While many people look forward to spring cleaning, for me this time of year has always been the time for organizing, decluttering and ridding oneself of all that excess stuff you just don’t need.

I’m not sure if it has something to do with readying myself for the new year to come, but I always feel that the days between Christmas and December 31st are the best days to reflect on what I truly need to move forward.

I need a maid.

I don’t need anymore cookbooks.

Since there’s no chance that I’ll be getting a maid anytime soon and since there’s even less chance that I will stop purchasing cookbooks, I feel it’s best that I focus my attention on more attainable goals.

So while I busy myself trying to tidy up my baking area and my Overburdened Bookshelf, I’m also turning my attention to tidying up my blog. As many of you know earlier this year I took a big step with the redesign of my blog. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, however, after having settled into the new design I’m now ready for some other changes. Nothing drastic, mind you, just a few nips and tucks here and there.

Part of the tidying up is going through all the food photos that I keep. In doing this, I realized that I somehow neglected to complete my reports on the baking course I took in the fall. While I summed up Weeks 1 and 2 and Weeks 3 and 4, I never summed up Weeks 5 and 6.

It’s been a couple of months since this course ended so I’m going to keep my explanations brief.

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For Week 5 of the course, our focus was the galette and the turnover using apple as a filling. I’ve made galettes and turnovers many times before, but this particular class was very interesting because of the dough that we used. We used a pastry made of pastry flour, unsalted butter and milk. I’ve never made a pastry with milk before and was a bit concerned at first that the pastry would be tough.

To my surprise, we ended up with one of the most flavourful and tender pastries I’ve ever tasted! While the galette and the turnovers were rather ordinary, I did walk alway from the class with the goal of using milk pastry in future.

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For our final class, we prepared a French Almond Flan and Pithiviers using a sweet pastry made of butter, sugar, eggs, bread flour, pastry flour and vanilla. Once again I was very impressed with the quality of the pastry we made.

I resisted using pears with the French Almond Flan because I don’t really care for pears, in particular tinned ones which is what they gave us in class. But everyone that tried the tart seemed to really love it.

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I much preferred the Pithiviers, which are almond filled pastries. I often buy these little treats at one of my favourite French patisseries in Toronto (surprisingly, Toronto has a number of high quality French-style patisseries). I’m hoping that I’ll have the chance to make these on my own at home.

Overall I enjoyed this course. While it wasn’t a long one (only 6 weeks), we covered a variety of pastries, most of which I enjoyed making. I also enjoyed the atmosphere in the classroom, which was more congenial as opposed to some of the other classes I’ve taken where the feeling in the room has bordered on competitive. The instructor did a fairly good job and her assistant was a great help.

At this point, I’m halfway through the Bakery Arts Certificate requirements. I have another five credits to go, but I’m not sure when I’ll take my next course. Professionally I’m as busy as ever and personally, I find I’m baking more and more at home as well as trying to make time for other important things going on in my life. I do promise, though, that when I finally do sign up for the next course, I’ll fill you in on the details!

Ciao!