Thursday’s practical was surprisingly relaxing and not too hard compared to some of the practicals we’ve previously had. Chef’s demo started off with a Gateau au Citron (Lemon pound cake), Madeleines, then the Gênes à la Pistache (traditional almond and pistachio cake). I was a bit disappointed to find out that the gateau au citron was actually a pound cake! Not very french…
Chef’s creations sliced up for us to try 🙂 The madeleines were soft and buttery, fresh out of the oven. The texture of the pistachio almond cake was very light and fluffy. However, the cake had more of an almond flavour and barely any pistachio flavour which was disappointing since I love everything pistachio flavoured!
Above: chef’s gateau au citron sliced up.
During the demo we learnt that there are three ways that cakes can rise:
Mechanically – manually whipping and incorporating air, for example airating egg whites.
Biologically – using yeast
Chemically – rising agents such as baking powder.
Gateau au Citron
The Gateau au Citron uses a chemical method (baking power), as well as steam released from the water in the butter and eggs to allow the cake to rise. Gateau au citron, aka pound cake actually originated in the UK and weighed a pound…according to chef.
The Gateau au Citron is composed of 3 parts: The cake itself, the lemon julienne garnish and the glaçage.
Everything was pretty straightforward and everything went well. Except for one thing… My excess parchment paper stuck onto the top of cake while baking!! Apparently, this happened to a lot of the students during the practical. So don’t forget to trim the top of the parchment down so it’s not too tall because once it goes in the convection oven, the paper will flap around and stick onto the cake batter. This caused a slight indentation on the surface of the cake. You can see where the paper got stuck on the right side of the cake 🙁
Orientation day at Le Cordon Bleu London
Last friday was Orientation day at Le Cordon Bleu London. It was my first time visiting the school and I was surprised by how shiny and high tech everything was (not how I expected a traditional french culinary school to be!) I proceeded to join the line to get our fingers scanned and collected my le cordon bleu ID, uniform, schedules and an induction handbook. Once everyone had settled down, we had a welcome speech from the principle as well as a long mundane talk about fire drills, schedules, grading and attendance.
After the speeches, we were put into our basic patisserie groups and spent an hour or so touring around the school visiting the boulangerie, the demo rooms, the pastry kitchen and the cuisine kitchens. All the kitchens were spotless and decked out with shiny new equipment. The clean white demo rooms had flat screen TVs hanging from the ceiling with cameras pointing to the counter and a huge angled mirror on the ceiling. I’m not complaining because I know it’s to ensure that everyone has a great view but it felt a bit like a science lab!
Basic Patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu London
Last month, I was accepted into Le Cordon Bleu London’s basic patisserie course. I’ve been waiting impatiently for classes to start and it’s finally orientation day tomorrow!! I’m really excited and equally as nervous for classes to start. I’m looking forward to learning the fundamentals, mastering some french patisserie skills and meeting the other students. I’ve also heard that pastry school is very tough. It’s tiring, it’s fast paced and it’s stressful. There are also a few things that I’m really not looking forward to. Namely:
- Wearing ugly unisex kitchen shoes
- Hair nets. In primary school we used to make fun of the dinner ladies and their hair nets. Now I’m going to be one of them.
- Punctuality. Ask any of my friends, punctuality is definitely NOT one of my fortes. At all. Apparently, If you’re 5 minutes late you can’t go in the class to watch the demo and you can’t do the practical. And if you’re late 5 times you get taken out of the course!!
- The Exams. I heard that you need to memorise all the recipes (And there are lots of recipes!) for the exams. I honestly think I have early Alzheimers. Tell me something and I’ll forget a minute later!
- Speed. We’ll be given a strict time limit in the practicals and exams so everybody needs to be relatively quick. I’m like a snail in the kitchen. My parents and boyfriend have probably almost starved to death waiting for me to finish cooking or baking!
- How fat I’m going to get because of the amount of sweets and pastries I’m going to be scoffing down.