Bernard Michael Tostanowski III

Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

My Mentor and Pastry Chef

In People on December 13, 2009 at 6:05 PM

Stefan Riemer - Regional Pastry Chef | Disney's Yacht & Beach and Boardwalk Resorts

The Beginning

In my short time on this planet I have run into so many people. Each with their own character and demeanor but none quite like the one I am going to explain in this one post.

Last year I found myself working at Disney’s Boardwalk Bakery, a small retail bakery supplying pastries not only through its storefront but also to the many venues located at the Boardwalk Resort.  Stefan Riemer, Regional Pastry Chef of both the Yacht & Beach Club Resort and the Boardwalk Resort approached me one afternoon with an opportunity to work at the Yacht & Beach Club Bakery. I would get to work under his guidance every Saturday morning and complete a pre-determined project at the end of the day.

My first assessment had very few guidelines. I was instructed to create one 10” cake. It could not be a dated style and had to be my own. I could use anything that was already produced in the bakery and I had only one hour to assemble the cake. Being the coffee addict that I am, I immediately thought of a cake using sweetened espresso as the simple syrup base to soak each layer. Secondly I made a gianduja with equal parts hazelnut paste and tempered melted chocolate and folded in feuilletine flakes in which I made two thin, round disks that I had sandwiched and let crystallize between silpats. The last element of my cake was a chocolate buttercream which held each layer together and finished the outside. Garnished with white chocolate shavings and chocolate filigree it was complete. I cleaned up my station and it was time for evaluation.

The Boardwalk Bakery at Disney's Boardwalk Resort & Villas

The Evaluation

Two other students, Brittany Hannah and Merry Off were completing their cake project along side of me that day. When we gathered around Chef with our cakes for our critique he told us that he wanted us to give feedback to each other as well. My cake was up first. I took one slice out of the cake and laid it on its side…..mistake #1. Whenever so much time and detail is put into layering a cake, it doesn’t make sense to lay the slice it on its side. Chef told us that in Germany, If a customer was served a cake flopped over on its side that it would be refused. Even if the layering was not even and neat, some people may be inclined to return it as well. I was taken back when he told us this, because in America, I’ve never seen someone return a cake because the layering was uneven. It made me happy to hear this because then I knew that there really were people out there (maybe not as many in America) that cared about the quality of pastry they were eating. More to come on this subject in just a few paragraphs.

As my lousy piece of cake lay on its side, we all grabbed a fork and took a bite. Mistakes 2, 3 & 4….oh crap. First of all it was a real struggle to get a forkful of cake. When I made my crispy gianduja disks, I didn’t make them thin enough. They were so thick, it was like cutting through a candy bar with a plastic spoon. To make it worse, not only was the chocolate to thick, but my sponge cake was over soaked making it even harder to cut. Although these were two very critical mistakes, they do come with practice and I have perfected both techniques. As we tasted the cake, my eyes almost bulged out of their sockets; the sweetness of that one bite was extremely overwhelming. After Chef choked down his portion, he paused and of course made a complement before stabbing me in the heart. He told me that the flavor combination was great then proceeded to tell me about the construction of my cake and the high level of sweetness. The two other students also gave me some great feedback. After all was done I was given a score of 7 out of 10. I was really disappointed to hear this. I knew that my cake didn’t deserve a score even this high. When Stefan asked me what I would give the cake, I told him a 4. I truly thought my cake was awful but that I could learn a lot from my mistakes. After evaluating the other students, Stefan let us take our cakes home. I hated mine so much that it sat unopened, untouched in the front of my fridge for the next two weeks. I looked at it every day and took notes on what I would do differently next time around. I really wanted to learn from my simple mistakes and better prepare myself next time.

Over the course of the next few months, project after project I received amazing feedback. From assembling a Pre-Con to making my favorite bread, I pushed myself harder every time. Chef always kept me upbeat and always pushed me harder. My skill set was not quite up to his standards so I always strived to do better with each challenge and show him that I really had the stuff.

End of My Externship

I finished my externship in late May of 2008 to return to CIA and finish my second year of school. In the short 18 weeks I was at Disney, I learned just as much as I did in school. Maybe not as much about baking and pastry but more from real world industry experiences. Chef Stefan created a mark for me professionally and still to this day, I look back at advice he has given me and see it coming into realization a year later.

When I graduated, I realized that one day I will return to CIA as a Chef Instructor. But first I have to learn as much as possible in order to pass on every experience of mine to each and every student. To create a legacy so I will never be forgotten.

