Monday, May 19, 2014

Exam Season

In the past two weeks we've had three exams, and I remembered to take pictures of all three!! So here they are, as well as some other desserts and things we've been finishing up between exams. First up was our exam in pâtes battues-poussées (doughs and batters that don't have a leavening agent, their volume is achieved manually before baking). This included a génoise cake, six éclairs (not filled), and six biscuits succès (an almond cookie with whipped egg-whites in the batter). I did very well on this exam.

Pâtes battues-poussées
Finished éclairs
The succes cookies finished off with hazelnut mousseline
The next exam was crèmes et garnitures (creams and fillings), which included a chocolate mousse, crèmes caramels renversées, and coffee buttercream. I wasn't as prepared for this exam as I should have been - I didn't even know all the three items we were supposed to do! But I did fairly well. Part of the exam is unmolding one of the caramel creams in front of the examiner, and I had some difficulty with that. My buttercream wasn't as soft as it should have been when I presented it, either. But all in all, I did well.

Crèmes et garnitures
Coffee buttercream
The third exam was for entremets modernes (modern desserts). We were able to prepare a lot of things in advance (the coffee buttercream from the previous exam, all the cakes and cookies, etc), so all we had to do was make a chocolate ganache filling for the opéra, and the mousse and glaze for the mousse cake, and put them all together. I also did quite well on this exam, but I did lose some points for forgetting to put the seam at the back of my mousse cake - totally didn't think about it! Oh well. :)

Entremets modernes
Mousse aux fruits des champs
Opéra
Opéra with details added afterwards
In each of these exams there were a handful of people who failed one or more parts, so I feel proud of myself that I only lost a few minor points here and there. I know that I produce good results, but it's always good to have a healthy dose of self-doubt in these situations, I think. If anyone is interested, I have both of these desserts in my freezer available for sale. :)

We tried making cronuts a few weeks ago, just for fun. They're all the rage in Montreal, apparently, so our teacher wanted to try them. It is croissant dough cut out in the shape of a doughnut and deep fried. I think our oil must have been at the wrong temperature, because they were disgustingly greasy. I decided to bake mine instead, which turned out to be overly crispy croissant dough... Bleh. Overall, bad experience. But maybe we just don't know what we're doing. ;) We also made Danishes and croissant knots, but I only have a pictures of the knots. And the last modern dessert that I made was called Indulgence Noisette, which is very simply and hazelnut cookie layered with hazelnut mousse, then covered with cocoa powder and finished off with a caramelized hazelnut. So. Much. Hazelnut.

Cronuts dipped in white fondant
Croissant knots filled with raspberry jam and covered with apricot glaze
Indulgence Noisette
This past weekend I also had the privilege of baking and decorating a cake for the 60th wedding anniversary celebration of some very special people I know. It was slightly nerve-wracking, knowing that a potentially large number of people would be seeing and eating this cake, and it being my very first commissioned baking project... But it all worked out, with minimal stress. I feel that it wasn't the best I could have done, but considering it was my first time doing a cake this size (and shape) I am pleased with the results. My writing, on the other hand, could use a lot of practice! I ended up making a white three-layered 14x14-inch cake, filled and covered with Swiss buttercream, decorated with white rosettes around the four sides, and purple rosettes on each corner, with a message in the center in purple piping gel. I got lots of good feedback on the overall decoration and taste of the cake, which made me very happy. So... I have my last exam tomorrow and then Wednesday we do clean up and say goodbye for the summer. I have no solid plans as yet for the summer, so starting Thursday I will be "open for business" for all your cake, cupcake, cookies, pies, breads (I make a pretty mean croissant, if I may say so), or other baking needs!

My first commissioned baking project - success! :)

2 comments:

  1. The cake was REALLY yummy Anne -Marie. I am happy to say that this cake will go "down in history" in your career! There is a fun photo on facebook, of Connor looking quite pleased he found the cake! Thanks again for all your hard work---turned out super!

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  2. Thank you so much! It was fun, I hope I'll get some more projects this summer. ;)

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