I attended a culinary school of higher learning, in 1997-98. It was the singlemost important course of study, and the most meaningful, (gosh, what a surprise!) academic experience , of my life. To this day, I can relive the smells, the sounds and the nuances of the kitchen ambiance. It warms the cockles of my heart, to peruse old photos. Memories, long gone, but not forgotten, are suddenly brought to the surface, with a swell of nostalgia, and overwhelming emotion. To this end, I recall making the only wedding cake of my career. One of the course requirements, was to produce ONE display wedding cake, to be graded accordingly. Now, I love a beautifully made cake, but alas, many of the “Eye candy” cakes, are nothing more than a decorative assembly of shortening (ugh!), sugar, emulsifiers, and a preservative- laden mixture of dry ingredients. I recall asking the professor if there was a certain criteria for the end product? Decorative, check. Properly iced, check. symmetrical, check. Country of origin? YOU CHOOSE!! Hurrah! A Belgian wedding cake it is…I had made creampuffs, many times before, so this creation would not be a stretch. The tricky part was the base , constructed out of Nougatine. Crushed almonds, sugar and glucose, poured hot onto a marble base, then shaped over an inverted cake pan. I recall, once the base was completed, entering this zone of contentment. Each individual puff, was custard -filled, and carefully dipped in caramel, then lovingly affixed to a metal cone-shaped post standing in the middle of the base. I slowly built my own little tower of Belgian pastry porn! Once the desired height was attained, it was simply a matter of using the colors of the season, (fall, in this case) to finish the piece. It was a sheer labor of love, and to this day the only type of wedding cake I will make. Period!!!!
Here’s a wee little ‘un, that I made for Christmas 2012: