Pastry School – Week 15

After two amazing weeks of croissants, danish, cinnamon buns and brioche creations I wasn’t very excited to go back to cakes.  I enjoyed French Cakes and Italian Desserts in weeks 10 & 11, and learned a tremendous amount, but my preferences and strengths tend to run more towards cookies, butter cakes, breads, pies & breakfast pastries.  It was also our last week of kitchen labs which was sad and a bit stressful with the practicum and written exam coming up.  Alas time waits for no pastry student. Week 15 was European Classics I & II, including Opera, Black Forest, Alhambra, Sacher Torte & Buche de Printemps (springtime yule log) cakes.  I am happy to say that I was quite wrong about not being excited for the week.  Each one of the cakes was more fun to make than the last and they all tasted fantastic.  It was great to have some additional practice at assembling cakes and making foundation components such as ganache and mousses.

My favorite cake was the Alhambra, a recipe developed by our chef that layered rum syrup soaked chocolate hazelnut cake with a rich chocolate ganache.  Chocolate lovers dream.

The springtime yule log was visually stunning and a very tasty combo of raspberry and lime.  Perfect for warmer weather.

The Opera is perhaps the best known of the classics and can be seen everywhere from Pastisseries in Paris to grocery stores on Cape Ann and everywhere in between. Good Opera cakes are quite rare though. Learning how to make it correctly, producing a gorgeous AND delicious cake, was wonderful.

Black Forest (Foret Noire) made with frozen sour cherries and garnished with chocolate covered cherries we made ourselves; maraschino cherries covered with fondant and dipped in dark chocolate. Delicious!

Sacher Torte is a traditional dessert that combines chocolate almond cake, raspberry or apricot jam, chocolate ganache and chocolate glaze.  The cake is soaked in a cointreau/triple sec syrup to add flavor and keep it moist.  I tried a small slice before it was sent away and decided it would definitely be going on my list to make again, along with the Opera and Alhambra.


Two of the five cakes went to work with Sam, the other three are in the freezer awaiting a special occasion to make their debut.

The next Pastry School post will be a wrap-up…the last seminars and exams.  Having waited so many years to take the plunge and go to pastry school it was hard to believe it was almost over!

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