Monday, December 28, 2009
Originally published on kosher.com.
At the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, close attention is paid to the science of baking. Questions come up often regarding how and why we bake certain things at specific temperatures, and whether it makes a difference if one uses different kinds of materials for baking, such as metal or ceramic baking pans. There are always very precise answers to these questions. Baking is, in fact, a more exact science than cooking, because the raw materials you use in baking react with one another on a chemical level to create something entirely new.
In regard to special desserts like Molten Chocolate Lava Cake and its cookie dough cousin, Molten Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, baking time and baking pans become even more important than with your everyday cakes and cookies. If you bake a molten cake too long, you will end up with boring everyday cake, and if you bake it not long enough, the gooey goodness you were going for turns out to be a little too ... well, gooey.
First, some good news: After numerous tests, I can confirm that for the modern Jewish home's parve dessert needs, unsalted margarine and butter work equally well in molten cakes, so you can happily use a one to one butter to margarine conversion ratio for any molten cake recipes you find that call for butter.
With parve issues out of the way, here are the three important factors to consider when making molten cakes: Temperature, time, and baking tins.
1. Temperature is the one item that most affects the ooey-gooey factor in molten cakes. Once a molten cake is baked, it's either right or it isn't, so we'll do all we can to make sure you get the temperature right the first time. If the recipe does not call for you to chill the dough before baking, then the oven temperature would most likely be relatively low, like 325 or 350 degrees F. For the recipe I am going to recommend, especially the Molten Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, I prefer using chilled dough, and a hot, 400 degree F oven, because the cold fat in the dough hits the hot oven and immediately starts baking the cake from the outside in. This is what you want: A cakey crispness outside, with a barely done, melted chocolate-y center.
2. A number of things affect how much time a cake spends in the oven. Is there a rising agent in the batter, like baking soda? Are you looking to make what is essentially a dark chocolate soufflé pudding cake with lots of eggs and egg yolk, like Molten Chocolate Lava cake? The time a cake spends in the oven should be the shortest time necessary to get the product formed, but long enough to no longer be raw. With molten cakes, it tends to be 10-15 minutes, but you have to watch it carefully. A minute too long can cause the product to overbake. It's a good idea to have a little extra batter around the first time you make this. I recommend doing a test run before you put all your batter in the oven, so you can experiment without fear. Small batches are best with molten cakes anyway, because too much cold batter going into the oven will bring the oven's overall temperature down and then the oven will require extra time to recover to its original temperature.
3. The kind of baking tins you choose will also affect the outcome of molten cakes. Most often, chefs will recommend you bake molten cakes in ramekins, which are small glazed ceramic bowls that are perfect for individual portions. Ramekins are generally reliable in that the ceramic allows for very even cooking, because the air in the oven can swirl around the ramekin and quickly bake the outside of the cake while leaving the center gooey. However, ramekins have drawbacks too: First, they sometime cook their contents too fast, so some recipes recommend placing the batter with the ramekins inside another pan with water (a bain marie or water bath), to slow the cooking. Second, they are expensive, have to be individually cleaned, and not everyone has a set of ramekins ready to prepare dessert for a whole family. For this reason, I have a recipe I can recommend using baking tins that everyone has or can get easily: Disposable cupcake tins. That's right! It works perfectly as long as you have the temperature and time right.
So now that you know what to watch for, I am happy to share two recipes for Molten Cakes. Remember to do a test run in your oven first to make sure you have the time and temperature correct. Ovens do sometimes run hot or cold, and if you don't get good results with these times and temperatures, it is possible that the temperature reading outside the oven does not adequately reflect the temperature inside. If this is the case, it's a good idea to use a thermometer you can put in the oven to test the temperature.
Click below for the two molten recipes provided along with this article:
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
Molten Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Posted by kosherliz at 10:24 AM
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Congrats to our first graduating class of CKCA Pro Baking&Pastry. Above, they are showed with Chef Instructor Mark Hellerman, in front of the breads they made for the final banquet, and below is their presentation of various delectable sweets.
Posted by kosherliz at 9:20 PM
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
CKCA is pleased to announce the second semester of the first kosher, professional training program in baking & pastry arts.
This is the only kosher program of its kind in the US.
Classes are open to men and women ages 16 and above and appropriate for anyone who is passionate about food and looking to expand his or her knowledge and skill set in an intensive, professional environment.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS PROGRAM IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH KINGSBOROUGH COMMUNITY COLLEGE
The dates for the winter program are as follows;
Jan 4 - March 11
Mon - Thurs
9 am - 1 pm
Please contact Jesse Blonder at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts for more information and an application at 718-758-1339, or visit http://www.kosherculinaryarts.com.
Posted by kosherliz at 6:24 PM
Monday, December 14, 2009
CKCA student Yael Colman took this gorgeous picture of her perfect cream puffs. Pate aux Choux with vanilla pastry cream, garnished with powdered sugar and strawberries.
1 cup water
6 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 and 3/4 ounces flour
1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites
Bring water, margarine and sugar to a boil. Add flour and remove from heat. Work mixture together and return to heat until it looks like mashed potatoes and return to the flame. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into bowl of a standing mixer and let cool. With mixer on stir or lowest speed add eggs, one at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. You don't want to end up with scrambled eggs! Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip.
Pipe immediately into shapes of your choice, at least two inches apart onto parchment-papered sheet pans. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.
Fill with pastry cream or ice cream and garnish with powdered sugar or melted chocolate.
Posted by kosherliz at 4:27 PM
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It's that time again! With so many exciting things happening this winter at CKCA, it's time to increase the size of our newsletter! We know everyone has at least one friend who might like to know about us and our programs.
So, we are asking YOU to help us increase our newsletter's size. In return, the person who refers the most friends who join the newsletter, will win their choice of a gift certificate for $500.00 for CKCA recreational courses to be over the course of the next year, or a $2,000.00 scholarship toward the Professional Baking & Pastry program starting in January 2010. The prize is fully transferable to another student but must be used entirely by one person. The Pro Baking prize cannot be used for any other semester other than January 2010. Neither prize is refundable.
Here's what you have to do to win: Ask your friends to sign up for the CKCA/Happy Home newsletter by having them send an email to (firstname.lastname@example.org). They must write YOUR full name and hometown in the subject line or body of the email. The person with the most valid emails sent with names and hometown will win! (P.S. The contest is running simultaneously on Facebook, so join the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts group to find out how to enter the contest on Facebook).
With three 150-hour courses starting the week of January 4th, there's now a class for every kind of schedule. The Pro Program in Kosher Baking & Pastry is now being offered in the mornings, and you can even take Pro-Culinary by fitting it into your evening schedule. Call us at 718-758-1339 or email email@example.com for more information! You can also visit us on the web at http://www.kosherculinaryarts.com
The contest will end at 12 noon on December 21,2009.
Jesse, Liz, Elka and all your friends at CKCA
Posted by kosherliz at 12:20 PM