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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Culinary School - Session 117: Final Exam Practical - Day 2

Culinary School: Session 117 (06.01.15)

Final Exam Practical - Day 2

Day 2 of 5....

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst...

When it comes to being prepared, I'm taking no chance. Why make one tart when you can make seven? That way, you can drop half a dozen desserts and still be okay.

The same goes for the Showpiece. I'll be making duplicates of each individual piece. Even if I'm as careful as can be, there's no telling when someone might accidentally bump the workbench, sending a piece of delicate Poured Sugar smashing to the ground.

True, this extremely risk-averse approach means I'm doing twice as much work. And yet, I'm still managing to cross things off my 'to-do' list, getting closer and closer to that Judges' Table.

Molded Chocolate Sucree Tart Shells

Brioche a Tete

As one of the four main products for presentation, a significant portion of this session was dedicated to the Brioche.

Making Brioche is always a multi-day process. Typically the dough is mixed, proofed, turned and then refrigerated overnight (or at least for several hours). After the chilled resting period, the dough is portioned and formed before it is proofed a second time and finally baked.

Obviously, the best bread is freshly baked bread, so I plan to have these Brioche a Tete in the oven as close to the final tasting as possible. But there are so many other things that will need to be completed on that final day. Forming the Brioche a Tete during that session just isn't feasible.

Faced with that reality, I had to break with standard practice. I mixed the dough and completed the initial proof and turn. But rather than chill the dough at this point, I portioned and formed the individual rolls and placed them in the freezer. They will stay there until the last day of the Practical Exam when they will be removed in the morning with enough time for the final proof and bake. 

Brioche Dough Proofing

Weighing Portions of Brioche

Brioche a Tete

Molded Brioche a Tete

Petits Fours Glaces

For seemingly simple little cakes, Petits Fours Glaces take a lot of time. 

Baking the cake is simple enough. It's an Almond Sponge, and I baked that last session. 

This session was for part two of three - stacking the Almond Sponge with Raspberry Bakers' Jam and topping the cake with rolled Marzipan. Before the Petits Fours are portioned and glazed, it's best to wrap and gently compress the cake in the refrigerator. So in the refrigerator it now waits. 

At the end of this week, the cake will be portioned into individual Petits Fours and glazedIf done properly, the Petits Fours can be glazed several days before serving. The Poured Fondant Glaze should set dry; however, it is extremely humid this week. Hopefully by waiting until the second-to-last session, they will be okay for presentation. Or maybe not. It's a risk I need to take. Again, there's only so much that can be done on the final day.

Preparing to Layer Petits Fours Glace Sponge with Bakers' Jam

Petits Fours Glace Sponge Layered with Bakers' Jam


Have I mentioned that I'm totally over making Showpieces? 

*Insert long rant about using food to making inedible 'art' that will be thrown away*

Like it or not, the Showpiece is a major requirement for the test. To stay on schedule, the Pastillage for the main structure had to be mixed, rolled and cut today. Even though I do not plan to assemble the Showpiece until the very last moment (anything to reduce the chance for breakage!), it's best to give Pastillage a couple of days to fully dry before painting. The drying process could take even longer given the current humidity (it has been raining for days and shows no signs of stopping).

Having been quick and efficient with the Brioche and Petits Fours, I had a little extra time to start making the Poured Sugar pieces as well. 

Setting Poured Sugar is a simple enough process. The problem is that I have a limited number of ring molds with which to make the colorful circle components of the piece. I have to set the pieces over the course of several pourings. True, I am making duplicates of each piece (I said I was risk averse), but either way, it was going to be a multi-step process. Good that I was able to get an early start!

Cake Rings Prepared for Poured Sugar

Poured Sugar Circles

Poured Sugar Circles

Next session will be primarily focused on completing the Chocolate Bonbons. Working with Tempered Chocolate guarantees that it will be the messiest day of the exam, but it will also be the most focused.

Next - Session 118: Final Exam Practical - Day 3

Previous - Session 116: Final Exam Practical - Day 1

Take a look at the full syllabus

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