Today was the craziest day yet… wait, do I say that every day?!? But seriously, today we all had to work solo and produce a certain amount of product in three and half hours. The assignment was for each person to make choux paste, pipe and bake 12 profiteroles, 12 éclairs, 2 Paris-brest (a new circle shape that we learned how to pipe today), and finally chouquette (a larger profiterole covered in pearl sugar) with any remaining choux dough. We also had to make pastry cream and fill a dozen choux pieces to serve at lunch, flavoring half vanilla for the profiteroles and the other half coffee for the éclairs. And we had to condition fondant to glaze both the profiteroles and éclairs in. Apart from the choux, we had to bake 4 tart shells – two brisée and two sucrée, and cut a carrot in 6 classic cuts to demonstrate our knife skills.
Oh, did I mention there isn’t enough equipment for everyone to have a burner or a stand mixer, and we are working with four people on a small countertop?!? It was definitely hectic at times, but I am happy to report that all of my choux cooked properly, I was able to successfully fill them with pastry cream, and with the exception of my fondant being a little on the matte side as opposed to shiny, they were all glazed. Phew! I also baked my brisée shells without any problem, but my sucrée shells got a little too brown because I forgot to check on them while I was working on other projects! I definitely need to invest in a little timer to remind myself to check on my product in the future. Thankfully, this wasn’t a real practical exam. I am going to go in early on Tuesday to roll out two more sucrée tarts and bake them properly so my fruit tarts that we are filling them with next week come out better.
The other big stuff we worked on today was poaching fruit. We talked about how the fruit we get is not always ripe and poaching makes harder fruits soft and taste better. Also, poaching helps because fruit has a lot of water in it and if you throw a bunch of raw apples into a pie, that moisture may sink down into your crust making it soggy. I am definitely going to experiment with this concept the next time I bake my apple pie. The other interesting thing about poaching fruit, is that you can adapt the method to poach any fruit – even soft fruits. We talked about how this is important when making something like strawberry ice cream. If not poached, the water in the strawberry freezes and turns it into an ice chunk, which is a texture you shouldn’t want in your ice cream!
The remainder of the afternoon we worked on baking our Linzer Tart from yesterday and learned how to make a Danish Black Cherry Tart. They both turned out so pretty I think, but I particularly love the lattice on top of the Linzer Tart.
Thankfully, we have Monday off for Martin Luther King Day, so I have a nice long weekend in store!