Friday, August 21, 2009

Baking Lab, Day One.

I LOVE IT!!!!!!

We had our first lab today for Baking I, yeast breads. We had to use a weighted baker's scale, rather than a digital scale like I'm used to. I had to come home and give my digital scale a hug. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's one of these. Okay, not that one, but one that looked more like it's grandfather. Turns out, I've been spoiled with my wonderful, fantastic Salter digital scale. If you're in the market for a digital scale, I give it two thumbs up. These crazy old baker's scales...not so much. Turns out that if you aren't used to it, it can be wildly inaccurate. Nearly everyone ended up with a dough that was too wet, including me. We worked with partners to scale our individual ingredients, then proceeded from there on our own. I think my partner and I didn't accurately zero out the weight of the bowl on the scale. No worries. It worked out okay for all involved. All you do is add more flour once you get it on the bench. You knead it longer, but it works out okay. Observe:

Each recipe gave us five baguettes and about two dozen rolls. It took me a lot longer than some people to get my dough ready to rise, but when it came to portioning it, I was much faster than everyone else. I was also able to cut the 2 oz. rolls more accurately too. To shape the rolls, you hold one under each hand and roll around on the bench to for a nice smooth little ball. Since I was familiar with this technique already, I was able to knock out a pan of rolls in the time it took most of classmates to do five or six. I discovered that our ovens don't seem to brown this so well. I'm not sure why this is right now. Next time I'll be a bit more heavy handed with the egg wash. The picture is a bit washed out, but they aren't quite dark enough for me.

Unfortunately there is no professional experience requirement for my program like other school. For example, the Culinary Institute of America requires that you have worked for six months in a restaurant before they will accept you. I have many classmates who have only cooked at home or at church, so they don't understand kitchen etiquette. What I mean by this is that you let people know where you are. If I'm walking behind you, I'll say, "behind you!" loud enough that you can hear me. If I'm walking behind you with something hot, I'll say, "hot behind you" or "hot coming through." If I don't know you are back there and I turn around and walk into you, we could have a big mess, or worse. We had a lot of people who don't get that. I was sweeping at one point and turned around to find one woman standing behind me with a big bowl of dough. Just standing there. Waiting. I think some of these folks will be in for a big surprise when they go to work. I'm not being mean, mind you, just honest. Don't believe me? Read this post. Or this one.

When it came to clean up time, there were several people who were team players and several who stood around like they had no clue what needed to be done. Of course, I had no qualms about pointing out the equipment that needed to be put away or the floor that needed to be swept. I volunteered to stay late for class, by almost an hour today, to finish the clean up. These things will be noticed by the Powers That Be. I got to know a couple people in my class. One of them is J. who is also a B&P student like moi. He's cool. He has a fine arts degree, which is what made him choose pastry rather than culinary. It's nice to see another serious pastry student.


Kristina P. said...

Yeah, I wouldn't understand the kitchen etiquette either, but I would learn very quickly.

CailinMarie said...

I absolutely adore that J has a fine arts degree and so naturally belongs in pastry instead of culinary - I so agree! I would thing kitchen etiquette would a.) be obvious within minutes and b.) be something that the teacher, lab assistant, person supposedly with a clue, would have pointed out to everybody before turning them loose. Imagine soup burns - OW!!!

FoxyMoron said...

Well it made sense to me right away, and I will employ that in my own kitchen (much to the confusion and amusement of my family). How sensible!

And what Cailin said!

I am loving this Meg! Thank you so much for sharing. Looks to me like you're in the place you're meant to be.