December 22, 2010
Baking school with Chef Nancy Olson
Posted by MSLO Blogger
If you're a "Morning Living" fan, chances are you've learned a thing or two from one of our all-time favorite chefs, Nancy Olson of Gramercy Tavern. Nancy is always full of energy and pep-- even in the mornings when she's worked until 2 am the night before-- and her desserts are TO DIE FOR. Seriously. So when I got the opportunity to take a baking class led by Nancy at De Gustibus, a culinary school located inside of Macy's Herald Square, I jumped at the chance faster than a pastry chef gets covered in flour.
1 When mixing together wet and dry ingredients, Nancy recommends pushing the dry ingredients from the outside of the bowl inward, creating little rivers. This creates even moisture, while not over-mixing.
2 Instead of cutting in the butter, Nancy prefers to create little butter discs with her hands.
3 Bacon cheddar biscuits-- otherwise known as gougeres.
4 Freshly baked brioche loaves.
5 This is a fresh loaf of brioche-- pretty squishy!
6 Brioche sandwiches with goat cheese and apples. Delicious!
7 For her bead pudding, Nancy prefers to slice off the crusts. (But don't worry, she puts them aside for making bread crumbs!)
8 Perfectly diced up brioche. Nancy looks like she's ready to dive in!
9 To make bread pudding, Nancy makes a custard on the stove and then pours it over the diced brioche. The liquid gets soaked up by the bread and is then popped into the oven with additional chocolate pieces sprinkled on top.
10 A perfect individual serving of chocolate bread pudding served with cocoa nib ice cream.
11 I had to dig in!
12 Rolling out each little monkey bread ball.
13 Monkey bread is made of individual balls of dough, rolled in sugar and cinnamon and baked in a cake pan. They make this for special staff occasions at Gramercy Tavern!
14 Monkey bread, baked and ready to eat!
15 Monkey bread served with whipped cream. Perfect for a Christmas morning brunch.
16 Nancy hard at work stirring up dry ingredients for her lemon cake.
17 A great hostess gift- mini lemon cakes!
18 Nancy shows off her glazed lemon cake, made in a mini-loaf pan.
19 Cute enough to eat!
20 Next, Nancy and her kitchen crew made her chocolate-covered toffee. After the toffee turned a beautiful caramel color, Nancy and her chef assistants pulled it off of the heat and spread it out onto a buttered sheet of parchment paper.
21 The warm toffee is then sprinkled with chocolate, which melts on top of the toffee.
22 Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and sea salt, and you've got one delicious dessert.
23 The whole De Gustibus and Gramercy Tavern pastry team!
The class was all about holiday baking ideas-- both to serve at your own home or to bring as a gift to someone else. Nancy took us through her delicious bacon cheddar biscuits, brioche, chocolate bread pudding, monkey bread, lemon cake and chocolate-covered toffee with pumpkin seeds recipes. Let's just say that by the end, those of us in the audience were pretty sugared up! Nancy also gave some great general baking tips throughout the class, like the ones below.
-If you're making pastry (not bread), refrigerate your flour for a half hour or so before you use it. It prevents gluten from developing, which will make your pastry flakier.
-Always keep an eye on your mixer when you're mixing dough. Otherwise, your mixer might rock itself right off of your counter!
-If you've got vanilla beans laying around and you won't be using them for awhile, try putting them in a jar filled with vodka or rum. You'll preserve your beans while also creating vanilla extract! Also, if you have leftover vanilla pods after you've used the seeds, put them in a container of sugar. You'll end up with vanilla sugar, which is a great gift.
-Making a cheesecake? Right after it comes out of the oven, run a knife around the outside of it. That way, as it cools and pulls away from the pan, it will prevent the crack that so often develops.
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