The mock CAP baker’s certificate exam

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The next instalment in my life as an apprentice baker at the French INBP professional school. I’m now halfway through training and it’s still as exciting as ever, and exhausting – but maybe I’m just getting old, or both… Anyway, a few days ago we had to go through the mock CAP exam. A sort of trial run for the assault-course of the real thing that’ll we’ll be facing at the end of May.

For weeks we had been revising the basics, but we already knew we’d be given a list of required items to make (bread, speciality breads and viennoiseries) and this lived up to expectations. We’d have to be in place by 6 am, raring to go, for half a day that would seem much longer.

It began with 30 minutes gathered round for the briefing, where we were given our “order” of what to produce: what types and how many of each. We then had to make all our calculations and, most importantly, organise a work schedule with timings and use of equipment. We all reached for our calculators and recipe files then set to work…

The order:

Traditional French bread:

– 9 x 550g slashed loaves

– 8 x 350g baguettes, including 4 zig-zag split loaves

– 12 x 80g rolls in 3 different shapes of own choice (I chose “tobacco pouch”, “pistol” and “volcano”)

– 4 x 400g large loaves, 2 round with own choice of slashed top, 2 long with 2 slashes

Wholemeal bread:

– 4 x 350g wholemeal loaves in 2 different shapes, round and long

Viennoiseries 1: Raised dough (milk dough this time)

– 6 x 80g “shuttles”

– 6 x 80g plaits (single line)

– 3 plaits (double line) “with remaining dough”

Viennoiseries 2: Raised flaky dough

– 12 pains au chocolat

– 12 croissants

– 12 pains au raisins

We needed to calculate weights, how long everything would take, dough proving time, kneading, weighing out and shaping. As well as all that, and most importantly, we had to organise ourselves to avoid having too much to do at some moments (the biggest challenge) or twiddling our thumbs at others.

Then it was time to take possession of our “tour” (the workstation with its wooden worktop that resembles a kind of baker’s workbench, as shown in the photo lower down). We installed ourselves in the “fournil” (oven area), got out all our tools and everything else we needed: scales, baking sheets, trays, cooling racks, etc. Each of us had our own kneading bowl, dough mixer and an allocated shelf in the oven – so no bottlenecks, which was very useful. One touching detail: the taller people had been allocated the higher shelves in the oven. No need to tell you which my shelf was out of the 4 levels…




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