02 February 2015

New Year, New Quarter

Fresh new year, and a fresh new quarter. I am optimistic about this quarter for two reasons: first, we no longer work in teams on our bake shop rotations, so we each are responsible for planning and completing our own baking; and second, the French chef is back (he was out on the injured list last quarter). He is very strict, very knowledgeable, and enormously patient in teaching and demonstrating (as long as he knows you are paying attention and trying to get it right... otherwise, look out!). I can already tell that the bake shop is less chaotic and also is cleaner than last quarter, even though we have more students that ever (16 in second quarter and 17 in first quarter). No fires yet! There were two last quarter, so you can perhaps see why it's an improvement having him back.

Eight of my original nine fellow third quarter students have returned, and we are joined by two other women who were once a quarter ahead of us, but who decided to take a quarter off. So there are ten of us, still all women. The Gang of Ten! I have some good academic classes this quarter: sustainability, nutrition "for culinary professionals" and a baking theory class that's all about chocolate. We again have five, two-week long rotations. My schedule (order of rotation) is:

Plated desserts

I've completed the plated dessert rotation and am happy to say it went well. For third quarter, we make two desserts each week, and if they are good enough ("good" means both tasty and beautiful) then they are served in the One World restaurant (the higher-end restaurant of the two the school runs). Here are two of the desserts I made, so you can get an idea of their nature. This is a mini version of a classic French cake called Le Fraisier (The Strawberry). The little cake includes pistachio sponge cake, fresh strawberries and vanilla mousse. I finished it with fresh strawberries and a strawberry-balsamic semi-pris (a lightly jelled sauce).

Le Fraisier

This next one isn't as pretty but was very tasty. It's mocha panna cotta, with whipped cream made a bit tart with creme fraiche, and a caramel rum sauce. Dark chocolate curls for decor, plus a little cocoa powder to make it fancy-schmancy.

Mocha Panna Cotta

My other two desserts were a sort of deconstructed Black Forest cake, and a cassis cake with frozen vanilla cream, coated in thin caramel. Neither of those photographed well (I blame the photographer) so you'll have to use your imagination.

Last week and this week I'm making European-style cakes (lots of thin layers of cake, mousse, cream and/or jam or jelly). Also we made four kinds of chocolate ganache in theory class, and will be making chocolates this week. Fun!

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