After such a successful and enjoyable first class with Patrick Vuaillat at Sweet Artist Academy in June I couldn’t resist enrolling in a couple more classes once my musical had finished (to read more about my first class and some background on the Academy, click here).
First up was Individual Cakes – 2. My first class at Sweet Artist Academy was the individual cakes class, however Patrick has since introduced new recipes in the class (the summer range) and after seeing photos of the new cakes, I was hooked. There was no repetition of what we were taught in the first class, everything was new and I learnt a lot of new recipes/techniques.
The individual cakes class is the most technical cooking class Patrick runs. You make a number of separate components for the cakes in the morning, and then finish the components and assemble the cakes in the afternoon. Although a technical class, it is achievable for home bakers (we had one complete beginner in our class). Patrick provides great support and help throughout; making sure everyone has completed each step before moving onto the next one. The cakes you go home with at the end of the day are amazing. I was certainly ready for a nap by the time I got home though!
In this class the three cakes we made were:
Tart exotic – this was my favourite of all the cakes I have learnt at Sweet Artist Academy so far. It has an almond shortcrust base, with a pineapple frangipane and a passionfruit and pineapple cream, finished with a passionfruit glaze. I loved the addition of pineapple to the frangipane filling, which gave it an incredible sweet tartness which went really well with the almonds. The passionfruit and pineapple cream had a richness that was perfectly balanced with the freshness from the passionfruit and pineapple. This is a recipe I will be making again.
The second recipe was a hit with everyone who likes chocolate, which was a chocolate delight. It had a hazelnut financier base, a dark chocolate mousse centre and then finished with a white chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache. The mousse was beautifully smooth, light and fluffy. The thing I really liked about this recipe is that the mousse was made using gelatine and not eggwhites, as I don’t like using raw eggwhites in my desserts.
Finally we made raspberry domes, with a biscuit base, raspberry jelly and a strawberry Bavarian cream. I loved the raspberry jelly centres however found the Bavarian cream a little too sweet and rich for my taste. I would like to make this again however when I do I will try replacing the strawberry with raspberry and possibly some citrus to cut through the sweetness. On the day, our domes were not quite cold enough to set the glaze that was supposed to finish them. However Patrick quickly replaced this with chocolate ganache so we could all leave with perfectly finished cake. Whether at home, in a class or a professional kitchen things don’t always go to plan and this was a great example of how you can adapt and still come out with an amazing cake at the end. These kinds of cakes can seem a bit daunting when you see them in cookbooks, however after taking these classes with Patrick, I feel confident in trying similar cakes at home myself using different fillings/flavours.
A few weeks later I attended Patrick’s Assorted Pastries class where we learnt to make a variety of croissants (chocolate, almond and plain), Danish pastries (custard, fruit and escargot) and Brioche (mini, braid and crown). These are some of my favourite things and it was a bit dangerous for me to learn to make them and definitely tested my willpower having boxes of these at home at the end of the day.
While still a full day of baking, the class is a little more relaxed than the individual cakes class, although the rolling out of the pastries is a bit of a workout! I have made croissants and Danish pastries at home, but wanted to pick up some tips from an expert and that was certainly what I got from the class. I’m much more comfortable shaping the Danish pastries and croissants now, and know how the various doughs should look and feel. If you love pastries I would definitely recommend this class. The final products were amazing and I was so happy with how they all turned out. Everyone who tried them loved them, the croissants and Danishes were buttery and flaky, and the brioche was just like the brioche I usually get when we visit Jerome’s family in France (it is my breakfast of choice when we are there).
Almost as enjoyable as taking the classes and trying the finished products was sharing them with my family and work colleagues. Everyone was very happy to help me out (so I didn’t eat too many of them myself) by trying them and really enjoyed the cakes and pastries.
I have already enrolled in another class at Sweet Artist Academy, although not a baking one this time. In October I am going to the Sugar Art – Pulling 1 class where I will learn to make a sugar display with a sugar base, sugar flowers and leaves which I am really looking forward to.