And the next thing I know, 4 months of pastry school has come and gone. Did somebody fast forward my life because that sure as hell felt fast! Well, it's been quite the ride and I'm coming out of these 4 months feeling like I've been exposed to so much in the pastry world, yet, somehow I still lack confidence and feel like I have a truckload of things to learn and improve on. I suppose that's a good thing to feel, right? I'm actually glad that I'm not sauntering out of these 4 months thinking I'm the golden god of desserts. I'd have to slap myself in the face if so.
I started my 2 month externship at Tartine Bakery these last two weeks, and while I'd love to fill you in about that, you'll have to wait because you still haven't heard about the last 3 weeks of class! They were a memorable 3 weeks too so lets catch you up to speed shall we?
Week 14 - Plated Desserts
Ahhh a beautifully plated dessert. There's nothing more easy on the eyes than a beautifully plated dessert, other than a shirtless Ryan Reynolds of course (it's OK, my husband agrees that you can shred cheese on those abs). Plating dessert is a skill I wanted to improve on for awhile. Our chef showed us how to plate a variety of desserts; mashups that I would never think of putting together. We learned that plated desserts should have a balance of different tastes, textures and temperatures such as this killer dessert: Mango Custard with Roasted Pineapple, Coconut Sorbet, Coconut Snow, Kalamansi Gel and Micro Basil. We also learned that dessert should have the same style/size/vibe as the savory portion of the meal. Along with plated desserts, we had Nicole Krasinski, pastry chef/co-owner of the fantastic State Bird Provisions, pay us a visit to show us how to make a few of State Bird's desserts- SO so awesome. We ended the week with the fabulous Jeffrey Larsen, from our gluten-free workshop. Our final gluten-free project was due and Jeffery gave us some great feedback and critique on each of our desserts. My Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars weren't bad, but they were nothing compared to my classmate's gluten-free Triple Ginger Cookies. She nailed it. If I were an Olympic judge, I would give it a perfect 10.
Week 15 - Bakery Day Prep/Bakery Day
This week was all about prepping for our Bakery Day on Friday. Bakery Day was our final project where we got to invite a few friends/family to come to our school and be wined and dined on our behalf. We had a "pass" portion where we made/served food to them live and there was a "boxed" portion where they got to fill a box full of baked goods to take home that we made ahead of time. My classmates and I came up with these two menus together which took several rounds of narrowing down. Brutal cuts had to be made, such as any dessert involving peanut butter that I found only myself fighting for. I meannnn, who doesn't like peanut butter?! Sigh. So we came to a group consensus on the menus, each of us signed up for multiple items (mostly in teams) and planned out the to-dos for each day. My items were: Passion Fruit Caramels, Chocolate Caramels, Honey Lavender Macarons and Scallion Pancakes with Soy Dipping Sauce. My teammates and I banged out the caramels and pancakes, which had essentially no hiccups, but man oh man did the macarons ever. Those mac-attacks were real assholes. Firstly, they are labor-intensive to make, secondly, they just didn't want to cooperate. Long story short, we ended up having to make 4 batches until we got it right. Luckily in the end, they tasted good and looked pretty enough. Pro Tip: A topper of edible gold paint can take your macaron game from a 5 to a 9.
Bakery Day overall was a blast. We all wore orange bandannas which made us look like a cross between 2Pac and Rosie the Riveter, but we still looked cute in my humble. Shrug. All of our hard work leading to this day paid off- the decor and setup looked beautiful and professional, the kitchen crew killed it and the front of house foursome (myself included) made sure our guests were well fed and happy. It was so fun getting to meet all my classmates' people and see/hear how everyone was liking the food. It felt like a huge accomplishment and even though we could have improved on a few things, I was super proud of all of us. #goteam
Week 16 - Final exams & Field Trips
This week was a blend of low-key field trips and high stress test days - great fun for your blood pressure. Our field trips were to Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen, Guittard Chocolate and B. Patisserie. We started things off at good 'ol Williams-Sonoma! It brought me back to my old catalog life as I walked through the doors. It was such fun seeing this famous test kitchen in person. Fun Fact: The test kitchen ladies are the ones who judged the Chuck Williams Birthday Bake-Off (RIP Chuck) that I fatley lost in a few years ago. These ladies have a stellar gig: they get to test recipes for future catalogs. Hello dream-job. At Guittard, we got a grand tour of their facilities and got to see how they make their delicious chocolate - they are one hell of a well-oiled machine! We closed out the field trips at B. Patisserie where they make some of the best pastries I've ever had (their Kouign Amann is insane!) Eating their pastries would have been a fun field-trip in itself, but we got a chance to have B's kick-ass pastry chef, Belinda Leong, talk to us about her background and tell us her B. Patisserie story. Our last day at school was spent being fed by the lovely Culinary Arts class for their final project: Restaurant Day. They did a FANtastic job, to put it lightly.
The class portion of school is over, but all good things must come to an end. Now, I'm in the land of Tartine Bakery and that ain't bad. ;-)
Lets bring it on home with a photo montage from these 3 weeks! Cue song. Sidenote: I had never seen this music video before. Hello glam rock at it's finest. Cheers!