Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Culinary 13

One of our former chef instructors once said that the average weight gain of culinary students during their schooling is 13 pounds. Yikes! Well, in just my third day of Baking & Pastry, I can definitely see how that might happen. 

Last night we made cookies and brownies, and tonight we made blueberry muffins, and made dough for French bread (which will be baked tomorrow).  I came home with three bags full of sweets. Luckily I get to see some friends this weekend so I can unload most of that!

Baking is a very different beast from savory cooking. It still has all the perks of cooking - creativity, working with your hands and simple raw ingredients, all with fabulous end results. But the pace of baking is much slower, and you really need to measure everything. One of the things I enjoy most about savory cooking is the ability to add an ingredient here and an ingredient there, or a little more of this and that. I like the looseness of it. Of course not everything in savory cooking works that way, but really none of that works in baking. I think I just need a few more days to settle in to this new class, as I have with each new class so far. But this certainly feels like we are winding down, especially since our last class was so energized, creative, and fun. 

I am already learning a lot in this new class, certainly a lot more than I really expected about the whole science behind baking. Tonight Chef Richard talked to us about yeasted doughs, gluten formation, fermentation, yeast temperatures, and more mixing methods. I am excited about my French bread dough that is currently fermenting in the walk-in at school, and the Focaccia bread that we will also make tomorrow. Till then....let's all think happy thoughts to my little French dough ball in that cold and dark walk-in....

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