It was the crack of dawn and I was awake. I had beaten the alarm clocks ring and had some coffee on the go at 5am. Today I was having a master class with French pastry chef Jean-Michel Raynaud in Sydney hence the early start. This man is a pastry legend, he trained under Robert Schicci in Marseille, and conquered pulled sugar and at the ripe old age of twenty, he also served in a three star Michelin restaurant.
But it doesn’t stop there. He has been an integral part of Planet Cake and sweet art and has created menus for Nicole Kidman, Delta Goodrem and created Bec and Leyton Hewitts wedding cake to name a few. He use to be a champion kick boxer (won 3 Australian Championships and an Intercontinental Welterweight Champion title and I tend to think could still smash your patella’s if he really wanted to) so don’t upset him.
He has appeared on Food Safari several times and has featured in numerous print publications. Some of his amazing creations are a life size Barbie doll based off the 50th Anniversary Barbie doll that was built from mud cake and decorated in icing, silk and 2,000 Swarovski crystals. This cake was a collaboration between Jean Michel and fashion designer Alex Perry, hairdresser Joh Bailey, and jewelery designer Stefano Canturi
To celebrate Barbie’s 50th birthday, in Sydney, Australia, Mattel unveiled a nearly seven-foot tall “Barbie doll” chocolate mud cake. The 2,645 lb cake was covered in gold icing, gold silk, and 2,000 Swarovski crystals valued at $50,000, and was based on the design for the limited edition 50th Anniversary Barbie Doll.
He also recreated the royal wedding cake in only 48 hours. Http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/articles/recreating-the-royal-wedding-cake.aspx
The plane landed at Sydney airport, from there it was a quick airport train to circular quay and then a 5 minute walk past the bridge (not bad scenery on the way to a class!) to The Rocks where Baroque is located.
I ventured in (what is the difference between a venture and an adventure. anyway? Maybe there are commercials or maybe something is added..?
Anyway, 6 other foodies were also there for today’s macaron master class. Enter Jean-Michel Raynaud in the flesh. I had seen him on food safari, , the morning show, planet cake, and you tube,but now the maestro was in person.
He greeted us, offered and made coffees and then joined us on the couch to prepare us for today’s class . He repeatedly told us that pastry is a science, “it’s technical, and pastry is about technique”
He also told us that many of our myths would be deleted about making macarons
“ There are conclusions people follow, but it is their experience that makes them do it, best to stick to basics” part of the French discipline is doing just that, sticking to what has always worked.
We were given extensive notes and made our way to the adjoining kitchen to begin work.
First up we were given an incredible in depth session on the science of macarons. This was crucial to establish our understanding and squash so many preconceived ideas we had collectively gathered along the way. I couldn’t write quick enough as Jean Michelle poured out information on ganaches, liquid content, different chocolates and humidity. I very quickly noticed this man is everything I had heard he was and more. A passionate teacher who is intrigued by the why and what’s of food science and is looking for people to share it with.
I learnt so much! For instance one book I purchased had a recipe for ganache that I used, trouble was it was a disaster. My result was so far from what I had expected that I thought they must have printed it wrong. I had double-checked myself, and on this rare occasion knew for once it wasn’t me. Good news is it wasn’t the recipe either; the difference was the chocolate I had used. Some recipes call for a quantity of chocolate, but all chocolates are not created equal! They have varying percentages of cacao, which can and does change a lot. We learnt about forming ganaches made with water that don’t distort the chocolate and suspending butter inside of a caramel (told you it was technical)
We teamed up into groups of two, with half the class making soft caramel and the others making a rich ganache. My pastry buddy was Maria, who was also determined to conqueror the elusive macaraon.
I’m not going t write down every little thing I learnt here because I feel it defeats the purpose of reviewing a class (the idea being to inspire you to go and see for yourself which I hope you do) but I will share something’s. This multi awarded gold medal chef will teach you so many principles and concepts that your cooking will be elevated to a whole new level.
