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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Culinary School - Sessions 59 & 60: The Midterm Written & Practical Exams

Culinary School: Sessions 59 & 60 (01.07.15 & 01.09.15)

The Midterm Written & Practical Exams!

Well that wasn't so bad...

A classic case over over-studying and over-stressing. In my 30-year academic career (yes, I'm counting pre-school, since we did receive report cards back then), little has changed. OCD manifests at a young age and doesn't let go very easily.

The written exam was as straight forward as they come. For anyone who had been awake for the last 300 hours in the classroom kitchens, there were no curve balls. Yes, you had to know the definition of autolyse, but that should hardly have been a surprise by now! Chef basically told everyone to get it tattooed on their forearm.

As for the practical, like all of the exams that came before it, the anticipation was far worse than the actual test. 

There were four potential sets of products, each set featuring one 'major' and one 'minor' item. A major item could have been anything from a full Genoise Cake or a Paris-Brest or a classic Lemon Tart. The minor items featured heavily from a list of cookies and petits fours, like Gerbet Macarons and Vanilla-Kipferls.

I pulled the Caramel Nut Tart (Tarte aux Noix Caramel) and Kaiser Rolls. Someone, somewhere, loves me... because it doesn't get much easier than that. It also made this iMessage chain from earlier in the day more than a little spooky. It seems I can control the world of pastry with my mind! At the very least, I was ready for this one.

Kaiser Rolls

And for my next trick...

The second half of the Professional Pastry Arts Program starts on Monday with Chocolate. With Jacques Torres, Mr. Chocolate himself, as one of the Pastry Program Deans, chocolate is taken rather seriously.

It begins with tempering: a process for heating and cooling chocolate to achieve a smooth and glossy finish. I've been warned that it will be messy beyond belief. But at least the class starts with a round of chocolate tasting... you know, so we understand what chocolate tastes like.

Until then, time for a little post-exam rest and relaxation... and a little snacking on some of those final products. 

Panama Torte

Late Night Panama Torte and Caramel Nut Tart Dessert

Next - Session 61: Introduction to Chocolate and Tempering Chocolate

Previous - Session 58: Black Forest Cake and Panama Torte

Take a look at the full syllabus

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