Intensive classes are really what they sound like. Today I will be going to Demonstration #9, out of 20, and we’re only a week and a half into the course. I am exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I have always thought I loved baking, but in this rushed schedule it is hard to find my groove. I like to process the information, do the practical classes methodically, and take my time familiarizing myself with new things. There’s no time for that. We’ve had many days when we’ve had the practical class right after the demonstration.
The recipes are also getting more and more time-consuming and complex. While the finished products have all been delicious, they definitely do come with a price. I have gone from working quickly and efficiently in class in the beginning, to recently being close to the last one to finish in class. It’s a little deflating, I must admit. I hate feeling out of sorts and out of control, and these days classes tend to sway that way and leave me feeling completely flustered.
A quick photo recap of a few classes, and I’ll continue later on…
We had the Superior Pastry chef for the Jamaica, and that day I worked fairly quickly. Since his favourite thing to do is to rush people, I could totally get along with him that day. We baked our biscuits, which is basically just a thin ring on the outside and a bottom, and filled the rest of the cake with coconut mousse on the bottom, and mango-passionfruit mousse on top. The recipe itself is really long, but the cake wasn’t too bad to construct. The chef was really helpful that class, stopping by occasionally to give me hints on what I might want to do, or what I could do better, and it was overall a really pleasant experience and I learned a lot. I ended up giving the cake to a classmate whose flatmate was going to a party that evening, so no pictures of the cake inside.
That same night, we made the fraisier with the young chef. It was a super-whisking class, starting from a genoise cake inside the fraisier, to the mousseline cream on the outside. I should’ve gone with my instincts on the mousseline cream, but I put it in the fridge for a bit anyway because that’s how we were taught. By the time I incorporated the extra butter, the mixture was too cold for the mousseline cream to come together smoothly. The chef was really nice and helped me out by showing me how to warm it up on the stove better, and then when I thought my arm was going to fall off from all this whisking, my best puppy-dog expression got him to help me finish whisking.
The strawberries are all supposed to point up, but I made a little mistake early on when I was arranging, and went with it. The chef wasn’t too impressed, telling me that the strawberries are never to be arranged that way (so French). However, I think he was not too annoyed with me because I told him it started out as a mistake and he breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Good, that’s what I was hoping to hear.”
Raspberry-anise macarons, yuck
My last practical last week before we got Sunday off was restaurant desserts – specifically, macarons. I had made them from the Cordon Bleu recipe in Basic Pastry when we saw the demonstration, and knew what I was looking for in the mixture when I was making it. It was fairly straightforward, and a nice and relaxed practical class to end the week. We were supposed to plate a macaron, which I did, but I didn’t bring my camera. The only picture is an Insta.gram one from my phone…
By the time Saturday finished, I was dead on my feet. We finished the week with a demonstration on the Opera cake, and I came home and slept soundly for nine whole straight hours without stirring once. I spent Sunday puttering about, vowing to only speak to the lady at the boulangerie for a baguette and nothing else…and pretty much that was all I did. The rest didn’t feel like enough, though, because on Monday morning as I was walking to school, I felt like I could use another day to sleep. Perhaps this intensive course will actually make me miss the definition of working as sitting in a cubicle all day!
More to come, my week has just begun and so much has happened already.