Week 18 of pastry school was a really up and down week. The week started with an exam, included a mild nervous breakdown in class, afternoon tea at The Ritz and delicious cookies. The week ended on a high note with great news that some of my best friends from college booked their flights to London and will be here in mid-May! Yay! 🙂
Tuesday: Practical Exam #3 – Gâteau Mocha
On Tuesday we had our third patisserie exam creating gâteau mocha. We first made this in week 14 and this was really our second time with a gâteau, or really any layer cake for that matter. It went well-ish.
We had a substitute Chef lecturer/grader for this exam as Ian had to be out for the day. I started the day making my genoise sponge, which we did once again over the bain marie to make sure to really incorporate a lot of air into the sponge. After that came the French buttercream, followed by all of the various assembly bits.
I felt that the first time we made the Gâteau Mocha, it went much smoother; cutting my sponge was easier, and more level, the buttercream seemed to be less of a pain (I felt like it whipped up nicely and the longer it sat, the more split the buttercream looked, which was highly frustrating), etc. I ended up with a lot of positive feedback – Chef Moss said my buttercream was the best in the class, my motif work was really nice and a unique design, that my presentation was nice and I worked in a tidy environment – but I needed to pipe the buttercream rosettes in a more circular fashion instead of straight on (and in an effort to not beat myself up over that, we’ve only worked with buttercream rosettes once in school, plus I didn’t have a ton left from the recipe and was afraid I wouldn’t get 12), that my cake wasn’t exactly level and that my sponge was slightly overworked. I received a (high) merit of 89/100, one point shy of distinction…which left me feeling kind of frustrated by the exam overall.
Wednesday: Lemon Meringue, Poached Pear & Cream & Chocolate (Dark & White) Tarts
Wednesday was one of the more rough days I’ve had in class probably all year. I’ve been feeling like I’m spreading myself a bit too thin lately with (my second) work experience placement, our menu planning project that will count towards the second half of the course, making sure I get as much out of the pastry course as possible and trying to network and lay a foundation for post-school. It’s left me feeling like I’m not doing a good job at any. Anyways, I came into the class with a lot on my mind and when our lemon curd (for the lemon meringue tart) was slightly hard (we partnered for some of the fillings) and I was trying to work it into a more pipeable consistency, I snapped my spatula and sliced my thumb. Which was the straw that broke the camels back and the tears came rather quickly after.
Anyways bad days happen…class finished and the tarts were all super tasty. I enjoyed a glass of wine when I got home (with a side of lemon meringue tart).
Thursday: Afternoon Tea at The Ritz
On Thursday, our class took the afternoon off and went to The Ritz for afternoon tea in London. We’d never done an afternoon tea before and seeing as it’s such a classically British thing to do, we wanted to experience it as an enjoyable outing and also have it serve as inspiration for us as pastry chefs. We were probably one of the few tables thoroughly dissecting and discussing the sandwiches, petit fours and scones in great detail. 🙂
The afternoon was really lovely. The Ritz afternoon tea was excellent and all of the food was delicious. I stuffed myself silly with around 12 sandwiches, a scone, multiple petit fours, a small serving of the tarts and cakes they brought around and a pot of tea. Such a great day with the girls (and Ian!)!
Friday: Theory & Cookies/Biscuits
On Friday we had theory in the morning where we reviewed food health and safety for our level two exam certification next week. We practiced with lots of quizzes.
In the afternoon in the bakery, we made three different cookies – biscuits à la Cuillère, Goober cookies and chocolate chip. We started with the biscuits à la Cuillère or ladyfingers which has a meringue folded into the batter. Next we went with the Goober cookies or a type of peanut butter cookie with oats and a small amount of chocolate. We sandwiched some of the Goober cookies together with a peanut butter frosting. Those reminded me a little bit of the Girl Scout Do-si-dos cookies. Finally, we finished off with chocolate chip cookies. We went a little bold with these and added both chopped pecans and chopped bits of Snickers. 🙂