Culinary School Update: Part 4

Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint of heart or short on time! I may have outdone myself. With the word-count :-)

Culinary School Update 4 -  Blown sugar fish

I started writing this post over a month ago when school had slowed considerably and I was having trouble adjusting to the new pace. It was like someone slammed on the breaks when you were cruising at 100mph.

We started working almost exclusively on showpieces, which are not my forte, and I was feeling under stimulated.

So, in full Lindsey Logic, I decided to pick up an internship to fill the gap.

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Flower

Well the school gap closed approximately 5 nanaseconds after that decision and I am left with a very full plate.

Imagine your plate at Thanksgiving…Like, can you even see your plate at Thanksgiving?
{Please say no, or we can’t be friends. Friends don’t let friends diet on T-giving}

That is how my proverbial plate feels right now: piled high with not an inch to spare.

Culinary School Update 4 - Plated Desserts

Unfortunately AHC has suffered. She has been placed on the back burner and it saddens me; it physically hurts. I miss sharing and interacting with fellow bloggers. I miss sharing recipes and stories with all of you!

It’s hard to believe that I have less than a week left of school, and all of those remaining days are finals.
With more croissants…
I told you that croissants and I aren’t on speaking terms. {Breathe, Lindsey, breathe.}

Culinary School Update 4 - Pulled Sugar Flowers

With the exception of the two units on plated desserts, school became a predictable pattern: learn some key techniques then build a showpiece that seemingly defies every law of physics.

 

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Boxes

Let’s take a little journey through 100% edible showpiece land, shall we?
(Yes, everything you see below is edible…not that you would want to eat it!)

ICC, being the amazing institution they are, eased us into showpieces with a chocolate candy stand. It needed to be at least a foot high and have some sort of vessel for candy. Mmmkay.

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Candy Stand

No theme, just imagination. Being unaccustomed to imagining anything 3D, my mind traveled to my other passions. What do I love?

Chocolate: check.

Working out: umm, no.

Eating: not helping…

Books: now we’re talkin’. If you have ever met me, you know that my passion for reading and collecting books borders on irrational and obsessive. [I actually miss my books being here in NYC. I know. It’s weird. Stop judging.]

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Candy stand

So let’s build some out of chocolate. #obvi

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Candy stand

Somehow I thought that since we built a chocolate box with a bow in a day, I could build 5 book boxes plus a base, a tea cup and an open book with actual pages in less than two days. Ha! #hopespringseternal

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Candy Stand

I loved this showpiece. The book with the pages on top was probably one of my favorite moments of showpiece genius.
Or only moment. Whatevs. We all peak sometime.

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Candy Stand

Then we actually baked a cake! This little bow-topped, bundle of flourless chocolate goodness was my practical exam for Chocolate I.

Culinary School Update 4 - Chocolate Practical

On to Plated Desserts I! The only thing I can tell you about this unit is that eating 5 plated desserts every day for a week is a recipe for burnout (and tight pants).

Culinary School Update 4 - Plated Desserts

Mini galettes, churros, beignets, crêpes, pot de chocolate, vacherins, cheesecakes, molten chocolate cake, bread pudding (which was awful and you know I love me some bread pudding…mmmhmmm), crème caramel, clafoutis…

Honestly I feel a little nauseous telling you about all of these things…

And I haven’t even gotten to the soufflés yet!

Culinary School Update 4 - Souffle

Look at that thing! Behold the power of egg whites!
Let me tell you a secret (I can feel the hate-mail from pastry chefs rolling in right now…), soufflés are easy. Shhh! With a little gentle folding, that towering greatness could be all yours any day of the week.

I cannot even tell you how excited I was to get to Sugar I. Despite the name, there is no eating in this unit. Praise BE!

Culinary School Update 4 -  Marzipan Fruits

Look! Adorable little marzipan fruits! The cuteness! I can’t even.

I also lied  – I’m sorry; please forgive me. Marzipan is totally edible and so is that caramel almond nougatine that I shaped into a basket. Marzipan is my faves. I will not disclose how much marzipan I have eaten over the past 5 months. Some things are private. #Ifeelsick #forshame

Moving on to the less appetizing items that helped my relax and fit back into my skinny jeans again!

