On our third day at the Richemont School, we met with eagerness. After breakfast, we continued with our coursework, keen to see the different finishing and presentation of the final products, not to mention the tasting!
The final result was an impressive display. It was hard to believe that we had covered such a variety of textures and flavours in just a few short days.
The closing ceremony was informal and light-hearted and we had the opportunity to speak to some of the demonstrators and our tutor, Fredy Eggenschwiler, while we sampled the fruits of their labour. We gave our thanks and goodbyes.
That evening, Siegfried Bienz invited us to dine with him and introduced us further to Luzern and some of the sights we may have missed. He pointed out some of the more historic buildings, monuments and places of interest, including the Capell bridge and the Lion’s monument. Before dining, we also managed to do a little shopping; Mr Bienz even managed to find me a doll in traditional Swiss costume for my daughter.
We were treated to more wonderful scenery while travelling to Mr Bienz’s restaurant of choice, a beautiful lakeside bistro, where the food was fabulous. While we dined, our host explained his plans for our last day in Switzerland.
Again we were up for breakfast awaiting our start at 8.30am. We were joined today by Elvin, the Austrian I mentioned earlier, whose father’s and uncle’s bakery sounded on a similar scale to Thomas the Baker, where I work. I told them about the equipment we use for the production of our breads, savouries and cakes, which interested Elvin, and he and I swapped addresses. Hopefully, we will both visit each others’ bakeries in the near future.
In the classroom, first on today’s agenda was meringues and the importance of getting the correct recipe balance of egg whites and sugar. I found this interesting as meringues are part of my ’product development’ back home. The teachers whipped the two meringues up, one white one brown. The brown meringue was made by adding skimmed milk powder. They demonstrated various finishes with the two separate colours, including heart circles, teardrops and strawberries. To finish off, they placed the two bags of mix - one white, one brown - into a piping bag and then began to pipe shapes. This time the effect of the finish looked fantastic with the mixed colours. They also demonstrated how to singe meringues with the burners.
Before morning break, Fredy explained how to make the basic syrup, which would be brushed on to your tortes. He stressed the importance of adding alcohol and not liqueur to the syrup as this can make a huge difference to the final product.
Next, we discussed gelatine, what types there are - leaf and powder - and the best ways to dissolve it; always use a water bath when dissolving at 40-45?C as the risk of burning would result in bad or peculiar taste.
Leading on from this, Fredy talked about creams and fillings (custard). He explained that ordinary whipping cream has a fat content of 35% or above, but for special products with lower energy value, you can use cream with a 25% fat content. Both products should be whipped in a cold environment - for example a whipping machine or mixer in a chilled room. A whipping machine enhances the volume as more air is drawn in. Gelatine is added to cream to help the stability of the product.
Fredy discussed the different methods of mixing cream and custard, which led us onto yoghurt or quark creams, boiled fruit creams, butter creams and ganache. He explained how butter cream should not contain egg at any stage if it is to have a good shelf life and that if butter is replaced with alternative fats, then the words "butter cream" cannot be used. Fredy finished off the morning explaining fondants and how to produce them.
After lunch, Fredy explained mainly about the different finishes and recipes, which we were going to taste mid-afternoon, including the fillings and recipes for glazes. This gave me the opportunity to write down the recipes, which I hope will be of good use to our company in the future.
The cakes and tortes were all set out on a large mirror, there were about 20 different varieties of cakes and 12 tortes to try and I regretted having dessert at lunch. The presentation looked almost too good to eat and the time and effort that had gone into finishing the products could be seen when they were on show. After tasting a small amount of the product, and seeing the care and attention that goes into making them, it is clear why the Richemont School is known throughout the world for being ’the best in the business’
Although I learnt so much about confectionery over the last two days, I felt that some of the recipes would not be appropriate in our company, due to the huge amounts of each product that we produce on a daily basis compared to those of the individually hand-finished cakes. n
l See BB next week for our final diary instalment from the Richemont School.