Week 3- Baking

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I wanted to hug Chef CJ yesterday at the beginning of class. We are all standing around the board and she is telling us what we need to do for the day, and under several of the items, she had written, "add a little love..." By this she meant to add whatever we wanted to the recipe to make it our own and make it taste yummy; seasonings, vegetables, chocolate, nuts, etc. Then she told us to plate things up pretty and to get creative. Muwah!!!!!! I wanted to run up and hug her!!!!

As you have read, I have been frustrated in Skills class. I understand that you have to learn the building blocks of cooking before you can cook wonderful, complex dishes. I understand this. Things are just kind of plugging along, though, and there are NO creative aspects to Skills, as of yet. So to be TOLD to be creative, was such a relief and I just felt it spread through me and I wanted to clap my hands and do a little jig. I am so thankful I have Baking as well as Skills this quarter. At least I still have an outlet!

With all that being said, we made quite a bit of products yesterday. We started off making shortcakes. This was made using the biscuit method and was pretty, pun half intended, cut and dry. Chris plated this up in a martini glass with some strawberries and whipped cream and I, of course, had to add a chocolate covered strawberry. I made a couple more to just eat, too. I love this class!

We also made a Dutch Baby Pancake. I don't know why this is called a "baby" pancake because it literally feeds 5 or 6 people. It's cooked in a 10" skillet in the oven. It puffs up and forms kind of a bowl and then you fill it with sweet or savory items. I sliced some granny smith apples thinly and sauteed them with a little butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. After they were cooked, I added some pecans to coat the in the syrup that had been created by the butter, apple juice, and cinnamon and sugar. Then I poured it all into the pancake and sprinkled it with powdered sugar. I enjoyed tasting this and a table in the American Regional class next door enjoyed eating the rest of the pancake for me.

We also made cornmeal pancakes, too. We added some hot pepper to our mix and they turned out really well. The recipe said to serve with sour cream and caviar, so Chris made a sour cream mix with some chives in it and we decided to try to pipe the caviar out in a line on the top of the pancakes. It ended up just squeezing out the juice, which looked kind of gross. We would definitely do that differently next time. If we had some tweezers, we would have placed them prettily on top. I need to add that to my kit. We also would have put more peppers in the mix, since it still didn't have the spice we were looking for. These would be a great addition to a meal of Mexican food.

The favorite dish of the day, for me, was the pecan pancakes we made. Oh. My. Goodness!!!! These pancakes were heavenly. The pancakes themselves contained pecans and then we cooked some pecans in melted butter for just a few minutes and then tossed them with cinnamon and brown sugar. To plate the pancakes, we mixed maple syrup with some heavy cream which gave it a nice rich flavor. After drizzling the pancakes with syrup, we spilled some of the pecan topping over the edge of the pancakes and topped it with whipped cream and powdered sugar. We all should have been embarrassed by the noises we were making while eating these pancakes, but none of us could help it. They were THAT good. I am definitely making some of these this weekend for Marc.

We also made popovers. Twice. I, personally, feel like it's rediculous that we had to make them twice because the recipe is SO straight forward that they should have turned out perfectly the first time. I am fairly certain, however, that the reason our popovers didn't "pop" the first time, was because the butter was mismeasured and weighed down all the other ingredients, not allowing it to rise as it should have. This recipe contains five ingredients. You put them all in a mixer and mix for 30 seconds. Then you pour them into the pan and bake. Yes. It's that simple. The second time turned out great, though, and they had very nice rise. On top of that, I got to use my batter dispenser which is always great fun and everyone is always jealous of it.

All in all, it was a great week in Baking. Next week is yeast breads!


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