BP: Week 1 – Scones, Sponge, Pound Cakes

To be honest I’m writing this sorta backwards. It was already week 3 by the time I wrote this post so my memory is definitely a little hazy. But one thing for sure is that I’m finally a Le Cordon Bleu student! It was definitely very exciting for me regardless of what I’ll be learning this week. New environment, new mentors, new friends, I was just taking it all in.

Chef Gert demonstrating

Chef Gert demonstrating

We learnt to make scones on the first day as well as royal icing which can also be used to pipe beautiful words or designs/decorations. It seems like we’ll be having Chef Gert from Denmark for all our demonstrations but I’m not so sure about this. They might just decide to change it up in the middle of the semester. I like Chef Gert though, he’s a pretty cool chef and when he took the freshly made scones out of the oven, he got us all to the front to try it with apricot jam and a dollop of royal icing. Yummmmm.

Yummy scones!

Yummy scones!

During the first day practical, we got Chef Michael who is from Belgium. He seems to be pretty excited to teach us and got hands on with the teaching as well. However, he mixes the dough differently from Chef Gert. Actually, the difference was pretty huge. Later on, I found out that there are 2 methods to work the flour and liquid into a nice dough. There’s a rub-in method in which the fat is rubbed into the flour first, and then the liquids to slowly form a soft dough without too much mixing and pressure. The other method was the creaming method in which the fat and sugar is creamed first and then slowly blended with the flour into a paste. The liquid is then slowly incorporated into the doughy mix. To be honest, I still don’t really know the difference between the 2 methods but I definitely preferred the creaming method, as it is less messy and therefore easier to handle the dough later.

Chef Michael demonstrating

Chef Michael demonstrating to his prac class

As you can see, we got pretty much hands on right away in our first practical class. Even though all we were making are scones, it was pretty significant for me as I had no experience whatsoever in all this baking stuffs. I could still remember when I first made my nice dough into a nice round ball. I actually felt pretty proud at it. ^^ I made it with my own bare hands! Anyway, after batching the scones together and putting them into the oven, what came out definitely didn’t look as pretty as Chef Gert’s. ^^ Ah well, always a first time. We also made royal icing while waiting for the scones and played around with it in our little piping bags which we made out of the waxy paper thingy (I forgot what it’s called). Piping is definitely not an easy thing to do as you really need steady hands and not forgetting creativity as well. I had a try on piping out words and the best I could do was a bunch of illegible scribbles. Lol.

Ugly scones

My first scones… ew

On the second day, we made madelines, friands and more scones (fruit and cheese to be exact). To be honest I don’t really remember much about this day because I was getting so mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted due to all the stress and travelling that I’ve been going through. More than 5 hours of travelling in a day as well as sleepless nights during the period between orientation and first day of class (sleeplessness which are not due to first day excitement/anticipation), meeting of new friends which also prolongs the time spent in Sydney, away from home and therefore wasting more precious resting time, all this adds up to my sleep deprivation state on this day, only the second day!

I’ve started to get more used to the kitchen already as most of us kind of know where to get our ingredients and utensils by now. I’m also beginning to work pretty close to Hsiu Yen as we pretty much helped each other get through the day. The Koreans in my class tend to stick together as well as helped each other due to the ease of communicating with each other. It’s not to say that their English is bad, it’s just I reckon that they felt more at ease working with each other. Joa, a Singaporean guy seems to be stuck with most of the rest of the girls at his workbench. ^^ I don’t think he minds it though as he’s a very helpful and selfless sort of person. But in my opinion, everyone’s here to learn too, and if you have other people (more than 2) constantly bugging you regarding issues which are better presented to the Chef, it gets kinda annoying and tends to disturb your own train of thought. There’s also Howard the overzealous Chinese who’s also somewhat like me albeit more selfish, more alone and obviously overzealous for his education (he’s one of those guys who constantly hound the Chefs after class…). Anyway, I like my work space and I like my work partner (no such thing as a work partner in LCB though).

Hsiu Yen and scones

Hsiu Yen and her scones, mine’s the smaller ones

Oh, just a side note: you see that space behind her? That corner of the kitchen (beside the mixer which is beside the proof oven) will be my workspace in the future. The workbench on the left of this workbench (in the picture) is basically the Chef’s workbench and this workbench (in the picture) will eventually be ‘stolen’ by the Koreans. >< It was a good spot too as it is located in front of the oven and close to the chef. The workbench on the right of this (pictured) is where Joa and the rest of the girls work. However, I kinda like my future workbench because if I stood where that girl in the photo is standing (top corner) I get to work in the space on her left as well as the space (same amount of space) on her right! This is because the space on her left is too small for any individual to work with so though I tend to locate myself a little towards the right, I always put my notes, utensils and other bits and pieces on the left side of my workspace thereby giving me plenty of room to work with. Absolute brilliance. ^^ Oh and Hsiu Yen would eventually move to the workspace on my right which is also nice. ^^

If I’m not mistaken, my madelines and friands were pretty rushed as I’m still quite slow around the kitchen and mostly in a confused and sleep deprived state of mind. One thing I’ve learnt was to never trust anyone and always try to do everything yourself. This lesson was learnt when I didn’t trust my instincts to take out my madelines and friands earlier. They ended up getting a little burnt and though they tasted good, I was quite disappointed with it as it could’ve been better. The scones were, well.. scones. By this time, I realised that in the future to come, we patisserie students will bring home a lot of stuffs and I reckon that most of us will end up throwing them away. For that, plastic containers are always helpful with either bringing back home our product or giving them away.

Sponge and Pound cake

Sponge cake (Genoise Sponge) and the Pound cake (Gateau Weekend) at the top

I was already at my limit on the third day. Extremely sleep deprived with only less than 10 hours of sleep since Tuesday (it’s Saturday) I pushed myself onwards to the end of the day. This first week will ultimately end up being one of my most challenging pysically, mentally and emotionally. After hanging out with friends later at night, I found out that the train schedule was being changed due to maintenence, and I most likely have made a mistake in taking a train which instead of going back to Wollongong, stops in the middle of the journey (I’ve forgotten where) at freaking 1 in the morning. It was freaking cold too… . Miserable, cold, sleep deprived and depressed I tried to get through the night sleeping on the bench but after a few hours, I just couldn’t take the cold and ended up standing in the elevator for an hour till the next train back to Wollongong arrived… . Very depressing… .

Back to class, I also ended up making a lot of mistakes. Silly mistakes such as mixing warm butter with cold eggs (you get a very lumpy mixture) and mixing the ingredients in the wrong order such as mixing warm butter with cold eggs (I was supposed to cream the butter with sugar, not eggs lol). I can’t remember what else, but there were definitely a lot more mistakes and although my sponge cake didnt turn out well, I felt that my pound cake looked and tasted pretty good.

Cakes!

I couldn’t remember which one was mine or Hsiu Yen’s

Always remember to label your products by the way. After baking, I ended up forgetting which sponge & pound cakes were mine and Hsiu Yen’s. We ended up just picking the best one of the lot, throwing away the other and cutting it in half for both of us. Seriously, it’s just too much cake. I mean look at the picture. Did you see the amount of sugary glaze dripping on top of the pound cake? How about the amount of cream in the sponge cake? Luckily for us, our work will only be graded starting from next week.

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~ by limmyfox on May 4, 2008.

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