Baking nerd/nerdy baker. This is a chronicle of my year in pastry school, and beyond.
Week 17, Day 5-
Sometimes I wonder if I bake for purely nostalgic reasons. Take these cinnamon buns, for example. When I was younger (much, much younger) my grandparents would take my sister and I grocery shopping, and allow us to pick out nearly anything we wanted. Well, at the time my grandmother has started making those Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and we loved them. particularly the icing. So, we picked those out to take home (along with, amongst other things, box brownies with caramel sauce). We could barely contain ourselves as we popped open the tube and there, in it’s separate container, was the icing. We ended up eating all of it before the rolls had finished cooking. In fact, they might not even have started cooking. But what’s a cinnamon roll without icing? So we had to make more. I had no idea what they were made of, so I used powdered sugar and water. It was not the same, but I was so close.
Flashforward many years later, and here they are. A triumph, if I do say so myself. I’ve long since figured out the recipe for cream cheese icing, and I like to think it’s something I have mastered. And I can’t remember the last time I had any sort of cinnamon roll. But it brought me right back to that day in the kitchen, cluelessly playing with powdered sugar, telling my sister I’d figure it out. Oh, memories.
Week 17, Day 3-Napoleon complex
So, I might have mentioned (with so much vitriol) that we have been working on puff pastry. Today, we finally did something with it.
We made, okay, they were supposed to be cheese straws. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who actually used cheese. My dough was a bit underdone, but I had layers. So many layers. Cheese straws hold a special place in my heart. I remember eating them at my grandparents house. Not homemade ones, but still. They are comfort food.
We also made napoleons. A dessert which I am actually not a huge fan of. Although, I did like putting the top together. I think I came out well, if slightly crooked. But then, it wouldn’t be me if it weren’t slightly off-kilter.
Tomorrow is another day, one which I think might involve starting to make croissants. Which means, yup, you guesses it, more puff pastry. This one will be different, and for some reason, I think easier to work with. I do live in a fantasy world sometimes, so we will see.
Yesterday’s post was deleted because of a serious error. Your writer has duly flogged herself, and the other person responsible also feels dreadful. We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused you. We now return you to your blog.
So this puff pastry we have been working on for days (literally, days) is finally coming to a head. The instructor has finally shown us what we are to do with it, and oh boy! It’s a lot of stuff. We are going to make napoleons, and something called a pithivier, which I’m wholly unfamiliar with, and last but CERTAINLY not least, cheese straws. So excited for cheese straws.
The pithivier is puff pastry with almond cream baked inside. I’m sort of undecided as to whether that sounds like a million kinds of amazing, or just odd.
The instructor also made vol-au-vents and brie-en-croute, two things I love, and two things which bring back memories. My grandparents used to have vol-au-vent shells, and I’m pretty sure I ate them straight up and empty, and my uncle would make brie-en-croute for holidays and gatherings. With brown sugar and almonds.
The thing about puff pastry is this: I freaking love it. I always have. Just plain, by itself, it’s great to me. But now that I’ve learned how to make it…it’s a challenge. A special, special challenge. The dough can’t be too cold because you can’t roll it out. Nut it can’t be to warm because it affects the butter. And you have to do this over and over and over again. And it gets warm. And it gets frustrating. And I have really wanted to throw my puff pastry across the room and just quit. And I very nearly may have. But deep down inside, somewhere in the corner of my deranged mind? I kind of want to do it again.
crumbs. week 16. it’s been that kind of day.
Today we did our original bread recipe project. Unfortunately, I was sick last week when they discussed it. It was a group project, which made it a little better. My group bread was called Chive Talkin’. Because it had chives in it. Get it? And yes, I named it. It was a sourdough. With cheese as well. It was good. But it was flat. We got a B. I’m okay with it. Because sometimes you just have to be. My partner was livid. It was her recipe. So there you go. But the project is over. And I’ve learned a lot. Like how to create my own bread recipe.
We are now also on to things like puff pastry and croissants. It is a lot harder than it looks, and I’m kind of intimidated. But I’ll muddle through. I think.
Last night, challah test. Today, prepare for bread recipe project. Tomorrow, bread project. Tonight, ice cream for dinner.
Week 16, Day 1-Challah at your girl
So, last week was kind of a bust. A rotten sinus infection kept me down. And some visiting friends. A girl needs to get out once in a while.
Needless to say, coming back to making challah was pretty great. I’m not big on religion, but my mother is Jewish, so this brought me right back to my childhood. There is really nothing better than fresh challah, beliefs aside. And let me tell you, I will be rocking the French toast mighty soon.
We also started our original bread project. My partner and I are making a cheddar cheese-and-chive sourdough bread. Sort of like a self-contained grilled cheese, I guess. Ooooh, I wonder if I made it with potato bread it would be like a baked potato with cheese and chives. Mmmm.
Three weeks into this class and I still love it. Breadmaking is hard. Really hard. But I’m finding it to be one of the most satisfying experiences.
I promise there will be a post tomorrow. Right now I’m so tired I’m not even sure I can spell my own name.
I, however, am aces at starting them.
Yes, that’s right. I caused a fire. Not my finest moment. I like to think of it as the universes way of getting back at the kitchen for my burns yesterday (another genius move on my part. I forgot I had just taken the pan out of the oven).
We were making pizza, and, even if we ignore that my cheese runneth over, the pizza was also quite thin. By choice. By nature. Because some of my Cali native classmates had thick, bready, nasty pizza. Anyway. I was trying to take my pizza out, and it just got pushed farther back into the oven. And then the parchment paper ignited. And I was not happy. It was too far back to do anything about, until one of the guys finally grabbed it. And the whole thing, pizza and flaming paper, hit the ground. Yes, that’s right. Paper. In flames. On the ground. With who knows what ignitey stuff lying around. Finally, someone stepped on it to put it out.
So, it’s been a night. And yesterday’s burns didn’t blister or anything, I just have no feeling in my finger.
I am now exhausted. I am going to have French fries and ice cream for dinner. Because when you are a grown up, you can.
No post tomorrow. I will be very busy studying a different kind of yeast fermentation with some of my favorite people. In other words, I will be getting very drunk.