Category Archives: Baking School

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Catching up: Weeks 2 to 5 of Pastry II

Where did we leave off? Ah yes, a few weeks back Kevin and I were doing Cakes Week of the Pastry II, our first station in the rotation.

The following week saw us on Ovens duty so nothing to discuss or show here except to note that we made sure the ovens were running smoothly and all the required product was being baked and sent off to the upstairs and downstairs cafeterias as needed. That was week 2. I’d point out here that we really did plow through this (as we have all other stations in the Pastry or Bread sections) even though we are the only 2-person team. Not sure if this hobbled team situation is being noted in our marks; we’re managing to keep up in spite of having 33% less manpower than other teams.

The photo? Just a little fun around the oven with Sara and Josie. Figured this was better than a photo of the oven baking stuff.

After Ovens came the Deserts section which consisted of producing Mousses, Puddings and a German Dough (sweet tart dough) and a Mousse cake, while still making sure regular bar productions (Nanaimo bars, etc.) were kept up.

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I love Paris in the Springtime

Tomorrow, we leave for Paris.

Yes, this ragtag bunch of breadheads from Vancouver Island University’s Pro Baking and Pastry Arts course is heading off in all our bright red splendour into the skies, eventually landing some 20 hours later (largely due to time differences) in Paris.

I will eventually get posts and photos added on this blog here but during the trip, Vancouver Island University has asked me to be their official blogger for the Field School so I’ll be updating things from the laptop they lent me directly to the Official VIU Blog space:

VIU Blog: Paris 2012

So those of you interested in following our antics as we visit the 2012 Europain World Bread Baking and Pastry Exhibition, watch the best bakers in the world compete, see the latest baking techniques and equipment and all the usual trade exhibit fun. Then we’ll be hitting a slew of bakeries in Paris and (hopefully) get in “behind the scenes” a bit, visit chocolatier Barry-Callebaut in Brussels at the end of the first week, l’Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie in the second week, and of course get a wee bit of plain ol’ Paris culture in between.

l’Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie a Paris

So hop back in over the next couple of weeks to keep updated and trip about the “City of Lights” with us, even if just virtually.

A bientot! 

Cake Week in Pastry Level 2

With the end of the first section in the CIVIU course, we begin this second half with Level 2 of Pastry where we’ll be upgrading the products we put out. Finer quality items, more detail, a little more complex construction are expected. Likewise, when we get to Breads 2 a few weeks from now, we’ll need to up the ante there as well. This first week in Pastry Level 2 finds me in the Cakes section.

And who’s on the team for this section? Surprise! They didn’t change the teams. So once again, it’s Kevin and I, the only team of two, doing what the other teams of three are expected to pump out. This means bigger workload for us, since we won’t have that third person to help produce all the regular production requirements (cakes, bars, pot pies all for the cafeteria). Fortunately, they’ve decided to cut back on the quantities we have to produce but that applies to teams of three as well. We’re still out one person.  We’ll see how that goes.

Some of the production stuff we needed to do for Cakes week included making a few sponge cakes and carrot cakes (iced), genaches, simple syrups, cheese cakes, simple buttercream and a giant load of Italian meringue buttercream. Since Kevin hadn’t done buttercream when he was on cakes during the previous Pastry section, he got to do it this time. I made the carrot cake. Both of us made a sponge cake. Then we got on to the individual items. Oh, and a special order birthday cake for the end of the week came in… on Wednesday.

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End of Pro Baking Section 1: Exam baking and a few breads

This post will be mostly baking photos so that I can get the last bit of the Bread Section recorded in here.

The last bit of the Bread Section (Part 1) at The Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island had us repeating, for the final two weeks, the several areas we had been through during the first six weeks, except we hit each station for just two days. Sort of a “Rapid Fire” version of the original stations which wasn’t actually that stressful as we already “been there, done that” just a short while before.

So here are, not necessarily in chronological order, a whole bunch of photos from theis Bread Section for your visual enjoyment.

 

Here’s Kevin, my “partner in crime” for this Bread Section, readying a recipe.

And (finally) I managed to get a snap of Angelique, the bakery department’s Assistant; she’s the one who knows where everything is, orders stuff for us and is generally the “power in the background” that makes the whole thing run smoothly. She was a student here a couple of years back herself so she also has a few tips on how this all works.

   

Pita Breads in two varieties, getting baked.

 The white breads are made using Peter Reinhart’s Lavash Crackers recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. the recipe includes a little honey and veg oil, so the bread is enriched and softer than it would be with a straight, flour-water-salt only dough.

The whole wheat ones are made using a basic Whole Wheat Bread recipe we use for, well, plain ol’ whole wheat breads. This would show that pretty much any decent dough can be used for pita breads. This is the same whole wheat bread we used in the loaves at the very top of this post (beautifully slashed, I’ll add, by Chelsea who was on Ovens that day).

The bread disks are put in a very hot oven where they puff up very quickly. They are removed once puffed and flipped over so the opposite side faces the hearth or top. Watch out for steam escaping from the very hot interior of the bread, though, and act fast. Once they puff up once more, they are taken out and stacked as shown to cool; stacking them this way helps them deflate before they harden and keeps them from drying out too fast. The whole baking process takes just a few minutes from raw dough disks to finished bread cooling off.

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Wood Fired Oven Week!

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And into the third week of the Bread Baking section here at VIU, we enter the Wood Fired Oven station. This is, undeniably, one of the stations I have most been looking forward to. I have it somewhere in my brainpan that when I get a bakery going, one thing it will have that helps differentiate it from most other bakeries, and most certainly from grocery store bakeries, is the use of a wood fired oven.

Although I doubt it would be wise to use this sort of oven exclusively because there will be many things that a bakery pumps out that will need a very regulated temp and it would be really unwise to forego the use of a more standard oven completely. Patisseries, for example, would be a lot more difficult to produce in a wood oven, needing to have the timing just right to catch the heat as it passes through the temp range pastries need. However, it could be a wise move to make use of a wood oven for a bulk of the bread baking.

So there we were, well before the crack of dawn, getting the oven started for the week.

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Baking 101: Doughnuts and Cinnamon Rolls and Stollen (oh my!)

In this second week of the Baking 101 segment of our course, Kevin and I entered the Sweet Yeasted 2 station which involves, primarily, making doughnuts (making the dough, rolling and cutting, frying and topping) and cinnamon buns (dough, rolling, topping, slicing).

The photos you see for this segment all came in on the last day as I had, again, forgotten to take pictures all week. Above, for example, are the cinnamon raisin rolls we had made and were heading into the freezer for the next day’s bake. They look a lot better baked, I can assure you but I hadn’t got any pictures of that stage all week. I’ll try harder to make time.

Here’s the breakdown of he schedule: Pull doughnuts from the freezer in the morning, let warm up while we each make the 7.5 pounds of cinnamon roll dough which is actually a sweet brioche dough. While that’s proofing, we do a MEP of doughnut dough, about 10 lbs.

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Baking 101: Croissants and Danishes Week

We recently completed the Pastry 101 leg of the Professional Baking and Pastry Arts course here at the Culinary Institue at Vancouver Island University, and at this writing, have begun the Baking 101 segment and are actually done with week two. Time for a course update!

Probably first on the list of changes when starting this new section is that we have been put into new teams. And because we have 17 people in class, there are five teams of three and one of just two. That happens to be Kevin and me. We both seem to like being just two, we communicate well and don’t need to adjust everything three ways. On the other hand, some of the stations, most likely Oven Duties, may be a little strenuous as this seems to be the biggest workload. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here as that won’t happen for two weeks yet.

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