I loved making these sugar paste flowers and working with pastillage.

Pasty-what?

Culinary School Update 4 - Sugar Paste Roses

Let me break it down for you: pastillage and sugar paste (pictured above & flowers below) are very similar mixtures of sugar and gelatin, but sugar paste has additional gums that make it pliable and elastic. This allows you to roll it and shape it into flowers.

Pastillage, however, is a pain. It dries out before you can roll it thin enough to cut; it never dries how you want it, and it breaks just by looking at it.

Culinary School Update 4 - Sugar Paste Tulip

Which brings me to my pastillage showpiece! Prior to building this 2 foot tall, gravity-defying piece, I had made 1 rocking horse cutout. If I had known, I would have toned it down. Like a lot.

On second thought, I probably wouldn’t’ have because “underachiever” isn’t in my DNA.

Culinary School Update 4 - Sugar Paste Cala lily

The first half day, I made my pastillage and did all of my cut outs. I was a little concerned that my lizard looked like a rat, but I am seriously not that talented and it was the best that I could do at midnight the night before.

The second day we only had an hour, so I made my base, sanded my cut outs and airbrushed my pieces with a moderate degree of success. My fine motor skills don’t include operating an airbrush gun…let’s just say that.

Culinary School Update 4 - Pastillage Sketch

Then the last day I assembled.

And then my showpiece disassembled itself 10 minutes before the deadline to present to the chef.

Pastillage reeds and leaves lay shattered on the floor along with my heart (and sanity). I had to go to the B-team: the rejected pieces that weren’t as pretty or didn’t flow in the direction I wanted.

Culinary School Update 4 - Pastillage Showpiece

No time for a pity party, no time for a breath. On to Chocolate II: modeling chocolate, chocolate granite, chocolate made pliable and moldable in a food processor (I still don’t totally understand how this is possible…but it is…and it’s awesome), bon bons and another showpiece.

Culinary School Update 4 - Beauty and the Beast Chocolate Showpiece

Our class chose movies as a showpiece theme. Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favorites. Books, food, France, a love story, handsome princes, food, and castles. Pretty much all of my favorite things!

Yes, books. And since I built 5 books in 1.5 days last time, I thought I would make 7 books with a third of the thickness, a tiny teacup with a chip, of course, a chocolate rose, and a two-toned cutout precariously place on top.

Are you seeing a theme? No, not the books…I am certifiably insane when it comes to showpieces. My chef saw my sketch and told me, “There is no way you can do all of that in two days.”

Culinary School Update 4 - Beauty and the Beast Chocolate Showpiece

Well I did. I had never made a rose out of modeling chocolate and it is just a shade away from hideous, but I actually finished the whole showpiece with 2 minutes to spare.

Advanced Sugar. So much sugar. And they aren’t kidding about the advanced part. Pastillage is a breeze compared to blown sugar, poured sugar, and pulled sugar.

Culinary School Update 4 - Pulled Sugar Ribbon

True to form we poured a sugar owl one day, pulled sugar flowers and ribbons the next day, and blew a sugar fish on the third. The fourth day you start your showpiece. Say what now?!

My owl…before I broke it for a fourth and final time!  Culinary School Update 4 - Poured Sugar Owl

I used 10 different sugar techniques. Yes, ten. We had 2 days.

Everything on this showpiece is sugar. Every. Single. Thing.

The white base and “shell” are our old friend Pastillage. Happy to see you!

Culinary School Update 4 - Sugar Showpiece Under the Sea

What was I telling you? Certifiably insane.

I’m not going to bore those of you who are still reading (is anyone still reading?) with each and every component of my design. Just know that half of it melted from the humidity; the background almost collapsed on itself and it took 3 people to hold it while it cooled enough to stand on its own (you have to shape it while it’s still hot); and I blew those fish by hand 15 minutes before the presentation deadline. Insanity.

