Week 2- Baking

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This week, we read the quick breads chapter. There are three methods to quick breads- the muffin method, the biscuit method, and the creaming method. The scones and biscuits we made last week were both made with the biscuit method- cutting cold fat *butter* into the sifted dry ingredients and then stirring the combined wet ingredients into the previously mentioned mixture. Then you dump it out on a floured surface and knead it just until it is smooth and workable.

I made banana bread on my own this week and I tried the book's recipe instead of my usual recipe. This one called for using the creaming method- first you mix the softened butter and sugar together on a medium speed until light and fluffy *creaming*, then gradually add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. In separate bowls, you sift the dry ingredients together and mix the wet ingredients together. Then you add the dry and wet ingredients in several alternating additions to the butter, sugar, egg mixture. This keeps everything emulsified and makes a light and fluffy end product. It turned out fantastic. The kids loved the dinosaur sprinkles I put on their half.

We made zucchini bread in class using the muffin method. This is probably the simplest method. You simply sift the dry ingredients together and then stir in the combined wet ingredients just until they are incorporated. The batter is supposed to be lumpy. Ours looked a little dry, but we double checked the measurements and the recipe conversions and it was correct. We determined that we had grated the zucchini more coarsely than other teams and it had released less liquid. It turned out fine, though, as the moisture was released while baking. The girls LOVED the bread I brought home and had it for dinner last night. Harmony even felt it made me deserved a hug and a "You're the BEST Mommy EVER! I'm so glad you are my Mommy!!" I'm going to remind her of that when she's a teenager and wants the newest, rediculously priced technological toy and says she hates me because I won't get it for her. "I'm sorry, sweetie. I won't get you that toy, but look!! I made you zucchini bread! Aren't I the best Mommy ever? No? It worked when you were 4."

This week, we also worked with puff pastry quite a bit. First we made some almond cream to use on a fruit strip tart. Then we cut a sheet of puff pastry down to about 6 inches by the length of the sheet, brushed it with egg wash, cut the remaining dough in half and placed it on the sides, piped almond cream down the middle, layered thinly peeled, cored, and sliced apples down the center, sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar and baked it. They turned out well. Chris, my table mate, cut his sides smaller and used the extra strips to make a lattice top. I wish I had thought of it. It turned out much prettier than everyone else's. We didn't have time to plate these, so forgive the not so pretty picture. I was going to plate it when I got home, but ended up giving it away to my neighbor (as I had planned) before I had the opportunity.

We also made pastry bowls. These can be filled with sweet or savory items. I filled mine with diced, sauteed ham and green peppers. Then I topped it with an egg yolk. On top of that I placed a sauteed whole mushroom, and placed flowers of cheddar and gruyere cheese on top of that. It was SO delicious. It's nice to know that I don't have to buy lunch on Tuesdays because we always make plenty that we get to eat in Baking.

We also made turnovers. I filled mine with the almond cream and apples and added pecans, as well. I cut flower patterns into the tops. I really wanted to plate these with caramel sauce but didn't have time to whip some up. I would have loved to had a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side and drizzled it all with the caramel. Pretend that is in the picture, as well.

We also made palmiers. Basically it's just a puff pastry sheet brushed with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and then the sides are folded into the center. This is repeated as many times as desired and then it's folded in half, chilled, and cut into slices to be baked. They kind of look like butterflies. We didn't have time to bake these off, so pictures will have to wait until next week for this one.

It was a good class today. I was a little frustrated *as was Chef CJ* with the cleaning effort this week. Everyone seemed to be doing everything to a minimum standard and that is frustrating. One table is fairly messy and always lags behind in the tidying of their station. I always have to remind them to pick their stuff up off the floor and they wait and wait and wait which delays the sweeping and mopping of the kitchen. Another guy who got put on our table this week also was difficult as he just kept standing around. I told him several times that Chef would take points off if he just kept standing there, and that even if he was waiting on something to be done, he needed to find something else to do to keep him busy while he waited. He didn't. Oh well, I'm sure his grade will reflect that attitude.

I also had Cost Control in the afternoon. The math is frustrating in the combination of the simplicity and the time that is being taken with it. I got a flashback to statistics class and how I fell asleep so much because they would take FOOOOREEEVER on a simple concept. I understand why they do it. They have to make sure that the majority of people understand, but when you are asking us to do simple division problems (with a calculator no less!!!!) for the better part of an hour, I think the people that don't understand how to divide 30 by 3 or multiply 1.50 by 3 (examples taken directly from my notebook) need to take a math class before continuing with this class. We are in college. Division is something you should have learned in grade school.

After an hour of that, however, we moved on to more conceptual things like not having the attitude of needing to CUT costs but to CONTROL costs and that a budget is a plan where an income statement is what is actually happening. Again, we are starting out slow, but I understand the reasoning behind it. I am SURE it will get more difficult *read stimulating* as the quarter continues. At least, I hope so.

Lastly, I had the first meeting of competition club. Basically, they just got our information today and are going to contact us when they are a little more organized. New leadership has taken over and they don't really have all their duckies in a row yet. Understandable, I just hope everything gets worked out soon. Competition club is an "extra" and I would love to gain experience, but if it isn't well organized, it isn't going to be worth missing out on family time for it.

More updates on Thursday or Friday after Skills. We are making sauces this week!


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