After moving on from the debacle of our first plated desserts unit, our next was sugar. We started off making some marzipan fruits. Carefully sculpting the pieces of marzipan to be the shapes of various fruits, we later airbrushed them to be quite realistic looking.
My mom loves marzipan fruits, so it was fortuitous that the following weekend I was going home. Using my level 1 basket weave skills, I made a lemon chiffon cake with lemon curd and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.
We also made a basket out of nougatine. Nougatine is caramel with almonds mixed in that is then rolled out, cut, and molded. It is VERY hot to the touch and was difficult to mold because you couldn't keep your hands on it for very long without feeling burned.
For me, the highlight of the 1st sugar unit was our classes with Chef Ron Ben Israel. Chef Ron is an incredibly talented cake designer, and I've admired his work for a long time. When I first looked at the French Culinary Institute, the fact that Chef Ron taught there was a major selling point. In person, Chef Ron was as entertaining as he was informative. Before long under his tutelage, we were making realistic looking sugar flowers. I wrote about the sugar flower classes over at Food 2, and you should check it out there.
After sugar flowers, we worked on our pastillage projects. Pastillage is a sugar dough that dries rock solid and is excellent for supporting weight and building showpieces out of, but less excellent for eating. One of the ingredients in it is white vinegar, which is my absolute least favorite smell in the world, so I didn't enjoy working with it much.
For our projects, we were tasked to make a cake stand in the theme of "Famous Moments in History." I chose to recreate Ben Franklin flying a kite and discovering electricity, probably making it the first time it was represented in sugar ever (although who knows with all the crazy cake competitions that are out there). Using only edible materials - pastillage, poured sugar, sugar paste, fondant, and cake - I managed to do the event some justice.
It's been a really great feeling to see that my skills level is finally catching up to the level of my ideas. Usually I have these grand plans in my mind and when I actually make them, they look nothing like what I pictured.Once again, my classmates totally blew me away with the amazing projects they created. I'm lucky to be in class with some incredibly talented people; it just pushes me to think bigger and work harder.