This morning, at 7AM, I started my final practical exam for pastry school. Recipes were provided. Procedures were not, they are second nature now. The class was split, so half of us started at 7 - and had until 11 to complete our assignments. The second half started at 11:30. I was happy to be getting it over with, first thing.
We drew pieces of paper, with product names, from a hat last week. I drew "Butter Puff Pastry." Initially I had a sigh of relief, but then I remembered that with laminated doughs one little goof and the recipe won't work. It's not like something with many components that can be "masked" or fixed if something goes wrong. You get one shot, and only one shot.
The recipe I used came from our text book, Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft. From the recipe, I had to present 5 cream horns and 10 palmier cookies. My biggest worry was a time management issue because puff pastry is temperamental. Too cold - it rips. Too warm, it weeps. Proper procedure allows a 30-60 minute resting time between each 4-fold application, after the initial butter roll-in lock. Considering it takes quite a while to bake the palmier and cream horns, to Chef's desired doneness, I needed to allow for at least 45 minutes for baking and filling, plus presentation. Do that math, it doesn't allow for 30-60 minutes resting.
While my pastry dough was resting, I took the time to make my Chantilly cream and thoroughly clean the cream horn molds. I wanted to make sure that there was no possible way the dough would get stuck.
I presented my completed tray to Chef at 10:50.
On to grading:
Time Management - 40 pts = 40
Organization of Work Space - 20 pts = 20
Finished Product Quality - 35 pts = 35
Sanitation - 5 pts = 5
Total possible points - 100 / 100%
Next Stop: Graduation!!! =)