I’ve been learning the foundations of proper French cooking – from making incredible sauces and condiments to composing elaborate meat and fish dishes, it’s been a really great experience so far. I’ve been practicing my knife skills (from chopping onions to filleting fish and de-boning rabbits), learning about professional kitchen etiquette and understanding more technical .
I’m proud to say that I feel really confident executing most recipes, and this course is proving to me that I am already naturally doing lots of cooking techniques the right way. It’s really inspiring me to step up my game now and create more elaborate, complex dishes (while still of course making them accessible to my readers).
Last week was a proper highlight – patisserie week! There’s no denying it, French patisserie is just the best in the world. We learned how to make macarons, choux pastry, signature tarts, liquor-soaked Savarins and pillowy creamy charlottes.
Even though I have made many of these sweet things before, I’ve learned a few tricks to make them better! Like madeleines: my own madeleines back in the day didn’t get their signature bump (the oven temperature needs to be super high and create a thermal shock to make them rise). Or that if you want to make choux pastry on a rainy day, you need to use less milk and more water in the dough. Lots of little handy tricks that I will use in my future recipes.
It was also quite interesting to make a pear and almond tarte (tarte Bourdaloue), as it reminded me of the very first recipe I ever posted on this blog, my Pear Frangipane tartelettes (which were my entry for the first season of Great British Bake Off – I made it to the final 20 candidates with this!). I remember that my pastry was rolled out a bit too thick (or at least Mary Berry said so when she ate it). I think this Ducasse tart would have done Mary proud! We evened out the blind-baked pastry case top by shaving it with a microplane grater before filling the tart with the almond paste and pears. That’s perfectionizing pastry, my word!