Posts Tagged ‘90th’

Hands Off My Croquembouche

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I have always thought my brother is a bit of a genius and have often had little sister jealousy over his ability to be brilliant at EVERYTHING he tries. At school he was always the smart one – he won all of the awards, he was good at maths AND art, and he was loved by all the teachers and students. He has studied various degrees (and been good at ALL of them) and has now moved to England where he is studying artisan baking – the ultimate mix of mathematical precision and artistic flair. He is, of course, doing very well at it.

And while part of me is jealous that once again he has found something he’s freakishly good at, this skill I have been able to benefit from in the form of delicious, delicious baked goods. Mmm… food. Ben met me at Dubai airport on our way home to Perth with a large bag of crumbs which, a few hours earlier, had been chocolate biscuits. I can tell you that there is nothing more satisfying than standing in the middle of Dubai airport at 2 o’clock in the morning stuffing your face with chocolate crumbs. We may have looked like drug addicts eating weird powdery goods from a plastic bag, but it was worth getting arrested over.

And that was just the start – the real treat came for Grandma’s birthday when Ben decided he would attempt the impossible by making a croquembouche (a profiterole tower) in a kitchen he had never been to, in a hotel chalet at the Bunker Bay resort. INSANITY.

Ben baking

I don’t think this kitchen had ever been used for any sort of real cooking up until now.

I volunteered myself as sous-chef and was given the task of finding a round object about the size of a 20 cent coin to then trace circles on baking paper for Ben to pipe regular sized choux pastry balls. Luckily, I have a collection of oversized red rings, one of which was the perfect shape. I was fulfilling my role as sous-chef well so far. A much harder task was to sit for 35 minutes watching a chocolate cake bake in my cousin’s chalet, inhaling wafts of delicious 70% dark chocolate smells as the cake rose and my mouth filled with saliva. That was just cruel.

Ben had never built a croquembouche before and so there was an element of “Is this going to work”? for a majority of the morning. However, as I carefully selected each profiterole based on size and shape, handed them to Ben and he then dipped them in molten sugar and stuck them all together, the miracle of Grandma’s-90th-Birthday came to be. The sugar hardened, the profiteroles stuck together and the tower of goodness came to be.

Croquembouche

Adding the final sugary touch

Standing back and watching Ben create this tower was really exciting. Not only was it amazing that the tower didn’t fall over, but the skill and precision Ben used to create the croquembouche meant that the end result was beautiful and looked professionally crafted. So this time, I wasn’t so much jealous of Ben’s skills but proud of the fact that it was MY BROTHER who had made such a wonderful birthday cake for his 90-year old Grandmother. And that I was going to get to eat it.

Birthday cake

Oh cake. I love you.

Ben is almost at the end of his baking course and is currently planning on establishing a bakery with a fellow student in Sheffield. Looks like I’ll be making many trips to England for free baked goods.

Family Times

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

The past few months have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. I have discovered that ending a long-term relationship really is as painful as it seems in those romantic comedy movies, and that working out what you want to do with your life is extraordinarily difficult. However, amongst all of that turbulence I have also experienced a phenomenal stability that I think people sometimes take for granted. Through attending my third-cousin’s wedding in Paris and returning home to Perth for my Grandma’s 90th birthday, I have realised the joy that is family.

At first my return to Perth felt a bit like a roadblock – I was pushing hard to move onwards and upwards with my life and going to Australia seemed like a step backwards. As it turned out, what I really needed were some hugs from my mum and dad and to spend time with my extended family. With 22 of us heading down to Bunker Bay, staying in rather luxurious accommodation, eating great food and spending so much time together, it made me realise that no matter what happens in my life and how down or lost I feel, my family is always going to support me and give me hugs when I need them. And seeing my Grandma smiling and laughing with her half-brother from Holland and all of her 13 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren around her, it was so wonderful to realise the important things in life.

Bunker Bay sunrise

We woke up with the sun and an early morning swim in the ocean at Bunker Bay

So now I am back in Paris, revitalised from my 2-degree dips in the Indian ocean and inhaling fresh Australian air, ready to take on whatever new paths lie ahead of me. I am hoping these all involve a lot of food, good friends and exciting adventures. Allez-y, France! Je vous attend.

Crêpe and Sacre Coeur

Return-to-Paris ritual completed.