I firstly have to thank Jade Wong and the good people from Academy of Pastry Arts, for allowing me to attend this FABULOUS pastry course, and for allowing me to bring a friend.
Priced at RM500 for a two day workshop, seriously guys, if you want a good, value for money, hands on course, with excellent ingredients and fabulous results, enrol for this course, or similar courses at the Academy. Without hesitation, I'd stake my reputation (what little of it) and name on the fact that I believe it is one of the BEST value for money baking courses out there.
I've written about the Academy before, and have always enjoyed coming here, because the teaching staff and admin staff are all so warm and friendly, and there really is such a happy atmosphere prevailing. Almost like Christmas through out the year. And gorgeous smells of freshly baked cakes, breads wafting through the air, as the other full time diploma students slog away doing their thing. Food is never short here...if hunger pangs attack, just attack a freshly fried donut, or freshly baked bun churned out by the students.
For this 2 days workshop, we learnt how to make Brownies, (not your ordinary brownies, and once you eat these, no brownie will ever taste the same), Cerise Sur Le Gateau, Vanilla Mousse Cake With Forest Fruits Jelly, Chocolate Tarts, French Lemon Tarts, and Macarons.
Eager to learn students, on day 1 of the course. Actually I was late, and my baking partner, Wong Wai Hoong decided to have breakfast while waiting for me. The class had started, with making sugar pastry, but ahem, being the pros that we are, we caught up in no time.
Mixing and heating of eggs to make creme anglaise, or any other custard based sauce is a scientific precise process, aided with a digital thermometer. Chefs seem to be universally ambidextrous, able to do things with both hands. Whisking eggs in one, and boiling milk in the other, (in a pot I mean)...very versatile people, pastry chefs. No wonder they are in such high demand as dates.
Incidentally, on day 2, when we had to make our own Creme Anglaise, all of us failed. People either burnt the custard, or their eggs curdled, like scrambled eggs.
Now, contrary to all the terror merra poses that Wai Hoong is doing, and in spite of the fact that he is supposedly culinary trained (baking, even) from the USA, well, blame in on the muay thai or extreme physical sports, but the fella had to crack TEN whole eggs to get 4 egg whites. He successfully managed to contaminate 6 of the 10. Quite the record.
There are lots of other decorations lying around the place, which can be used to beautify the creations. A dedicated chocolate room, (freezing) where students practice tempering couverture chocolate, and making lots of chocolate decorations.
The first batch of macarons out of the oven. Beautifully formed, with the skirts and all. And very easy to make as well. Well, it seemed easy to make. I'm not sure if I replicated it at home, it will be so easy.
The first round of filled macarons. This first round of finished products was for the benefits of those fellas who were only attending the workshop for one day, so that they get the benefit of seeing the end product. How considerate of the organisers.
French Lemon Tart. Seriously good stuff. Tangy, buttery, oooh, my spine just tingles thinking about it.
Brownies with a layer of sublime chocolate mousse. The brownie itself is no ordinary brownie, and has a denser texture, filled with nuts, and is almost gooey and chewy. If you are a chocolate lover, this would send you straight to err...culiragasm. (a combination of two words)
Vanilla Mousse On an Almond Sponge with Forest of Fruits Jelly layer in between. The tanginess of the jelly, made from raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, perfectly complements the sweetish mousse.
My personal favourite, this one. Cerise Sur Le Gateaux. A gorgeous layer of chocolate with crispies, a layer of almond dacquoise, a decadent chocolate ganache made from 70% dark chocolate, and a milk chocolate chantilly. AND, surprisingly, its not sickeningly sweet. I would LOVE to replicate this recipe pronto.
At the end of day 2, the culmination of the two days work see the cakes taking on their finished form. Its much like a bride getting ready for the march down the aisle. The trimming, the make up, and finally, the presentation.
We even have someone using a hairdryer as if doing up the hair of the bride.
Tah dah, the finished products.
Okay, seriously, 2 days of standing on your feet, pretty tiring, and I have new found admiration for these full time chefs who are on their feet all day. But yes, definitely worth every cent. Quality ingredients, knowledgeable chefs, assistants, friendly people all round. Check out their schedule for the next courses, and HURRY before the price increases.
Thanks again, Lejeune, Hanne, Tan, Eunice for a fabulous time, and really really delectable desserts!!! And Jade, of course, for the invite.