Tarts, tarts, and more tarts

lemon tart

Pastry school is hard. This is something that I was made very aware of when I was applying. I consulted a few pastry chefs in Montreal as I filled out all the applications, and I gathered advice and words of wisdom from those I admire. The warning was always the same: it will be very, very hard, and it will not be like home-baking. The question at the end of every conversation was the same: “Are you sure this is what you want?”

Baking is my passion. I love it, and it’s a huge part of my life, and it’s how I unwind and have fun. Baking is very important to me, along with the mountains of pretty magazines and cookbooks that come with it. Going to pastry school is a bit of a risk: the stress of it all could ruin my favorite activity.

lemon meringue pie

My motivation every day at culinary school is completely different than that of my years of university. In university, I wanted to be the best, and in undergrad, I pretty much had the top marks in almost all of my classes. I wasn’t there for the learning, I just wanted to be the best and have the top marks. In grad school, I was just surviving. My only motivation was to finish. It wasn’t very pretty, but I dragged forward to the end. Now, in pastry school, I don’t care about being the best or about finishing, I just want to learn. Today, I want to be better in the kitchen than I was yesterday. I want to understand. I want to learn the tricks. It’s all for me. It’s more personal.

apple tart

So far, I’ve logged in about 15 hours of practical time at school, and there were definitely great moments where I rocked the recipes that day, and then there were other sessions where my work was a total flop. An organized, calm flop, but a flop nonetheless. At the end of every day of school thus far, I’ve still loved it. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’ve just begun, and those days where I haven’t done well at school definitely hurt a lot, but I still can’t get enough of it all.

apple pie

Every morning I walk to school with nervous anticipation, and I literally cannot believe that I am walking to a school where I am studying pastry. It is still so unreal to me that I am actually living in Ottawa right now and that I am studying pastry. I won’t let the flops get to me. It’s taken me so long to get here that, even when I fail, I’m excited because I’m learning.

strawberry tart

My last week of school has been filled with tarts, tarts, and more tarts: tarte au citron (lemon tart), tarte aux pommes (apple tart), and tarte aux fraises (strawberry tart). I think the lemon tart is one of the recipes that will be among those I will be tested on at the end of the term. I am far from mastering it, but I will repeat it until I understand the recipe and its tricks, and until I know it like the back of my hand. The preparation of the Italian meringue by hand is one of the harder parts of the recipe for me because it requires so much whisking, and I find the whisking very hard. At this point, I just don’t have the muscle/energy to get it right. Remember that scene in Julie & Julia, where Meryl Streep (as Julia Child) is chopping pounds and pounds of onions in order to master it (fast forward this clip to 1:24 for a glimpse of what I mean) ? My friend S says that the whisking for me is what the onion chopping was for Julia… Guess I better get practicing… Wish me luck!

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9 Responses to Tarts, tarts, and more tarts

  1. Caroline Friedmann April 18, 2012 at 7:54 PM #

    I love your post so refreshing and true. Your are in right way. My favorite one is lemon tart. I wish you luck.

  2. keka April 19, 2012 at 12:09 AM #

    oh my god! While I was whipping my meringue I remembered the exact same scene! :O
    You did all the three at home?? I’m amazed! 😀
    Nice pics 😉

  3. Priscilla M April 19, 2012 at 6:02 PM #

    Wow, they’re all so pretty and look so inviting. Hard to choose!

  4. [email protected] April 19, 2012 at 11:46 PM #

    These look beautiful1 I am sure that over time, you will do great at ALL of your schooling there.

  5. Steph April 19, 2012 at 9:11 PM #

    All of these tarts look heavenly! I think I need to come over and help you eat them all!

  6. S.V. April 20, 2012 at 5:02 AM #

    Good luck!!! All the tarts looks amazingly tasty! I can’t say that I will ever have enough strength to whip like crazy…but I am sure you will. 🙂

  7. Kay April 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM #

    Your tarts look so absolutely amazing!!!

  8. Emily April 22, 2012 at 5:52 PM #

    Oh your photos are beautiful. What a great way to fulfill your dream.

  9. Jan April 24, 2012 at 3:04 PM #

    Thank you all for the kind words of support. Made my week 🙂

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