I'm studying the Grand Diplome at Cordon Bleu in London

Today we had 2 practicals and demo class sandwiched in the middle.

The first practical was to finish off the puff pastry that we started last week. I am hoping and presuming that it had been frozen in between. Puff pastry freezes well.

We were to make the puff pastry slice with fruit that was demonstrated last week. First task was to roll out and shape the puff pastry and then bake it.
This would show how well we had made the puff pastry and it was evident from the various puff pastry cases around the kitchen that my classmates and I had made a wide variety of puff pastries, some rising well, some hardly at all, some very unevenly. I was pretty happy with mine.

A few minutes later, one of my classmates managed to set his pastry on fire. Not just blackened, but actual flames and smoke! We were lucky the fire alarm wasn’t set off.
While the pastry was baking we had made the creme patissiere and he had placed the oven tray on the hob when he took it out of the oven. We have induction hobs and they only heat up things placed on them if they contain lots of iron. So stainless steel pots heat up well as do baking trays, but your hand wouldn’t if you placed it on the stove. However he hadn’t turned the hob off after making his creme patissiere, so when he placed his baking tray there it heated up quickly and burnt his pastry. Fortunately it was at one end of the pastry, so he was still able to use half of it.

Once the pastry was cool, we spread the creme patissiere in it and topped it with fruit, then glazed it to give it a shine and prevent oxidisation of the fruit:

Next we had a practical on making choux pastry and eclairs.

Choux pastry is a very different pastry to anything we had learnt so far. Water and butter, plus a little salt and sugar, is brought to the boil, then strong flour is tipped in and mixed in until a smooth paste is achieved. Once cool, lots of beaten egg was beaten in until a dropping consistency is achieved.
The chef piped the paste in cylinders about 12cm long and well spaced so they have room to expand and the steam to escape when baked.

Once baked and cooled, they were filled with coffee flavoured creme patissiere piped in through small holes made in the bottom of the eclairs, then covered with coffee flavoured fondant. Fondant is just sugar which has been boiled into a syrup then worked as it cools to make a glossy and very fine textured paste. It is very stiff at room temperature and needs to be warmed to 38°C to be usable, but no higher or it loses its gloss. Once warmed it was run in a ribbon from a spoon over each eclair to cover the top of each eclair. Then the chef piped chocolate on the fondant to decorate the eclairs:


Lastly we had a practical cooking eggs.

We were to make eggs florentine and an omelette.

Not a hard practical and all went pretty smoothly, except for the classmate beside me who is in a perpetual panic in every practical and drives everyone nuts.

The egg poached nicely – yolk still runny – and the mornay sauce was delicious and the spinach a lovely counterpoint to the richness of the rest of the dish.

The omelette wasn’t too hard though I needed to agitate it more as it set. Not something I’ve made much before as they’re not something that interests me much to eat.


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