Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Day of Second Session

Forget everything I said about being disappointed with not getting into Basic Cuisine - there are 60 students in the session - the demonstration room is packed to the rafters. My class has just 12 students - almost historically small for a session at Le Cordon Bleu. Chef JJ will be teaching most of the classes, and since there is only one room of us for practical sessions (us baking), he will oversee most of those as well. It means more personal attention, and less confusion between what one chef showed us in the demonstration, and what a different chef wants us to do in the practical.

Chef demonstrated a simple almond cake - no gluten, but not that much taste. It might be a good cake with coffee or tea in the morning, or with some fruit ice cream. Next, he whipped up a streusel cake - puff pastry, creme fraiche, apricots (canned of course) and a streusel topping. His puff pastry dough behaves like silk - smooth and perfectly symmetrical, mine is like those cheap polyester sheets that keep popping off the corners of the mattress. For the last part of today's scheduled lesson he made a vanilla and chocolate log cake that is called a Scottish cake, no idea why.

The best part of Chef JJ's demonstrations is what he does with leftover ingredients. Today he took the puff pastry from the streusel cake, rolled out rectangles, filled it with the vanilla stuff from the Scottish cake, baked it, topped it with raspberry jam, covered it with fresh berries, left-over streusel topping, and finished it with pistachios and red currants. A gourmet Pop-Tart!

The man could make a dessert with an egg, a packet of sugar and a piece of stale bread. It is fascinating to watch him work. By accident, I took a video of his puff pastry crimping technique - it took 15 minutes of practice to crudely approximate this deceptively simple movement. I am not supposed to take video in the demonstration, but I can't let it go to waste, the world needs to see Chef JJ in action.

We made the almond cake and Streusel cake this afternoon. The practical kitchen was very quiet, everyone got straight to work and didn't talk much. It made me miss the craziness of my Basic Patisserie class. The almond cake was a cinch, and my puff pastry was not a disaster of butter poking through the dough for once! I made a small mistake, but I was able to scrape the creme fraiche off the puff pastry before it baked and no one really noticed. My desserts are the third set in the photo - we line up our desserts in a row and Chef JJ walks by and critiques them, which is very helpful. His comment for mine was "pas mal" or something like that. The first dessert was made by a Canadian girl/woman who is very talented. I don't think I should work next to her, my work suffers in comparison!

I was able to pawn everything off on my neighbors. I think they like it, but they can just throw it away if they don't.

I am happy to be back in the kitchen, and even happier that I am in this Patisserie class.

Any questions for me?


  1. that fruit "leftover" thing looks absolutely delicious!!!

  2. I have a question for you you. When you have to take a test, are you tested on recipes and do you have to have them all memorized? That would be tough....lots of measurements. Also, are all of your classes conducted in French? Thanks.

  3. What was or is the one dessert you really wanted or want to make?

  4. Welcome back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Nice to see that with the rentre you are back to blogging regularly. Love the pop tart. I think almost anyone with the right ingredients, instruction, and patience can make most anything. As your chef shows, the real genius is doing amazing stuff with leftover stuff.


Google Analytics