For instance I have followed several recipes on how to make caramel with the results being… let’s say, ok. JM uses a dry caramel and takes it way past wherever you think it should be. Past blonde, past the fizzing foaming stage, remaining calm as smoke pours off the surface, until it takes on an apocalyptic dark reddish hue, only then does he remove it, cooling it down immediately with cold butter and stick blender. Installing the butter this way introduces it to the mix and prepares it to become an emulsion, this is important. Once the butter is incorporated into the mix it is poured into a stainless steel dish covered with cling film and cooled in the fridge.
The cling film needs to come into contact with the caramel completely and then another sheet of cling film covers the pan again. This is because if it isn’t sealed properly the consistency of the edges or uncovered caramel would be different and would consequently change the caramels ratio and structure (pastry is a science,
We were also shown how to make the ganache. I have always dumped my chocolate straight into the boiling cream to make my ganache, but will never do this again, (I promise)
This is too harsh and shocks the chocolate disturbing the cocoa butter (poor coca butter,) instead you are suppose to slowly temper, introducing the cream to the chocolate in stages. This keeps the cocoa butter happy and the texture and structure of your ganache ant its optimum quality.
It is amazing how varying one step in technique can change so much of your result, but as JM said it is all about technique and science. The cream to use is fresh cream not thickened cream (thickened cream has had gelatine added to it and that stuff is made of cow hoofs so why add it to your lovely French chocolate?) it is available at supermarkets.
The ganache temperature was checked using a digital gun, gotta get me one of them!
And was left to set at room temp and received the proper cling film treatment for the same reasons.
With our fillings made and us understanding how to adjust ganaches using different chocolates and additions such as water, fruit purée etc we were ready to practice some piping, the results from our class were filled with laughing, blobs and as time moved on, some fairly good looking macs, now it was time to have some lunch
Jean Michelle as host prepared lunch for us, which consisted of delicious French banquettes, and perfect quiches. Then he made everyone a coffee again acting as barista
I was waiting for him to wash the dishes as well but there was a friendly pot washer who came later to take care of that. The view from the kitchen was spectacular, Sydney harbour to the left and a little further up … the bridge!
Back in the kitchen and it was time to actually make the macarons. JM explained that French meringue was unstable and that he preferred using the Italian meringue.
We were shown how to make the IM and we’re taken through each step watching Jean Michelle go through the process. The TPT, which is short for ‘tant pour tant’, means equal quantities of almond meal and pure icing sugar.
Which brought us to myth number 1 sieving; JM doesn’t sieve the TPT and says it isn’t necessary. Blitzing your almond meal and pure icing sugar is important but you do not need to sieve. How about that? There’s some time saved.
He put his syrup on to the induction top and showed us how to know when your syrup is ready to use and how to fix it if it is not. Diving his hand into cold water and then grabbing a small piece of syrup he taught us the difference between softball and hardball, if you aren’t game you can always use a thermometer. (I practiced this at home and while it seems certain you hand will receive a third degree burn forever coated in rock candy, its not going to happen, just have your bowl of water near the pan)
When the syrup hit 115C, the egg whites were set to whip on high speed, enter MYTH 2 the aged egg whites. Some people aren’t going to like this but you don’t need to use aged egg whites. Using aged egg whites isn’t a problem, it means the whites will take longer to whip. It also means that doing that is not needed so go fresh, it’s easier and quicker.
YOU CAN RE COOK YOUR SYRUP
What was also interesting was that if you had taken your sugar past 120 ish and it is too hot, you could cool the syrup by adding more cold water. Be careful as you do this it will bubble up quite a bit, but it will de cook the sugar bringing the temp down again where the syrup will slowly begin to climb in temp again. This is great because it takes the pressure off trying to get the syrup perfect. When the syrup reaches 120 and the meringue has reached half peaks it is ready to be poured into the mix, be careful not to splash the syrup against the whisk, this flicks and sets onto the bowl meaning your meringue now has less sugar which again effects ratio. Whip this until slightly warm.
