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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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All Flours Are Not Equal

What would happen if you ran out of bread flour but still wanted to make bread? Or the store had an awesome sale on cake flour which you were tempted to use instead? Flour is basically just flour, after all, no? There’s not much difference between Pastry and All Purpose, besides a bit more protein, right?

As an experiment, the class did a test this week to see what each of four types of flour could make, using the same recipe for each and changing only the type of flour used. The recipe was put together by team of Chelsea, Connor and Lauren.

We tested simple panned bread loaves made from:

  1. Organic Bread flour
  2. All Purpose flour
  3. Pastry flour
  4. Cake flour

Each batch were made with the exact same ingredients except for the flour, in the same quantities and mixed in four identical 10-quart mixers. Each mix made four identically sized loaves and baked for the same amount of time. Although not under strict laboratory controlled conditions, these were, in effect, identical breads.

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Gingerbread Bakery

  

As I recently noted, one of the projects we have to do on behalf of the Vancouver Island University is build a gingerbread house. This is an annual event at the school and is used to showcase the Professional Baking and Pastry Arts Program. It also helps raise funds as these houses are auctioned off while displayed at a couple of different venues. Any funds raised from the auction of the houses goes to the VIU Foundation, and a portion of this is earmarked for our Paris trip next March to help defray some of the costs to the students.

Although “Paris” was the suggested theme for this year’s houses, we were able to pick anything we wanted to do. A few of the students chose to follow along with this. I went in another direction. Below are the construction details (with usual copious photos)  of my chosen house.

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VIU Pastry 101, Weeks 5, 6, 7 and Round Up.

Another hectic couple of weeks get us into the Savoury Pies, Pastry and Quick Breads sections of the course and ending on the Round Up week.

For Savoury Pies Week, I made, strangely, savoury pies. Specifically, Chicken Pot Pies, Veggie Pies and Quiches, both Ham and Cheese as well as Veg. I made a LOT of these. Literally, dozens and dozens and dozens, in fact, closer to a hundred. That included making a big-ass pot of chicken filling, and pressing out hundreds of 5 inch pie shells as well as rolling out each individual shell top and applying them. And baking a fair number of them, freezing the rest for baking later that week and next.

Seems meat or veg pies are a popular lunch choice on campus and in fact, we make over 200 of them each week, plus 216 sausage rolls and dozens of Cornish pasties on top of that. (That’s pronounced “past eaze”, by the way, not “paste eaze” which are a whole ‘nuther thing.)

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