Saturday, January 14, 2012

Everyone is so good!!

I found that this time around, the competition in the group is so much tougher. For basic pastry, there is a lot of unexpirienced people like me, but that he have done our share of baking at home, as well as experienced people, and people that do not have a clue of what is going on in the kitchen. Now in intermediate, we all have passed basic, so there is a fair share of practice and improvement already done, so in the practicals, most of the cakes are very good looking, and is hard to point out who the best one is, since everyone does pretty good now.
I like this since it raises the bar significantly, and you really pushes everyone to do their best, since you don't want to fall behind. It will be interesting to see how we come along.
For this time demonstration we had Chef D, which is just the second time I have him in a demo, since I have been in school. He is very sharp, but very demanding as well. He is one of the very strict chefs we have, and he demanded absolute silence, which is nice except for the tense feeling we had. I guess is just a matter of getting used to it.
He did just one type of cake, which is the one we will be doing in practical: Jamaïque / Jamaica. The only thing I like when Chefs just do one type of cake, is that we get to see different ways of decorating, or presenting the sme cake, and helps us see the range of oportunity we have to be creative.

Eventhough this was a very straightforward demo, not much joking around, since Chef D worked too quick as he mentioned, we had some time to ask about "Stages" or internships since he is the one in charge of them. The result, I am more confused about what I would like to do, and that I definitivelly have to get French language inside my head ASAP!! Anyway, here are the ckes the Chef made.

The cake itself is a chocolate - almond joconde biscuit filled with a coconut mousse, poached pineapples, and an upper layer of mango - passion fruit mousse. It sounds and looks too sweet, but when you try it is not overly sweet, it has this just right balance of sweetness. And the flavors just work together sooo good.

This cake was fun to make in practical, I like whan we take ' different things, and then we just put everything together to make this nice cakes. The mold of my cake didn't want to let go of my cake, and had a little trouble there, but other than that it went great. And I even did, the cocoa powder decoration the chef did, wich looked kind of tricky, which made me really happy.

My glazing came out a bit more yellow that the one the chef did, but otherwise all good, so next time I guess less yellow.

Ohh, and by the way I burned myself again!!! At least now it was my left hand and not the reight one. Oh well, the hazards of being a pastry student.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lets do Tarts again!!

For Basic I remember that one of our first demos was the apple tart, and from there we did a few more of different types. Well for Intermediate for our second "lesson" we have tarts again.
Since I had a very long break from when basic finished to when I am starting back in Intermediate, I really don't mind the "review" of techniques raising the bar a bit, so it is not as simple.
For the demo, we had Chef C, which as I mentioned before, I really like his demos, they even seem a bit short.
The Chef made two three different tarts on demo, even though he was just supposed to make two. The third tart was not really a whole different tart, but a combination of the left overs form the other two tarts.

The first tart the Chef made was the Tarte Passion-Framboise which is the one we are to do at practical. Is a sweet pastry dough with a raspberry coulis, and a passion fruit cream on top. It is very good

Then the Chef made the Tarte Legere au Citron, which is the same sweet pastry crust, but with a lemon-almond cream inside, and a light lemon cream on top. I really liked this tart. I think since I really like lemon, I prefer this tart over the one we made in practical although they were both good.

And the third type of tart the Chef made was with the passion fruit cream inside the tart, and the light lemon cream on top. He said this would probably be the best because of the paring of flavors, but I didn't really cared much for it. The all lemon one was still my favorite.

As always the most fun part of the class comes, with "la degustation" since we get to see what the cakes, or in this case tarts, look like when cut open, and of course try them out.

So going into practical, I was feeling pretty cautious with the dough, since it was very soft, and didn't want to make the mistake I did with the tartlets, and leave the crust too thick, so I putted on the fridge and was able to roll it, no a nice thickness, but then when it baked I don't know what happened that it shrinked a bit, and the edge looked really thick and ugly.
I managed to fixed it towards the end, shaving the edge into a nicer more even and thinner one.
We had some dead time while waiting for the tarts to set in the fridge before we could put the second layer on, so we had some time for practicing chocolate writing. For our technical part of our exam, we have to write Opera in chocolate and do a border, and contrary to what one may think is not as easy as it looks.

And as you can see, I definitively need lost more practice.
Anyhow, my tart looked ok. For the decoration I feel really uncomfortable doing things to elaborated, since you CAN put too much on a cake and ruin it, so I decided to keep it simple, but elegant, and was actually pretty happy with how it came out.

Can't wait to go back to school tomorrow and do my next cake.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Back to School, Intermediate here I come!!

Two months vacations have already past. I thought I was going to have so much time during my vacations, that I could get board and not have anything to write about, but on the contrary I have been so busy mostly working, some traveling, that I have not really had time to write. There is absolutely no excuse, but I still had a hard time finding space to write.
This past week school started again. I am hoping that with the forced no work spaces work school produces cutting into the usual work hours, so that I cannot make it to work, I will be able to go back to writing and publishing all those posts I have yet to post.
Well school started on Thursday, and it was a bit to stressing first day. As I mentioned I had been on vacations for 2 months, and I did do some backing, but I do feel I got out of the school's pace specially during the practicals.
Well my first day back, and I had Demo #01 followed immediately by the demo!! I found it a bit shocking to be pulled back into school after such a long break.
Because Chef JJ, the Chef for Intermediate pastry, is on vacations, we had Chef C do the demo. I just love his demo's, they are fun, keep you attentive, since the Chef has a bit of a speed doing things, I just really like his demos.
Anyway for the Demo, the Chef made three different cakes.

The first and one of the cakes we will do on Practical is the Streussel. I know the streussel to be a puff pastry sort of log with apple, and sometime nuts, but was very surprised to find something very different.

The base is made of puff pastry, then it has a thin layer of "fromage blanc" wich is a sort of greek yogurt, very common here in France, and it has some apricots too, but not very many. Then on top we put a streussel topping, which is like a crumble topping. It was very good, just very different to what I though a streussel was.
Then he made a Pave aux Amandes, which is a gluten free cake, very dense and rich in flavor. Is only powdered almonds, sugar, eggs and butter, what's not too like??

And the third cake, was a two layer, sort of pound cake, in a thin log shape. The cake had two layer, a vanilla pound cake part, and a inner chocolate-almond meringue one with chopped almonds.

Nothing really impressive, more like a quick review of basic pastry.
As always we got the "degustation".

The cakes were ok, nothing really outstanding. The almond cake was a bit dense, but good flavor. The layer one was just ok too. The one I like the most was the streussel, but then again I like anything that has puff pastry, so nothing special.
Even though we had fairly simple recipes, which were more to help us practice time management and organization, and not really skills, I was freaking out a bit to have the practical, right after the demo finished.

I started demo a bit slow, trying regain my pace, that I kind of lost over the holidays. Since groups changed that also shakes things a bit, but I am happy with the people I am working with, they have a fast pace which helps me keep son track and not slack off too much, and are very clean which I always like.

Anyway, I put lots of almonds on my almonds, cake, and it came out perfectly golden looking very good.

The streussel came out ok, not perfect, but not bad either, just ok. I considered that for trying to get back on track, I did pretty good, and didn't fall back too behind. "Pas mal" as the french would say.

Putting aside the stress, I didn't realized how much I missed, being in school, and how happy going back to the kitchen and baking made me fell.

Feels so good to be back in school, and now ready to see what Intensive has to come!!
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