Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I GOT 8 HOURS OF SLEEP LAST NIGHT! And I feel like a new woman! Wooooowwwhhhooooo! I even got a little time to decompress, have a glass of OJ, take the dog out and then crash. Ahhhhh. The sweet release of...sleep (kinda like death, but WAY better!)

Last night was more croissants. The detrompe we'd made on Friday had been refrigerated instead of frozen so it had WAY too much fermentation. (Think alcohol and bread dough... shot of vodka that you can chew.) Not so tasty. So Jeremy and I made a two new batches while Steve did his turns on one of the detromps left from last week. We got in two turns by the end of the night. Overall it was a pretty successful evening.

Chef Rene'e also started us on puff pastry. Let me mention now... DON'T Try this at home! Just suck it up and pay the $10/lb for the PepperRidge Farms stuff in the frozen section. WHAT A PAIN! For one thing you have to wait at least an hour between turns and, unlike croissants which only take 3 turns, they need 6 turns! yeash! Anyway, we got the butter locked in and one turn. Only 5 more turns to go... with any luck we'll be able to get those done today... we'll see, it's one of those things where you work it in when you can. The guys and I will be shifting to the Danish station today, so we'll be relatively busy. We work well together, but they guys we're taking over from are pretty efficient and they were the last ones done every day, so we'll see.

I don't know how I managed it, but my July is totally getting booked, and double booked... and triple booked. This weekend is Lindy's wedding, so I'll be making a little heart shaped cake for the couple and schlepping to Sac. The following weekend is Fourth of July. July 10th could be a bit of a problem. Jeremy is planning a Wine Train trip that day, but we found out last night that Chef Ken is having an open bake day that day AND it's Eli's going away cruise. Good Grief! July 12 starts Cost Control, so I'm pretty sure my weekends will be packed with that, hard to say right now. So that gets me to the middle of July. Yeash! Well, at least it's all fun stuff!

Back to work. Talk to you all later!
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Monday, June 21, 2004

Friday was a bad day at work. My boss wasn't doing anything that he hasn't done for the past 9 months, but I was exhausted and emotional and I was just seething by 11:30. Thankfully I'd planned on getting my car washed and filled with gas at noon, so I got a chance to escape. As I was walking out he walked out too. Hmmmm. Due to the total lack of information sharing I had no idea where he was off to. After calling the office I realized he wouldn't be back until long after I was due to go, so I decided not to go back after I ran my errands. All in all it was only an hour early.

I was so frazzled I went straight to school, realized I'd forgotten socks and a ruler (for measuring dough thickness in vienoiserie) and went to Walgreens. (As much as I hate that store, it is sure nice, at times, that there's one around every corner!) After getting ready for school I still had some time to spare so I went up to Cakes and talked to Chef Ken. Ahhhh, cake therapy! I picked his brain about a cake I was making for Father's Day and told him about the headache that was work. I also told him about the Phil debacle. It was nice. Chef Ken also mentioned that this coming Friday is his birthday. Hmmmm, decisions decisions! He mentioned that last year he got two cakes, but neither of them was home-made!!! I was appalled, but I also understood. I mean, really, how intimidating is it to make a birthday cake for a CAKE INSTRUCTOR! :) Anyway, after talking and brainstorming and making some lemon infused cream for my lemon tiramisu I felt much better. (Side note: I'm always amazed at how stressed out I get about work, and then I come to school, the foundation for my future, and I feel great. I may get pretty intense and pretty critical and, at times, awfully annoyed, but I'm always happy to be there and I always feel like I'm giving everything I've got to the process. Thank goodness!)

Well, Friday was the first full, productive day in Vienoiserie. My group was on the croissant station. It was a bit, well, interesting. Definitely something that I'll need lots of practice at to get 100% right. Oy! And cutting a straight line wouldn't hurt either! It is an entirely different atmosphere in the cold room than the main classroom. I can't say I miss the other 2/3 of the class much at all! If nothing else it's quite a bit quieter and there is more of a chance to ask questions. It's all good... so far. :) Chef Rene'e had us in stitches several times, so that set us off on a good foot. Have I mentioned that I just love talking about food with that woman?!!!!

