Sunday, 12 April 2015

Le Cordon Bleu intermediate patisserie week 10 - its toothache time

With the pressure of exams well and truly a thing of the past, and following the most foodie of foodie weekends in London, the last challenge I had to face was the decoration of my Easter cake. Having decorated more cakes than I can recall, really, this wasn't going to be the most challenging of challenges for me so rather than feeling nerves I was full of excitement and anticipation. I was about to be let loose on someone else's cake decoration tools and that alone was getting me all of a fluster. I love to learn new skills and although I already knew how to make the odd flower or two, I was very much looking forward to discovering new ways of icing cakes and new ways to make wired decorations. 

Way back in week 3 or 4, along side a piping skills test, I made a fruit celebration cake. When the cake came out of the oven I spotted the chef damn near drown the poor thing in brandy and then rum so this was going to be a cake which packed a punch. Myself, I'm not a huge fan of a fruit cake. I do believe that its an acquired taste and one that we eventually grow into... if my Nan catches so much as a whiff of a fruit cake she goes giddy and she believes the more alcohol content in the cake the better. Which is great as I left half of the cake with her to dish out amongst friends, family and of course to enjoy herself. 

The first task was to level and cover the cake with marzipan. As soon as I'd come around from the intense smell of 'brum' (brandy and rum of course), I whipped out my ridiculously sharp and most dangerous of all the knives, my bread knife and with a steady hand, carved the head straight off the cake. The cake was then covered using the box edge method which involves covering the entire cake with apricot nappage (or jam), then the sides are covered with a long strip of marzipan and finally the top with a disc of the sweet and sticky paste. The cake is then turned upside down and using a smoothing paddle, the join is smoothed and stuck together together. This leaves you with a cake with crisp, sharp edges as apposed to bevelled edges which until now, was the only covering method I'd ever tried. Very much preferring the box edge method, once dried the cake was covered in fondant icing and attentions were turned to the decorating. 

As mentioned, creating flowers using florist paste isn't new to me, but making flowers on the wire is. Opting for a Easter inspired mini bouquet to sit on top of the cake, I began by mixing up my colours; pink, peach, orange and of course, a lovely easter yellow. I next made teal ribbon loops, a technique learnt at the Savoy when I spent a day with Mich Turner a year or two ago. Adding ribbons to sugar flowers really does bring the arrangement to life. The loops and textures create movement and add interest, and of course, another complimentary colour. After watching the chef create wired flowers with interest, I discovered that doing so is far less complicated than I'd anticipated and so I spent my time making a bunch of flowers, ensuring they looked as realistic as possible. I used veining tools, a balling tool, cutters and heaps of florist tape to bring the bouquet together. I was really happy with the results and scoring well, it seems the chefs were too! 

Having a little less time than anticipated, I opted for a simple pearl royal icing effect and naturally an Easter rabbit to finish off the cake. A little ribbon and washi tape later and my Easter creation was ready for marking. 

What do you think? 

You won't be surprised to hear that I didn't want this class to end, but the desire for cake decoration not to come to an end wasn't only fuelled by my love for cake. The end of this class signified the end of my intermediate studies, the last time I'd be in the kitchen with my group and it also meant that exam results were imminent. Before leaving our beloved pastry kitchen we took the opportunity to have a huge class picture. I shall miss these girls and guys dearly, and of course Chef Ian! 

With my cake only just boxed it was exam results time. Up I went, nervously, to discover my fate and sat before me was Chef Graham. I couldn't think of anyone I'd prefer to hear the news from - fair, down to earth and straight talking, Chef Graham took me through the good and bad feedback associated with my practical exam performance. By my own admission my Gateau Opera was not perfect. I knew I'd over worked my joconde, I knew my gateau was shorter than the hight specified and I knew my creme au beurre cafe was a little less 'cafe' than then chefs would have liked but being on the verge of splitting I aired on the side of caution. 

On the whole, my feedback was very positive. My presentation scored highly as did the taste! I was delighted to hear I'd passed and therefore felt hugely excited about graduating the following week. Without knowing my written exam or class results I could rest assured that I'd passed my intermediate module and could now call myself a Le Cordon Bleu trained patissiere - to level 2! Hurrah! 

