Posted by: Allyn | July 11, 2009

Pastry school, week one

What a whirlwind of a week it was here in Yssingeaux. My first week of class was a class for professionals on classical French pastry. I had only made a few of the things listed in our booklets, but my mind was clear and ready for learning. That is, until Chef Jean Francois Arnaud began to speak. Oh boy, this is going to be difficult. Yes, the class was in French and my understanding of the language just wasn’t going to cut it. Fortunately, there was another amateur in the class that spoke English and she helped me understand important things the chef said, like what temperature to bake things… why that wasn’t written on the recipe every time, I’ll never know.

The rest of the summer should be quite different from this previous week. It will be a slower pace and with different teaching levels. You have people like me here, who have no training, but want to learn, but there are also professionals and other pastry teachers from other countries coming. It should be quite a mix.

050Chef filling macarons. I think these were violet and cassis.

054Chef painting jacond before baking. See Mom? I missed the Louvre, but I got to watch lots of artistic and creative things.

070The chocolate macarons I made baking in the oven. Also, a self portrait. I make that hat look good.

071Guts of an eclair I made the dough for. Perfectly holey and waiting for filling.

073Remember the painted jacond a few pictures ago? This is it wrapped around a strawberry tarte. I think this was my favorite piece in the finished product. Just beautiful. Modern. Simple. Elegant.

074At the end of our week we presented a buffet of all our work. It was incredible to watch the chef artistically dress each piece for the showcase. I even got to garnish a few things. Here you can see the millefueille, framboise and pistache, baba rhum, macaron fraise.

075A view of the buffet and one of the interns Francisco (from Brazil) waving hello.

078A view of the various macarons we made in the week. The purple ones were amazing. I’m trying to remember what was in them. I think it was cassis and lavendar.

079Chef Arnaud is also an amazing sugar artist. He whipped up this piece on Thursday afternoon. It was incredible to watch him shape balls of sugar into legs and arms  and wings.

083Chef and I with my certificate of participation. I watched more than I participated, but I learned amazing tools from very simple techniques to the more difficult skills. I’m dying to get home and practice.



  1. you can come practice at our house any time!
    your eclair looks perfecto!

    what an amazingly beautiful display of craft/art/passion.

    could you bring home like, one of each of those for us to sample?

    although the purple hamburger looking thing reminds me of a marshmallow burger I ate on a dare once that was not so good.

    that’s one of the cooler self portraits i’ve seen.

    hope the rest of your weeks are this fruitful (hah)

  2. WOW and WOW and WOW WOW WOW!!!
    ok, allyn, no one is going to want to even volunteer for dessert anymore at thanksgiving and christmas. it’s ALL yours, honey chile’.

    i agree with david – it’s food art. that stawberry tarte is too pretty to eat.. INCREDIBLE!

    copied your self portrait onto my screen saver. will be good on your first book cover. 🙂

    i’m headed to colorado july 16 – 21. i’ll post when i get back.

    love ya!

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