But there it is…

Culinary School Update 4 - Sugar Showpiece Under the Sea

Are you sick of showpieces yet? I am.

Where’s the puff pastry? Mmmm puff pastry.

I have one more for you. It’s a wedding cake…with an Indian theme.

I am not entirely certain what possessed our class to choose this theme…but I am certain that I never want to pipe a henna design on a cake again.

Culinary School Update 4 - Wedding Cake

At this point it is a given that I have designed something that should take twice as long as I have. Because that’s just how I do.

And it should also come as no shock that something went wrong. Terribly wrong…

Culinary School Update 4 - Wedding Cake

We had the misfortune of our wedding cake project falling over a weekend. The final day was a Monday, on which I should have had to only assemble my cake, make and color royal icing, pipe my henna design, pour my sugar base and gems, make the green beaded border for the layers, and make the cascading, draped thingy. (Only that…)

Culinary School Update 4 - Sugar Paste Flowers

But I didn’t wrap my cake well enough and the moist air from the refrigerator actually melted a hole in my fondant and buttercream on all three tiers. I should have taken a picture but I was so shocked that all I could do was immediately set to work fixing it.

I had to remove my fondant, refresh my buttercream (fortunately I had enough), re-mask and square off my cakes, and re-cover all three tiers with fondipan (a mixture of fondant and marzipan…I know, marzipan…I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t eat some…).
AND then I still had to do everything else I had planned. Impossible.

Culinary School Update 4 - Wedding Cake

I am incredibly proud to say that I not only finished on time but I executed my cake exactly like my diagram. I piped that design freehand in under 20 minutes against a ticking clock. I gave myself 2 hours on my itinerary for piping, because that is how long it would take a normal person. Adrenaline is a powerful thing people.

Culinary School Update 4 - Wedding Cake

I don’t like the poured sugar gems on the draping; I wish I had more time to play with the exact positioning of the flowers and the sash; I wanted to paint my piping gold; and I wish I had time to tap down the tails on the piped dots. Details.

Culinary School Update 4 - Wedding Cake

I only have the remainder of Plated Desserts II and Finals to go. One more showpiece and this adventure will all be over. Next time I’ll tell you more about my next chapter and where we go from here. But now I need to study and sketch! And I am sure you are bored to tears!

 

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more pictures of what I make each day and the sweet treats and savory goodness that I try in NYC!

You can also, if you just haven’t had enough, read my First, Second, and Third Culinary School Updates!


Comments

  1. says

    Lindsey! I LOVED this post. I read every, single, word. You are amazing! I can see why you might feel like your plate is ‘full’, you have been going hard! And doing so well. Your creations are all breathtaking! I am truly blown away! Was so excited to see your back on AHC, even just to say a little hi, I’ve missed your beautiful posts! Keep going girl, you are doing AMAZING! XX

  2. Nikki says

    How fun and how time must fly while you are doing all this work.
    Now I must ask..your plate is full…of chocolate, almond paste, marzipan or buttercream? Or a bit of all?

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Time does fly by so fast! I feel like I just started! I would definitely be filling my plate with chocolate and marzipan! lol! Although I think I may have eaten too much of that already!

  3. says

    Wow! And Wow! I just love that Indian wedding cake!! What comes next? Maybe you should be come a world famous cake baker – I knew one in Texas back in the 80’s that flew her cakes everywhere. They were amazing marzipan works of art. And weddings are fun to be a part of. I think every Indian wedding in the country would want to order that cake. Just WOW!!

  4. says

    I am amazed you piped that henna design in under 20 minutes – and that that drape thing is edible – Your skillz so amaze me!! I think that lizard by the pond turned out insanely well – and girl – your books – in not 1 but 2 show pieces! I must admit, I made my way through your post with my mouth hanging open – a coworker saw me and then saw a cross section of that wedding cake and their jaw dropped open! Freaking fabulous! Good luck on finals! xx
    Shashi at RunninSrilankan recently posted…Tuna Stuffed JalapenosMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Shashi!!! It really is fun to look back and think “I did all that?! Stop it.” The wedding cake was a miracle. Seriously a miracle. I am seriously so sad that I am going to miss you in NYC :-( xxx

