Student Diary: Advanced Pastry Arts, Day 9

Note to self: Check to make sure all pens are removed from chef’s jacket before washing it with apron, side towels, assorted undergarments, and boyfriend’s work trousers. I baked the evidence into a pie. Just kidding.

Anyway, a lot of people were absent last week—maybe they thought Spring Break was two weeks long. That didn’t bother me much, since it meant more space in the kitchen to work on our sugar projects! We’re working on sugar sculpture for three weeks, and so far, we’ve learned a lot of neat tricks. Hopefully, by the end of today, I’ll have a little sea-themed sugar display to show. So far, we’ve made a base (like a little sand bar), “oyster” shells (which Chef kept calling clam shells before he was advised that clams didn’t produce pearls, but really, they look like clam shells), pearls, some seaweed, and coral.

The first thing to remember about sugar is that it’s really friggin’ hot. We’re all under orders to wear our sleeves rolled down and to use gloves when handling the cooled sugar, which is still pretty warm since it has to be warm enough to shape it by hand. Temperatures reach over 250 degrees, and if you spill it on your skin, prepare to lose a patch of it.

The second thing to remember is to watch your sugar closely, especially as it nears workable temperatures. Otherwise, you might hear one classmate yell at another across the room that he’s burning the hell out of the pot.

And everything else is fun. So far, we’ve worked with simple casts and ice-formed sculptures to make coral-like forms. Today, we’re supposed to work with pulled and blown sugar. Next week should be pastillage. We’ve been given the option to just keep working on our sea-themed show pieces or finish our sea piece and then create one from scratch. I think I’ll wait to see what we learn today before deciding. I don’t think we have enough burners to accommodate all the show pieces we’d all want to make!

We got our current class grades last week—so far, I have 113%, thanks to some extra credit I did (make a paper decorating cone). Sweet! Pardon the pun!


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