Week 4- Baking and Skills

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This week in baking we were working with yeast. We made potato herb rolls and breadsticks. While those were rising, we made blueberry muffins with a cinnamon struesel topping and prepped some items to eat with a beer cheese fondue we made at the very end of class.

I've made yeast breads since I was very young. I remember when I was 7 or 8 years old checking a Boxcar Children Cookbook out of the library and making Baker's Bread in a Bag from the book. I made this recipe frequently, and my family liked it so much, that my dad started taking this bread to work and selling the loaves there for me to his coworkers. I still have that recipe, written in my childish handwriting.

I have a mixer that has dough hooks, but I have always preferred to mix dough by hand. Marc even bought me a breadmaker once, which I thought I would love! It turns out that I was far from impressed with the loaves which the breadmaker produced. The crust was far too thick, the loaves were shaped very oddly, and I didn't like the divet that the mixer left in the bottom of the loaf when it baked. We did use the dough hooks in class this week, but once it reached the right, or near the right, consistency, we turned it out onto the table to finish it off by hand. I LOVE the texture of well made dough. I LOVE shaping it into a ball and giving it that final, firm, satisfied pat after you thump it into the greased bowl, perfectly smooth on top. I love the fresh, yeasty smell the dough gives off while you are working with it, and the smell that wafts from the oven while you wait impatiently for the bread to come out. Making bread, if you can't tell, is very therapeutic for me. I don't do it often at home anymore as I don't have much counter space, so this was heaven for me.

It's been interesting to read so much about yeast and why it works the way it works. I've always done the correct things: warm water with the yeast, kneading it to the right consistency, letting it rise in a warm place, punching it down, shaping it, letting it rise a second time, and then cooking it. It's enriching to finally realize WHY I do these things, though.

I also learned how to portion the dough and properly round rolls. This, again, was fun for me. We practiced this on the potato herb rolls.

The blueberry muffins were as simple as they could possibly be. Again, I am well versed in this process.

Then we cooked up some sausages and made a beer cheese fondue with gruyere *quickly becoming a favorite cheese of mine* and cheddar. We got to enjoy a feast before cleaning up the kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed class this week, even if my tablemate, Chris, wasn't there. I was a little concerned when I was told by a class mate that he would not be there since the other partner I am with is a little more on the inexperienced/unmotivated side. Everything turned out alright, though. I managed to avoid a disaster when he gathered ingredients for the breadsticks, looking half at my recipe which had been doubled per instruction, and half at the books recipe which was, obviously, not doubled. I realized the error as I went to put the flour into the dough. It told me to put 1 lb of the flour in and when I did this, I was only left with 2 oz. That didn't seem right so I double checked the recipe. Sure enough, we were supposed to have 2 lb 4 oz. I was able to figure out which ingredients he had doubled, and which he had not and everything turned out fine. With some of the extra dough, I made teddy bears for Harmony and Layla.

In Skills this week, we worked on breakfast foods. We were shown how to properly poach an egg *the key is vinegar in the water*, how to make an egg over easy and over medium, as well as two ways to make an omelet. After the demonstrations, we were released to go make eggs benedict. For those of you who do not know what this is, it is an english muffin, toasted, with a slice of canadian bacon on top, then a poached egg on top of that, and finally smothered in hollandaise sauce. I must say that the hollandaise sauce is DEFINITELY much better ON a dish than by itself. I plated mine and then made it into a face, since that's the kind of thing I do.

We also made crepes. I LOVE crepes! They are one of my all time favorite breakfast foods...or dinner foods...or lunch foods. I can pretty much eat crepes whenever they are around. I made a yummy blueberry, mango, papaya coulis to go with it and, after almost getting into a brawl with Chef for touching my plate and crepes, plated them like butterflies. He seemed skeptical of the idea at first, but seemed pleased with the end product.

I was grinning on the way home today. I am halfway through my second quarter, and I am just as thrilled to be in school now as I was when I first began. I am living my dream and I am loving it. I am loving being challenged mentally and learning new things about something I love to do so much. I love proving to myself again and again that I AM smart, that I can do this, that I can excel. I take such pride in doing well, which is interesting because although I did well in high school *I got B's for the most part with an occasional A or C thrown in there*, I definitely did NOT apply myself like I am doing now. I definitely could have been a straight A student, but I just didn't put the effort in. That is not the case now. Maybe it is that I am doing what I love. Maybe it is that I have wanted to do this for SO long and now am getting the chance. Maybe it is because I had to work SO hard to get here and Marc is sacrificing so much to let me be here. Or maybe it is that I want to set an example for Harmony and Layla. Whatever the reason, I find myself grinning whenever my classmates tease me about my study habits, the extra work I put in, or being a "teacher's pet." I don't mind. It just lets me know that other people are seeing how hard I am working, too.


Monica Kaye said...

I love the recipe card! I lost my box of recipe cards in one of my early moves, and it makes me so sad when I think about it. Have a told you how proud I am of you lately? LOVE.

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