One month down

‘One month down’ was first published on, October 27, 2014

Week Four has come and gone and this means that I’ve already been here for one month! It’s actually quite hard to believe that it’s gone so quickly.

The theme for Week Four was Classic Entremets at ENSP and we had three extra people join us for the duration. This proved to be interesting as space in the lab was tight, dish washing was slower and we had to deal with new personalities. A larger-than-life character, who thought she knew everything, accompanied us for the week. Her constant belief that she knew it all proved a beneficial ‘team building’ exercise for us as we left class gossiping about her appalling behaviour and feeling bad for the Chef who had to deal with her. We’re all here to learn; what’s the point in coming if you think you already know everything?!

For those not in the know, an entremet was traditionally a dish served between the principal courses of a meal or it was a dessert. Now, in relation to modern pâtisserie, it refers to cakes, luxurious in nature, with multiple layers of mousse and sponge offering different textures and flavours. They attempt to delight the eye as much as the palate with glazes, embellishments and curls of chocolate.

On the menu for Week Four were:
Moka, Succès, Charlotte aux poires, Opéra, Framboisier and La Forêt Noire.

The Moka is a classic French cake of light sponge soaked in coffee syrup and layered with a type of coffee butter cream and it almost broke me. I could not for the life of me get the lines straight for the decoration on the top! I made attempt after attempt and just couldn’t get it right at the edges. After all the stress it dawned on me that it was for nothing as we had to cover the edges with piping anyway. Don’t get me started with the piping failures, either. Then, later in the week as we took them out from the fridge to take home, I found that someone had mashed one side of the piping on my cake that had taken me so long to get right! Not happy Jan.

The Succès was more of a success! This is another chocolaty cake, more like a tart, that’s layered with a type of almond sponge and ganache. In the end we poured a thick chocolate glaze over the top which you only get a few seconds to even out before it starts to set. This, I’m excited to say, I almost got perfect! I just stopped a wee bit too early when spreading the glaze, but otherwise I was so happy with the result. We then piped the name of the cake onto the cake and made little ionic style scrolls as decorations. I added my little bee, much to Chef’s disapproval—it’s not very beautiful!

Charlotte aux poires was next on the list and one of my favourites from the week due to it being fruity. We piped a lines of sponge fingers to wrap the cake in, and then layered it with syrup soaked sponge and crème with pears. Topped it with several pear halves et voilà: instant deliciousness!

Actually, the next three were also delicious. The Opéra, with its multiple layers of chocolate and creamy goodness, was going so well that I was getting excited about the results until I attempted to remove it from the baking paper and the entire bottom layer of sponge didn’t move along with the rest of the cake…I was the only person in the class that this happened to and Chef said he’d never seen it happen before. Oh, yay, I was the first. Cue ‘there, there’ arm patting from Chef as I stormed off to the blast freezer to see if I could save the rest of the cake by freezing it off the baking paper. Oh well, there were lots of tasty off-cuts to be had!

Speaking of tasty off-cuts, the Framboisier provided many of these. This was exciting to make, one because it’s with raspberries, which I love, and two because it’s very visually engaging. We made a two-toned patterned sponge—a bright pink and creamy coloured sponge in a ‘chevron’ stripe for me. This sponge is then wrapped around the cake which is filled and layered with sponge, crème and raspberries. Decorated with raspberries and white chocolate, the effect is visually captivating. Mine turned out fairly well, aside from my uselessness at cutting things straight, and for once mine wasn’t the one that entered disaster cake levels. The aforementioned class know-it-all dropped her tray of sponge on top of another person’s tray, mashing the design and then failed to apologise or even acknowledge what she’d done! As we discussed later on, encountering people like this in the course will only help us when we have to face work in the real world.

Last on the list was La Forêt Noire, i.e. Black Forest Cake. A hot favourite when I was growing up in Australia, I was excited to make this retro cake with its mix of chocolate mousse and tart cherries. We layered the chocolate sponge with the mousse, lots of fruit and then enveloped it in cream. During the demonstration, Chef couldn’t find his cake to show us how to pipe the cream so as a joke I said ‘Oh look! Here’s one that looks good” (indicating my cake) and he decorated it for the demo…I think he felt sorry for me after the Opéra debacle! Afterwards, his cake was found and I got to decorate a smoother version of the cake! It didn’t help—I still need to improve my piping!

One month down, four to go.