Friday, January 23, 2009

Non C'est Pas Jolie!

Today I had two practicals; one cuisine and one pastry.  In cuisine we made a rather uneventful meat pie with guinea fowl, livers, and cabbage.  Not quite my cup of tea so I split it into ziplocs and handed it out to homeless people on Blvd St Germain.  In pastry, we made the classic Opera Cake.  Layers of cake, imbibed in coffee syrup, layers of chocolate ganache and layers of coffee buttercream.  It is then cut into a beautiful square and decorated with the name of the cake in elegant script.  
I love the french way of making buttercream; you head syrup to about 118 Celsius, then frantically whisk it into egg yolks.  You then continue whisking until the mixture is cool and frothy.  The point of all the aggressive whisking is to let the hot syrup cook the eggs without turning them into scrambled eggs.  Then you whisk in room temperature butter and whatever flavoring you want.
I do not love the french way of "imbibing" cakes.  I am a huge fan of cakes, but here, we soak them all in flavored syrup.  Instead of moist, light, fluffy cakes, they're just wet, soggy cakes!  The chefs all love LOTS of syrup on the cakes, they want them to be sopping wet.  
After all the preparation and assembly, it was time to decorate.  we folded parchment into "cornets" -little pouches you can use to drizzle chocolate.  Everyone took a few turns practicing the OPERA script on paper or the backs of baking pans.  Finally, I went for it.  I thought I did a decent job until the chef came around, took my cornet, drizzled a fantastic decoration onto a piece of cardboard and had me admire it.  Then he pulled my cake towards him, said that the cake itself was wonderful but the decoration, "Non c'est pas jolie!"  Direct translation - "It is NOT pretty."  Everyone in my class got similar reviews.  Apparently it might be on the final so we should all go home, mix nutella with olive oil and practice scripting.

Perhaps I will practice another weekend...

1 comment:

  1. Living vicariously! Have a wonderful weekend, can't wait to hear what happens next week.
    Nutella and olive oil? That's a new one.