Culinary School Update: Eight whole weeks have passed since my last culinary school update.
8 weeks; 118 recipes and 21 pounds of butter (which is actually not a lot of butter, by the way).
I’m not going to tell you where all that butter went. This is a safe space.
I have both so much to say and too little to say all at the same time. The recipes blend into each other; the days blend into weeks; the facts swirl about in your brain until you dream about piping “Happy Birthday” and you can make pastry cream in your sleep (or until your arm falls off).
If time has passed this quickly thus far, someday soon culinary school and culinary school updates will draw to a close.
And, honestly, that thought made me inordinately sad.
What about the friends that I have made?
And my favorite chefs that I won’t get to see everyday?
What about the learning and the fast pace that have become quotidian?
Plus, what about this City that I love?
But the most heavily weighted question…
What will I do?
I have no clue, but I think about it everyday and it weighs on me. I am open to any and all suggestions.
But let’s not talk about that…let’s talk about what I have been BAKING!
So much, so much.
Let me take you on a quick tour of Cakes, Bread, more Cakes and Petits Fours!
Though I didn’t know it at the time, they eased us into cakes with this Chocolate Swirled Pound cake (one of my favorite photos, by the way), a Lemon Pound cake, and chocolate fudge cupcakes.
That’s right. Cupcakes! You better believe I was like a little girl on Christmas morning. Do try to contain your excitement, Lindsey. #fail
Did you know that to get the perfect slit down the middle of a loaf cake, chefs actually open the oven after 15 minutes and cut it with a knife to ensure a perfect slit?! Yeah, I didn’t. I thought that stuff was magic.
Turns out magic only exists in Harry Potter. #dreamscrushed
And apparently there is more to life than the Creaming Method. And bubbles alone can leaven your cake. Mmm hmm. Air.
Can I get a witness!?
It’s not magic it’s science. (See above!) And it’s really easy to deflate. Not that I would know anything about that… 😉
And this whole time, we’re squeezing in piping, because apparently piping “Happy Birthday” is a pastry chef’s new best friend.
I want a new friend.
Never fear, Flourless Chocolate Cake to the rescue! Those are sticks of chocolate meringue sprinkled with cocoa nibs. #ooc
And with the blink of the eye and one more “Happy Birthday”, we are on to bread!
If you thought I got excited about cupcakes…
Bread is my weakness.
I know I said that about Puff Pastry, and it’s totally true, but bread is the weakness I have had since birth. Right, Mom?
This unit can pretty much be summarized by the following…
Like cakes we were eased into bread with Quick Breads, which, Chef Jürgen will have you know, are not called that because they are made quickly. They are called quick breads because they are made with chemical leavening instead of the slower Organic Leavening (yeast in layman’s terms), and chemical leavening mimics the yeast but in less time.
Soooo unless I missed something in the 20 times this was drilled into my head, quick breads are bread that are leavened quicker than yeast-leavened breads. Am I dense or are they splitting hairs?
I don’t even know where to start with breads! We made so many in such a short amount of time: there were bagels, English muffins, foccacia, traditional harvest grain loaves, milk bread, orange swirl bread, pecan sticky buns…HOLD UP!
These pecan sticky rolls are todiefor. They are actually made with the orange swirl bread dough, which is spread with even more cinnamon sugar and topped with the best caramel pecan topping I have ever tasted. Cinnamon sugar makes everything better.
And if that wasn’t enough butter and eggs in your bread, there is always brioche. Buttery, rich brioche. So good.
My weakness (and not in the good kind of way) is croissants. I have yet to make a croissant dough without my butter breaking. Grrrrr.
I have perfection in my blood, and it is not pleased that this skill eludes me. Not pleased at all.
Danish is like croissant dough but it has more milk and eggs, which means it’s AMAZING.
Why I can make Danish dough and not croissant dough when they are basically the same damn thing is beyond my comprehension. I don’t have an answer to these complicated questions.
I can tell you that Bread is the last time I saw my waist.
And we are off to Cakes 2!
The breakneck pace did not abate just because we entered a more complicated unit. No, no. Not at ICC. The complicated cakes in Cakes 2 made the first unit look like child’s play.
Say hello to the Charlottes.
Above we have Charlotte Russe, which is ladyfingers filled with fruit mousse; and below we have the creepy looking Charlotte Royal, which is a jelly roll painstakingly shaped into a half sphere and filled with Bavarian cream. It was disgusting. I’m just keepin’ it real.
And if those aren’t complicated enough for you, behold the modern entremet cakes.
These are layers upon layers of textures and flavors that all come together in one cohesive beautiful dessert. No small feat.
Lets take the Chocolate Caramel Tropical Fruit Entremet for example (the top left and the bottom right photo above). The base of this cake is a coconut biscuit daquoise cake that is then topped with caramel milk chocolate Bavarian Cream, homemade pineapple compote, a chocolate génoise cake, then a layer of passion fruit Bavarian cream. You surround the whole thing with a light, egg-foam cake that is baked over a yellow pâte à cornet pattern (yes, you make that too…it’s like a cookie batter) and then you flood the top with a chocolate ganache and decorate it.
Oh and there is gold leaf, because this culinary school update just wouldn’t be complete without some bling.
And that is why these types of cakes cost $20 a slice. It’s a lotta work peeps.
We learned how to make, color and cover cakes with fondant…
And fondipan (a mixture of fondant and marzipan)
And we wrote Happy Birthday…a lot.
There still was barely enough time to complete the complicated assembled cakes like the Chocolate Caramel Roulade Cake above, but then you had less that 20 minutes to decorate it.
What can you do in 20 minutes?
Last but not least there is the carrot cake that my husband and I loved so much, I made them into cupcakes.
This next definition is for all my friends and food recipients who expected tiny cakes when I promised them Petits Fours. Petits Fours are basically anything you can eat in 1 or 2 bites.
So macarons? Petits Fours.
Gougères? Petits Fours.
Marshmallows? Petits Fours.
Some of these little guys were so intricate I wouldn’t even want to imagine making 40, not to mention 1000, for a party. Like those little boat shaped ones on the far left of the tray above…
Chestnut Barquettes. You fill a tiny little mold with pate sucrée and pipe in a miniscule amount of almond cream, then you bake it. Next you fill them with chestnut cream and shape them with an offset spatula so they have that beautifully tapered shape. And then, because all that isn’t enough work, you dip them into a chocolate glaze being super careful not to get any glaze on the pie crust.
I know. The French.
For a week I had petits fours coming out of my ears. More than I can even show you here. More than could fit on the trays. I can’t even with the petits fours.
This is where I leave you. There is so much more to show you, but I am sure I have outlasted your attention span, and I have most certainly outlasted my own!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more pictures of what I make each day and the sweet treats and savory goodness that I try in NYC!