With a spring in my step to match my Easter cake, I returned home for a quick nap before heading over to Meringue Girl HQ where I was to spend the evening assisting the fabulous Fondant Fox with her collaborative cakey masterclass. Having followed her on Instagram for some time now, I was overcome with excitement to discover exactly how she makes her gorgeously tantalising drippy cream cakes! Upon arrival the lovely Carla popped a vintage inspired pinny on me and put me task, setting out places and making tea for the students. As she talked through the evenings project and revealed what the students would achieve in only a matter of hours, I listened with keen interest. 

The first task was to create meringue kisses, something that I'm rather familiar with doing having made many back in basic patisserie and many time since. As we piped perfect kisses I told the group how I'd tried teaching my parents the very same technique with little luck. Granted piping does take some practise but there were no kisses in the kitchen at Parents HQ, only witches hats and funny looking meringue slugs. Still, at least I know who to turn to when I need Halloween meringues ;o) 

With the left over meringue mixture, meringue slabs were created by spreading out the mixture thinly and sprinkling on goodies such as freeze dried raspberries and rose petals. Both were baked for 40 minutes during which time the pre made cakes were cut and levelled, filled with jam and butter cream, covered in a crumb coat, refrigerated and covered with a second, more perfected layer of delicious pastel pink buttercream. 

Once out of the oven, the meringues were left to cool whilst chocolate was melted and cooled to body temperature. The cakes were chilled in preparation for the chocolate topping and when ready, the chocolate was poured and drips created, resulting in a wonderfully oozy, drippy effect. The cake was then dressed with meringue kisses, shards, berries, neon buttercream stars, pearl and gold sprays and of course, fresh flowers! A cake so beautiful I was devastated to see it cut into! 

I had such a wonderful evening with Fondant Fox and the students and hope to help out again soon. Fondant Fox runs her master classes ever couple of weeks, be sure to follow her on Instagram for more details. And if you love the look of these ultra modern, fantastically fun cakes, I suggest that you take a look at the work of the Meringue Girls, Katherine Sabbath and Charlie Bucket for further inspiration. There style and fun way of dressing cakes is certainly rubbing off on me. 

No sooner than I'd had the chance to catch my breath after an incredibly cakey couple of days, I was up super early, whisking myself over to Shoreditch to assist on a very uncakey photoshoot for Old El Paso. Sadly I can't say very much about my experience as the material created was highly confidential but it was great to be on set once again and to learn more about the art of food styling. 

In between cutting tomatoes and dicing avocado I began to think about the intensive couple of weeks ahead of me. With my intermediate studies complete I'd opted to specialise in cake design and decoration for my final module rather than continue to superior. This was a tricky decision but one that was right for me. Not wanting to complete my studies in order to become a pastry chef, but rather wanting to complete my studies, return to work and continue to make wedding and celebration cakes in my own time, I felt I'd learn far more relevant skills by specialising.

The course, which I'll cover in far more detail next week, would see me create a second celebration cake using a brush embroidery decoration technique, create a chocolate cake covered in strips of chocolate deliciousness, make cupcakes in a rather unusual way and finally create a wedding cake to a rather unique brief. 

In between calling 'its a wrap' on set at the Old El Paso photoshoot and having a very rushed dinner in preperation for my 5:30am wake up the next day, I managed to fit in a cup of tea and 5 minutes to myself to enjoy this. A chocolate covered cupcake made for me by my Nan. I may be a Le Cordon Bleu student and I may know how to make all sorts of fancy pants cakes and pastry treats but really, theres nothing quite like tucking into a cake, make for you with love by your Nan. Nan's know best and it was just want I needed after a long weeks caking. 

So next week on my path to patisserie...brush embroidery, chocolate cake, cupcakes and my wedding cake plans. I shall also be covering the history of the celebration cake and looking back at traditions and how they came about. But before I sign off this Sunday, I'd like to thank you all again for coming back and reading my cakey chatter each week. I feel completely blow away by the stats - over 8,000 unique hits in 7 months. Who knew there were so many of us who love to read and learn about the history of cake and so many of you who are interested in my path to becoming a patissiere. Although my posts are still a little behind I'm slowly catching up - theres plenty more coming so please do keep on reading! To celebrate I decorated a chocolate ganache covered, chocolate fudge cake...fairly badly, in a hurry but that's not important. What's important is that it's covered in chocolate, with a little bit more chocolate and its recipient will love it. A lot. 

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

No comments:

Post a Comment