Week 19 of pastry school was a bit of a weird one. We started out on Tuesday with our croquembouche centerpiece designs, but there was a problem with the Thames water supply in the local area, so school was closed on Wednesday. Friday was a teacher development day, so we only had two days in class.
It’s a shame that we missed out on practical lessons on Wednesday and Friday, but it gave me some time to run errands, like get to the Apple Store to fix my computer with logic board and RAM issues… 🙁
Tuesday: Modern Croquembouche Designs (Piece Montee)
On Tuesday we started our first day of our modern nougatine croquembouche designs. At first, I was going to do a more complicated design, but shortly in to the class, I decided to go with a simple structure that I can add design elements at the end. A croquembouche is classically a French dessert with choux pastry balls (profiteroles/cream puffs) in a cone shape bound by caramel.
We started the class by making our choux pastry. We had our first experience with choux pastry here with eclairs and here for our Gâteau St. Honoré. Our modern croquembouche will be great experience at really getting a solid handle on choux pastry.
We then made the nougatine and worked on cutting out our various shapes from the templates created. We’re going to have another class to work on our designs next week and then we’ll have a practical exam on it on the following.
Wednesday we were off school due to the local water issues, so all of the kitchens were closed for the day. I worked a freelance event early in the morning and then used the afternoon to get a better handle on menu costings for our menu planning event. It’s beginning to make a little more sense to me now. Now for the lengthy task of building a spreadsheet with all ingredients and bulk/unit costs. 🙂
Thursday – Food Science, Competition Judging and Level 2 Health & Safety Exam
On Thursday, the school was back in business. We had our projects to present in food science. Jennie and I decide to go with the chocolate wine we worked on in the first week of our experiments and perfect that. This time around, we used the Banyuls wine that Heston calls for in his recipe from The Big Fat Duck Cookbook The Big Fat Duck Cookbook. We also used a port to compare the two.
The chocolate wine worked much better with the red wine than the port, as there was more of a contrast in flavors, but we enjoyed using the red wine from week 14 versus the Banyuls which is a sweet red. Also, ours didn’t foam as much as Heston’s because we had to use full fat milk instead of skim milk since they don’t really stock skim in stores. Skim milk creates a lot more foam than full fat.
It was fun working with the centrifuge and I think I enjoyed it more with the butter pecan ice cream experimenting, but in reality, it was fun working with the machine because we had access to it. Not many places where I will work will use one. Although they do have tiny ones you can buy for home on a really small scale like this Ample Scientific Champion Digital Bench-Top Centrifuge. 😉
After science, our pastry team was asked to be a judge for a Nestle competition that was being held at the school. We were to judge the team on service, presentation, starter, main and dessert courses. The team we judged did fairly well, but lacked on little presentation things here and there. Their main problem was that the dessert didn’t set. They were very nice and the food was all very tasty.
After judging the competition, we had our Level 2 Health & Safety exam. It was a fairly straight forward exam that is mostly common sense.