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| August 29, 2016


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baking school: fancy cake and things that flake.

The struggle bus finally found me in Canadaland, and it arrived Tuesday morning - bright and early. I woke up earlier than ever on Canadian soil… but it took forever to take pictures of all the little macarons and package them up properly so they wouldn't get icky freezer smells.
I then was running late to class, only to find I left my key for my lock back at home. Meaning I couldn't put anything away or get to my cake boxes… or my uniform. So um, now I have two - anyone want a Pillsbury Doughboy outfit for Halloween??

day eleven.
Today was egg foam cake day. CAKES. UGH. I was really hoping for an angel food cake because it was my heart’s greatest desire when I woke up this morning - but if I'd taken the time to look through the recipes in our binder when we first got them, I wouldn't have been crushed so terribly. I really just want an angel food cake.

Maybe I'll try to make one for Christmas.

Actually, more than anything I want a KitchenAid mixer after using one nonstop for three weeks - but angel food cake will do. For now. :)

We have a new instructor for the rest of our time here, because this week is all about pastries and Julie - the new gal - used to be an awesome pastry chef. (Well, she still is!) We succeeded in baking two cakes today, both of which absolutely floor me. I can’t believe that I made them. These things are what you get at the high-end restaurants where appetizers are sold à la carte.

I'm doing a small victory dance in my mind, even though I know I won't be making the Genoise ever again...

The first is a Biscuit Joconde, or more commonly known as an opéra cake. For whatever reason known to man, this cake was named after the Mona Lisa (La Joconde in French). I think it looks better than the portrait, but that might be a disgraceful thing to admit so we'll just gloss right over that and…

It tastes like coffee! The dessert is built up as a three-layer sponge cake with coffee french buttercream layers sandwiching hazelnut buttercream. French buttercream is made with egg yolk and is subsequently soooo rich and wonderful. It’s the only buttercream used at Le Cordon Bleu, so you know it’s perfect.

The top layer is then is drizzled with chocolate ganache, and characteristically adorned with “Opera” on top. The cake itself is soaked with an espresso simple syrup to add flavor and moisture. Typically, these are served with the edges cut so the layers are exposed, but because I want to maintain freshness for my family, I'm not cutting it until I'm back home. It looks pretty cool anyway even if it isn't quite the way it's supposed to be!


The second is a classic Genoise with Pâte à Décor Noir and fruit Bavarois. Why yes, I know exactly what that means. haha! The Genoise is the cake part, the pâte something-or-other is the cool little striped part at the bottom, and the fruit Bavarois is a thick custard (in this case, black currant) lightened with whipped 35% cream. So fancy. Imagine me telling you all of this with my pinky in the air.

Honestly, it all was very overwhelming, and I was positive  that my Genoise was going to be a total flop. It wasn't, though! And right around the time that I discovered my cake wasn't a total disaster, a lady from the office came in and asked me if I'd be willing to do a video interview for the college. Except that we didn't leave until 5:30, I think the struggle bus went to another depot by that point in the evening… YAY!

day twelve.
It’s the next to last day of learning! It’s practically a holiday! Tomorrow we learn petit fours and then Friday is our big final exam. Then I'm packing up my car and… I really hope the customs officer doesn't flip over all the desserts I'll have in my possession. I need to think about what I'm going to casually say other than, “Oh yes, I have ten bazillion pounds of frozen cookies and pastries in my trunk. They're made with gold leaf and arsenic.”

Dear heavens, I am my father’s daughter.

This last week has been overwhelming. Not only do we all have the exam on our minds, but the things we're learning in week three are so very involved. We ran late yesterday, and today we still weren't able to bake everything. The class saved two of the three things for tomorrow morning, only having time to quickly pull together our little fruit tarts before leaving. I rushed home to take pictures, but they turned out a little scary because the sun had already set and I have the world's shakiest hands. I'm planning on taking photos of the other two during my lunch break tomorrow - hopefully they look a little more decent!

The fruit tart is wonderful. Or... at least the pastry cream is. I made sure to dollop the extra into a container to bring home. It's rich and smooth and amazing. Our instructor said that the tarts don't last longer than a day and don't freeze well, but I'm planning on risking it anyway to bring home. Even if they don't turn out, I'll have plenty of pastry cream to wipe away the memory of tart gone wrong. Back-up plans, gotta have 'em.

We used a pâte sucrée (sweet dough) for the fruit tarts and a pâte sablée (short crust) for the lemon meringue tart. The latter has a layer of frangipane - almond cream - underneath a thick layer of tart lemon curd, topped with meringue. I'm happy this one isn't in miniature size!!

Lastly, we made a caramel apple pie with pâte brisée (flakey dough) - nothing fancy, just a cute little fruit pie meant juuust for me. I'm planning on enjoying it for dinner when it comes home Thursday night, because I know that it's pointless to bring all the way back to the States. Apple pie isn't a fan favorite in the Parrish household, and I haven't had a single thing to enjoy for dessert during the entire time I've been here! I think I've earned it, don't you?

Tomorrow I have to be at the school an hour and a half early for my interview, and tonight I've been working out the written portion for our exam. (Plus we have another test tomorrow, ahh!) Am I allowed to say overwhelming again? The take-home portion is a bear. We have to plan out our day to the minute for baking the required items, then fill out a costing chart to appropriately price each good. And we have a multiple choice test, too! So far I've spent 2 hours planning out my baking schedule, and I haven't even touched the costing portion.

I am going to be so, so happy when Friday is over. I think this is anxiety worse than finals at the university.

day oops.
I didn't imagine than when I titled this post, "flake" wouldn't just be referring to the pastries that I was hoping to bring home today.

When I graduated from university, I knew I was saying goodbye to the chance of ever having a "snow day" ever again. Ironically enough, yesterday was the last day of final exams for my alma mater... so no one is going to school today. INCLUDING ME! It's a snow day!!

Unfortunately, that means another day's wait for the pastries (I'll show you pictures eventually). It also means there are nine ladies in a frantic state about our final exam tomorrow. We were supposed to learn how to make Profiteroles today, among a lot of other really cool things - but the Profiteroles are important because we are scheduled to make them for the practical portion of our exam. Plus I have a gazillion and ten questions about other things, so today is ultimately the worst to miss out of the whole programme.

You win some, you lose some, I guess! Even though I really didn't want to try to drive the steep hills covered in snow, I'm a little excited that I got to experience a real Canadian winter. Sure, we may not have a foot of fluffy stuff on the ground, but it still counts! And at the rate it's coming down, we might get there.

Edit: we definitely did!

One last snow day - who knew it would be abroad!

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