Eighteen weeks of Pastry Techniques 101 classes. Over. Done. In a poof (or puff pastry, as it were). PT101 was near an end which in nearly any academic class means one thing: review. In our case, dough review. And preparation for our final class the following week. I felt sad thinking about that.
So, instead, I focused on Chef’s extensive review of (some of) the doughs we had made to date: pâte brisée, pâte à choux, brioche, quick puff pastry and croissant dough. Eighteen weeks ago I didn’t even know what some of these doughs were, let alone how to make them. Now, in four and a half short months, I felt a tingle of pride knowing I could make these doughs without fear and talk about them with a fair degree of knowledge. I’m not suggesting by any means that I had become an expert, but pastryphobia ruled me no more.
Chef’s review of the doughs was essentially that – reviewing the recipe and technique – as well as the occasional vagaries one might encounter with each dough. I’m not sure if these doughs were chosen for their difficulty or perhaps he felt they would be the ones we would most likely continue to make. Or why he was focusing only on doughs – of course, there was no way we could review in one class everything we had learned to date. In any event, it was helpful. And, of course, he had an ulterior motive: to put us to work. That work was intended to give us another opportunity to practice dough and pastry making as well as help us prepare for the hors d’oeuvres buffet and party to celebrate the culmination of twenty weeks of learning the finer points of pastry.
And that was pretty much it. We divvied up more or less into our usual teams. Ally and I volunteered to make the puff pastry dough that would be used in next week’s class and to make gougères from the pâte à choux. A few things the class made were enjoyed that evening, but mostly it was prep work for the final class.
Although it was fun, as usual, to be working with Ally and getting to practice again what we had learned, it wasn’t a particularly exciting class. Sure, there was the typical scrambling and running around to get everything done, but there seemed to be a general pall in the air. I wonder if we were all feeling a bit down facing the reality that before too long our merry pastry group would disband, our Tuesday evening routine would be broken and we would be without Chef Mark’s and the assistants’ guidance.
Sadly, only one more class until we would find out what it would mean to be on our own.