiday spiciness that sticks in my memory. She used the recipe from her Betty Crocker Cookbook – one of the old ones with the recipe pages in a kind of loose leaf binder. Here, I adapt that recipe, substituting light brown sugar for a third of the granulated sugar, which makes the cookie chewier. Unsalted butter replaces the butter/shortening combination from the original recipe, and I use baking powder instead of baking soda and cream of tartar. A touch of freshly ground nutmeg also adds some extra flavor.

snickerdoodlesSnickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups flour (345g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (9g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3g)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (225g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (110g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 g)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (8g)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Beat the butter and sugars until light, airy and uniformly blended.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting for each to be fully incorporated before the next addition. Scrape the bowl between additions.
  4. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg and stir it into the butter mixture until the dough just pulls together. Do not continue to mix past this point or the cookies will be tough. The dough can be refrigerated for up to a week at this point.
  5. Combine the additional 1/4 cup of sugar and tablespoon of cinnamon in a bowl.
  6. Form the dough into about 40 one inch round balls. Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar until completely and thickly coated.
  7. Space them two inches apart on a greased or parchment lined cookie tray and bake for 8 minutes, or until the cookies’ surface starts to crack. (Bake for 10 minutes if you want a crisper cookie.)

Ever wonder what’s cooking at ICE? Five-Course Friday gives you a snapshot of what we are whipping up weekly. Whether you pop in to a recreational class, catch a professional demo or watch the transformation from student to chef, there is something scrumptious happening daily.

Colorful salad from culinary arts curriculum

A delicious, creamy gorgonzola risotto from proud culinary arts students

Pork chops

Pure heaven! Chocolate banana dessert from pastry and baking students

Who doesn’t love fig this time of year? What a beautiful display from pastry students!

Have a delicious weekend!

Every issue of The Main Course, ICE’s school newsletter, includes a glimpse at the life of students in ICE’s career-training programs. We’re sharing the interviews from the most recent issue here on DICED. Shari Tanaka left a career in textile design to follow her passion in ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

Shari Tanaka
Pastry Arts

West coast transplant and career changer Shari Tanaka has a history of making beautiful things. Prior to deciding to study pastry at ICE, Tanaka received a degree at FIT and entered the world of textile design. Always up for a challenge, Tanaka chose to pursue her confectionary curiosity in the hopes of someday opening up her own sweet shop. For now, she loves tinkering with recipes, tempering chocolate, creating visually appealing desserts and is happily externing with pastry chef Joe Murphy at the critically acclaimed Jean Georges. She encourages all students to take full advantage of the programs the school has to offer especially the demonstrations at school and volunteer opportunities at events around the city.

 

Do you dream about working as a chef? Ever wonder what it would be like to have a career in the culinary or pastry arts? Have you thought about opening your own food business? Attending an ICE open house is a unique opportunity to learn more about working in the culinary industry and how our 6- to 13-month career-training programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts and Culinary Management can teach you the skills needed to flourish. Seize this opportunity to achieve your dreams!

In addition to hearing about the programs, you’ll participate in live culinary and pastry demos with ICE’s Chef Instructors. Also, the ICE education team and career services staff will discuss ICE’s training programs, career opportunities and our alumni’s success in the industry. Learn everything you need to know about our programs, admissions, and financial aid.

Following are the details:

Date: Saturday, May 19
Time: Doors open at 10:00 a.m., Presentation begins promptly at 10:30am
Place: The Institute of Culinary Education, 50 W 23rd St., New York, NY
R.S.V.P.: Abbey Florence,aflorence@iceculinary.com or 212-847-0700 ex. 437

Seating for the event is limited. Reserve your spot now to get an inside glimpse at ICE and learn all about how ICE changes lives through culinary education.

Panna Cotta is one of our favorite desserts because it is incredibly easy to make. You just heat cream, add gelatin, pour into molds and let it set. You end up with a luxurious, creamy and elegant dessert. This milk chocolate recipe from ICE Director of Pastry & Baking Arts Programs Nick Malgieri adds a healthy dose of milk chocolate and a dash of vanilla — always a favorite among students as well as who ever may be tasting their treats!

Ingredients
20 fluid ounces milk
3 teaspoons granulated gelatin
20 fluid ounces heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1 pound chopped milk chocolate More…

Ever wonder what it would be like to have a career in the culinary arts?  Attending an ICE open house is a unique opportunity to learn more about our 8- to 13-month career training programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts and Culinary Management, which can teach you the skills needed to find success in the industry. We invite you to come see what ICE is all about. Don’t miss an opportunity to have the career of your dreams!

In addition to hearing about the programs, you can to participate in live culinary and pastry demos as Chef Instructors and staff share their thoughts on ICE’s programs, career opportunities and our alumni’s success in the industry. Learn everything you need to know about our programs, admissions, and financial aid.

Following are the details:

Date: Saturday, February 11
Time: Doors open at 10:00 a.m., Presentation begins promptly at 10:30am
Place: The Institute of Culinary Education, 50 W 23rd St., New York, NY
R.S.V.P.: Abbey Florence at aflorence@iceculinary.com or 212-847-0700 ex. 437
*The February 11 open house has been cancelled. Please call
(888) 995-CHEF to get info about ICE or schedule a personal tour.

Seating for the event is limited. Reserve your spot now to sneak a peak behind the scenes at ICE and learn more about our career training programs!

There are countless treats to be sampled and tasted this season. From the simple to the complex, kitchens overflow with cookies, candies, and other pastries during the holidays. At this time of year (and during the rest of the year to be honest), we love the simplicity of this recipe for caramelized almonds from the ICE Pastry & Baking Arts curriculum. They are perfect for having in a bowl for snacking during parties. You can opt to cover the nuts in chocolate, or try a dusting of powdered sugar. You can also play with adding spices like chili powder or cinnamon when you coat the nuts in the sugar. Go nuts!

Ingredients
400 grams whole almonds
130 grams granulated sugar
45 grams water
1/2 vanilla bean
120 grams tempered bittersweet chocolate
cocoa powder
confectioners sugar More…

Since 1975, ICE has been training students for successful careers in the culinary world. In those 36 years, ICE has seen incredible talent pass through our kitchens and classrooms who then go on to become leaders in their chosen art. We are continually amazed by the passion and dedication of our students as they set out on new careers in the food industry, and are impressed by where their newly learned skills and hard-work takes them. Now, ICE is proud to announce the launch of the ICE Student Awards Program to publicly recognize our amazing students in the Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management programs.

In each graduating career training class at ICE, three students will be recognized for their accomplishment with an award given out at their class’ senior reception. The awards are meant to recognize students who have displayed exceptional dedication and commitment to their education. More…