Adventures in Baking Land – the temperamental panna cotta

In this online George Brown class we worked with custards. The recipes were for Panna Cotta and Bread and Butter pudding. Seemed simple enough. Custards are liquids that have been congealed by gelatin. Egg protein is what is used to coagulate. The two approaches are the stirring method, where the custard remains pourable. The other is the baked custard and is more firm.

The panna cotta uses the stirring method. It is an Italian food – panna cotta translates as “cooked cream”. I had a package of sheet gelatin – decided to use that instead of the powdered kind.

The gelatin is soaked in cold water to “bloom” it. After soaking for about 5 minutes, I gently squeezed out the water. For the sugar, cream and milk mixture, the recipe said to bring it to a boil. However Chef Mia advised to only heat it enough to melt the sugar. Then add the gelatin.

The panna cotta was going along just fine. I had the custard in the fridge for 4 hours. I decided to use blueberry compote because I like blueberries. I slowly boiled them down to a thick consistency.

However, when I took the custards out of the fridge, I could not pull them away from the sides. So I put them in hot water. I guess I kept them in too long, about a minute. When I turned it upside down to place on the plate, half the custard was liquid so it spilled out over the plate.

My fault. Panna cotta is temperamental as Chef Mia says. Should have just left it a room temperature until I could pull the sides of the custard away.

I put it back in the fridge and had it for breakfast the next morning. I covered the custard in the other ramekins with the blueberry compote and had one for desert. They were very yummy and was so tempted to have a second one.

Bread and butter pudding is made by layering bread with butter and inclusions like raisins. Instead of layering, this recipe called for mixing it together then adding the custard.

Bread pudding recipes go back to the 12th century. It was a way of using up stale bread. Starting out as a poor man’s pudding, it is now part of fine dining.

The bread pudding turned out very well. I used day old croissants for extra butteriness. I forgot to hydrate the raisins as I was following the pdf recipe and not the video. In the video, Chef Mia had suggested hydrating them. Baked at 350 degrees, I checked them at 30 minutes. They were just beginning to brown. Checked it at 40 minutes and they were ready. The liquid had all been absorbed with the top crunchy and the bottom layer moist.

I passed on one to my friend who is really liking this baking course. They get the extras so I don’t get fat.

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