Superior patisserie course at Le Cordon Bleu: Weeks 3 and 4

I’ve been really behind with updating my blog as it’s been crazy the last month and a half. In reality, I’ve almost finished the course as I’m typing this. Between classes, course work and going on a couple of short holidays trying to find the time to summarise each week as it happens has proved too much of a challenge for me. So instead I’m going to try to write all the posts in one day!

Week 3 was when we had our Boulangerie unit and as usual it was the most laid back and chilled week. During the first practical we made ciabatta, fougasse (in the shape of rolls) and cheese bread (in the shape of a fougasse – confusing much?). In typical LCB style, the recipe we used for the ciabatta is not terribly authentic but the techniques used to produce and shape the bread are what you would expect for a ciabatta. It was still very tasty though, as was all of the other breads we made. I don’t think I gave any bread away this time from either of the practical lessons – I just portioned most of it out and froze them down. I believe I still have a few bits and pieces left in the freezer, a month and a half later, but most of it is gone now. The second practical was dedicated to making a pain de campagne (country style bread), 5 cereal bread (that turned out to be 7 cereals), pate blanche (white dough bread) and grissini (bread sticks). We shaped the pate blanche into baguettes and epis, or wheat stalk shapes as they look like, surprise surprise, wheat stalks! Getting the scoring right on a baguette is not as easy as it looks – it has to be at the correct angle, distance and depth. My scoring was alright for one of the two baguettes and the epi shaping was fairly regular. I’m going to miss our bread teaching chef and his dry humour, which not everyone picks up on and appreciates.

SP Boulangerie day 1 annotated

Boulangerie unit day 1: 1 = Olive and sun dried tomato ciabatta, 2 = filled fougasse, 3 = fougasse-shaped cheese bread

SP Boulangerie day 2 annotated

Boulangerie unit day 2: 1 = 5 cereal bread, 2 = pain de campagne, 3 = pate blanche, 4 = grissini

Week 4 was Restaurant Dessert week and what that means is doing a lot of plated desserts. It was time to unleash our creativity (or lack of) again with three different desserts – a delice au chocolat amer et romarin, creme a l’Amaretto® (bitter chocolate chalice with rosemary and Amaretto® cream), a bavarois de ricotta avec une compote aux framboises (ricotta cheese bavarian cream with fresh raspberry compote) and a parfait creme au citron et sauce caramel, coulis de mangue (creamed lemon parfait with caramel sauce and mango coulis). The chocolate delice had a vanilla brulee centre surrounded by chocolate mousse and encased in a tempered chocolate collar with frosted sugar decorations, chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis and chocolate sable for garnishing. The frosted sugar decorations looked very pretty and was a new technique for us to learn. My plating for it was inspired by something I had seen on Instagram and it turns out that a friend was also inspired by the same photo as our plated dessert looked quite similar. The trickiest part of the dessert was the chocolate mousse – if the chocolate mixture is too cold when you’re folding in the cream or if you don’t work quickly enough you’ll end up with lumps in your mousse. If that happens I would recommend passing it off as intentional and re-naming it a chocolate chip mousse. For the ricotta bavarois we had to create two identical plates as practice for our final practical exam and it had to incorporate a free flowing piped design in tempered dark chocolate. I had a rough idea of what design I wanted to do on the plate, but when it came to actually plating up my mind was drawing a blank so I had to just let my hands go and hope for the best. The end result turned out alright – it was quite simple and clean, and most importantly I managed to produce to (almost) identical plates. I didn’t quite manage to execute what I had in mind for the plating of the lemon parfait – the blobs of sauces were too large in comparison but if they were smaller I think the plate would look quite nice. In addition to the three plated desserts we finally got to make a souffle – my first time making a souffle ever! I was nervous that it would be an epic fail but all four of the souffles I made with my partner rose majestically and although chef said it could have been cooked for 30-60 seconds less, I think we did a pretty decent job. We made a good mix and the ramekins were prepared very well so the rise was very even.

SP Chocolate delice

Chocolate delice with rosemary and Amaretto cream, chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis and decorated with frosted sugar, tuile, chocolate sable crumbs and chocolate

SP ricotta bavarois

Ricotta bavarois with raspberry compote

SP Lemon parfait

Creamed lemon parfait with vanilla sable base, caramel sauce and mango coulis

SP pistachio souffle

Pistachio souffle

Week 4 ended with our planning for the afternoon tea party which we would be hosting the following week. I was due to fly off to New York that afternoon so I was hoping that it would finish on time. I had just settle into my seat in class when chef called my name, along with two others, which only meant one thing – we would be team captains for our individual groups. It did come as a surprise to me, as I was convinced that one of the other girls in my group, who is super organised and very fast in the kitchen would be chosen. Each of the three groups that would be hosting the afternoon tea together were divided into four sub-teams of between 3-4 people, and each sub-team had a sub-team leader who would be in charge of putting together a misse en place, time plan, ingredients list and equipment list for their team and sending it on to the team captain. The team captain has to co-ordinate the lists from each sub-team and compile it into a single list or time plan to send to the teaching chef in charge of the group. Sounds simple, but it really involved a lot of work as I was about to discover. It didn’t help that I was going to be away that whole weekend and in a different time zone, but we all made it work and I managed to get the lists and time plan to the teaching chef just in time. The fun part was about to begin next week and we all couldn’t wait to get stuck in.




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