My hair is a mess, my make up running down my face but despite my appearance I am feeling elated! Elated that I think I conquered the Bergamot Torte for my finale in the European Cakes and Tortes class.
Well, elation might be too strong a word at this point. I think right now I feel the adrenaline running out of my body through my eyes. It was an intense 4 1/2 hours of baking, cooking, assembling and cleaning before time ran out. Then, then…A QUIZ …involving MATH to boot!
Let me back up to last week, it will better help you understand what I am talking about today. Last Tuesday each of us in my European Cakes and Tortes class did a blind draw for the torte recipe we would have to create as our final project this week. I pulled the “Burgamot Torte” – the most involved and technical torte anyone could have pulled. Understanding the complexity and difficulty with this particular dessert, I was hesitantly excited for the challenge. Confident I could accomplish this task, I prepared diligently throughout the week to make sure I had everything necessary to succeed.
Now we come to today; I started out the morning at 5am with excitement to get to class and get going. Quickly that excitement began to fade when chef said, “we need to be done and cleaned up at 11:15am. That was 45 minutes less than I had planned on…a whole 45 minutes I NEEDED!!!
Ok, I can still do this. I am not going to let 45 minutes ruin my day. I started with a “decor paste” for my Patterned Joconde. A beautiful cake-like component and if done well…it is beautiful! Only 15 minutes into my time, it became apparent I had made a mistake somewhere with the recipe and I knew I needed to scrap what I had and start over. Not a good beginning to this challenge at all.
With a re-created Patterned Joconde out of my way and in the oven, I moved on to the Almond Genoise. Everything was running smoothly until I got my sheet pans out, lined them with parchment paper, poured the batter into the pans and realized I was suppose to put this batter into 3 round “cake” pans, not sheet pans. Grrrrrr! My brain began to scramble as to what to do. Chef is watching and I knew he was thinking, “What is she doing!” – Go ahead chef; add to my already stressful day!
After making a quick assessment of what my options were at this point, I decided to go with it and work with what I had. I thought I could always make it again if it didn’t turn out good enough to use. So now I had 2 recipes down, 5 more to go!
Dacquoise was my next endeavor…and it came out perfectly, even with the eyes of chef not far over my shoulder! However, there was no time to congratulate myself. I had to quickly move on to the Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse. Now if that doesn’t sound very appetizing, you are right! This mousse isn’t all that tasty by itself but quite good with all the components combined.
Just a side note: keep in mind that just because we made this torte in a previous class, doesn’t mean I made every individual recipe that makes up the torte. This particular one has 7 recipes that combine to make one complete dessert. During classroom exercises, these recipes were divided up between 3 or 4 of us (depending on who shows up to class). However for this final, this was not to be a team effort.
On to the mousse… now I get to make this recipe and Yuck, I can’t imagine earl grey tea and luscious chocolate going well together at all. (Next time I won’t be so eager to let someone else make the unappealing recipes during class time. My bad!)
Almost 45 minutes later I have completed the mousse and time is ticking away, quickly. It’s now 10am and I have 3 recipes to still go, then assemble, put the torte in the freezer and clean up– I look around the kitchen and everyone is gone. Everyone else has finished their tortes and they are out relaxing, talking about what a hard lot I pulled. Yup! I would agree…but I will not let this beat me (who came up with the ridiculous torte in the first place?).
Needless to say, at 11:10 (with 5 minutes to spare) I finished all my recipes, wrapped up my torte for the freezer and put my Cocoa Gelee (glaze for the top of the torte) in the fridge for part 2 next week. Can you say…I DID IT! Ok, so I have a few dishes yet to get done before we take our recipe conversion quiz. No problem, right? WRONG… all of the sudden the built up adrenaline that kept me going for the past 4 ½ hours is welling up in my throat and out my eyes. At this point I am thinking of nothing but bolting out the door before I let anyone see I am completely overwhelmed. Nope, not going to break down —yet!
11:50am and we are done with class. Everyone is congratulating me on my accomplishment and all I can think is that I wish I could disappear right now.
But, I will say…I did it! I accomplished the Bergamot Torte without losing any points for being over the allotted time limit. I did it!