First baking class

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I've always thought that cooking/baking classes are costly & one wonder how much you can gain within a 3 hour class. Since Groupon featured a promo for baking class specifically on mille crepe (location a pull factor too), I jumped at the opportunity.

Upon arrival at the location, it was actually a small group class conducted in a house kitchen. The chef organising the class is Nicholas Pillai. His name doesn't ring a bell? Nicholas is a food writer, recipe contributor & food stylist on various local publications. We were divided into 4 groups to work on the mille crepe based on the recipe given.

As a matter of fact, making mille crepe cake is a tedious task even though baking is not required. The chef has advised us to split the preparation into 2 days - getting the crepes ready on the 1st day & chilled overnight, then making the cream the next morning. Mille crepes are best done in the morning because the cream melts easily considering our hot Malaysian climate.

I shall not elaborate further on the recipe as it'll take too much to explain here & I don't have a lot of pictures to accompany each step. I'm willing to share some of the tips that may be useful for other recipes that you plan to experiment. During class, we all learnt how to brown butter which is then mix together with other ingredients to form the crepe batter. The chef recommended us to use Amul butter (shown in pic) for it's the purest of butter - made from pure milk fat. It's fragrant due to its pure milk fat content & slightly salted to give a savoury flavour to your food.

I do agree that Amul butter is fragrant but it's a tad too oily for my liking. We can replace with alternative brands as we please to suit our taste buds, just have to take note the outcome might taste a little different. When browning butter, the pot has to be on low fire to avoid butter from burning. The pot has to be constantly shaken gently to ensure that the butter is properly browned. There are 3 stages of bubbles to look out for during this process. Once there are signs brown colour at the sides, the butter is ready & needs to be removed from the fire.

Stage 1- The butter has melted & starts to boil & bubble up

Stage 2 - More bigger size bubbles can be seen

Stage 3 - The bubbles become foamy

Final stage - The browned butter should have a nice caramel colour.
Picture shown above is slightly burned.

When it's time to cook the crepes, the process is exhausting because we need to pour the batter to cook layer by layer. We did it in groups of 3 or 4, hence it's a breeze to complete the task. I can now imagine how tedious to accomplish this step alone. In addition, it takes practice to make the crepe perfect - thin & light but just nice to hold the cream later.

Another tip I've learnt to keep the cream as cold as possible in case my kitchen's ventilation turns nasty warm is to put the cream in an ice bath. I didn't expect it to be so easy =D

After 3 hours, our final product is ready for tasting. The chef taught us how to caramelise the top by sprinkling some brown sugar & torching it until it turns brown. I preferred to have left the mille crepe as it is because the caramel layer looks rather messy.

My group's mille crepe looks aesthetically pleasing once sliced. But our crepe was too thick so it didn't tasted as good as we hoped. Oh never mind, practice makes perfect & I'm sure I'll be able to make a better one next round.

Overall, it was a fruitful class. I'm looking forward to attending more cooking or baking classes in the near future because it sure is so much fun. =)