Graduating from the Culinary Institute of America

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Gibassier (Pompe à Huile)

In Breads on September 28, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Gibassier Dough Ready to Bake

Although Christmas is still three months away, I couldn’t help but start to think of what I was going to make for the holiday season. Aside from traditionally making cookies I wanted to make something special that very few people outside of France have ever tried before. Gibassier originates from Lourmarin, France and is a soft enriched bread flavored with anise seed, orange blossom water and olive oil (traditional Provençal flavors). And, in France this bread is one of the Thirteen Desserts of Christmas in Provence (Les Treize Desserts de Noël).

I’ve seen quite a few variations of this bread ranging from a cookie or biscuit type, a very soft enriched type to a chewier version similar to challah. My favorite and the recipe below is of the soft, fluffy flavorful one. One thing that you need to keep in mind is the use of Orange Blossom Water. This very fragrant water can easily over-power the bread and make it inedible. Please be very careful when scaling this ingredient. If you have an aversion to the stuff and wanted to make a more grown-up, less traditional version you could easily substitute some high quality Grand Marnier or Cointreau and increase the orange zest by fifty percent.

Le Gibassier de Lourmarin

The Preferment:

  • 145 grams Bread Flour
  • 75 grams Whole Milk
  • 25 grams Whole Egg
  • 0.25 grams Instant Yeast
  1. Combine the above ingredients into a smooth, homogeneous mixture without developing too much gluten.
  2. Place into an oiled container and turn over to slightly coat the top with oil to minimize a crust from forming.
  3. Cover tightly but allow room in the container for growth of 100%. Leave at room temperature overnight.

Final Dough

  • 536 grams Bread Flour
  • 175 grams Whole Egg
  • 134 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 10 grams Table Salt
  • 26 grams Instant Yeast
  • 100 grams Butter
  • 88 grams Olive Oil
  • 25 grams Orange Blossom Water
  • 50 grams Water
  • 8 grams Anise Seed
  • 100 grams Candied Orange Peel
  • 50 grams Orange Zest
  • 245 grams Preferment (See Above)
  1. Pour liquids, then preferment into a mixer. Add dry ingredients except candied fruit and anise seed. Incorporate all slowly for about 4 minutes, mix for 2 minutes more briskly, then slowly add softened butter.
  2. When a nice dough window can be formed, add the candied fruit, orange zest and anise seed. Place rounded dough into oiled bowl, cover so no crust forms, and ferment for 1.5-2 hours.
  3. Scale into 100g increments, bench rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Shape into desired shape and press flat. Cut appropriate design into them, place on parchment-lined pan and proof for approximately 1.5 hours. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Brush with melted butter and toss in granulated sugar, let cool, and enjoy!

Pâte Feuilletée Inversée (Inverse Puff Pastry)

In Breads, Puff Pastry, Techniques on August 24, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Inverted Paton

It’s time to tackle one of the most versatile pastry doughs in a bakeshop: Puff Pastry, better known to some of you Francophiles as Pâte Feuilletée. But this one’s a little special because it’s going to be ‘inside-out’ [PâteFeuilletée Inversée (Inverse Puff Pastry)].

If you aren’t familiar with puff pastry, it’s very simple to explain. The pastry consists of two separate parts, the dough portion called the ‘détrempe’ and the butter portion called the ‘beurre manié.’ Traditionally the dough portion is completely wrapped around the butter portion, folded numerous times, rolled out and baked as desired. In this inverse method the beurre manié will be on the outside, switching places with the dough. Sounds silly to put the butter on the outside because it will start to melt and cause a huge mess, right? Well, not entirely.  Inverse Puff Pastry actually yields better results than classic Puff Pastry, but first: a lesson in lamination.


Lamination is the processes of creating multiple layers in a dough to achieve a flaky, layered pastry. Laminating butter and dough to create a paton of puff pastry creates hundreds of layers, which are responsible for puff pastry’s classic “puff.”  Butter is only about 85% fat – the remaining 15% is water, which vaporizes to cause steam and raise the layers above it.  The same goes for the water in the détrempe (30%+); the dough begins to bake and releases steam acting just like the butter portion. This type of physical leavening is very efficient and very strong. Chances are if you’ve ever eaten a true croissant, danish or those… ahem… Pillsbury Pull-Apart Rolls, you have also eaten another type of laminated dough.

