As many of you know, I was in a 5 month intensive pastry program here in Paris. This meant, that 5 days a week, I was in a kitchen with 8 colleagues baking up a storm. Not bad to be me. Sadly, all things must come to an end and school had an end date. It also had a test. Oh my.
I didn’t have to apply by sending a cookie or a cake, but I couldn’t get my diploma without putting my practice to the test and in turn, get a grade. A grade from 2 MOF’s (masters in pastry) and a worldwide known chef, with impressive familial ties to the world of cuisine, Escoffier. Piece of cake – if you aren’t the one making the cake.
For our final, we had to prepare: pate a choux for éclairs and religieuse, pate a foncer for an apple tart, puff pastry for a pithiviers and chaussons aux pommes, crème anglaise for ice cream molds, an almond paste trio of roses, and, the ever fun, moka. Basics, that needed to prove we knew what we were doing and wouldn’t embarrass ourselves by calling us Patissieres. Easy enough, right? Oh, and we had one day to do it. And the 3 grading chefs? They were there the whole time, looking over our shoulders. As were our normal pastry chefs. Have I said oh my yet?
Luckily, we all did great. I spent a couple of days leading up to the exam practicing making roses quickly and piping the flames for a moka, as well as reviewing recipes and going over my pictures of each step of each recipe. While practicing and planning my timing for a pastry final wasn’t exactly like pulling the all-nighter I did the night before my biology final in college, the pressure was no less since this was again my future career on the line (biology didn’t pan out…not shocking). Plus, I was whipping cream by hand at home so I could practice piping. That’s hard!
Exam day came, I got to school early and my prep work served me well. I still need to work on the moka piping, but it went much better than my initial try!
Unmolding the crème anglaise ice cream…comic relief for the chefs that day.
The pithiviers, which proved to be a bit troublesome that day.
Apply tart – I knew I had this one, at least. Christmas helped me practice!
The dreaded Moka.
Religieuse, filled with a coffee pastry cream. Fondant and I are still getting to know each other.
And the éclairs, also with coffee pastry cream and awesome fondant. At least it was shiny!
And everything all together, for my final presentation, minus the ice cream. All the chefs complimented me on my work, so I felt quite relieved. Plus, I got a nice pat on my back when one of the MOF’s grabbed a couple of my chaussons on his way out after grading. I felt highly complimented!
So now my school chapter is done and I’m off to my internship tomorrow. Oh my…