Thursday 26 March 2009

Exam over

Today we sat our mock exam for our CAP qualification. 'Sat' might not quite be the best verb to use since I was on my feet for 8 hours and didn't have a minute's break. Here was the (admittedly sweet) menu:

- 1 apricot tart, glazed and decorated with almonds
- 1 brioche Parisienne
- 1 brioche Nanterre
- 8 pains au lait
- 8 Kirsch glands
- 8 chocolate eclairs
- 1 mango Charlotte, decorated for a 6-year-old's birthday

Cramming all that into 6 hours (to include washing utensils) made for a damp forehead. About 3 hours in, an enormous ball of pâte sucrée flew across the labo and a large "Merde!" shot out of the mouth of the tall ex-pharmaceuticals rep. He had been defeated by the apricot tart and had already come a cropper on the brioche and eclairs and ended up shedding a salty tear.

For those that gives two hoots, here's a rundown of how my bits went:

- the bottom of the tart was verging on flavoursome, but otherwise all OK

- the brioche went all right (no food colouring this time) and the pains au lait were the best I've made thus far which was a big relief

- the glands were fine but I nearly went completely mad while cramming the eclairs. I had a lump of cacao in my crème pâtissière which got wedged in my piping nozzle and was only letting a tiny stream of cream out. I imagined, because they weren't filling, that the problem was with my pastry and it took me a long time to realize that it was, in fact, fine. At one point I squeezed so hard the industrial strength plastic piping bag burst. In the end, apoplexy was averted when the blockage popped out.

- the entremets was a flipping disaster which just about came through. Despite sneakily cheating and making an extra 20% mousse (I knew from yesterday the recipe was a bit lean) I still did not have enough to properly fill the ring. Then I ran out of time to do the decor after the eclair problem. I did the whole lot in about 4 mins flat, with a really scrappily piped border (far from symmetrical) and rubbish writing.

Well, luckily I passed. Shame it doesn't count a jot.

Forgot my camera so here is an old-school mobile snap...

There was quite an extraordinary man on the bus coming home. I wanted to take a photo of him reading the paper 16ths of an inch from his face but thought it might be a tad obvious. Then he fell asleep. Reflects rather well how I feel at this end of the day.

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