Pastry cream is important as it turns out, and not just for teaching life lessons. We used it over and over throughout the week, mixing it into Italian meringues, piping it into those éclairs, and more. We learned piping techniques that we used in practically everything, and I turned out to be a natural, even though I’d never done it before. They called me the “Prodigy of Piping.” Throughout the week, everyone in the class had a similar moment of glory. Whether baking a sponge cake and icing it, or preparing the perfect pot de crème, at some point each person left class with a big smile and a feeling of accomplishment.
We had a lot of laughs in the kitchen, but it could also get intense. Imagine this scene: One team is making a custard on the stovetop while someone else is worried about burning croissants in the oven, and yet another student starts shouting, “Hot pot! Hot pot coming through!” When things started heating up, Chef Hans reminded us that patience is the most important lesson pastry has to teach us. When you’re in the kitchen, you get excited and want to move onto the next step. But temperature and timing are so important in baking that patience is key.