This post is really late as I’ve been busy and exhausted since the last day of class on the 18th of March. I’ve actually just started the Superior Patisserie term but I’ll cover that in a separate post.
The last week of Intermediate Patisserie was fun, apart from the theory exam, which unexpectedly turned out to be a mini French exam. We had 40 multiple choice questions and 2 short answer questions. Typically almost everything that I had studied for did not come out. They really expected us to have read through EVERYTHING that we had ever done in the last two terms. For one of the short answer questions we had to describe how to make a chocolate truffle using polycarbonate moulds. What?? I came out of the exam not feeling very confident at all.
Our final practical task was to decorate the fruit cake we made back in week 6. We were allowed to have creative free reign and rather surprisingly almost everyone chose to make wired flowers in some shape or form. As I had mentioned in a previous post I wanted to make a peony for my cake. I was initially going to opt for an open peony as I personally think that it looks nicer, but the I decided against it as I was worried that I would not have enough time to get it done properly. A closed peony was the easier option by comparison as I would not have to make any stamens and only the outermost petals required wiring. The main issue that I had was the inner ball not adhering properly to the wire. The school did not have the 18 gauge wire that I needed for the central ball so I made do by doubling up an 20 gauge wire as it’s pretty heavy once you start sticking petals to it. In the end it didn’t matter so much that the flower was starting to fall apart as I laid it on it’s side rather than standing upright. I think I could have done a lot better, especially with the colouring of the petals but in the end the overall cake looked decent. I made two additional non-wired roses with some rolled fondant mixed with Tylo powder as I needed to hide the wires.
I was reasonably happy with how I had covered my cake, although there were some slight stretch marks around the edges as I had rolled my fondant a little too small. We had to create straight edges rather than bevelled edges so it was a new technique for me to learn. The rolled fondant ended up a little bit more pink than I had intended but at least it wasn’t too in-your-face and the brush embroidery that I did around the sides softened it up slightly. I did regret not bringing in my turntable as it would have made my life a bit easier when I was applying the brush embroidery. I ended up creating a make-shift turntable using an overturned flat-bottomed bowl.
I think I showed enough technique for chef to be happy enough with the finished product. It’s still sitting in the cake box, wrapped in cling film waiting to be eaten. We don’t really like fruit cake as a household but I’ll bring it round to a friend’s house in a few weeks time so it won’t go to waste.
We had a two week break between the end of intermediate and the start of superior, however I volunteered to assist in both the Cake Decorating and Boulangerie courses that were running throughout that period. For the first week I only helped out with one course per day, but during the second week I did both courses every day, which means I was at school from about 7 a.m. till almost 9.30 p.m. for 5 days straight. It was hard work but a lot of fun too, especially when you have someone crazy and with great energy assisting alongside you. Getting to know the chefs a bit better was an added bonus and the most important thing that I learnt was how to cling film a steel trolley without getting zapped by static electricity! It might seem like something trivial but trust me, if you’re wrapping up trolleys every day this is a vital skill to acquire.
The end of term also brought with it our results and I was absolutely over the moon when I got mine. I did much better than I had dared to hope for, especially in the practical exam. Having narrowly lost out on a Mention Bien in basic, it was an amazing feeling seeing the little ‘Mention Bien’ sticker when I pulled my certificate out of the envelope. I just managed to scrape through with an overall mark of 80.06%, but I don’t care! It doesn’t really mean anything in the real world but it’s more for my own self-satisfaction knowing that I have improved from the previous term.
I’ve met some brilliant people in my group and I’m a little sad that I won’t be in the same group with some of them for Superior, however I’m sure I’ll see them around between classes. The last three months have flown by pretty quickly and I have a feeling that the final months will go by even faster. Blink and you’ll miss it!