Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Final Exam Day

Today we did our final practical exam of our Pastry School careers. I've been so nervous for this day, ever since I knew the date of the exam, which was a week and a half ago. I've been stressed beyond belief with this knowledge, as well as with the upcoming stage, and events/deadlines in my life outside of school. I've been fighting off a nasty cold for about two weeks, the stress making the symptoms worse, and I've been exhausted ever since the end of Daylight Savings Time. In short, I've been an irritable mess, and I apologize profusely to my classmates.

For the exam, we had to present two plated desserts: one hot (souffle) and one cold (our choice). We had three hours in which to complete the exam, including making all sauces and any other decorative elements we wished to include (the cold dessert was prepared ahead). Both plates had to have at least one decorative element and a sauce of some sort somewhere on the plate. Once our sauces and decorations were prepared, and the ingredients for the souffle ready, we were put in a queue and given a time to start. We then had 25 minutes to make the souffle, and to decorate and present both plates.

This morning when I got up I still didn't have a clear design in mind. I had made myself a list last night of the order in which I should prepare things, because I am really terrible at time management and I just knew that if I didn't plan it out ahead I would be all over the place... Well, I basically ignored my list and was all over the place most of the time anyway... But I did manage to get everything ready in time, and not be the last person in the queue. Once my 25 minutes started, I felt I was doing well. I got my souffle prepared and in the oven exactly when I should have, and I had plenty of time to decorate my plates (somewhat of a last-minute decision) even tho I was rushing with nervous energy and had to use both hands to draw my design, and even then I was still shaking... My souffles rose beautifully in the oven, I managed to present both plates at the same time at the precise time I was supposed to, and they looked good to me. Then I had to wait for my results.

I passed, but the teachers made it sound like it was a close call. I have to say that while I'm glad the exam is over and that I passed, I'm really disappointed with my results and the teachers' comments. I know that I tend to take criticism poorly, and that they were only trying to be constructive, but I felt really hurt and had to fight off the tears. They told me that I lost points because I didn't have enough sauce on my macaron plate, and because my souffle dish was lacking something, it wasn't like my usual work, and they were disappointed. I guess it upset me so much because I think they're right. As I was preparing it it felt right, but looking back the cookies on the plate are lacking some finesse, so I'm disappointed in myself and I'm hurt that for my final exam, the teachers couldn't just keep those comments to themselves and tell me it was fine. What do you think of my exam dishes?

So, that's it. Tomorrow we'll go in to clean up the kitchen a bit, and we're making pizza and pasta for lunch, then we're done! Monday morning we start stages, which I'll try to document when I can, and then back to school on the 18th for final marks and goodbyes.

Practice before the exam - trying to figure out a design

Raspberry souffle and practice plate design (I know it's ugly, don't laugh!)

Another practice...

Decided to use my rectangle plate for the souffle dish and a round one for the macaron. The teacher told me it was pretty but there was no sauce (I thought the chocolate around the outside counted...)

Another practice with the raspberry souffle

Exam - macaron with raspberry-white chocolate ganache on a chocolate doily

Exam - souffle plate, before the souffle, with 2 homemade Milano cookies a caramel coil and a chocolate cup filled with caramel sauce


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