Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had an amazing break. I am happy to report that the past few weeks have been filled with sleep, relaxation and unfortunately a relentless cold which I’ve just recently been able to eliminate. While resting was extraordinary, I could not wait to return to the classroom and to the blogosphere to continue to learn and share. Although baking may not be my most favorite thing to do in the kitchen, nor my best, I jumped into the new semester excited.
For our first week in the kitchen, our baking and pastry chef, Chef Velasko, started us off with some simple dishes that displayed a few of the techniques needed in baking.
The three techniques and recipes were: chocolate chip cookies (the creaming method), biscuits (the cutting-in
method), and muffins (the muffin method). My partner and I started and finished our chocolate cookies without any bumps in the road and wound up with very tasty cookies (if I do say so myself).
Unfortunately when it came time to pull our biscuits out of the oven, we realized that we had made crucial a mistake. What I should mention is that in baking class, we have to measure our ingredients out in ounces. For this purpose we had to purchase scales that help us to achieve this. While our scales may have been measuring accurately, the two humans using them were not. Instead of measuring .5 ounces of sugar, we measured out 5 ounces of sugar. This difference changed our biscuits completely. Not only did they not appear flakey and tall, but they were also incredibly sweet (surprise, surprise). We learned that sugar in the oven expands and spreads itself out. This caused the biscuits that would have otherwise risen and flaked out nicely, to grow out width wise and not pop like our chefs biscuits in the photo.
Other than the slight snafu with our biscuits, our first day of baking was a success. Now, I’m not much of a sweet tooth. When I was a child I lived on candy. Anytime I could convince my mother to buy me one of those massive jawbreakers from Bulk Foods, I was a happy child. I ate more candy than I care to share with you because it almost makes me sick looking back now. It is because of this that I think I no longer care for sweet things as an adult. However, I told myself that I was going to go into this class with an open mind and make myself try things even if I may not want to. This small conversation I had with myself never included a butter tasting day. That’s right… a butter tasting day. I thought I had seen it all until two large sheet trays filled with 12 different types of butters waited for me in the classroom this week.
I replayed that conversation in my head and out loud with a few other disturbed people and we successfully completed the tasting. We used some baguettes that our chef had made to help us with the tasting and it was quite funny watching people who had never tasted European butter; their eyes bugged out, they licked their lips, and many went back for more. It is incredibly strange to taste processed butter directly next to homemade churned butter as well as vegetable shortening. The difference is astounding.
While I won’t be running out to purchase a cow and make my own butter at home anytime soon, it was quite the experience and I am glad to have had it. This was already an eye opening week and we barely touched the ground floor. I’m excited and slightly nervous as to what then next few weeks have in store but I think it’s going to be fun. I hope you all enjoy following my baking excursions the next few weeks, believe me when I tell you, I need all the help I can get so please feel free to comment and leave suggestions.