Pavé aux Amandes
Like a whirlwind that’s kind of taken over my life, Intermediate pastry has begun! We started Day 1 with some basic recipes that were time-consuming, probably to ease everyone back into the rhythm of the kitchen. We made two pastries: a flour-less almond cake and a streusel “cake” that’s more like a tart. Neither of them were tasty, in my opinion.
Streusel/identity crisis pastry
To my dismay, the streusel required puff pastry skills, again. It consisted of a puff pastry crust, with canned apricot halves and a thick Greek yogurt (fromage blanc as the French insist on calling it, even though it’s very similar to yogurt and they eat it like yogurt – with honey and banana slices) in the middle, and a “streusel” topping that’s basically just flour, sugar, and butter. The streusel was crunchy and probably the best part of the concoction, but still, it could not be compared to a proper apple crisp topping at all.
The students in Intensive are a bit more varied. There are generally more older people who are taking a short leave from work or home life to learn pastry in Paris for a month. With this, the dynamic of the classroom changes quite a bit. The students are not exactly “fearful” of the chefs, and the chatter is much more lively in the kitchen than that of my Basic class.
We also will be having the older, silent chef a lot for our classes. While he’s really nice, I just wish he’d give more information and feedback and actually instruct us. He peeked at my finished products, tossed behind a “Magnifique”, and was on his way again to see the next student’s work. Bah.
Since I wasn’t a fan of either recipes, and I don’t really have many people to feed these days, I left behind most of my cakes at school and just brought home the two slices for photos. Alex got to try a little bit of the almond cake, but otherwise I tossed everything out after the photo shoot. I found the almond cake very dense and sweet. We had made an almond cake in Basic Pastry (in demonstration only), and I prefer that one much more. It was a lighter sponge that was equally as almond-y, but much more pleasant to eat because of its airiness. As for the streusel, it was nothing spectacular, and if we had used jam rather than fromage blanc, I think I would’ve liked it more. With such a heavy creamy dairy product on top of puff pastry, I just couldn’t get on board with the taste.
A little break and then it’ll be full speed ahead this weekend with lots of classes! By the end of the first week we will have finished 6 lessons already, out of 20!