Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Ritz week 1 - my lips are sealed

Following the excitement of my basic patisserie exam results, combined with the anticipation of the school Christmas holidays, I spent last weekend mentally trying to prep myself for my work placement at the Ritz. Sadly, within an hour of arriving at the UK's most refined and established hotel, I was sworn to secrecy and asked not to take any pictures or publish anything in writing about my time spent with them...which has sort of taken all of the fun out of this post as essentially I've been banned from generating any content what so ever. Boo.

There are however a few things that I feel I can mention...first things first, there is another world out there and they are rolling in cash. Whilst stood in the staff 'reception' area, I witnessed something I'd never seen before. The bell boy, who looked as though he should have been at school was pushing a luggage trolly past me with all his might. This of course wasn't unusual but what left me feeling completely taken aback, as well as completely out of place was that this trolley was as piled high with Louis Vuitton trunks and cases and sat upon them, like a cherry upon a cake was a pristine white hat box. How the other half live! I felt as though I'd stepped into the opening scene of Titanic. I honestly expected (and very much hoped) to see Jack dash past me following the bell boy but sadly that was only my imagination running away with me. 

Secondly, a pastry kitchen requires a lot of eggs. I know this as I carried, cracked and separated more eggs than I care to remember. This is a task I feel I have now mastered. I'd go as far as saying that I am eggcellent at it. 

And lastly, I helped with the production of many festive petit fours last week. These are presented to diners, along with their bill at the end of their meals upon highly polished, sterling silver platters. All I can say is that someone of notoriety ate a petit four that I'd made. This would of course be a much more exciting story had I been allowed to disclose who ate my handiwork. But I can't so you'll just have to trust me. It's a good'en!

Ritzing aside, I've been doing a little festive home baking, although not nearly as much as I'd have liked to have done! After learning all about, and frankly falling completely in love with madeleines I decided to give them Christmas make over, and just in time for the big day, heres the recipe: 

Yields approximately 18 madeleines depending upon the size of your pan! 


100g eggs (approx. 2 x medium to large eggs)
75g caster sugar 
10g Demerara sugar 
15g honey 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
2.5g baking powder
90g soft flour (T55 - plain flour)
90g butter, melted
1 lemon, zest 


1 x madeline tin 
50g butter melted to coat the tin
100g soft flour to coat the tin 


180 degrees celsius 

1. Set your oven to 180 degrees celsius and in a pan, slowly melt the butter. Whilst this is melting, sieve all dry ingredients 

2. Place the flour and baking powder within a bowl and add to this the sugars. Incorporate with a balloon whisk 

3. Once melted, increase the heat under the butter until you've create burr noisette or burnt butter. Your looking out for a change in colour from golden yellow to a deep brown. You'll also notice little burnt flakes forming, this is all perfectly normal. The smell will become deeper and nuttier. As soon as you notice foam forming take the pan off the heat and place within a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside  

4. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl or jug and break down gently. In inclusions, add the egg to the flour / sugar mix. Stir with the whisk to ensure that a smooth batter is formed 

5. Add the honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest to the batter next and again incorporate using a whisk 

6. Next pour the cooled burnt butter into the batter in 3 inclusions, continuing to combine well with a whisk 

7. Once incorporated, cover the bowl with cling film touching the batter and refrigerate

8. Whilst the mix is cooling, grease and flour your madeleine tin making sure not to allow any pools of butter to form. Once floured, place the tin within the fridge also and allow to cool for approximately 15 minutes 

9. Once cooled, thus preventing the baking powder activating prior to baking, take the mixture out of the fridge and knock back before moving the batter into a piping bag with a number 8 nozzle, or a small / medium circular nozzle. If you don't have a nozzle, simply tim the end of your disposable piping bag at the 8mm point. 

10. Pipe the mixture into the moulds, 3/4 full and bake for 8 - 20 minutes. These timings are vague as the baking time really does depend upon the size of your madeleine tin. My tin is rather large resulting in my madeleines being 8cm in length so they take about 20 minutes. You'll know their ready when you see the 'nipple' form and the sponge springs back a little. 

11. When ready, remove from the oven and turn out immediately. Once cool, enjoy with a lovely cup of tea! 

Do let me know if you make these lovely treats and what you think of them. This will be my last post before Christmas and the New Year so I'll leave you with warm and positive festive well wishes - I cannot wait to experience the rest of my journey towards becoming a patisserie in the new year! I'm incredibly excited also to continue blogging my tales of Le Cordon Bleu. Isn't it exciting not knowing what the new year will bring?! 

"The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. 
The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. 
All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!"

*Please note that the views I express are mine alone and do not reflect the views of my place of study*

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