Just when I thought it couldn't get any better than "Chocolate Week," we have "Cake Week: Part 1 and Part Deux." TWO weeks of cake?! And to follow that up, we have Pastry Doughs: Part 1 and Part 2. Is this real life?
Let me fill you in on these last 3 weeks.
The first week (week 4 into the program) was an intro to cake baking. Translation: we made a ridiculous amount of cakes, which meant, I ate a lot of cake. Morning? Lets try the cakes we cranked out from yesterday. Afternoon? Time to sample the next wave o' cakes. Night? Oh look, cake leftovers! I mean, I'm just trying to educate myself (right?) Cake gorging aside, I was introduced to a whole plethora of different cake varietals, techniques and flavor profiles. I was stoked to discover some fun creative recipes like the Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake. This was a light, fluffy vanilla cake covered in whipped cream and honeycomb. Oh the honeycomb. I can eat it like popcorn (and I did). Highlights? I learned how to make gourmet Ho Hos! But more importantly, I learned the art of leveling out your cake layers, which was knowledge that I seriously needed (cue my "leaning tower of fail cake").
The second week (week 5 into the program) focused on cake filings, assembly and decorating, which included a two-day cake workshop taught by the lovely Laci of Wind & Rye Kitchen. She taught us, in a nutshell, how take your cake game up to 11. We learned such things as how to pipe frosting into beautiful shapes and how to drape/decorate fondant. This was my first time working with fondant and man it's a process getting a layer of this onto your cake. There's rolling, draping, smoothing, trimming, and several more rounds smoothing. I dunno about this fondant. If it tasted less like sugary wax and more like that honeycomb, then maybe I'd be more supportive of it. Highlights? We came out of the workshop knowing how to construct a multi-layered 2-tiered cake! These beauties looked like they were ready to be served at the closest black-tie wedding!
This current week (week 6!) is Pastry Dough Part 1. We made 7 different pastry doughs- I didn't know that many variations existed! Each of these doughs had a different flavor and texture, but I didn't noticed a huge difference in taste. So...when there's copious amounts of pastry dough, what shall one do? Make copious amounts of tarts and pies obvi! My favorites were a lemon tart, salty honey pie and a rhubarb custard streusel pie. Yum.com
To top this week off, we had a guest speaker come in for an interview and Q&A session. Ruth Reichl, food writer extraordinaire! She's had some killer jobs, to put it lightly. She was a food critic for the New York Times, an editor in chief at Gourmet Magazine, has written several memoirs, a novel, and a few cookbooks. She's also co-owned a restaurant and has been the recipient of four James Beard Awards. I mean, the list goes on and on. Feeling a bit inadequate but in complete awe as much as I was?
If you've been following along, I've been in pastry school for 6 bloody weeks! My mind is boggled by everything that I've learned so far. This just in: learning is cool. Especially when you're 33. I don't think 23 year old Courtney would have been into this as much as I am now. Sometimes, life is all about timing eh?
Lastly, if you see me anywhere holding a cake box(es), ask me for a taster of whatever is inside and I will happily give you some. I'm not even kidding. I encourage you to even wait outside my door around 3pm every day with a plate and fork. I'm like Santa Claus, gone wrong.
From that note, I give you week's 4-6's recap via another photo montage. But first, play this song. Who doesn't love a little Rihanna backing up their montage?