Intermediate patisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu: Week 6

This week was an important week as it was our introduction to entremets and for our practical exam in superior patisserie we will have to make an entremet of our own creation based on a list of ingredients provided by the school. We should be starting to  think ahead and making notes about what type of sponge bases and fillings we like. An entremet is described as a multi-layered, multi-textured and multi-flavoured mousse-based cake.

The first entremet we made was the poires au caramel religieuses, or pears in caramel, layered with chocolate sponge and chocolate mousse. Working in pairs we made a flourless sponge, soaking syrup, dark chocolate mousse, dark chocolate glaze and poached pears in caramel. We also had to temper white and dark chocolate to make little pear decorations to adorn our cakes. Overall I was happy with my cake – both in terms of appearance and taste. Chef did comment when he tasted it that the dark chocolate was a bit out of temper, although it seemed alright to me. Obviously chef knows better so we will just have to try harder next time.

Pears & choc entremet

Poires au caramel religieuses

Pear & choc Xsection

Cross-section to show the layers

The next entremet, entremets au chocolat blanc et pistachio avec sa gelee aux fruits rouges, (white chocolate and pistachio entremet with red fruit jelly centre) was slightly more complicated. Working in pairs again we produced a pistachio dacquioise, which is like a nutty meringue similar to a macaron, a white chocolate mousse using a creme anglaise base, a red fruit jelly and a white chocolate glaze. We got to work on tempering again to create dark chocolate squares to surround the cake. I wanted to pipe out some extra decorations for the top as well but I didn’t have the time. The tempered dark chocolate was spread quite thinly across a textured acetate sheet to which we had applied edible glitter or dust. Not for the first time, chef commented that I needed to work on my spreading technique as the thickness was not even, resulting in squares of uneven thickness. It’s not a big difference but enough for chef to notice. At least I can take comfort in the fact that my cutting was quite neat and even. The thickness of my chocolate piping on the glaze was a bit on the thick side and unfortunately the chocolate was too cold so it set before I could do the feathering. Normally I’m not a fan of white chocolate but this mousse was not cloyingly sweet and the pistachio dacquoise and red fruit jelly gave a lovely contrast and dampened down the white chocolatey-ness. To be perfectly honest when I tried this cake after the demonstration I wasn’t keen but the one that I made tasted nicer to me, perhaps because the dacquoise and jelly had time to soften slightly with the mousse.

White choc & pistachio entremet

White chocolate and pistachio entremet with red fruit jelly centre

White choc & pistachio Xsection

Cross-section showing the beautifully contrasting layers – very eye-catching

The other lesson that we had this week was a technical demonstration on wired gum paste flowers. Chef demonstrated how to make a rose, an oriental lily and a calla lily. I’ve never tried making wired flowers before and have always been a bit scared of them as they seem rather complicated and fiddly. Our final two practical sessions are on celebration cake decorating. We have free reign over the design and after watching the technical demonstration I’ve decided that I’m going for a shabby chic or vintage theme. To tackle my fear of wired flowers and to gain some practice under the watchful eyes of chef I want to try to make a peony for my cake. I may regret this decision but I really do have to push myself and try new things. I can predict that a lot of You-Tube videos will be watched between now and then.

Fraisier practice

Fraisier cake practice with Chinese New Year themed decorations

A friend asked me if I could bake a cake for her to celebrate Chinese New Year last week and she kindly agreed to let me make one of my exam dishes for her. The practice run went reasonably well and I’m confident enough that I will be able to finish the gateau Fraisier to a decent standard within 2 and a half hours. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that we will get this for our exam, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I actually did a practice run for the Alhambra the week before but that didn’t go very well. I was way over time and I managed to split both the ganache and the glaze, which made me a very unhappy bunny. I will need to practice the Alhambra again and next week it will be the gateau Sabrina. The weeks are starting to race by and it’s crunch time now. No more slacking off on the days when I have no class.

 

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