I am now at the halfway point of the intermediate patisserie course, which means that exams are less than a month away now. At the moment I am feeling less nervous about the exams than I was in basic as I sort of know what to expect. I suspect that nerves will hit pretty soon once I start practicing and discovering if I can complete the exam dishes with ease within two and a half hours.
This week has been quite a relaxing week, which probably means that I should be spending time studying and practicing. The only practical session we’ve had is on boulangerie. I love making bread as it is in general a lot more chilled. There was some organisation and juggling of tasks at the beginning of the practical when we had to prepare two different doughs each within 45 minutes to ensure that we had enough time to ferment, shape, prove and bake the doughs. For the first time this term, our group actually finished early! The fiddliest bit was doing the 4-strand plait for our baguette viennoise. The design of my plait was alright, but due to unevenness in the thickness of the strands it looked a bit crooked after baking. I have done 6-strand plaits before but not 4, and actually I find the 6-strand easier. The spacing of my outer ‘petals’ of my pain de seigle (rye bread, in this case with 25% rye) should have been more even as I ended up squashing together the last 3 balls. I forgot the eyes for my turtle and the mouth didn’t stay open but at least it still looks like a turtle. Sort of. Maybe if you squint your eyes and tilt your head a bit. The focaccia that we made is definitely not a traditional recipe as it contains eggs, but it’s rather tasty thanks to the garlic puree and herbs. With all this bread, if won’t be hard to guess what I’ll be having for my lunch for the rest of the week, and probably for the rest of next week as well. Cheese on toast. Mmmm… I could happily have that for my lunch almost every day.
We had a technical demonstration on savoury petit fours, where chef prepared a variety of items including mini sausage rolls (petites saucisses), salmon roulade, cheese sticks (paillettes) and bouchees, which translates to a mouthful. Bouchees are similar to vol au vents but tend to be more substantial and have more filling in them. Chef explained that savoury petit fours can be a good way of using up leftovers or trimmings to reduce wastage. It was certainly one of the tastiest technicals we’ve had so far.
We also had our mid-term tutorial this week and found out how we’ve been doing so far in the first 9 practicals that we’ve had. My average score is a bit lower at this point than in Basic Patisserie, but I guess I should not be too disheartened as it has been a tougher first half of the term. I was a bit disappointed with some of the scores I received but I’m sure they are fair and accurate even if I don’t necessarily agree with them. The main aspect that I need to work on is my preparation – if I can perfect my basic techniques I will be able to work more efficiently at the beginning of practicals leaving myself with more time to focus on finishing the dishes and presentation. I also had a brief discussion with chef about options post-diploma and I’m now going to seriously consider working in hotels as an option. Previously I had not really thought about hotels as I was more focussed on bakeries and restaurants but after speaking to both chef and another friend who’s also a pastry chef I’m going to start looking in to it.
Next week will be a bit busier with two practical sessions on entremets, but all our lessons are a bit more spaced out over the week. No more long 4 day weekends for us! It was certainly nice while it lasted.