A new beginning

Who said that 40’s are the new 30’s? well it is fantastic that one can change her/his life and start something new.

I chose to follow my passion and threw myself into French pastry. Even though it was not a given considering that I’m almost 40. You would usually start with 15 or so as an apprentice while going to school, then take the CAP exam, which is the basic exam you need in order to carry on.
There are not many schools in France which offer trainings for people who want to change career. Only two were on my list: Ferrandi in Paris and the ENSP in Yssingeaux. Both providing a more or less 6 months pastry training.
The interviews were completely different, where in Paris you get the attitude that goes together with the capital, the provincial friendliness and availability of the staff convinced me. There also were 100 more hours of teaching at the ENSP and the financial issues raised by living in Paris was not an option for me!

I have been very lucky to be accepted at the ENSP. Although I first thought: “Oh my god, how am I going to survive in the middle of the Auvergne, deep in the country side, on my own”. Well actually I had a wonderful time. The inhabitants of the beautiful Auvergne are extremely nice, helpful and welcoming.
Regarding the school, well, as always some things could get better, but as a whole I’m glad I studied there.
You have probably all been in a situation in which you speculate on things, how the people are gonna be like, how your life there is going to be like…..the  good thing about it is when it turns out completely different and to the best.

I met great people, our group at school was “top”.
Our teacher was Xavier Brun. Xavier (when he was there!) was available when you needed him, patient, fun to work with and he knows his craft; there were times when other personalities of the school would come and pay us a visit like “Manu”, who checked out or work, showed us his techniques and simply enjoyed our company; Damien gave us tips on viennoiseries, accepted my friend Marion and me in his class for a day and showed us how to make perfect brioches. It helped me make the best brioches I had ever made for the exam; the assistants, who came to give us more tips, also regarding the job search. In a word there was a wonderful team and they made it even easier to get up in the early morning with -18°c.

I did my internship at Bruno Montcoudiol‘s in Monistrol, who is MOF and World Champion of Pastry. Even though it only lasted a month, I had a good introduction to how a professional works. He is a great teacher and always there if you need help. His team is small, which was good for me, helpful, patient and fun to work with.

Then came the serious time to prepare for the exam including 7 hours of practice and 3 hours of theory. It’s done and I am proud to say that I passed with a very good mark!

After the Exams were over, I had the chance to take part in the recruitment day for the Four Seasons Hotels. They came to the school to introduce a management program and were looking for candidates. We were 11 selected by the school. The day was organised with 2 interviews: one with the Human Resources and the second with a Pastry Chef (here Chef Pannier from the Hampshire Hotel). Then we made a dessert and presented it under the supervision of Chef Lucien Gautier from the George V in Paris.
This was a very good opportunity to see how a recruitment process works in the Luxury Hotel business, to deal with the stress of showing what you can do within a short time, but most importantly, it showed me just how much I want to work in this field.
I worked in the restaurant business for a long time. But you should decide what you’d rather work as: a Pastry Chef or one day own your boutique.

I didn’t plan on coming back to Berlin, I thought I would stay in France and carry on learning from French Chefs in a boutique or travel abroad with a new job.
But there it is, it’s funny how life goes. I’m going to work in a Luxury Hotel here in Berlin with a French Pastry Chef.
My first job as a pastry commis! I couldn’t be happier and am very much looking forward to it.

But for now, I’m baking cakes to help out my friend Joey who works at Mogg&Melzer, a great place in Mitte.

So there you go, for the ones who are wondering about changing careers but do not dare for whatever reasons to take the step, I can only say, I’m happy I took this decision.


A new beginning

Modern entremets and a vanilla raspberries Charlotte…

Here are some of the latest delicacies we made in the last few months. I will add more photos and recipes in the coming posts.

The exam CAP is 2 months away and some of us are already looking for work. This is an exciting but also scary time, for we know it is not easy to set foot in a Pâtisserie.

I am doing my internship in a Pâtisserie in the area. We’re lucky to have a MOF (best craftsman of France) 20 kms away, Bruno Montcoudiol. I applied there before even leaving Berlin, I love his work, his cakes are deliciously fine and gorgeous. I am lucky I can work in his team, it’s friendly, it’s clean (not like some stories I hear from some of my girl friends) and well organised.
I broke my lens last week, but hopefully I’ll get to take some photos later this month.

