Summer Tarts Baking Class @ Northwest Culinary Academy Vancouver (NWCAV)

Summer Tarts July 2013: Lemon Meringue Tart, Creme D’Amande Paste, Rhubarb Creme Brûlée, Cherry Clafouti Tart. Can you guess which is my favourite?

Since childhood I have always been more interested in savoury foods than desserts.  Unlike my sister, who just cannot live without desserts (especially macarons), I really don’t have a sweet tooth..Over the years I can count the number of times I have made dessert for any occasion with both hands!  I DO enjoy certain desserts, anything with dark chocolate is my “vice”. I only need a very “small bite” to feel satiated (I secretly wish all desserts come in “child size”);  it is my own “dim sum” – just a “little to touch my heart”.

Andy loves lemon tarts and apple pies and I’ve only baked a few on special occasions.  When Northwest Culinary offered ( one night 3 hour short course;  it was a perfect opportunity for me to learn something new  and add a couple of desserts to my repertoire.  Venturing into unfamiliar territory, I went with my friend Jo Jo, who is a very talented and accomplished baker  ( Earlier this year in April, we attended a one day-Artisanal Bread Baking Class at Pacific Culinary Institute ( and had tons of fun together!

Unlike the other NWCAV classes, my classmates were 99% females and there was only one male student in this class!  We worked in groups of four (I had great teammates, all experienced bakers!), same as before, recipe handouts were given and  the class was broken down into segments  switching between Chef’s lecture/demonstration and hands on cooking/preparation at our workstations.

Ingredients prepared ahead of time of us; the baking stations are located at the back of this one-floor culinary school.
Tart shells ready fresh baked from the oven! Each student has their own “name tag” to avoid confusion.

Due to time constraints, the dough (Sweet Paste is used for baked base for tarts and widely used in European style Pastries) was prepared for us ahead of time.  Chef Christophe showed us how to roll the dough (we practiced!!) and provided us with many useful baking tips and technical information (blind bake, ratios, decorating); we prepared the tart shells and made fillings for Four different types of tarts: Rhubarb Creme Brûlée, Creme D’Amande (almond) Paste (decorated with in-season berries), Lemon Tart with french styled meringue, and Cherry Clafouti Tarte.  At the end of the evening, we brought the goodies home; Andy “inhaled” the lemon meringue tart quickly, and I brought the rest to work and shared with my colleagues the next day.

We had a Surprise (yes another one, remember power outage during halibut cooking class? (see earlier posting)) that evening…Chef Nina Hemmes was unable to teach due to last minute emergency; we were all truly grateful that Chef Christophe stepped in and the school did not cancel the class. I have taken his classes before, French Bistro Classic (2012), Stocks and Sauces (2012) and Poultry Butchery (2011), all of which I’ve enjoyed tremendously.

The school has graciously granted permission to post the lemon meringue tart recipe on my blog. Thank you NWCAV and Chef Christophe for another fun filled and informative evening!  Jo Jo, can’t wait to go to another class with you sometime!

Am I still clueless about baking?  Of course, after all this is only one class but I’m not afraid to try different baking recipes to hone my skills!  Just like all enthusiastic home cooks, I constantly look for new ideas and I know eventually all acquired skills and techniques come handy sometime when tackling any new recipes.   With the bountiful fruit harvests in early Fall (apples, plums),  I am sure I will be able to test and “adapt” the new recipes perhaps at the next family dinner.  I was just cleaning my pantry the other day, taking inventory and dug out all my baking supplies…My pink KitchenAid Mixer has been a “fixture” on the shelf for the past three years…perhaps it’s time….(OO)

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