Office Bytes | Vols-au-Vent Puff Pastry

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French for “windblown” (I learn something new every time I use wikipedia in preparation for my blog posts), these hollow puff pastry shells are an amazing vehicle for both sweet and savory fillings. They’re made with two discs of puff pastry, with the bottom one docked to minimize rise, and the top one with a hole cut out to create the hollow.

For a recent surprise baby shower at work, I wanted to bring an easy finger food dessert other than cupcakes, as I knew the party organizers had already pre-ordered cupcakes from a bakery shop. I made these vols-au-vent, half filled with lemon curd crème légère, and half filled with vanilla crème légère, each topped with sliced strawberries. And of course, I used the extra puff pastry dough to make my favorite cinnamon twists 🙂

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Office Bytes | Moving Day!

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Some of my happiest baking is for the office. To me, there’s an inherent joy in desserts, and to share that joy with others and make even just one person merrier (especially in the workplace) is what motivates me.

Amazon Lab126 just moved offices to a shiny new location in Sunnyvale, CA and to celebrate our last day in the old office, I made a cake! This is a 4-layer lemon chiffon cake with coconut pastry cream and a middle filling layer of mango bavarian cream and fresh slices of mango. The outside frosting is just a plain Swiss meringue buttercream, decorated with toasted coconut chips.

I left the cake out (in a mostly closed box) in the kitchenette to let it thaw a bit. By 11am, the cake was 90% gone and I hadn’t even announced its presence. I barely got to taste a bite and snap a photo of the inside before the cake was completely gone, the box thrown away and my knife rinsed off.

I guess hungry employees find joy in cake on Friday mornings!

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Pastry School Recap | Unit 5/8 – Cakes

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Cakes were my main interest prior to pastry school, and probably still are the basis of what I like to present as my “craft”. The amount of time and labor that go into them sometimes make other quicker pastries more attractive. However, I will always have a respect for and fascination with cakes.

I made this salted caramel mousse cake earlier this year for my new niece Madelyn. Although the cake is not listed on the website for Extraordinary Desserts (my favorite cake shop), it is the Versailles cake featured on the cover of Karen Krasne’s Extraordinary Cakes recipe book.

The cake is made with almond joconde sponge, soaked with some rum simple syrup, and layered with drizzled salted caramel and salted caramel mousse. The outside is pressed with praline (caramelized pistachios and almonds).

Then the top is coated with a gelatinized salted caramel.

Finally, salted caramel macaron halves (homemade!) are pressed against the sides and decorated with a ribbon (not necessary to hold on the maracons, but definitely helpful for stable transportation). Et voilà!

I wasn’t thinking clearly about the occasion when I used a spiked simple syrup when assembling this cake for a newborn baby . . . but at least the adults got to enjoy.
A few of my favorite cakes from Units 5 & 8 of pastry school:
Special Occasions cake for midterm: passion fruit bavarian cream filling with fondant decorations, dedicated to my parents’ 35th anniversary
(This is what my parents consider “posing with the cake”):
Lemon Chiffon Cake:
Marzipan Peach Cake:
Fraisier Victoria: sponge cake, creme mousseline, fresh strawberries
Flourless Chocolate Cake: with chocolate hazelnut mousse and chocolate meringues
(Here’s the inside):
Chocolate mousse cake: the outside is a decorative biscuit d’amandes cake wrap
Charlotte Royale: a dome of jelly rolls with pistachio mousse filling!
Unit Exam: genoise cake with buttercream and toasted almonds
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