Week 2: Team work is the best work, especially in the kitchen.

Morning glory muffins ready to bake.

How my week started: Morning Glory muffins deliciously filled with finely diced pineapple, apple, grated carrot, spices and more yummy things…

Fresh baked puffed pastry

How week 2 wrapped up: fresh baked puff pastry on a sunny day.

I feel like every experience I have had to date has prepared me for this pastry school experience. From high school foods class, to personal home baking experiences (and failures), chemistry, biology, math classes, and art too. These are all some of foundational skills of a Chef. But the lesson and skill to understand and know (that I think is one of the most important) to survive in a kitchen is about team work.

Team work is the best work. I have always thought this, and loved being part of team. I have had some awesome team work experiences too, from being on the rowing team in University (or any team sport for that matter), to volunteer work, to my experience working for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays. In each of these experiences everyone was there because they wanted to be; and when you want to accomplish the same goal as your peers, it is AMAZING what can be achieved when you work together.

Puff pastry all trayed up for the oven.

We mix together, we bake together. Here are some puff pastry shapes trayed and ready to bake.

Side note: we cover so much material each week that I thought I’d just scatter my post with some of my favourite photos for you. They are in no particular order…

Puff pastry double fold.

Puffed pastry dough in the works. My first “double fold”. There is a whole lot of butter here, I won’t tell you how much. By the time the dough is ready to be baked there are 145 layers of butter and 144 layers of dough. That’s why it “puffs” up so much and tastes so darn good!

After Week 2 at Northwest in the pasty program, I continue to see the necessity of team work as a key to success for students. We work in teams of two or four, but technically our whole class is a team because we frequently have to bake together. This means all our products have to be ready for the oven at the exact same time. If one person makes a mistake, like I experienced this week, then you are behind and it can delay the whole class. It is stressful. I don’t want to make a mistake anymore than the next person, but it happens. And mistakes are okay. We just have to learn from them and understand why or how it happened (and ideally not make them too many times over!).

Week 2 was a bit all over the map, future weeks have more of a continuous theme. It was also our first full week of baking five days in a row here is a quick overview:

Monday: quick breads, muffins and scones, etc
Tuesday: creams, custards, and sauces
Wednesday: laminated doughs – choux pastry (cream puffs, eclairs, etc)
Thursday and Friday: laminated doughs – puffed pastry and croissants

It sounds like a lot because it is, but I love it all.

My first plated dessert.

My first plated dessert: creme caramel with whipped caramel cream and fresh fruit salad with a caramelized pecan biscotti garnish.

Frech creme brulee.

My first creme brulee. It tasted so good, and it was really fun to brulee the top, then crack into it.

On the choux pastry day, my station partner and I made a mistake in the mixture and it ended up being “too slack” to use. This meant it wouldn’t pipe out of the bag properly to bake correctly. What I learned from this is that the dough wasn’t cooked long enough on the stove top before proceeding to the next step in the method before baking. Chef advised we discard it and start over. I don’t like throwing away food either, so it was disappointing hear that.

The rest of the class at this point was already about to start piping and then bake. So we had to re-measure all our ingredients for the recipe and move quick. I wont lie, panic struck over me because I didn’t want to be behind in class. Other students from other stations saw we had to start over and helped us measure the ingredients, as a team we divided and conquered. While Chef demonstrated the next step in the recipe, my station was playing catch up and trying to watch the demo at the same time. We caught up in the end, thanks to many hands helping out, and it felt great. Team work is seriously the best work.

After that I will never forget that mistake in the recipe again, but that is how we learn…

Choux pastry: an eclair

This eclair tasted darn good after remaking the batter. Eclairs are choux pastry, usually about 3 inches long, filled with chantilly cream and dipped in chocolate.




Chocolate pot de creme

Chocolate pot de creme, basically a chocolate custard. Read to bake. So delicious.

Creme Anglaise

My first creme anglaise, a vanilla cream sauce. The little black specs are seeds from a vanilla bean pod.

We share ovens and stove tops. #teamwork

We share ovens and stove tops. #teamwork

Chocolate writing

We also had our first lesson in chocolate writing, it’s like chocolate calligraphy – we began with our name.

There are so many more images from my week, I am using them for studying also, and have been sharing daily updates in photo and video format on my instagram page. You can see more at instagram.com/jileblanc.

Onward to week 3, more laminated dough and pies and tarts. Every day is a special occasion!

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