Un Pastiche

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

The first week of LCB concluded last Saturday. I was beyond tired and my back has been aching ever since.

Lesson 1 on Thursday was an introduction to knives, knife cuts, kitchen equipment and our tool kits. All that was pretty boring but informative all the same. I finally got my first look at a commercial kitchen, and have a better idea in the event that I want to open a cafe or bakery of what equipment to buy.

Now, my initial plan was to blog everyday and to bring my DSLR to class. I will definitely not be blogging everyday because I am so drained every night and I will definitely not be bringing my heavy DSLR to class because it’s too darn heavy. So you will have to be satisfied with my sub-par iPhone photos.

We finally got to bake on Friday. The above photo shows the mad rush of students trying to take photos and trying to sample the products.

Lesson 2 was quite chaotic, as we had to do madeleines, financiers and scones. These were all items that I have made previously, so I honestly didn’t find it a challenge at all. Three hours to complete baking all these items were more than ample time, and I took my time to bake each of the recipes and help some of my classmates as well. Speaking of which, I am still quite amazed at the daring of some of these classmates. It is obvious that some of them have never baked before and it is amazing that they have the courage to take such a big leap to enrol in patisserie school for 15 months. Perhaps I am being overly cautious, but I could never imagine myself at 18 or 19 years old, and enrolling in patisserie school just to “try something new”. And this is what irks me. Perhaps it is my nature, or perhaps it is because I am the product of the Singapore education system, but I cannot fathom ‘going out of the box’, that is, not going to junior college or polytechnic or university to do an apprenticeship or enrol in something that is completely uncommon. I have become too conventional and I’m glad that it took a “quarter-life crisis” of sorts to jerk me out of the norm. (PS: I honestly don’t think I suffered any quarter-life crisis as there was no crisis – this was always in the works methinks.)

My scones were not up to standard – the tops were not smooth and some of them were slanted, but I was pleased with the financiers and madeleines – my madeleines even had huge humps on them even though there was very little resting time thanks to a little trick I employed ;)

Now, to be honest, I thought that I won’t be learning much from the basic patisserie course because I have done most if not all of the baked products that is lined up for basic patisserie. If I could, I would have enrolled myself into intermediate patisserie. I told myself however that I should make the most out of it, by asking as many questions as I could, and to learn from the experienced chefs. After two lessons, I am glad that I have managed to pick up some pointers from the chefs and learnt a couple of new things. One thing for certain, I definitely need to work on my presentation skills!

Lesson 3

Lesson 3 was interesting – we learnt how to make a gateau weekend (or pound cake) in a gugelhopf or kugelhopf mould, as well as a genoise sponge. The above photo showcases Chef Gert’s baked products after demonstration, both of which I got a bite of. I was dreading this class, because I knew that the genoise sponge requiring the beating of the whole eggs, and I was dreading having to HAND-beat whole eggs to stiff peak because that would probably kill me, on top of having to whip the cream for creme chantilly. Luckily, Chef Gert announced during demo that while we had to cream the pound cake by hand and whip creme chantilly by hand, we could utilize the machines for the meringue. Whee!

I have to say that I am still not a fan of the pound cake, because I find that there is too much sugar and the texture is far too dense. I much prefer a modified pound cake where there is additional aeration in the cake.

For the genoise sponge, I was disappointed that it was not graded, because I think I did a really good job on the texture and taste (but not the presentation oops). I even countered the dryness of the genoise sponge by making a simple sugar vanilla syrup but sadly Chef Karin did not get to try it. She did mention however that she could see that it was fluffy whee ;) I eventually added some strawberries (which are in season in Australia right now and super duper cheap) and brought it to a house party (a Canadian thanksgiving) as dessert!


The pumpkin pie at the back was not made by me and yes, the cream was starting to melt. Alright, till next week! Classes are getting more interesting as we are starting to do things I have not done before, like temper chocolate and making baklavas so I am looking forward to those!

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