Pastry School – Week 12

OMG! It is Week 12 and there’s only 16 weeks in the certificate portion of the program. Hard to believe we were headed into the last month of school.  The subjects for the week were Cake Decorating (Basics) & Petit Four Frais.

One of our instructors operates her own home-based specialty cakes business so it made sense that she would cover this kitchen lab.  Her cakes are beautiful and she uses a variety of techniques so it was on the list of classes we were all looking forward to.  Well, some of us were looking forward to it more than others.  I happened to be in the “others” group in this particular situation having had a not so great experience with a recreational cake decorating class about 10 years ago.  It wasn’t a bad class, I’m just lacking in fine motor skills and not very “crafty” having tried, and subsequently given up on, painting, quilting, cake decorating, etc. Regardless, it was cake decorating day and at the end  we’d all have (another) cake to bring home.  Our fabulous class assistant baked vanilla butter cake layers for us while we had lecture.  During lecture Chef covered buttercreams (again), royal icing and food coloring.  We moved into the kitchen for a demonstration on buttercream roses,  which we practiced for some time.  We then did several different styles of royal icing flowers and decorative pieces.  The decorative pieces weren’t dry by the time we left for the day so on a drying rack in the kitchen they sit…  And likely will sit until the next class has their cake decorating time at which time they’ll be tossed to make room.  Circle of life, just like the Lion King.

Yes, It says “Erin’s Cake”.  It was the weekend before Easter so most people were writing Happy Easter or Happy Spring.  We had to write something but I was working on Easter and it didn’t feel very spring-like.  Not super original but it got the job done. I enjoyed the class much more than the recreational class.  I know I’ll never be a cake decorator, not my interest or talent, but I’m confident now that I could do a nice basic birthday, graduation or anniversary cake.

The second day of Week 12 was Petit Four Frais, or fresh petit fours.  These are the type of petit four that has a pate a choux or pate sucree base, a cream/curd filling and are topped with fondant or fresh fruit, i.e. eclairs, cream puffs and fruit tarts.  I was absent this day as it was the first anniversary of my mom’s passing.  I felt I needed the day to myself.  One of my wonderful classmates sent me pictures of the pate a choux petit fours as they were one of the nine options for the kitchen practicum and knowing what they looked like would be key if I drew that card.

The next two weeks were the weeks I had been waiting for since day 1, Viennoiseries.  We would be doing croissants, danish and puff pastry.  Flour, water, salt and butter magically transformed into flaky, dreamy layers of yummy goodness.  It was as good as I had hoped, if not better.  Lots of pictures for that post.  Apologies in advance, they’ll make you hungry!

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