Puff, the Magic Pastry:

The Détrempe
  • 400 grams Water
  • 500 grams Bread Flour
  • 250 grams Pastry Flour
  • 100 grams Melted Butter
  • 25 grams Salt

The Beurre Manié:

  • 800 grams Butter, Unsalted
  • 100 grams Pastry Flour
  1. Détrempe: Combine all ingredients for the détrempe in a mixer with a dough hook attachment for 4-5 minutes on low speed. Gluten formation is not necessary. This dough just needs to be smooth and homogenous.
  2. Beurre Manié: The butter needs to be very cold and pliable before mixing. Hammering the butter with a rolling pin usually does the trick. When pliable, move to a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the flour, and mix on low speed until homogenous.  Low speed is critical: higher speeds will incorporate air, and mixer friction will begin to warm the dough.  Remember to keep the beurre manié very cold. If you need to, chill the bowl and paddle in the freezer before mixing.
  3. Flatten each portion into a square and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 15 minutes.

Détrempe & Beurre Manié

Folding & Turning:

When the two doughs have rested, remove both from the fridge and flatten the butter block in a 1 cm thick disk. Place the détrempe in the center and fold the arcs of the butter disk over the détrempe, sealing it fully. Start flattening this square by banging all over its surface with your fist or rolling pin. Then, using the rolling pin and starting from the center, roll gently towards the borders to form a rectangle three times as long as it is wide. Give it a double turn (fold in four, each side folded to the middle then the whole thing folded like a book… if you need more explanations let me know, but there are lots of illustrations on the web). Turn the rectangle so the fold is on your left, press down gently and wrap in film. Place for one hour in fridge.

After the hour has passed, flatten the dough again with your fist or rolling pin, then roll gently (again) into a rectangle that is three times as long as it is wide. Give it a double turn, flatten slightly, wrap and store in fridge for at least one hour (dough can stay overnight or for up to two days in fridge at this point).  The last turn is a “simple” turn, and is given shortly before you use the dough.  Again roll the dough into a long rectangle, and this time fold it in three, like a letter. Wrap and let it rest for half an hour in the fridge.

Repeat with another four-fold and refrigerate or freeze until use. After all of the folds have been completed you will have attained a beautiful dough with over 700 layers.

Pâte Feuilletée Inversée (Inverse Puff Pastry)


Puff pastry is extremely versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet applications. I made palmiers from this batch, but a simple Google search will get your mind jogging with alternative possibilities.


Coffee Origin Trip to San Ramón, Nicaragua

In Coffee, Travel on August 18, 2009 at 7:07 PM

Coffee Cherries on Their Way to the Depulper

Earlier this year, I received a scholarship from Counter Culture Coffee Roasters in Durham, North Carolina. The scholarship was a full, two weeks paid trip to Nicaragua to learn all about coffee before it comes into the States. On the way back from Nicaragua, we would fly back to Durham and get a chance to the roaster and see everything from coffee roasting to their cupping and selection processes. This was a dream come true and it really opened my mind to how much hard work goes into one cup of coffee which way too many of us take for granted. This is the first installment of three posts to cover this trip and all pictures are at the end of each post.

Day One: New York to Managua, Nicaragua

Being the recipient of this scholarship meant that Denise Hall, Café Operations Professor at the Culinary Institute of America and one of the advisers of the Fine Grind Society would also accompany me. We flew out of Newark early in the morning for our meet-up with the rest of the group in Houston. From here we flew straight to the capital, Managua, Nicaragua. We walked right across the busy intersection from the airport to our hotel, the beautiful Hotel Las Mercedes which I highly recommend! After a few Toñas and getting to meet the rest of the group it was time get to bed early for our three hour drive into the mountains of Mataglapa early in the morning.

Day Two: Managua to San Ramón

Early in the morning we met a man named Giff Laube. He was the Manager of Finca Esperanza Verde. An organic, shade-grown, bird friendly Eco-Lodge and Coffee Farm. A few hours later we arrived at the base of the mountain and had to divide the group into two trucks to get up through the rough terrain. As we climbed the mountain, Giff pointed out all of the local coffee farms (fincas) and explained what varietals of coffee they grow and a little bit about each farmer.

We finally arrived at the lodge and were greeted with an amazing lunch. We then unpacked and regrouped for our tour of Finca Esperanza Verde (The Farm of Green Hope). Giff, showed us the many coffee varietals the farm grows, their butterfly sanctuary, the exotic wildlife and where we would be picking our own coffee cherries the following morning.

