With over 120 years of teaching experience, it is no surprise that Le Cordon Bleu has produced many notable alumni over the years including the legendary Great British Bake off judge Mary Berry, and renowned cake decorating queen, Peggy Porschen. Le Cordon Bleu’s alumni graduate with a breadth of knowledge and advanced culinary techniques, taught by the school’s expert teaching chefs, which allows them to progress into a range of exciting careers. So here, a selection of the prestigious school’s pâtisserie alumni will be sharing their favourite tips and tricks from the pastry course, so that you too can become a culinary expert!
Georgia Green, Basic and Intermediate Pâtisserie Certificates, 2013
Georgia is now the successful owner of Georgia’s Cakes, catering for weddings, parties and events in London, with numerous celebrity clients to boast of. “At the end of the day, if you are creating a product for people to buy (and eat!) it has to be of the best quality. I genuinely believe I would not have the skill and knowledge that I do today without having attended Le Cordon Bleu, and therefore would not be as successful.” Georgia Green'S 5 top-tips:
- Weigh your eggs. You weigh every other ingredient so why wouldn’t you weigh eggs!? Every egg is a different size so weigh them to ensure consistency.
- Soaking syrup is the best way to not only keep the moisture in a sponge cake, but also to enhance the flavour and make your cake even more delicious.
- When piping onto a baking tray, pipe in alternate spaces so the air in the oven can circulate better and cook more evenly. It’s also easier to count!
- Clean as you go. It’s not just to impress the chefs overlooking your shoulder, but it makes it a lot easier to work on a cleaner and more organised work surface.
- Know your oven. Every oven is different so get to know your own one. Some are hotter at the back, and if this is the case, make sure you rotate whatever you are cooking to ensure it cooks evenly. Some are also slightly hotter than the temperature shown, so buy yourself a thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
Luiz Hara, Grand Diplôme®, 2012
Luiz is the author of a popular cookbook, hosts a highly-acclaimed Japanese Supper Club, and blogs as The London Foodie, one of the top 10 food and travel blogs in the UK. “Pâtisserie was one of the most challenging parts of the Grand Diplôme®. It demanded both sound technical skills and excellent time management. I learnt a great deal during those classes, valuable skills that today not only help me with the pastry and baking work that I do, but also in my catering and day-to-day business management.” Luiz Hara'S 5 TOP TIPS
- Plan, plan and plan again! Make sure you have all of the equipment you need, and read and re-read the recipe. Measure and weigh all ingredients before starting, and don't rush! Planning is key and any mistake can compromise all the work you have put in!
- Having the right equipment is key. My Mafter (bowl) scraper is one of my most treasured items. I love it and use it for so many different things, like scraping bowls, shaping and cutting dough, and taking chopped ingredients to a pot!
- If like mine, your kitchen work surface is made of wood, which is not ideal for baking, invest in a large slab of polished white marble, which has a cooler feel, and can be used for kneading or rolling pastry with much better results.
- Remember that creative flair is important, but it will only take you so far. Good planning and technical skills are the other key elements that make a good baker or pastry chef.
- Make your mark! Find your niche and be unique. There are millions of excellent pastry chefs out there, but what can you do that is different, or what can you really excel at?