(I don’t know who is reading my blog, but I want to thank you if you are! I’m pretty sure people who aren’t my friends and who aren’t interested in baking will not be reading this. As I mentioned in my first post on Le Cordon Bleu, I’m doing this mainly to help future students and also journal this for myself.)
It’s only been a week, and I already feel exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I’m doing here, but somehow, despite the fantastic quality sleep I’ve been getting, it just isn’t enough to keep me going the entire day.
I walked my mum to the taxi stand for her to catch a cab to the airport this morning, and then I was off to school for morning demo. I really enjoyed the demo today; the chef was a good teacher. He showed us how to make tarte Bourdaloue (pear and almond cream tart), tarte aux poires caramélisées (caramelised pear and almond tart), poires pochées (poached pears) and feuilletage (puff pastry). I’m still amazed by professionals who are able to churn out so many things in such a short time. I hope I will someday be as efficient as they are.
For the tarts today, we used pâte sucrée (sweet pastry) instead of the pâte brisée we used before for the tarte aux pommes. This dough is much more fragile than the pâte brisée. The tarte Bourdaloue is filled with pâte d’amande (almond cream), and topped with poached pears in syrup. This tart was my favourite of the day. What makes this tart so amazing is the delicious almond cream. I’ve had pâte d’amande before in tarts back in Singapore, but I was never really a fan of it, though my mum loved the ones from Delifrance. This tart has swayed me!
For the tarte aux poires caramélisées, an almond meringue is baked on top of diced poached pears and blackcurrant. I wasn’t a fan of this tart. I have never liked meringue. Also, the blackcurrant was way too tart.
Puff pastry is the thing that scares me the most. I’ve never attempted puff pastry back home because Singapore’s weather is not ideal. The warmth will just soften the butter too fast, making it hard to work with. Of course, the chef made it look very easy.
Practical was right after the demo class. I was starving and I only had a banana for lunch. Eating desserts every single day has not been working well for my waistline. So I really need to watch what I eat outside of school. Looks like it’s back to eggs and salad for me for the next month. Now that my mum is gone, I don’t have to feel obliged to eat anything that I don’t want to. I guess that’s the beauty of living on your own. No obligations, freedom, space.
I felt pretty confident during today’s practical when I was working on my tarte Bourdaloue. The pastry dough turned out well, and so did the almond cream. The past few practicals, I’ve felt like such a noob. Honestly, I didn’t expect everyone to be so experienced. There are quite a few in the course who are already working in professional kitchens. I’m also one of the younger ones (I think), so I feel a little intimidated working around them. I remember the first practical; the moment we walked to our stations, there was silence and everyone started immediately. There are no instructions given by the chef; you are expected to know what to do and in what sequence.
Anyway, once my tart was in the oven baking, I started on my puff pastry. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I think the hardest part for me is ensuring that I roll the dough out into a proper rectangle with right angles. I struggled with that bit, and also I should have dusted my work surface with more flour, because my dough got stuck and tore a little. NOOOO.
Here is my tarte Bourdaloue:
I think it looks pretty good, eh? 😀
The same thing happened again today. The chef told us during the demo to roll the dough out quite thick, about 3 to 4mm. I intentionally rolled mine out thinner than that. So when the chef that took us for the practical was commenting on our tarts, he told most of us that our tart shells were too thick. I think mine was already one of the thinnest and he said mine was too thick! Other than that, he said it was delicious. And it really is. Everyone in class loves this tart. I think it is now my favourite too. Usually, we are just dying to give our pastries away, but today, nobody wanted to give them up. I’m keeping mine too 😛
By the way, I still don’t know for sure if I made my puff pastry properly. Our dough is resting for a few days in the fridge. I’ll only know when we make our Chaussons aux pommes next week.
I shall enjoy this quiet time to myself because the introvert needs to recharge after such a long week of attempting to make new friends.