Paul, September 9, 2011
Coming back from the long Labour Day weekend, our baking class began at 9 a.m. so we were past the early morning bake. After a little ‘theory’ class time where we went through some quick tests (health and safety, etc.) and laying out in general what the year would cover, we then went into the kitchen and basically oriented ourselves a little more on important things like:
Where’s the salt (not where you’d think)? How many refrigerators are there and what are they each for? How many things can you do at once (mix thing A while watching thing B bake and putting things C on trays) and not mess any up? Where’s the parchment paper? Where do you put wet canisters?
None of it earth shattering in importance but you still need to know these minor kitchen details. AND they’ll be entirely different when you work in another kitchen.
Apologies again as I didn’t take photos each day. The first two are all text but the last two are crammed with pics.
What we’ve made: MONDAY, our class was split up into small teams of three and our group mixed up a huge batch of bran raisin muffin batter. It was a LOT wetter than you’d expect a muffin batter to be. However, as it sits overnight, the bran soaks up a lot of the moisture and by morning, when the muffins are scooped into the pans and baked, it has solidified a fair bit.
The class as a whole basically made all the batters and mixes for the next morning’s bake as well as baking off a few batches of muffins from RTU (Ready To Use) mixes which are kept on hand for periods when no one is around to make fresh mixes, like summer. Now that the class is in session again, these are there merely as back-ups; we’ll make fresh every day when possible.
Chef Harper showed us how to make his famed Empress Scones, using a couple of One-by-Two boards (about two feet long, basically scraps from the lumber department) as spacers to get an even thickness of scone dough. Clever! Using these will give you a three-quarter inch (2 cm) thick dough. When baked, these came out a LOT higher than the ones we did the week before. And of course, you can switch out the ‘embellishments’ from raisins to, well, most anything similar like cranberry, chocolate chip, etc..
TUESDAY: Today we make some of the items we created yesterday: muffins, cookies, carob squares, and bake off more of the items made by the morning team. I am teamed up with Lauren and we whip up a large batch of streusel for later use and make up batter for a sponge cake: here the lesson is creamed method for incorporation meaning the butter/sugar mix is beat to a point where it begins to expand, incorporating air bubbles. This is in contrast to creaming for incorporation which required the butter/sugar mix to be beaten to a smooth paste but not to start including air.
We watch Chef Harper demonstrate the making of a custard, the base for dozens of other fillings.
Today, the camera comes out. Click on the pics for bigger versions and captions.
Mr B show us how to mix up large quantities of challah dough, based on a full 20 Kg bag of flour and using the big spiral mixer. Once made up, we turned this very large batch of dough into several “heads” and from there into numerous batches of breads.
Today’s products were: pepperoni stix (small pepperoni, cut to about 15 cm and wrapped in a small dough casing), several loaves of bread with cheese, poppy and sesame seed coating, pizza wheels in veggie and meat and a selection of buns. Apricot-topped danishes (RTU products) were topped with custard (also RTU) and a half apricot slice. We also made an apple kuchen from Mr B’s neighbour’s ginormous apples and the streusel topping we made yesterday. And probably a couple more items I can’t recall.
This time, Lauren and I are to make the giant batch of challah dough. The class also tackles cinnamon buns, makes the standard pepperoni stix, pizza wheels and rolls. new today: learning how to braid. More pics of the day:
NEXT WEEK: Lauren and I tackle donuts and get a MEP (short form of Mise en Place) for croissants. And of course help out getting all the typical morning bake ready for breakfast and lunch at the school cafs.
See you back then!