Sugar, sugar

When I started school back in August, I admittedly didn’t give much thought to the non-baking/cooking portions of our curriculum; they existed as a sort of abstract, far-off thing that I wouldn’t have to worry about until later. Truthfully, they intimidated me so much that I didn’t want to even acknowledge that I would have to do them, because if I acknowledged it, I’d worry about it, and if I spent time and energy worrying about it, that was less time and energy I could spend doing more immediate, important things.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I realized that I’d gotten to a point of such exhaustion that I simply don’t have time to stress about anything anymore; so when I realized our advanced sugar unit was coming up, rather than worry and bite my nails trying to plan out some elaborate showpiece, I kind of just went, “cool, I’ve always wanted to learn how to blow sugar.”

That kind of attitude actually took off a lot of pressure and allowed me to enjoy learning more, even when my partner and I (read: I) accidentally spilled vinegar on our freshly-poured isomalt, rendering it useless, even when we messed up our butterscotch candies, even when our blue and yellow sugars mixed into this gorgeous shade of emerald.

My class spent most of our three-week unit curiously asking each other what we were planning on doing for our showpiece; even though we were relatively confident about most of the various sugar techniques we’d learned, none of us was remotely confident about putting them together into one cohesive project. Eventually, we all got it together, and I have to say, we all put out some pretty great work!

Up next, the highly-anticipated, almost-as-highly-dreaded…WEDDING CAKE PROJECT! (Woo! Woo? Woo!)

Long time, no post

Oh, hi! It’s been a while, friends. I’m really sorry I’ve been so absent, but it’s not personal, I promise! It’s just evidence that pastry school isn’t a walk in the park, and doubly so when coupled with working full time and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. Obviously I was a little over-ambitious when I thought I could keep this up regularly and maintain some sanity in my everyday life.

To play some quick catch up, here’s a brief list of the things you’ve missed between my last post and now:

  • I made and ate my weight in butter in our puff pastry unit, making some really delicious treats like poires en cagetarte tatin, and palmiers. It was our introduction into lamination, which is essentially the layering of dough and butter to create flaky, airy layers of baked pastry.
Mmm, flaky, buttery layers of pastry goodness.
  • In our first cake unit, we learned the basics of various mixing methods, and it took me three tries to figure out how to make a génoise correctly. We made some basic layer cakes, as well as succès au cafémarjolaine, and an intricately piped basket weave, which was way more fun than it sounds!
That basket weave is no joke!
  • Next was one of my favorites, if not my favorite unit in our whole program: breads and viennoiserie. Bagels, croissants, danish, pannettone, brioche, sticky buns, English muffins, the list goes on… I just love working with doughs and yeast, so I’m hoping we get to do some more of that.

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