Day 2/3 CIA- St. Helena

I am definitely feeling like less of a dork in my outfit and hat, probably because everyone else is wearing them too!  Less of a dork doesn’t mean that I’ll be wearing that outfit to the grocery store anytime soon though.  (We used to have a neighbor that wore his full scrubs out mowing … I mean REALLY!)

Anyway, we start each day with an 90 minute lecture in a small classroom and talk about what we will be working on. Sometimes we have carry over items from the day before, because most pastries get better by chilling them or allowing them to “rest.”

Tuesday we worked on finishing up our Pate a Choux and turning them into eclairs and cream puffs. Our batter had a bit of milk in it which turned the eclairs a dark mahogany brown color.  This was on purpose and he kept telling us NOT to take them out of the oven yet as they really need to dry out, so you can fill them.  (pate a choux by itself doesn’t taste good but it’s a perfect structure to hold filling!) None of us were used to that dark color on the outside. Once they cooled, we filled them with pastry cream. (We used a large chop stick to poke two small holes in the bottom, roughly 2 inches apart. You fill up the first hole in your hand until you can actually feel the weight change then you fill the next hole until a little cream comes out the first side, wipe it down and move it to a clean sheet tray!) Lastly dipped them into chocolate ganache.  I have made a lot of chocolate desserts, because my husband loves chocolate. Our chef’s passion is chocolate, so I learned more details on what to look for in a ganache. It’s not just melted chocolate and cream!  It must be shiny and the chocolate must be shaved into very small pieces so it will quickly melt.  There shouldn’t be a broken glass shimmer on the top either- who knew!

We also made two different types of cakes, a genoise and chiffon. The genoise is a very dry, tasteless cake that you add simple syrup too … even with a flavored simple syrup its- dry.  The chiffon cake had a better texture and taste, better to use for a birthday cake. (You also can add a flavored simple syrup)  So much of what we have learned is that once we get the principal down of how to make the item– we learned that we can easily change the flavor by adding cocoa,  liquor, or another flavoring. We also noticed that these cakes both have the same ingredients but different amounts and how that changes the product.  To frost our cakes we made an Italian Buttercream, my team was able to use a huge commercial mixer. It was kinda dream like for me! Really I love seeing a commercial kitchen.  I need to get a picture in front of it!! My team did have a minor glitch with the buttercream. Slim chance that we had our thermometer on celsius— when checking our heated sugar which we gently pour into the egg whites.  Embarrassing, especially since it was the Chef who had to tell us. LOL

Although this is just a week boot camp and we have some leeway on our skill levels the chef is always reminding us about the small finishing details of the product.  Each step takes time, the pastry cream that fills the eclairs is labor intensive, piping out 50 eclairs shells so they are all sized evenly takes time, filling them so there isn’t pastry cream all over takes time AND dipping them into ganache takes a slow hand.  If you move to quick on one of those, then why bother…

Yesterday we worked most of the day on making Puff Pastry.  He picked the most labor intensive item for us to make and then laughed and told us the chef’s never make it by hand they always buy it! However, he said that if we can make puff pastry, we can make any other type of laminated dough product. Croissants!

We finished up the day by completing a fruit tart with some dough that we made yesterday. 123 cookie dough that you can make cookies or tart crusts with.  We filled our tarts with pastry cream, a layer of chiffon cake, another layer of pastry cream and then the fruit. We will glaze them and eat them tomorrow!

LESSONS LEARNED:  I can’t frost a cake like the wedding cake guy Albert who is in our class!!  I need NOT panic when the temperature of the sugar is 230 and then drops to 70 something. AND I need to eat less at the nightly dinners! Did I mention there is tofu each night?  Last’s night was tofu with an amazing walnut cream sauce.  I rarely get good vegetarian food … YUM

Eat Less- then BAKE ON!

One Reply to “Day 2/3 CIA- St. Helena”

  1. OMG – I TOTALLY BUY PUFF PASTRY!!! It’s way TOO hard to make from scratch! Being a pastry chef or bakery is so much harder than what I do. Yours is a passion that requires precision and exact chemistry. I would be scared to death if I had to make sweets! Good for you! Now you and I need to go to an Italian food bootcamp together somewhere in Tuscany….

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