Day Three: The Harvest!

I woke up early this morning to do some exploring on the farm before our long day of cherry picking. I woke up throughout the night because of these loud squealing noises I heard outside. The workers on the farm told us about these rodents called guatusas which are very similar to large guinea pigs and they are very attracted to wild peanuts; and sure enough, I dug up a few plants in this curious little patch right outside my window and found a ton of the tasty legumes.

Soon after-wards I met up with the rest of the group and we donned our cherry picking baskets and set out into the forrest, foraging for the ripest cherries we could find. Most Arabica coffea varietals ripen into a very dark red color, there are also a few varieties that ripen into a bright greenish yellow. Since we were all amateurs and didn’t notice the difference we stuck with collecting the red cherries.

Cherry picking is not easy work and does come with dangers. While picking I reached into a shrub and didn’t even notice the poisonous snake that was right next to my hand until one of the workers jerked my hand away. Fallen banana plants are also another concern which still haunts the dreams of Cindy Chang, the Director of Development at Counter Culture which was on this trip with us and always seems to be the one to slip on them and get covered in rotting plants. Banana plants are herbs and decompose very fast and when they lay covered by foliage decomposing on a steep mountainside, they can be extremely dangerous.

After picking for about four hours we decided to head back to the wet mill and process our cherries. When comparing our harvest to the workers harvest, we only picked about a third of the amount per person. Some of these pickers are so experienced that in one six hour shift can pick over 100 pounds of the highest quality fruit and only walk away with only 60 to 90 Cordobas, $3.00-4.50 per day. And this is the pay at Finca Esperanza Verde which pays a 50% premium to the workers to pick only the ripe cherries. It made me value every cent I had even more and gave me a stronger appreciation for Fair Trade coffee buyers. And you might say to yourself, “well, everything in the country is cheaper to match the pay rate, right?” No, chips and soda at the nearby convenience stores were even more expensive than here in the States.

We then floated our cherries. Ripe cherries will always sink when placed in water. Any ‘floaters’ are scooped away and discarded. The floaters may be unripe cherries or cherries that have been invaded with tiny bugs that live inside the fruit, breathing and eating the flesh making the cherry buoyant. The cherries then get depulped by a simple machine that gently squeezes each cherry; which pops out the seed (coffee bean) and discards the fruity flesh. The seeds then sit in a concrete basin and ferments for 18-36 hours, usually overnight. During this time, the mucilaginous goo around the seed breaks down, making washing much easier.

The seeds are then washed to separate any fruity flesh that may fallen into the fermentation basin and to clean each seed. If the seeds are not washed properly, they cannot dry properly and will quickly go rancid. For the initial drying, the water content is brought down to about 40% to allow shipping for further drying and processing.

The Pictures

Sesame Semolina Sourdough

In Breads on August 4, 2009 at 3:27 PM


After reading my post about the sour culture I bought for one dollar from Carl’s, I hope I got you excited for the final result. Since I don’t own any bannetones or bread baskets, I wasn’t able to create any unique intriguing shapes or designs so I decided to add a little aesthetic appeal by garnishing one of the loaves with black sesame seeds found at my local Whole Foods Market. The other is just dusted in bread flour. I decided to use semolina flour because I love the nutty flavor and unique texture it imparts. The recipe uses both semolina and durum flours which can easily be found at Whole Foods or near the Organic aisle of your local mega-mart.

For the shaping and retarding, I rounded one of the loaves and placed it seam side up in a large pyrex bowl lined with a napkin heavily dusted with bread flour. Secondly, I did the same with the oblong loaf but did so with untoasted black sesame seeds and shaped it oblong after removing from the bowl. The sourdough was proofed very slowly in the refrigerator for twenty hours to develop a deep sour flavor and a beautifully even crumb structure.

About forty-five minutes before baking, I preheated my oven to its maximum 500˚F and placed a large baking stone on the second rack up from the bottom. Exactly thirty minutes before baking, I carefully flipped over each bowl and unmolded the loaves onto an oven peel coated in semolina flour. This tempering of the loaves allows the dough to relax a bit before going into such an extreme environment (the 500˚oven) which will minimize the risk of bursting and will allow for greater oven spring.

Just before baking, the bread gets scored. I would recommend choosing simple designs for scoring this bread because the dough was very wet and It would be very hard to cut intricate designs without tearing.

