I really should be calling the title of this post, bread, bread and more bread, rather than nougat, but as the nougat was the highlight of my week, not necessarily to make, but to eat, I thought I would give my nougat the honour.
The week started with bread: rye bread, soda bread, corn bread and ciabatta, and a few pain au chocolat thrown in for good measure as we clearly didn’t have enough to take home or eat.
Tuesday was sugar-day and the beginning of a three-day process to make a banana assiete on Thursday. We made spun sugar (a wonderful, wispy ball of sugar strands), honeycomb and what was to become my favourite of the week, Nougat Montelimar. We also made filo pastry, the most wonderfully silky pastry which was a bugger to stretch into the required thin sheets – I did manage to produce something that resembled filo pastry, albeit that it was not even in thickness.
Wednesday was the start of death by banana: banana and walnut cake, banana sorbet and banana crisps. Before I went nuts by having to temper chocolate again to make chocolate bands for our banana assiete, we made caramelised walnuts after painstakingly blanching and removing the skins from 10 walnuts with a small paring knife. I was supposed to make four chocolate bands and a chocolate bow. After another poor attempt at chocolate tempering and re-tempering, I managed to make two rather clumsy looking chocolate bands and a sort-of bow. I was delighted on Thursday at the unveiling of the dessert that the chocolate band remained largely intact and it made the required crack of tempered chocolate when hit with the spoon.
Thursday, saw us complete our banana assiete by making banana caramel sauce, caramelised bananas, caramelised filo, banana mousse and chocolate sauce and plating up all our banana components from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday into a highly elaborate dessert. Although I should most probably make my banana assiete the photo of the week because of its complexity and it was, after all, a labour of love, my nougat has to take centre stage on account of the fact that I loved it so much. You can see a photo of my banana assiete on my Instagram page.
And then there was Friday …. chocolate tempering day. I approached the day with trepidation but also with the intention of mastering the art of chocolate tempering, finally. My fellow class mate and I had requested that chef was on hand to point out where we may have been going wrong. I tried my first temper and everything seemed to be going to plan. Chef said that it all looked good having watched me temper my chocolate so I dutifully coated my chocolate egg moulds with chocolate and placed them in the fridge to set. Diligently keeping my chocolate at a working temperature of 32 degree Celsius, while I waited to release my first egg from the chocolate mould, when I went to release my first egg I was informed by chef that my egg was not tempered and had bloomed and that I would have to re-temper my chocolate – so all that time maintaining my working temperature was a waste. So back to the drawing board or, more accurately, marble food preparation surface I went and tempered my chocolate again, this time more successfully than the last. Despite my ordeal, I finished the day with two chocolate eggs. Not good enough to give to anyone as gifts for Easter but at least they ended up in one piece and the wrapping hid a multitude of sins.
After my challenging day in the kitchen and a trip down to Amesbury to spend the night with my sister and brother-in-law, I had to take the edge off with a glass or two of red wine, despite the fact that Jo and I were competing in the Battle of Lansdown on Sunday and really should have been abstaining from alcohol. You will be glad to hear that we did abstain on Saturday night, despite staying with my Mother and Father-in-Law in Bath on the Saturday night. The semi-abstenance was worthwhile as I managed to place 2nd out of the women (412) and 47 out of the 1055 competitors overall. A good end to the week after all.