Friday, July 3, 2009

Fruit Cake?

Really? I just spent 6 hours to learn how to make Fruitcake! Umm, the thing that we dread receiving, and try impossibly to re-gift each year. Yup, I now know where those are made, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. And then never eaten and sent to unsuspecting Americans as Christmas gifts. I have two in my freezer for unsuspecting visitors. Insert Cruella de Vil laugh here. My results are pictured above. Chef's C's creations are below.

Yes, making a fruit cake might be appropriate for my mindset right now, thank you Nancy for pointing that out! I am a little batty from the heat and the challenge.

Chef C. demonstrated basic cakes yesterday: fruit cake, madeleines, and lemon pound cake (called Le Weekend) As we tasted his creations, I enjoyed the fruit cake much more than I thought, the madeleines were very good, and the lemon pound cake, was fantastic. The lemon cakes rose, and fell into a U shaped mass, making the chef throw a few utensils around in frustration, the class was silent about the issue, I think we were too scared to ask why it happened. He didn't even decorate three of them, "they are too disappointing." My favorite part of the day was when the chef's pastry scraper (spatulas must be for kindergardeners, or silly Americans) hadn't been washed yet by his assistant, and without missing a beat, he pulled one out of his back pocket! I had to keep myself from laughing out loud, that is not allowed.

The tasting is the last part of the demonstration, we each keep spoons in our coat sleeve (near where most humans have a bicep, I just have upper arm fat) for this express purpose. I think my fingers would be cleaner than my spoon, I wash it, but it continually falls on the locker room floor as I am getting dressed. It is considered rude not to clean your plate - mainly, the best chefs in the world have created this, and you must eat it, even if you don't like it. I have liked everything so far, cleaning my plate has rarely been an issue for me. I have no taste for sweets right now though. Amy left half a bag of Milanos, which wouldn't usually make it through an hour, much less two weeks in my pantry. I entered the most beautiful pastry shop on Rue des Martyrs, my cool neighborhood shopping street, and didn't want a thing except a baguette. Arnaud Delmontel did win best baguette in Paris in 2007, so I think I did the right thing. I am not, by any means, getting skinny here! I think I gained 5 pounds already!

In the lab part of the class, called the practical, we started with making the madeleine dough, then while it cooled, made our fruitcakes, and while those baked, piped our madeleine batter into the molds. Everything worked as it should, my cakes got a thumbs up, and my madeleines got a high five from the chef. That is very high praise, but no tastings by the chefs yet. Most people had an easier time with the cakes than with the apple tarts. Chef C. is stricter than the other chefs, checking everyone for uniform rules conformance, including a hair net. So I promise, there are no hairs in my pastry.

Five of us went out for a drink yesterday, it was good to have a little socializing. Today might require serious 'socializing,' as we are in for a 9 hour day.

PS Julie Powell (Julie and Julia) was at the school for a book signing, I will write more about it over le weekend.

Photos L to R: Lemon Cake (note sunken area in the middle), Madeleines, and Fruit Cake.

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