Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dealing with hard knocks: Genoise & Gateaux weekend

My genoise sponge with piped chantilly cream and strawberry jam

Lesson 3

Back to school on a Saturday when everyone else is enjoying their weekend even all who is back home in Singapore is enjoying the long weekend. Where is my May day!
There is track work going on over this weekend on the North Shore Line. That means it affects my journey to school. I had to wake up earlier at 420am this day to catch the shuttle bus to the city in order to take a train to school.

Upon arriving at the Central Station, I realised that the train was only arriving half an hour later which was at 7am! The train ride from my school to Central station is 45 minutes and I still have to take a 20 minutes walk to school from the station. This is bad, really bad. Sarah and I were panicking as we didn’t know how else to get to school. We called D, our Indonesian classmate, to ask him if there was a bus from Central to school. There was. But our joy was shortlived. The bus was only arriving at 645am so we will be late anyway.

How can we be late in our first week of school! We had no choice but to grab a cab. My heart was throbbing faster along with the meter in the cab. We didn’t have a clue how much the ride would cost! We managed to get to school by 705am and the cab fare was expensive but at least the cost was split between two persons.

The day started with such a bad note. I thought it would pick up when class starts. We had a new chef today. Chef K*eith is from UK and quite a different teaching style from Chef M*ichael. It took awhile to get used to his style. The day’s lesson was on Genoise (pronounced as “Jen-Nwah”) cake and the Gateaux (pronounced as “Ga-Too”) weekend. The genoise is a traditional French sponge cake. It is used for the bases of many cakes. I attempted this cake on several occasions back home but I always found problems with it, mainly because my genoise don’t seem to rise as much and because it is too dry.

The Gateaux weekend got its name because it was eaten by the French during weekends (a long time ago at least). It is basically a butter pound cake. The name ‘pound’ comes from the fact that people use equal parts for the four key ingredients flour, butter, sugar, and eggs- quatre-quarts", which means four-quarters. It isn’t one of my favourites but it’s a classic that I need to master.

The demo lesson was really interesting as I got the answers that I was looki for. A Genoise sponge is a sponge cake that doesn’t use chemical aeration. The aeration comes from physical aeration by whisking the eggs and sugar over a bain marie to increase the volume several times. The key is to ensure you triple the volume of the eggs and sugar and to fold in the flour very gently so as not to knock the air out of the cake. The Genoise batter is very delicate and must be handled with care. You need to work fast and send it straight to the oven when you are done before the batter starts to sink.

Demo was interesting enough. However, practical was kind of hell. First, we are using a different kitchen from Thursdays and Fridays class. This meant a new environment to get used to. Second, we were using the mixer today and I had problems turning it on and fixing on the whisk attachment. Thirdly, the weariness that has accumulated over the past two days have kind of set in.

The genoise and gateaux weekend are cakes that needed lots of attention. And also the chantilly cream. We had to bake these two cakes, make the chantilly cream and decorate our cake in three hours. Three hours may seem long but when you are in the kitchen. The time just fly by.

I was panicking a lot when I saw many of my course mates being so quick. I felt a little lost initially yet they took no time to adjust to the new enviromnemnt. When I saw they whisking their batter, I was still measuring out the ingredients. The pressure was setting in and I don’t think I work well under pressure. Not in the kitchen at least.

Class went by in a blink. I felt kind of overwhelmed, not because I couldn’t do the recipes but because I felt slower than many of the classmates. I ended up being disorganized; I ended up re-doing some of the steps because something went wrong. And thus, my day went from bad to worse.

I felt discouraged and disappointed with myself for this lesson. It wasn’t about the end result; my genoise sponge cake turned out well (at least that’s what my sis says). My gateaux weekend was a little heavy but not inedible. However, at the end of the day, it was the process that got to me. I felt low for being slow, for being unfocussed and easily distracted by others, and for being not as efficient as others.

I left class with a heavy heart and even heavier feet.
I’m alright now as I realised that this is all part of the learning process. I shouldn’t put myself down or allow others to stress me out.

Also as part of my learning process, I need to learn to take hard knocks and disappointment as they come and be less affected by them.

I should have, a long time ago but it’s still not too late to do so. I still have a long way to go, not only for this course, but also in life.

That certainly wouldn’t be all pretty and sweet like the little tartlets and cakes that you see at the window of a patisserie.

No comments:

Post a Comment