Well, I’m just finishing up week 6 of a twenty two week program in the pastry and chocolate arts program in Lucerne, Switzerland, and let me tell you, it has been an amazing time.
I can’t believe how much I’ve learned! It’s a tough program, and we basically have one to four days to learn the basic of any given type of pastry/ dessert.
This week we finished making cremes and mousses. And let me tell you, it was tough.
There was lots of pressure, and confusion, and even some yelling, and a few tears, and even some sweat, but, I think I’ve figured it out. The key is to keep the temperature right. If it gets too hot while you’re mixing the milk, sugar, eggs, etc., your eggs will start turning into scrambled eggs, and then it’s all over. I’ve already tried one of these recipes previously, and failed once, but succeeded the second time. So then in class we were making a similar one, but my partner and I somehow managed to mess it up. Of course, when our Chef saw, she was not pleased, and told us to do it again, but with no mistakes. So we did it again, and we failed again. Besides temperature, you also have to stir very quickly when adding the hot milk to the eggs. I’m afraid we weren’t fast enough. Oy, so we had to tell Chef again. I thought she was gonna bite my head off and feed me to the dogs. And then there’s my partner May. A 30 year old Korean, who never shows any emotion, who just moves on to the next recipe as though nothing had happened. She is so cool, and I was glad to have her there to kind of take charge while I picked my ego up off the floor after saying I was worse than Maurizio. ( again, another story to tell about our south Italian class mate who never gets anything right.)
So after much sweat, and yes, some tears, I think I finally figured it out! At least our recipes all looked and tasted right, so I think that’s a good sign.
Now the question is if I can do it again. I’ll have to experiment next time I go home.
In the end, we made a very lovely Charlotte Royal Torte, which I will also post a picture of. We used the Swiss rolls made out of the sponge cake we learned how to make last week. And inside is filled with delicious Bavarian Crème.
And of course, we also had to spend some time learning and talking about the importance of cutting straight. It’s a bit tougher than you’d think, just because you have to cut it while it’s frozen, otherwise the cake will totally smoosh, and be no good for anything.
Another focus this week has been piping. Piping mousse, piping crèmes, piping chocolate!! ( that’s for another post). Being able to pipe a liquidy substance into a tiny little dessert cup, keeping it clean around the edges, and filling every single cup ( at least 100) with the exact same amount is seriously a pain in the freaking neck.
For thicker substances, if you don’t hold the pipe straight up and down, your dessert will sit on a slant.
It is absolutely amazing how much detail there is in this profession. Of course I knew there would be, but everyday I learn something new, and I can’t decide if I’m impressed at how precise an art form this is or just irritated at the fact that there is something else I have to keep track of. :)
Despite all my frustration, and irritation, I really love it! It brings a lot of satisfaction to see your finished product, even if it isn’t perfect.
I still have 3 weeks to go in this term, and then another 11 after that. It’s going by fast! But I love it!