Un Pastiche

LCB #4: Week 2 – Fruit Tarts, Mendiants, Baklava, Florentines and other cookies

Week 2 of LCB (and Week 3) has quickly flown by. I was tired to my bones during week 2, because we were moving into our new apartment and in order to save moving cost, we did most of the packing and moving ourselves!

It is not really ours per se, as we just signed a one-year lease, but it will be our first place together! Previously, I was staying out in Penrith (west of the city) with Jon and his two housemates in a three-bedroom apartment. Although that apartment was far larger and more spacious (it had an actual dining area and a huge kitchen), this new one-bedroom apartment is far more convenient for me location wise. I also love that this apartment is close to the water, and has two supermarkets (IGA and ALDI) just a couple steps away! :)

I shall post first about Week 2, and hopefully catch up on Week 3 by this week.

Lesson 4 was all about the fruit tart or tarte aux fruits. We learnt how to make the pate sucree or sweet pastry, creme patisserie or pastry cream and the clear glaze. Having tried a number of pate sucree recipes, I can safely say that I prefer Pierre Herme’s recipe over the one LCB has given, but it’s really comparing apples and pears because Pierre Herme’s recipe adds ground almonds, which is of course far more expensive than normal flour.

My attempt at decorating the fruit tart went pretty well I must say, although there’s definitely more room for improvement – with the glazing and the arrangement of the fruits. I did however pick up a few good tips from the chefs on the pastry cream, on how to make it properly, and why sometimes pastry cream separates (this means you did not cook the pastry cream long enough).

Lesson 5 was about tempering chocolate, and it was the lesson I’ve been looking forward to because I have once tried to temper chocolate and it was a major disaster. In this lesson, we learnt two methods of tempering chocolate, either by addition/injection/vaccination/seeding or tabling/marbling/manipulation.

I tried the tabling method (real messy) and I was rather upset when my chocolate did not temper well, for reasons that were unknown to me. Perhaps I didn’t reach the right temperature or the chocolate went “out of temper”, but I was determined to do better the next day, as we were making florentines and had another opportunity to temper them.

As you can see, I had “fat bloom” on my mendiants (chocolate medals which are typically topped with four items, raisins, hazelnuts, figs and almonds) and they didn’t have the shine and snap that good tempered chocolate has.

We also made baklava but for me, chocolate was the star. We made baklava from store bought filo pastry which in my opinion, should not be a product that LCB teaches us, because if you don’t make your own filo, it’s really child’s play to cut the filo and process the nuts in the processor. Bleh. And I was particularly upset when I realized that I was graded on my baklava (and not my florentines) for the next lesson, because my baklava was meh, but I thought I did a fantastic job on the florentines (even the chef said so!). That said, I intentionally made my baklava syrup slightly less sweet and I managed to finish almost a quarter of my baklava single-handedly because for the first time, I found baklava palatable!

Oh and the chef also demonstrated how to make checkered cookies but it was a demo only and we did not get to attempt it ourselves. That I find is a waste of my time, and it is something I’m definitely going to feedback about.

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Lesson 6 was again about tempering chocolate. We went a step further this time by making florentines, and a sable diamante (ie round orange butter cookie). As I have made butter cookies tons of times before and already found my favourite one – the sable au chocolat or the ultimate crowd favourite, sables which can be morphed into any flavour you like, again from Pierre Herme, my favourite patissier, I was not particularly interested in making the butter cookies and after baking them, I hurriedly went onto tempering chocolate.

I am proud to say that my second attempt at tempering chocolate went rather well. In fact, I’m getting so enamoured by chocolate that I’m contemplating doing an entire post about tempering chocolate on the blog if I can find the time and energy to.

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The chocolate is definitely more well-tempered this time, although again, still more room for improvement. I basically finished all the florentines myself because the combination of almonds+chocolate is too irresistible for me!

Alright till the next post! :)

LCB #3: Week 1 of Le Cordon Bleu Sydney classes

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