This insightful & visually delighting post has been written by Guest Blogger Subhayan Das who is a Chef by training. This young talented Chef currently works for the famous Olive Group of Restaurants in Delhi. & this is his first blog post .
I attended the recently conducted Asia pastry forum at Academy of Pastry arts, kuala lumpur, malaysia. It featured some of the tops chef and masters from across the globe. Some of the chefs include EWALD NOTTER, STEPHANE TREAND, LIONEL CLEMENT, ERIC PEREZ AND JANICE WONG.
The first 3 days the chocolate display class was conducted were a display from chocolate was to be constructed. It seemed easy at first but while working I realized how difficult it is to handle chocolate. Many techniques were shown like robot coupe chocolate, airbrushing over chocolate etc. In case that sounded too hi-tech, let me explain – Robot Coupe Chocolate is basically grinding the chocolate to such a stage where it is possible to mold the chocolate and make desired chocolate figures out of it.
Air brushing is a very unique technique in which the desired image is painted using a spray made from cocoa butter, melted chocolate and chocolate colors. Once the image is done, a layer of white chocolate is spread. To give structural support a layer of dark chocolate is spread as well. The image can then be cut and used in the chocolate showpiece.
Over the next 3 days, sugar display class was conducted were everyone had to make 2 displays. Sugar is very tricky as it is. However for the displays, isomalt sugar is used. Isomalt is the popular name for Isomaltitol which is a sugar substitute. Isomalt is much more resistant to humidity and crystallization so decorative elements made with it have a longer shelf life and structural integrity. Because of its superior workability, Isomalt is used almost exclusively in televised food competitions and culinary art salons where professionals create dramatic showpieces and decorative cake ornaments to the delight of audiences world wide.
What I realized is that it’s a game of temperature – actually temperature plays the most important factor – too high or too low & you may not get the desired result. Techniques like pulled sugar, blown sugar, rock sugar and bubble sugar was also shown.
In blown sugar, a portion of pulled sugar is placed on a rubber pump which is tipped with either wood or metal. Pumps are most commonly hand pumps. While being blown, the sugar can be shaped, often into animals or flowers. Blown sugar cannot be quickly cooled by dipping it in water, so chefs must use fans to cool the sugar, all the while rotating it, so that it does not come out of shape.
In Rock Sugar, the liquid sugar is blended with a small amount of royal icing. The heat from the sugar causes the air incorporated in the icing to rapidly expand, causing the mixture to grow to several times its original volume. The mixture is quickly poured into a lined dish, and placed into a blast chiller to set. This process produces a sugar mass with the texture of volcanic pumice.
Coming to Pulled sugar – Once the sugar has been cooked, the now-liquid sugar is poured onto a silicone rubber mat (e.g., Silpat). Any coloring is now added. The sugar is then folded repeatedly into itself, until the sugar is, while still flexible, cool enough to handle. The sugar is then stretched out and then folded on itself repeatedly. This process incorporates air into the sugar, and gives it a bright lustery sheen. The sugar can then be sculpted by hand into various shapes, made into ribbons, or blown.
As the name suggests, when melted sugar is poured over a sheet of crumbled parchment paper it gives bubble effect and hence called bubble sugar.
The last 3 days was the praline and candy class. A variety of ganache were made. This class showed us many new equipments like a refractometer which helps in checking the brix level of caramel or pate de fruits. Brix (symbol °Bx) is the sugar content of an aqueous solution. One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by weight (% w/w).
Overall, it was a very interesting event. Credit should be given to Chef Niklesh Sharma, Managing Director of the academy for pulling out such an event which helps many of the pastry chefs in Asia and south east Asia to learn the modern trends going in the pastry world.
Loved the experience & hence thought of sharing with you.