Friday, November 5, 2010

Puff Pastry is my Nemisis, Part Deux

I feel like I've been through a war. After a two hour nap, a dinner of hot dog, cheese fries, and a large glass of red wine (classy, I know), and 11 hours of sleep, I think I'm ready to talk about it. The practical yesterday was more terrible than I imagined. I probably didn't get an F, but I certainly deserved one. I don't know if any of you watch cooking competition shows, but with timed contests, there's usually one person who's a total disaster - flinging sauces, sprinting across the kitchen, coming down to the wire and presenting disastrous products to the judges. Yesterday, this person was me.

Now -- don't get me wrong. With maybe two exceptions -- and I'm convinced those people took some sort of illegal shortcut-- everybody did a cruddy job on this practical. It was virtually impossible to finish the items we had to make (everything you've seen on the blog in the past two weeks) in the time we had (five hours). The time issue was exacerbated by the fire alarm, which went off partway through the exam and forced us to stand outside in the rain for 25 of our precious minutes. Luckily I didn't have anything in the oven, because those who did had to take it out to avoid another fire and then start from scratch when we went back inside.

Three people never finished. Four people burst into tears at some point during the day. Five people (out of 22) dropped out of the class before this exam even began. In some ways, I feel like a gladiator.

There's this really cool, trendy French bakery in Charlotte where I thought I might like to do my internship. Ummm, after this experience, I think I'll have to say HECK TO THE NO to that one. I fear I'd have an anxiety attack every day. Yesterday, my hands were shaking so badly that it looked like I had glazed my eclairs while riding a roller coaster. While grading the various items I made, my teacher repeated the phrases "SHAME ON YOU" and "THOSE LOOK SAD/PATHETIC" more than once. At least she acknowledged that I was better than the products I presented.

Anyway, since obviously photo taking was not at the forefront of my mind during this debacle of a day, I saved some photos from Wednesday's class to post today:

Cream puff swans. Is it just me, or are these kind of cheesy?

Peanut Butter Bavarian Cremes with raspberry filling covered with chocolate ganache. They are sitting on a puff pastry base and piped with a white chocolate filigree.

Look at the inside! Like a super fancy PB&J

Here you can see creme caramel (essentially the french version of flan), and some chocolate covered strawberries.


  1. is it weird that this is the 2nd time your blog has made me think of the hunger games?? the whole gladiator thing :) pastry class is hardcore.

    in case you were wondering, the first time was when the sewage leaked out of the floor. i immediately thought, "it's a pod, run alice!"

    (on that note - let's plan a pints 'n prose mtg for the next time you're up this way! holiday season??)

  2. I kow how those days are. I am sure that you faired relatively well considering the conditions...i told that I showed up 2 hours early (yes, 5 am!) for my advanced patisserie practical and was still sprinting around like a crazy person at the end to find my glaze or attempt to plate my ice cream that had not set up...what a mess. good luck with your next class. - geoff