Sunday, 26 October 2014

Give it a whirl...

I can't believe it's 6 weeks since I started on the Patisserie and Confectionery course at Richmond College - where does the time go? In the first 5 weeks we tempered chocolate, made enriched doughs, fondant puddings, Tarte au citron, doughnuts and different varieties of bread. This week we were allowed 'free choice' to make any type of biscuit and I chose to make Viennese Whirls.

It's been years since I've made them and I'd forgotten how easy they are to make. It's also been years since I've eaten them and I'd forgotten how yummy they are too - buttery, crumbly and melt in the mouth. I last made them in secondary school during 'O' level Cookery lessons. I remember every week setting off from home on the school bus with twin sister Sue with ingredients stuffed into our gingham covered wicker baskets together with a tin to bring back our wares! The bus trip took half an hour and as soon as we got on the bus to go home we would devour whatever we had made. Mum and dad were ever hopeful there might be a crumb or two left but there rarely was! 

My trusty 34th edition of the Be-Ro Home Recipes book, which we used every week in school, dates back to the mid 70's, is still in my collection and features Viennese Fingers and Rosettes. The  recipe I used for this batch though was a more recent one from the Hairy Bikers on the BBC Food website.

250g very soft butter
50g icing sugar
250g plain flour
50g cornflour
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Sieve the icing sugar, plain flour and cornflour into a bowl with the soft butter and vanilla
Mix together with a spoon first before whisking or blending to a smooth paste
Pipe into different shapes - swirls, fingers or double 'S' shapes onto baking paper
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 190, allow to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes
Transfer to a cooling rack
Sandwich together with butter icing and jam or dip in melted chocolate
Dust lightly with icing sugar

Over the last few weeks we've worked out the college is running on a very tight budget and we have resorted to bringing in some of our own ingredients, in a rucksack - not a wicker basket sadly! The payback is that we get to bring home the goodies we make every Tuesday evening and, as I now have a little more self-discipline, not everything I make gets eaten before I get home! I take a plastic box with me and my family and work colleagues are actually getting to taste my creations!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Practice makes perfect

Although they are a family favourite I've never made doughnuts before. I don't know why that is, what's not to like about them?

This coming Tuesday we will be making them on my evening course so I felt the need to have a practice beforehand. I've quickly come to the realise on this course that it pays to read up, and if time allows, have a trial run with whatever it is we are going to be making. 

Doughnuts Mark 1, although tasted fine, wouldn't have won any prizes for looks or presentation.

Doughnuts Mark 1
So learning from the mistakes we (it turned into a family effort - mixing, shaping, frying, dusting in sugar and injecting the jam!) had another go and I am pleased to say doughnuts Mark 2 were a great success. 

I followed a Paul Hollywood  recipe on the BBC which is very straightforward. I think it helps to have a sugar thermometer (ours is still packed in a box somewhere) to ensure the oil is at 180c, as we ended up guessing when we were at the right temperature, which wasn't ideal. So I'm feeling a little more confident going into Tuesday's lesson now knowing how best to cut the shapes, manhandle them after proving and frying to the right colour.


If only I had known how to make these when I was younger - they were Dad's favourite. He was always having 'secret' doughnuts but he generally forgot to hide the evidence of the sugary bag! This one's for you dad.... xxx

Doughnut Mark 2