The first class back from externship, our Chef told us our graduation was tomorrow. To be completely honest, we all thought she was talking gibberish, but as fast as we could crack an egg, the second year has flown by, and we are in the midst of our last stream of classes.
From that class (Special Occasion Cakes) we went on to study chocolate, dabble in contemporary cakes, and head back to the breadshop to bake up some crusty loaves for the CIA’s numerous restaurants. All of these classes culminated in our second practical examination.
The first exam was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. If you don’t recall, I covered it in this previous post https://cookiescakescollege.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/one-to-go/. I could pretend my work experience since then had prepared me for the second one, but that wouldn’t quite be the truth. The days leading up to it were just as stressful. Whereas with the previous exam we had made each required product in class a dozen or so times, we only really got hands on with the second exam’s products once.
We were required to produce 3 loaves of challah (1 x 4 braid, 2 x 6 braid), 50 truffles (each measuring between 7-9 g), and 2 raspberry mousse cakes. While stressing out about the mousse cakes in contemporary cakes class, our chef tried to calm us, telling us we would not fail the cake. In the same pep talk, she told us what we would fail…. the challah. Unfortunately, she was right.
Although seemingly the simplest product, the majority of us (including myself) struggled, and for one reason or another, did not pass this portion of the exam. This is the last product we learn to make before the exam, and the one we made the most, but there is just something about producing it in the time frame of the exam, especially when we had other products to worry about that increases the difficulty ten fold. Luckily, I managed to pass the rest of the products, meaning I only had to retake the one I failed.
But life goes on, and I moved the looming retake to the back of my mind. My next class, Advanced Baking Principals, focused on the use of alternative ingredients to provide products that people with dietary restrictions such as Celiac or Diabetes could consume. We covered many concepts of alterations, such as reduced calorie, no sugar, no added sugar, non dairy, gluten free, vegan, and reduced fat. It was mostly lecture, giving us a much appreciated break before the semi-chaotic final days of the class when we jumped into our final projects.
For the project, we had to pick a control recipe, and produce it, as well as 3 dietary restriction focused alterations (or two altered recipes, one having two changes) for a showcase at the end of class. In addition to actually producing the products, we had to submit a massive binder, containing journal entries, recipes, costing information, and nutritional analysis information for every recipe used in our project. It was a draining experience that had me aching to the core, but I completed it all. I produced a petit four cookie plate, containing raisin/walnut rugelach, black and white cookies, and raspberry coulis. In addition to my control recipes, I made a gluten free version, and a dairy free/no added sugar version. All my products were a hit, and I eagerly await my final grade. With the completion of our showcase came the completion of the class, and with the completion of the class came the time for our challah practical retakes.
Having to go into school on a Saturday morning was not fun, but the idea of finally being done with these exams for good had me pumped. I, along with the rest of my classmates, produced the breads with care and precision, and although they may not have all been perfect, we managed to pass the exam.
I am now 4 classes (15 weeks) away from graduating, and I couldn’t be any more excited. I am on the hunt for a job, and in just a few short months will be a CIA alum, ready to launch my culinary career. There’s sure to be many exciting chapters ahead.