  5. says

    Missed your posts. Everything looks beautiful. It kind of makes me wish I had taken the pastry program instead of culinary. But then again, given the quality of the culinary school that I went to, I’m sure it would have equally sucked and I would’ve been better off learning it on my own. What did u do with all your display? Eat them? lol
    Miss Kim @ behgopa recently posted…Saying GraceMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, girl! I did really enjoy the pastry program and it is so much different than the culinary one – so much more creative. We displayed the showpieces for a while in various places around the school and then composted them. There is nothing more tragic than composting something you just spent blood, sweat and tears on.

  6. says

    Holy cow…you’re alive, Lindsey! Wow, what a fun post. I’ve always wanted to play with sugar art, but I’ve never tackled that one. It was another class for me, and I just didn’t get that far. Maybe you can teach me! Haha! It sounds like you’ve had a blast in culinary school…I can’t believe it’s almost done! Now let’s talk about that Beauty and the Beast cake…want to send me a slice? :-)
    David @ Spiced recently posted…Brownie Bite CheesecakeMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Lol! I am alive…just barely! I think “tackle” is an appropriate word to chose! And sure next time we get together we’ll pull sugar and make some pastillage! lol I wish I had some cake to send you :-)

  7. Susan says

    You are truly an artiste! Amazing creations! And the drama behind their creation! Of course I read it all….I was sitting on the edge of my seat!

  8. Barbara says

    Incredible! Loved the chocolate showpiece. Books are fabulous. And yes I also read it all. I know you have been super busy but have missed your posts.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Barbara!!! And thanks for reading it all :-) I hope to get back to posting with regularity soon!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Kayle!! I know you know a thing or two about busy! I can’t believe I am almost done either! So crazy!

  9. says

    I’ve been wondering how much longer you had to go…oh my gosh — only a week? I know you must be stressed, sad, happy, and everything in between! Can I just say that chocolate masterpiece with the books, was amazing? I love to read too, and since I love chocolate — it’s heavenly. These models are so lovely, and I never have patience for things like that. I wish I did — they’re gorgeous! Best of luck in your finals, friend — I know you’ll knock ‘em out of the park! :)
    marcie recently posted…Easy French Style Egg Salad and a Maille Giveaway!My Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      You are so right – that is exactly how I felt. And now that it’s over I miss it. I really wish I could just start again! I didn’t think I had the patience for them either and then all that happened! lol!

  10. says

    Oh my gosh, I am in awe of all the beautiful pieces! I can’t believe you’re almost done too! The lizard and wedding cake were stunning but sorry you ran into trouble with them. So proud of you for everything you made and accomplished so far, good luck with your finals girl! You are totally going to rock!

  11. says

    Wow! You are talented. I’m very impressed. I would never have the patience for that much detail. Gorgeous!
    I too read the whole thing (loved it) and loved the books MADE OF CHOCOLATE. As a book lover and a chocolate lover I would definitely be torn……do I read…..do I eat.
    I would wish you luck on finals but I’m pretty sure you don’t need it.
    Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek recently posted…Simple PULSE Professional Home Milking SystemMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thank you so much, Karen!!! And thank you for reading the whole thing! All 2000 words of it! {gasp!} Happy to have found another book lover – I know you understand me missing my bookshelves :-)

  12. says

    Woot! I love reading your culinary school updates! Hahaha, LOVE the part about Thanksgiving plates. I’m proud to say that we can definitely be friends. My Thanksgiving plate is not only completed covered, it’s an architectural feat (i.e. I pile is high… very high). I don’t know how you do all of this stuff… you overachiever. Everything looks stunning and I can’t imagine having even 10% of the patience needed for all that tedious work (although doing blown sugar stuff sounds really cool in theory). And congrats on graduating! Super pumped for you!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Phew – thank goodness we can still be friends. Not that I ever imagined you were one of those “I’ll just have the green beans and a teenie, tiny bit of sweet potato casserole” type of people! And thanks for reading my ridiculously long updates every time! xo

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