Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A pâtisserie class chez les Schmitts in Gérardmer, France

There are blog posts that I start to write, but then a million things come in between and then I post more recent stuff and then, by the time I get back to them, I am no longer interested enough to actually post them. 

And then there are posts like this one, where I walk around with a bad conscience for months because I didn't get around to writing and posting them immeadiately. So even if this pâtisserie class happened several months ago, I absolutely had to write about it!
Almost exactly one year ago, when we re-discovered the French Vosges-mountains, we also discovered the outstanding Pâtisserie Schmitt in Gérardmer. When I decided to spend a week this May down there again, I checked their homepage in anticipation, only to discover that they actually give classes!

In French, I should add. I'm not as fluent in French as I am in English, but I'm fluent in food, so I took the chance, and, mon Dieu, was it worth it!!! The class was called dessert sur l'assiette which translates into a dessert on a plate and what we made was a sablé breton bottom with a ganache topping, add to this a more mouse like ganache montée, some raspberries and a to-die for mint gelée
First, we added 14 grams (not more, not less, baking and pâtisserie in general is a science where every gram, every second matters, do you read that, Mom?) of mint leaves to lemon juice and rum. Later, we incoporated the sieved fluid to chocolate for our mint ganache!

The ganache montée was by choice either lemon or passion fruit flavored (of which I of course chose the latter) and packaged in piping bags ready to take home with us.

The bretons sablés were flaky and buttery and in itself a real treat.

In all classes I have taken so far, I am always fascinated with the craft-part of cooking and baking. The swift movement of hands, the movement of hands and arms to make perfect shapes, the embodied know-how - all this cannot be learned over night! I learned how perfectly round chocolate decorations are made. I learned how to hold a piping bag in order to make nice little mountains of ganache (but still failed miserably at it. Which proves once again what a difficile craft pâtisserie is, where every movement takes years of practice until perfected)!

To the left, you can see how a pro shapes ganache. To the right, you can see my turds...

This is how the pro decorated the assiette.

As my miserable turds were rather ugly, I needed to cover them up. So I quickly placed a disc of chocolate on them and added raspberries. I don't know if it is my Black forestian heritage coming through here, but to me, my creations looked like Bollenhüte!

At this point, we tried our création and packed the rest of them (5-6 per person) in a box, along with the two kinds of ganaches and the gelée to be devoured at home.

This was how I improvised the mise en assiette at home, quite alright, isn't it? 
I am so glad I took part in this class as I learned a lot about pâtisserie! If you are on vacation in the region and speak fairly good French, go ahead, don't be shy, the Schmitts are super nice and since all participants speak the language of food and indulgence, communication is not a problem!

It was a long day, and once I got over the sugar high and the full moon, it was time for bed!
copyright of all photos j.

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