For now…..
some pictures of these cakes and, because the Charlotte is easier to make at home and requires less material, I will give you its recipe below.

These are layers of Madeleine lime cake with a thin layer of blackcurrants puree and lemon custard.

An almond croquant base, topped with a dacquoise cake, a Morello cherries coulis and an almond cream.

Making a Charlotte:

This is the home made charlotte from scratch: lady fingers, vanilla cream, a raspberries crèmeux. If you don’t want to make it complicated, you can simply make the vanilla cream and place fruits in the middle. Also, you can buy your lady fingers at the supermarket, but it will not look as spectacular nor taste as good, I think…But, it saves you time and is also delicious. If you go for the supermarket version, you could soak your lady fingers in a rum-sugar cane syrup (that’s what my parents do).
You also may want to separate the “cartridge” lady fingers to the ring lady fingers, your oven will probably be too small to have everything on one baking sheet.

Lady fingers:

150g Egg whites
150g Sugar
100g Egg yolks
150g Flour (sifted)
2 baking rings, 18cm and 16 cm wide (16cm for the raspberries crèmeux)
Baking sheet on the edge of the 18cm baking ring

In the Kitchen Aid, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar little by little until stiff and you can make pikes. Pour in the egg yolks, put on max. speed 2 seconds and then stop. Use a spatula to gently mix the mixture, then fold in the flour. Do not overdo it otherwise the mixture will “fall”. If that’s the case, you can start again. The texture should be firm and fluffy.

Make a cartridge: on a baking sheet, use a ruler to draw 2 horizontal lines, 6 cm apart and 2 circles using the 18cm ring. Transfer mixture to pastry bag and pipe out onto prepared baking sheet leaving 1-2 mm apart. (Place another baking sheet on top to see thru the first one and pipe your lady fingers).
Powder icing sugar once, then wait 1 min, and a second time.

Bake: 8-10min – 180°C

Raspberries crèmeux

100g Raspberry Puree/Pulp (frozen)
43g Egg yolks
Half an egg
25g Sugar
1,5g Gelatine soaked in water
37g Butter

In a sauce pan melt the pulp till it simmers.
Egg yolks, half the egg and sugar in a bowl: whisk until creamy.
Pour half the liquid pulp onto the egg/sugar mixture, mix well and pour that in to the sauce pan. Bring it to a boil (85°C).
Put aside in a bowl. Press the gelatin in your hands to get rid of the water and add to the mixture.
Put aside and let cool to 35°C.
Make a creamy butter weather in the micron wave, slightly melt and then whisk, or in a water bath, same procedure. Add the butter to the mixture.
Pour into a 16cm baking ring and place in the freezer.

Vanilla Cream

125g Liquid cream (35% fat)
125g Milk
Vanilla powder (according to your taste)
60g Egg yolks
50g Sugar
6g Gelatine soaked in water
200g Liquid cream (35% fat) in a bowl in the fridge

In a sauce pan bring to a boil: the cream, milk and vanilla.
In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy and white.
Pour half the milk/cream on the eggs/sugar, mix well. Pour it in the sauce pan with the rest of the cream. Make the mixture thicken on low heat so that the eggs do not cook. If they do, strain.
Set aside in a bowl and add the gelatine after pressing out the water.
Let cool until cold (25°C). You can use ice cubes in a bowl and place underneath to cool faster. If it cools too long, the gelatine will take and it will be difficult to mix the whipped cream.
Once cooled whisk the cream until it gets thicker but not too thick (fromage blanc texture).
Add to the vanilla cream step by step.

Mount the Charlotte

In the 18cm ring, place baking paper or Rhodoid plastic film on the edges so that the lady fingers don’t stick. Cut the most ugly part of the biscuits (top or bottom) so that one side is even. Place them carefully in the ring and cut the extremities if needed so that it fits.
Take out the raspberries crèmeux.

Place the bottom lady fingers circle in.
Then vanilla cream / place the raspberries crèmeux or fresh fruits/ vanilla cream / lady fingers circle / vanilla cream. Place in the fridge or freezer. Decorate before serving and enjoy!!

PS: If in the freezer, make sure you take it out and place in the fridge 2 hours before serving. You can make it the day before hosting your dinner.

Modern entremets and a vanilla raspberries Charlotte…