Friday, June 28, 2013

Basic and Classical Cakes at the CIA

By student blogger Morgan Phillips

I have been excited to take a cake class at the CIA since probably about six months before I even became an officially enrolled student. Bakeshop 5 - where all the cake magic happens - is the first bakeshop window you come to when taking an admissions tour, and they stack the gorgeous, fondant covered wedding cakes in the window just to tantalize everyone who passes.  In case you're just tuning in to this blog, you might be interested to know that I have a slight obsession with cake. Bakeshop 5 has been calling my name ever since I took my first tour at the CIA back in August 2012. Needless to say, I had this class very built up in my head.

Now the class is called Basic and Classical cakes, so no, we did not get to make those gorgeous, fondant covered wedding cakes in the window. This class is more like an extension of the baking fundamentals we learned in our first semester, with a focus on sponges, buttercreams, and specialty cakes throughout history. Now I love cake and I also happen to be a bit of a dork. Basic and Classical Cakes is where cake meets history and it was right up my alley. It is taught by Chef Schorner, who is credited with bringing crème brûleé to the United States and making it popular...yeah. Much more about him later!

On day one we learned what a Pithivier was and baked one right up:

Note: Those gorgeous gumpaste flowers were made by the post-externship cakes class...who also make the window wedding cakes.

A Pithivier is the original "King's Cake" and it is actually from France. They used to hide a little sword  inside of it for boys or a small chain necklace for girls and whoever found the prize was the 'king' or 'queen' for the day. Might sound reminiscent to you of the Kings Cake traditionally eaten in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but instead of purple, yellow, and green frosting, this King's cake is puff pastry dough filled with almond frangipane (almond filling + pastry cream). It's delicious!

After that one we got a little more familiar:

Traditional carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, topped with walnuts and handmade marzipan carrots.

Fruit tarts with a cookie crust, frangipane filling, and individually designed patterns. On this day the class made five different types of tarts: caramel walnut, chocolate caramel with macadamia nuts, plum, apricot and apple.

Black Forest Cake- chocolate sponge filled with chocolate buttercream, brandied cherries and garnished with whipped cream, cherries and chocolate shavings. Did you know that the actual Black Forrest is a dense cherry forest on the border of Germany and France?

My classmate Katie with her Black Forrest Cake

Mocha layer cake- chocolate sponge filled with espresso buttercream, garnished with espresso flavored chocolate candies.

A traditional Charlotte Russe cake next to the Charlotte Modern. The Charlotte Modern is a ring of Jaconde Sponge (the patterned part) filled with Bavarian mousse, and more vanilla sponge, finished with strawberry and passion fruit flavored glazes. The traditional Charlotte Russe cake (surrounded by ladyfingers) was created by a famous french chef named Careme for a Russian princess named Charlotte. Careme - among other things - is largely recognized for popularizing the tradition of the wedding cake itself.

This class is a very good representation of what the baking and pastry program at the CIA is all about. Everyone sees the fancy cakes in the window and wants to immediately learn how to make them. What I find even more valuable than that is learning the basic skills we learned in this class, and things like where cake came from and what it meant to that culture. When I came on my first tour, we stood outside of Bakeshop 5 and our guide told us something that makes much more sense to me now: "Baking is a lot like jazz music. You have to learn all of the rules of note-reading and melody-hearing so you can break them all later, and make something even better." We learn about where our craft comes from so that we can take it to a whole new level later. Basic and Classical cakes is our first baking class after fundamentals and it sets the stage for the rest of our last semester here before externship. My high hopes were definitely met!

1 comment:

  1. I loved your blog post! I just did the Journey for Juniors program and fell in love with CIA. Can't wait to take this course!