Turn the Page

23 Jun

This last month of school has been a blur of baking, fretting, and more baking. Every week in the month of June we had to work swiftly, preparing to feed the school, our own families, and ace our last practical exam. I’ve been tied up with all these events and securing my externship for the summer (which I’m super excited about!)

June began with a week of learning to make ice cream. Super fun, but also a lot of waiting around for the ice cream to churn in the machine. We made vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and my favorite dulce de leche. It’s not difficult, but you really need to invest in an ice cream machine for the cream to come out as hard as it’s supposed to be. I did try to make it and just freeze it straightaway – but that came out more like soft-serve. We spent all week preparing to feed the school on Thursday with an all-out ice cream bar. It was complete with a brownie station, cookie station, waffle station, pie station, and baked alaska station. The combination of the desserts with our ice creams – nothing better!

The following week each of us had to create our own dessert menus to feed our family members. It had to include a main component (such as cake or pie), a sauce, a frozen element, and a handmade garnish. From Monday to Thursday we prepared our desserts and put it all together the last day. This project made me appreciate how much faster and chaotic it would be to work in a restaurant where you have to make and plate all desserts within a limited time. Honing in on my latin roots, I chose to make a tres leches cake with a dulce de leche sauce, topped with creme chantilly, next to a scoop of coconut ice cream and a nougatine shard. Our hollywood-themed night was a success, everyone loved our decorations as well as our sweets.

Tres Leches Plated Dessert

A great plated dessert, if I do say so myself :).

Chef really packed it in this month! This past week was our final practical and to make the test (and my life) harder, Chef Gina decided to just give us the ingredients with no methods. Did we panic, cry, or complain? Of course we did. But in the end I think we surprised ourselves how well we actually knew these recipes. We had three days instead of the usual four to make spritz cookies, pate a choux, chocolate mousse, pastry cream, and puff pastries from scratch. I’m glad she made us do the practical this way because although I burned myself twice and sweated like a monsoon in the worst way, it made me confident and I worked a lot quicker. Since I didn’t have the recipe in front of me, I couldn’t go back to re-check what the next step was – you just keep going because there’s no room to doubt yourself. I was the first one to finish and I didn’t have to re-bake anything! I’m proud of all of us really, we were able to finish and none of us failed miserably.

Tomorrow night is our final written exam as well as the last day of school. There are a mix of emotions when I think about it. I am sad that it’s ending yet relieved that I’ll have my nights back – working and going to school can stress out anyone. I’ll miss some of my classmates more than others, and plan to keep in contact with those that I can. I am nervous about having to go out in the “real world”, it wasn’t so easy the last time I had to. But I’m excited about what the future holds and starting my externship. This summer I will be in beautiful New York City in downtown Tribeca at a wonderful little patisserie, so expect many more posts on this new adventure. I’m ready to learn more and eager to start the next chapter in my baking life. Onward to futures sunny and stray.

 
Love & Sweets,
Melissa

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One Response to “Turn the Page”

  1. apuginthekitchen June 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Congratulations, sounds stressful and wonderful at the same time. Your tres leches cake and ice cream looks wonderful. Also, congrats on the NYC externship, would love to know which patisserie maybe I will stop in.

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