I was quite excited about the classes because we're doing the classic French apple tart, Tarte aux Pommes, for our practical (hands-on) class! As I peeked through the windows of the pastry shops, the beautiful presentation of the French apple tart never failed to impress me. I always wondered how the apples could be so thinly sliced and so delicately and strategically placed such that the tarte surface would end up in the shape of a rose! Too much skill and effort required so I never attempted making one myself.
During the demo, Chef Pascal made it look so easy to do. He could slice apples at a lightning speed and all of regular thinness. He laid them out at ease, stacked them till they look too tall and fragile and prone to become, but not quite yet the Pisa Tower.
Along with Tarte aux Pommes, the Chef also demonstrated the Tarte Normande and Tarte Tatin. Yay, I finally know the difference between the first two! Apparently, Tarte Normande involves the use of cream, eggs and sugar to form a custard filling, whereas Tarte aux Pommes only has butter-cooked apples inside. We were so lucky that the Chef assigned to supervise us on our practical class is super nice and helpful, making an otherwise frustrating, chaotic and hurried situation quite fun and great for learning. He looks a bit like Santa Claus, missing the moustache though.
The practical class this time was slightly more stressful than the last one, after all the tarte requires more time and effort. So the time was quite pressing, especially when you were not at all familiar with the practical classroom, we beginners often had to run to the ends of the classrooms to get the baking sheet, and then another end for the cooling rack, and around around the classroom opening drawers to see if there were still any rolling pins left. In addition, it was my first time using the core remover and a peeler to peel the apple (I usually use a knife), it took me some time to adapt and try not to cut myself. Anyhow, it was fun. My tarte turned out ṕas mal´, meaning not bad, but when you look closely at mine, there really aren as many layers of apples as that of the Chef. So, still have a long way to go, got to practice slicing the apples now!