Baking Journey: Advanced

Baking Journey Advanced

The advanced baker is ready to make some of the most impressive cakes. These pastries may require a little more time to make. Some also need special ingredients or tools. And some will need a little practice to get the perfect result.

However, all of them are fun to make. Especially when you enjoy the astonishment of your family or guests, who cannot believe that…

YOU really made this cake! 🙂

First, let’s have a look at some of the advanced ingredients and tools.

Advanced ingredients

Couverture

Couverture is a high quality chocolate that contains no other fats than cocoa butter. Popular brands are for example Callebaut, Valrhona, or Ghiradelli.

Couverture

Couverture is used in some beginner and intermediate cakes. The reason it appears here in the advanced section is that we also use couverture for a special technique that is slightly advanced: chocolate tempering.

Tempered chocolate has a higher melting point, a shiny surface, and a firmer consistency than non-tempered chocolate. It is essential for making bon bon chocolat (pralines) or for creating chocolate decoration elements like the marble plates:

Nappage neutre

This is a neutral clear glaze used by professionals to add a shiny effect to their cakes. It’s also possible to mix nappage neutre with fruit purees to add color and flavor.

Nappage Neutre

There are different kinds of nappage neutre on the market. Some require warming and adding water, some don’t. Just follow the instructions on the package.

Praline paste

This is a paste made with at least 50% almonds or hazelnuts. It’s used to add this wonderful nutty praline flavor to a buttercream or filling. Do not confuse this with cheap hazelnut creams like Nutella (which consists of 80% palm oil and sugar). 🙂

Praline paste is used for example in…

Praline Paste

Lemon Praline Mille Feuille,
Triple Chocolat,
Marjolaine.

Fruit purees

You can buy commercial fruit purees or you can make them yourself by processing the fresh (or frozen) fruits in the food processor.

When doing it yourself, keep in mind that you need to cook tropical fruit purees (like pineapple, kiwi, mango) for a short moment. The reason is that these fruits contain an enzyme that destroys gelatine. A jelly or mousse made with these fruits would not firm, otherwise. The heat destroys the enzyme and you can then make delicious fruit jelly and mousse layers for your cakes.

Marzipan / raw marzipan

Raw marzipan is a firm paste made from sugar and almonds. If you cannot find “raw marzipan”, look for “almond paste”. It’s the same thing. 🙂

Marzipan is made from raw marzipan by adding icing sugar (typically 1 part icing sugar and 1 part raw marzipan). Marzipan is therefore much sweeter than raw marzipan. Do not confuse one with the other.

Marzipan is mainly used for cake decorations (like the marzipan figures) while raw marzipan / almond paste is added to the dough of a cake to get an intensive almond flavor.

Advanced tools

You can already make lots of advanced pastries and desserts with the tools collected on the way to the intermediate baking level.

Silicone Molds

Some of the new additions just need more specific molds. For example, to make the small dome shape cakes, you need two types of silicone molds. Small cylindrical molds for the center pieces and larger hemisphere molds for the dome shape.

Polycarbonate molds

Another special mold is needed to make some of the bon bon chocolat. These are hard molds made of polycarbonate. Don’t buy silicone molds for chocolate making.

Cakes for the advanced baker

Puff pastry

Puff Pastry

Puff pastry consists of many alternating layers of butter and dough. It uses no rising agents like baking powder or baking soda. The volume comes from the water in the pastry turning into steam. This happens when the temperature in the dough reaches 100°C (212°F). The steam stretches the dough like an accordion.

The steam escapes after some time through tiny cracks in the dough layers. The temperature inside can now rise above 100°C (212°F). At these higher temperatures, the dough layers turn into crust. They brown and become brittle. While a “normal” cake consists of crust and crumb, puff pastry is mainly crust and no crumb. 🙂

Puff Pastry

Making puff pastry takes quite some time. The dough is rolled out and then folded in thirds or in quarters in several rounds. After each round, the dough needs to rest (in the fridge). Wrap it in plastic to make sure the surface doesn’t dry out.

Without the resting times, the dough would lose its elasticity and tear during rolling.
Also let the pastry rest for a moment before baking. This releases surface tension and helps the pastry to rise evenly.

There are different kinds of puff pastry. The easiest variation is the Blitz Puff Pastry used for making the Apple Pie.

The advanced baker can try the Reversed (or French) Puff Pastry method to make Pithiviers. Or try the classical (German) Puff Pastry to make perfect Mille Feuille.

Bon bon chocolat

Bon Bon Chocolat

Only use the highest quality chocolate when making bon bon chocolat or truffles.

There are different techniques to make these little treats. One way is to use special polycarbonate molds and coat them with tempered couverture. Then fill the molds with a ganache and cover with a thin layer of tempered couverture as shown in the Bon Bon Chocolat guide.

Nama Chocolate

Another way is to spread the ganache in a rectangular frame and let it firm. Then cut the ganache into small blocks and dip them in tempered couverture as shown in the Nama Chocolate and Bon Bon Chocolat II guides.

A third way is to roll the ganache to little balls and cover them with tempered couverture. You can then roll these balls in chopped nuts, icing sugar, or coconut powder to make many different kinds of delicious truffles. 🙂

Mousse cakes / Entremets

Entremets

Wikipedia says:

„For modern pastry chefs, an entremet is a multi-layered mousse-based cake with various complementary flavors and varying textural contrasts.“

It’s a nice description.

The main aspect of an entremet is the composition of it’s different elements. Not all flavors work well together. And not every combination of textures feels good in the mouth.

Pastry chefs love to experiment and come up with interesting combinations. Entremets are kind of their signature cakes.

And it’s the same for me. You find many examples in the gallery:

Coco Berry,
White Orange,
Soleil,
Autumn Leaves,
Kir Royal,
Coco Passion,
and more.

A selection of my entremets is available for interested bakers in the Entremets Bundle.

Dome Cakes

A nice variation are Dome Cakes. The main difference is the shape (obviously), and the way they are decorated. But just like the large entremets, these little cakes can have several layers inside and combine different flavors and textures.

Shown in the picture above are (starting top left):

Flamingo,
Poire Rouge,
White Princess,
Strawberry Dome.

Plated desserts

Plated Desserts

Just like entremets and dome cakes, plated desserts are about combining flavors in interesting ways. But here, the look and presentation are a central part as well.

You can get very creative in arranging the elements, petit fours, creams, sauces, parfaits, fruits, and so on.

Each plated dessert looks like a little piece of art. Timing is very important to make sure that all elements of the dessert are still intact when you serve it to your guests.

You find several plated desserts in the gallery, for example:

Pumpkin Dessert Plate 2014,
Nougat Glacé,
Chocolate Dessert Plate,
Panna Cotta Dessert Plate.

If these desserts are too complicates, try one of the glass desserts fgrom the dessert list. They look nice, too, and are much easier to prepare.

And if you don’t feel ready for this advanced level of baking, start your baking journey at the beginning and progress at your own speed… 😉

beginnerBeginner

IntermediateIntermediate

 

Want to try this at home?

Enjoy Keiko’s detailed cake guides and videos. Learn to bake like a chef and impress your family with your new baking skills. 🙂

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