When your brain freezes and you panic because you suddenly can’t remember how to make pate sucree, take a deep breath and carry on.
When you realise you’ve combined your ingredients in the wrong order and forgotten the salt, take a deep breath and carry on.
When your biscuit a rouler doesn’t have enough volume and you’re forced to spread it more thinly than you should to compensate, take a deep breath and carry on.
When it seems like there’s too much to deal with, when it feels like everything is going wrong and you can’t seem to do a single thing right, there is no other choice but to keep calm and keep soldiering on. Tell yourself that everything will be okay, believe it as best you can, suppress that negative inner voice and try your hardest to keep it together, even when you just want to give in and say “I quit.”
It’s the only thing you can do.
It’s what I did on Tuesday, during my Intermediate practical exam.
Things started going wrong from the very beginning. In a moment of high pressure and stress, I made a stupid, ridiculous error. Consequently, I panicked, one mistake inevitably led to another and suddenly, it was like I couldn’t do anything properly. Any confidence I’d had going into the exam was gone, just like that. It made me feel out of control and like I knew nothing, even though I’d made every element of the cake I was supposed to be producing many times before.
Fortunately, I managed to get back on track eventually. Strangely enough, it was the chocolate tempering that brought me back and reminded me that I can do this. I know it sounds melodramatic, but if that had gone wrong too, I think I would have just given up right there and then.
In the end, I somehow managed to produce a presentable cake, though I have no idea how. Whether it’s good enough or not, however, still remains to be seen. I’m already resigned to the fact that my technique marks will have suffered as a result of my terrible pate sucree, but I’m hoping that the rest of my work will have been satisfactory enough to pull me through. Our feedback tutorials are scheduled for next Thursday; it’s going to be a long week of waiting.
In the meantime, we’ve had a couple of cake-decorating sessions, with one final class next Tuesday to finish off our creations. While not strictly within the realm of patisserie, it’s arguably a useful skill to learn nonetheless. That said, our teaching chefs are clearly divided on the subject, much to our amusement. Still, at least it’s a nice, stress-free way to finish the term; exactly what we need after the last few weeks of exam pressure!
(Also, apologies for the lack of baking content in this post; it’s been a crazy few weeks between work, school and exams and there’s literally been no time for anything other than patisserie! I’ll definitely try to remedy this next time though, so stay tuned…!)