Surprisingly when JM adds 2/3rds of the meringue to the TPT he does so with vigour. I mean he smashes it. Forget your folding stuff here, the object is to amalgamate the mix and reduce the air. The last third of meringue is added
and this is done with a lighter hand, still not the folding and turning I am normally use to.
He mixes and scrapes the bowl and pours a line of batter using the spatula to see if it disappears. This is to emulate the piped macaron and the tip that is left. If the line goes away after a few seconds it is ready to pipe, if not, give it a few more turns.
The mix was used tighter than what I have seen before, but I kept coming back to the results that the Baroque ninja turns out,
Their macarons are perfect, so if the man says that is how it is done, then that is how it is done.
Next it was our turn to pipe, we were shown how to go about it gaining some valuable tips and using the provided template
Here is where MYTH 3 was destroyed. The macarons do not require time to dry and form a skin. JM puts them straight into the oven!
Now it makes sense why my macs have come out so dull so often. It is because the sugar was crystallizing, and when it does that things get dull. Who knew?
French macarons on the other hand do need drying time, however the Italian meringue is a different recipe and as such have different rules. French meringue is porous so it needs to skin, Italian meringue is not, and so drying is not relevant.
If you are going to add toppings now is the time, we added gold powder which apparently goes for 3K a kilo, red powder and ground pistachio nuts.
Ah the elusive macaron, it’s what makes trying to conquer it so much fun.
Our shells went into the rack and then into the oven, no12-15 minutes here, jean Michelle explained that if the sugar had not reached 160 Celsius in the oven that it the macarons would not be properly cooked yet.
Here is his process
Start at 165c for 5 minutes with the oven door closed, then put a knife handle in the door and turn the heat back to 150c For 22 Minutes.
Parchment paper is JM’s preferred material, however Baroque does use the silicone sheets. They give them a good scour with a scouring pad to rough up the surface so the macs’ get feet
BACK TO THE FILLINGS
The caramel was retrieved from the fridge and was ready to be emulsified the. A quick hit on a slow heat began to melt the butter while beating the mix at the same time. This friction creates a change in the structure; it becomes lighter and thicker turning from a soft caramel to a caramel butter cream.
The coveted Fleur de sel (“Flower of salt” in French) was added next, a hefty 8 grams of the stuff, we were told to never use table salt, instead use salt flakes because they dissolve differently creating a superior taste and effect. They will create little flavour bombs in your caramel and are worth the bit extra
We paired our shells into similar shapes, and then piped the ganache and caramel fillings. The tops were added using a twist motion and viola! We had made macarons complete with shine, feet, domed tops and height.
We were given plastic shell trays to pack our macs to take home and were allowed to take as many as wanted! God bless you Jean-Michelle.
We were also given a certificate and carry bag so everyone around Sydney knew just where we had been!
This is a must do class for every foodie, but I warn you the master classes sell out months in advance so book early.
Jean Michelle is a master chef who loves what he does and it shows. He is not only brilliant on the practical side of producing perfection, but has the food science aspects completely covered. He won’t simply tell you what will happen if you do something, he will tell you why, and this knowledge will empower you to become a whole new cook.
I have done some things not really knowing why; buy JM helped me out drawing on 30 years of experience.
When I saw the class went for 6 hours I thought two things
1 great value and
2 I don’t think I can concentrate that long before the AD.”………”……….kicks in
If you are thinking the same thing let me put you at ease, the time absolutely flew in fact I wanted it to keep going I was having so much fun.
If you are looking for a supplier to get some fleur de sal or quality chocolate, try www.Simonjohnson.com.au or essential ingredient.com.au
Do yourself a favor and book this class in, it was brilliant!
Location Baroque Sydney, the Rocks
When Last Sunday of every month (except Public Holiday weekends) 10am to 4pm.
Cost $220 per person.
Max Class 8
To book, phone 0406 519 679 and/or complete an online booking form. Bookings are taken on a first come, first serve basis and confirmed once payment is made in full.
Time 6 hours
Jean Michel’s facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-Michel-Raynaud/141382789245019
I recorded an interview with Jean Michel that I will post at a later date.