Thursday, 26 March 2009

ESCF - Week 7

This week has been a bit of a blur but it definitely involved making a lot of "biscuit à la cuiller", literally "spoon biscuit". I think historically, the biscuit may have been used as a spoon but unfortunately, its not a particularly helpful description. Biscuit à la cuiller is essentially like a sponge biscuit and tastes a bit like soft lady fingers/boudoir fingers (I just remember eating a brand called Bambini back when I was a "yoot" ;)), its the type of biscuit used for making tira misù. Our first batch didn't turn out great cos I messed up the folding of the flour and according to chef, our piping looked like "pis", aka. piss....nice. Luckily, I got the hang of folding 2nd time around and the next batch were a vast improvement. Over the last few days, our biscuit à la cuiller has been transformed into numerous creations including Moka (coffee cake), roulade griottines (vanilla bavarois studded with griottine cherries and covered with a layer of raspberry-filled swiss roll slices), charlotte café (coffee flavoured charlotte) and charlotte chocolat (yep, you guessed it! chocolate flavoured charlotte). All the cakes made this week had more of an emphasis on decorating and assembling, some of which turned out OK but I also managed to make a dog's dinner of others - must make note to self to squish even more biscuit à la cuillert than I can imagine possible for my roulade and charlotte café to prevent my bavarois squishing out through the cracks, not attractive!! We had a communal tasting session this afternoon of all the cakes we had made - I think my favourite was probably the roulade griottines but ideally, without the griottines, which tasted like death by kirsch!

The other main event of the week was restaurant service. Everyone was rotated to a different task and I was supposed to be on "mise en place" (preparation) making genoise sponge. Things changed a little when I got to lab and instead, I was making mignardises (bite-sized desserts served at the end of the meal) of passion fruit and apricot jellies, as well as chocolate caramels. Both turned out pretty well and we got a nice compliment from chef about the consistency of our chocolate caramels. They tasted pretty good as well, judging by the "inhalation" of our extra pieces! Again, everything went pretty smoothly - since I was responsible for the "plonge" (dirty dishes) this week, I managed to take a quick peek on the way to the "plongeurs" at the Anglo Cuisine kitchen, which looked pretty impressive! Its a shame that we don't have more joint activities as I would love to find out a bit more about what they are up to, oh wellos :( 

We ended the week with prepping some pastillage which we will decorate/paint next week and also receiving some feedback from the almond roses we made last week (I had requested that we get more feedback on our work when we had an "evaluation" chat last week). My roses turned out pretty good (chef's words were "there is very little wrong with them", not exactly pat-on-the-back stuff but I'll take it...) which was encouraging. Its always hard not to feel a little down when things don't turn out great in lab but I can take heart from my chocolate macarons and almond roses from last week that practice really does make perfect. 

Chef also mentioned our "stages" for the first time today, the 3-6 month internship we will do post-formal training. Bar a few exceptions, most of us would like to work in a patisserie of some sort, am hoping that I get a nice placement. Chef had mentioned last week that he was having problems securing places because of "la crise" - looks like the credit crunch is even biting the world of pastry so fingers and toes crossed! :)

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