The last two weeks have been an indulgent study in different types of cake. Gateau au citron, decorated with candied lemon peel and soaked with syrup so tart it makes your mouth water; petite, scallop-shaped madeleines, delicate and golden; genoise sponge sandwiched with sweet-sharp raspberry jam and smothered in billowing clouds of buttercream; Gateau Foret Noire, rich with chocolate, red fruit and a hint of alcohol; Charlotte au chocolat, light sponge encasing a centre of creamy chocolate bavarois. This is what has been occupying my mind recently and a lot of fun it’s been too, give or take a couple of disappointments in the kitchen.
That said, there hasn’t been anything major, just madeleines that didn’t quite rise as they should have and a charlotte sponge base which didn’t hold its pattern when piped because the batter wasn’t aerated enough. Frustrating, but nothing that can’t be ironed out with a little practice. It’s been an interesting learning curve, teaching me afresh things that I already had some experience of and helping me to improve my working methods. (Also, I now know how to produce a decent genoise sponge, which is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do; the highlight was when our chef told me that I made the best sponge in the class that day. High praise indeed!)
On a less cheerful but increasingly pressing note, I only have three weeks of Basic Patisserie left. Exams loom large on the horizon and I am trying to fit recipes, methods, coagulation temperatures, French culinary terms and a million other pieces of information into my head when I’m not busy practising my pate brisee, chocolate piping or creme patissiere. It’s a whole world away from the academic exams I sat at university; making a batch of eclairs counts as revision these days, something I’m still trying to get used to.
For possibly the first time ever, I am not looking forward to the end of term. It isn’t because of the exams, although that’s a contributing factor. Rather, it’s because the end of term means the splitting up of my class, the amazing, crazy, wonderful individuals that I spend my school days with. In just under eight weeks, we’ve become close friends and my LCB experience would not be the same without them (Breakfast Club Wednesdays are a weekly highlight); to know that in just under a month’s time we will be going our separate ways is a sad thought indeed.
However, it’s not over yet and I have no doubt that we’ll make the most of the next three weeks!
On an unrelated note and continuing the catch-up with my home baking, I made brandy snaps for the first time over the holiday period, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time but never got around to until now.
Crunchy and sweet with a warm flavour from brown sugar and golden syrup, these snaps are buttery and delicious. They are simple to make yet they feel luxurious, especially when filled with whipped cream. A step up from the usual type of biscuit, brandy snaps are definitely one to try if you’ve never experienced them before!