Monday, 8 June 2009

Judgement Day part 1

Week 17 of school started off pretty intensively as we were straight into our boulangerie test. As usual, boulangerie means a 6:30am start and everyone was reminded to turn up on time due to the big day. We had the luxury of using both labs which meant the class was split in half (5 each lab) and for the most part, we all had to work by ourselves. The task that laid ahead of us was to make 4kgs of traditional baguette (of which some had to be shaped into 10 "regular" petit pains), 10 croissants and 9 pains au chocs, a batch of speciality bread and finally, shaping some brioche dough into a plait and couronne ("ring"). The morning passed by pretty quickly and there was also a bit of a last minute rush to get everything made and baked before the 12:15pm deadline but we managed.

During the test, our chef was hovering between labs taking notes of our work and casting his beady eyes on everything and anything we touched. I even had the privilege of having him preside over me like a hawk whilst I made the slashes of my baguette which was a little unnerving. Thankfully, I got a compliment later on how well "slashed" my baguettes were so it was worth it, I guess!  

How well did I think it went? IMHO, my baguettes were OK and my petits pains were pretty regular. My croissants and pains au chocs were a disaster - I learned later from chef that weren't enough layers of butter and pastry in my dough which caused the smooth surface on my pastries rather than the attractive crinkly finish that other people had, pants! My speciality bread was OK (needed more flour on top and need to work on scoring) but my brioche shaping could've been better so all in all, a mixed bag really.

At the end of the morning, we had to place all our products on the bench for a final inspection from chef. Our baguettes were also subjected to the "slice" test to see what the inside was like - luckily, mine had the pre-requisite holes in the flesh which means a good baguette :) Overall, chef Christian was very happy with our work and said what we had produced after just 5 months was better than some of his students who have been with him for 2 years! We also found out that one of the benchmarks was whether he felt the goods could be sold in a boulangerie, more marks would be then awarded over and above this if needed.

As we had tech in the afternoon, someone asked chef Didier if he had seen chef Christian and heard anything about our marks. The scores were marked out of 20 and we found out that the whole class had scored between 12 and 15. (word of note: no-one is ever awarded 20 and even if you were totally perfect or "top top" in chef speak, that would only warrant an 18) As chef Didier was yabbering away in French, am not completely sure what he said but I think he told us that students 1 and 10 got the top marks which were my "partner in crime" and moi so pretty chuffed about that, will have to keep my fingers crossed until the results come out!! :)

A good start but I get the feeling that our pastry test will be a lot harder in a few weeks time, crumbs.      

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