NOTE: The following formula is in grams. All of my formulas are scaled in weight for better accuracy. Volume measuring is very inacurate especially when measuring flours. I am very sorry if this inconveniences any of you but I will not let you make an inadequate bread 8). You can find a very cheap, very reliable scale from Escali. I do not get paid to endorse them…hehehe (although I wish I would) but trust me. They are a great company with a great guarantee and are very reliable and long lasting.

Sesame Semolina Sourdough

  • 387 grams Bread Flour
  • 129 grams Semolina Flour
  • 129 grams Durum Flour
  • 269 grams Semolina Sour Culture
  • 18 grams Table Salt
  • 3 grams Malt Syrup
  • 425 grams Water

If you are a fan of baker’s percentage, email me and I would be happy to send it to you!

  1. Feed Semolina Sour 18 hours in advance.
  2. Mix autolyse method: Combine all ingredients except for salt and mix with dough hook on low speed for 3 minutes or until homogenous. Leave dough in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Uncover the dough and add the salt. Mix again on slow speed for 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from bowl and placed into a well oiled glass or plastic bowl that will allow the dough to comfortable double in size. Cover once again for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover dough and place onto well floured surface. Gently fold the dough over itself similar to a three fold with laminated doughs. Do not over-agitate the dough. Cover the dough again for 30 minutes.
  6. Uncover the dough and fold once again. This time cover the dough and let rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough into two equal pieces on a lightly floured surface. Each piece should weigh roughly 681 grams or 1.5 pounds.
  8. Shape round a place seam side up in bowls, baskets, or bannetones that are generously floured or coated in sesame seeds.
  9. Cover loosely and leave at room temperature for one hour. Place in cooler and allow the dough to retard for 20 hours.
  10. Remove from the fridge and alow to sit at room temperature for at least thirty minutes.
  11. For the Home Baker: Preheat your oven in advance to 500˚F for at least 30 minutes with your baking stone on the second rack up from the bottom. Load dough onto floured peel and place in oven. Immediatley close the door and drop temperature to 450˚F and bake 35-40 minutes.
  12. For the Professional Baker: Preheat deck oven top and bottom to 450˚F. Do not steam. Bake 35-40 minutes.
  13. To test for doneness, carefully remove a loaf from the oven with a clean, double layer towel and flip upside down. Knock on the bottom. The bread should sound hollow and the crust should be very crispy.

WARNING: Sesame seeds will pop and potentially fly off of the loaf when baking or removed from the oven. Use extreme caution.

As I mentioned before mixing the dough using the autolyse method creates a very deep sour flavor and beautiful consistent crumb structure. Also notice the even, beautiful crust on both the top and bottom of the slice. It is very difficult to get a deep crust on the bottom if your baking stone is not preheated to the oven temperature.

Sour Culture, Circa 1847 Oregon Trail

In Breads on August 4, 2009 at 2:00 PM

How cool is this? I saw a post on this sourdough a few weeks ago and immediately decided I wanted to try it. I sent one dollar, along with my address, and promptly got back what you see in the picture. And that’s dried sourdough starter, from Oregon. It was first started by a man named Carl Griffith, in 1847. Friends of his and descendants are still caring for this tender little sourdough today. Some people volunteer to share the joy, and send out dried pieces of starter all over the world.

While I love culturing my own sour starter and experimenting with different ratios of wheat, rye and semolina flours but I found this to be a fun experiment. I love the idea of caring for a little jar of bubbling goo that if not fed and taken care of properly can die, strikingly similar to human babies. Just imagine… a sourdough culture dating back over 160 years!

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Lychee Infused Vodka

In Alcohol on July 24, 2009 at 12:40 AM


A few weeks ago I had my first taste of a fresh lychee. The flavor was so unique, I couldn’t get enough. Being the lush that I am, I immediately thought of making my own lychee flavored vodka. I’ve tried Kai Lychee Flavored Vodka before and as less than impressed. I really couldn’t distinguish a lychee taste in the vodka and it left me wanting a more fragrant, fruity vodka.

I began with one of my favorite vodkas, Russian Standard. Fresh lychees are extremely hard to find here in Orlando but are very easy to find online. A great resource for buying the Canned Lychees is Aroy-D is one of the larger producers of canned lychees. A typical 2o ounce can contains only about 8 ounces of fresh lychees; the remaining weight is syrup. Read the rest of this entry »