Time at FERRANDI is flying by. Tomorrow I am returning to school after a week of Easter vacation. After not being in school for a whole week, FERRANDI actually started to seem like some distant dream where I was able to do something fun every day. I am so excited to return to the pastry kitchen tomorrow!
By the second month at FERRANDI, we were all getting a bit more used to being in the kitchen. Part of working in the pastry kitchen is sharing in the cleaning duties. At the beginning of each week, our chef posts the weekly schedules for us. These schedules let us know what we’ll be making each day as well as who is responsible for which duty that week. The tasks include: washing the tables and floors, washing dishes, taking out garbages, operating the ovens and being the chef of the week. Washing dishes is definitely my least favourite task – no one loves scrubbing pots with burnt on pastry cream. Plus, you have to be quick at baking AND scrubbing pots, otherwise you fall behind and the dishes just pile up! Being in charge of ovens is also not too fun. You are in charge of taking things out when they are baked which seems easy but can be quite stressful. We’ve already had numerous incidents involving burnt cakes as well as several cakes being accidentally dropped and destroyed while being removed from the oven. Chef of the week is surprisingly a really easy duty. You just need to check that everything got cleaned at the end of lab and check the temperature of the fridges and freezers to make sure they are working properly and within the food safety standards.
Another regular part of being in pastry school is constantly having your work critiqued and graded. Every week or two we have to prepare something for grading. We generally get a chance to practice the item once or twice before grading. Usually our baking is also lined up from best to worst. Before getting to FERRANDI, I heard that’s how things were done and found it really intimidating. Now, I think its the best way to go. Having all the baking lined up really helps to identify the differences in the products and better understand what the chef is looking for in a professional product. Plus I think it leads to the most fair grades. I can’t lie and say that grading days aren’t a bit stressful – I seem to always be less happy with how my products turn out on grading days than regular lab days. But overall, the grading and feedback is really useful. For example, I thought that my chaussons aux pommes turned out great but the chef docked me marks, saying the leaves looked “dead” because I scored the dough with straight instead of angled lines. However, the brioche I thought turned out ugly, got the top mark in the class for being extra airy and light.
The “Dead” Chaussons aux Pommes // Top Mark Brioche
So here are some of the other things we made in our second month at FERRANDI:
We finished off working on mille-feuille with a few more recipes including a chocolate praline and raspberry-anise mille-feuille. Mille-feuille is best eaten the same day as it is made. Some of the mille-feuille we made was used for restaurant service but I still had way more than I could eat. I spent my Friday night after school searching for a homeless person to give my remaining mille-feuille to – I couldn’t have them eating day old mille-feuille!
Next, we had a day scheduled for the French macaron. We were only supposed to spend one day on macarons but after convincing (annoying) our Chef, he agreed to let us have two days to work on them! The first day we each made our own batch, using FERRANDI recipes. The second day, we paired up and were allowed to make whatever type of macaron we wanted to.
Matcha Chestnut Macarons // Passionfruit Chocolate Macarons // A Collection of Everyone’s Macarons
We worked our way through viennoiserie. Viennoiserie is pastry made from yeasted doughs.
Kougloff // Brioche Suisse // Criossant // Croissant Cross Section // Pain au Chocolat // Pains aux raisins (minus the raisins and plus pistachios and almonds)
Next we tackled pâte à choux.
Chocolate Eclairs // Coffee Religieuse // Paris Brest
While I am taking the Intensive Professional Program in French Pastry at FERRANDI, we still get an introduction to bread baking as well. We have a total of 5 half day classes in the bakery. During our first class at the bakery we learned about different methods to make bread (i.e. with yeast, poolish, fermented dough, etc.), different loaf shaping techniques and other bread making basics. Time in the bakery is very relaxed compared to the pastry kitchen. Sometimes you just wait for the bread to rise and enjoy the smell of yeast and fresh bread – very different from the pastry kitchen!
During the second month of classes, we also had our first art class. We were given watercolours and other art supplies, but also a lot of homework (More on the art classes in a future post).
I’ll do my best to continue sharing my next batch of culinary adventures in a timely manner! First though, I have a pile of chocolate egg concept sketches to finish and an apartment move ahead of me