After class I went home to make Dad's tiramisu. All I really needed to do was make the cake. Done. Then I went out and met the girls for a couple of drinks and then went home. Talk about boring and responsible! Most of the night we just bitched about school, people, teaching styles, likes and dislikes. Overall it was a good, slightly alcohol infused, vent session. I woke up early Saturday morning, got ready, finished packing and picked up Barney to go to Sac.

Mom and I and the boys (it turns out that Dad was working) went to Corti Brothers. Yes it was a mecca, and expensive mecca, but a mecca none the less. I started at one end and worked my way to the other. I probably could have spent an hour or two just in the wine section, but that's a little difficult to do without a guide and with a 3 and 5 year old tugging at you. But I did get all sorts of cool, tasty, unusual food. Can't wait to get a chance to use it! :) (Heaven only knows when that will be!)

I got a couple of good naps this weekend, but I don't feel anywhere near ready for this week. I'm also housesitting this week, yea, so that will be one more thing! Oh well, the things we do for money!

Well, it's taken me 2 hours to write this post so I'd better wrap it up and get on with work.

This is a new week... it just HAS to be better than last week! :)

Talk to you all later!

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Friday, June 18, 2004

I swear, when are people going to realize that grading/going home isn't going to happen until the entire kitchen is clean? Not just their station, THE ENTIRE KITCHEN! No, don't just stand there, laughing and leaning against your table... WORK! grrrrr

Horror story: I was talking to Ryan last night. Apparently he was at the dish station and turned around to a student walking head long into him... CARRYING A KNIFE pointed out. Good grief. There was no blood. There were no cuts, but COME ON PEOPLE! We're in the 12th week of class. EVERYONE should know what they are doing by now. Not everything, but at least enough to remember the basic safety concepts.

Thursday hit me pretty hard yesterday. I was exhausted. After we baked the foccacia we needed to cut it and taste. I just couldn't. I thought I was going to puke. Finally I got up the nerve to taste a small bit, but then had to spit it out because I thought I was going to loose it. Don't you just hate it when your body rebels against you!?!?! After I scarfed my dinner down I took off my glasses and hat and laid my head down on my arm... and, you guessed it!, went to sleep. I know my classmates knew I was tired, I looked totally wiped, but I think the fact that I was actually able to go to sleep amazed them. (This is particularly humorous because there was a private party in the Careme Room for 80 and they had a live band.) I'm tellin' ya... NOTHING keeps me awake when I really want to sleep.

I couldn't believe it, even though it was obvious I was pretty spent I got a very unusual comment from one of my classmates. He said, "We've noticed that you aren't as friendly as you used to be." Excuse me! I think my eyebrows shot up at this one. Not as friendly. Um, yea, how friendly would you be after working 54 hours (week-to-date) and then having people be rude, or at the very least, inconsiderate for 7 of those hours in class? My response was level and unimpassioned. I told him quite flatly that, yes, I've just gotten a bit tired of people being so inconsiderate. Tired of the thoughtlessness. Tired of people not thinking about what they are doing before they do it and not having any consideration for safety or time and motion or the big picture. I also made it quite plain that we are in the 12th week of this program and even though I'm hard on myself, and I'm equally hard on others, we all started at the same time... I didn't know any more than anyone else when we started and WHAT THE HELL! They should all know what I know at this point and I'm not making these stupid mistakes. (Not that I'm perfect, far from it. But my mistakes tend to be in the areas of chemistry and incorporation... I either leave out ingredients, forget to check temps, under/over proof, or over bake... these are all areas that, particularly in breads, we are supposed to be learning and screwing up.) Poor guy conceded that I did have a point and he understood, but got back to working on the levain and left me alone to try not to throw up.

Last night was actually quite successful. I got two As on my lavash crackers (which was the second time I did them... first time turned out like cajun crackers... whoops! hint: remember to turn the oven down.) and the bagels that Jeremy, Steve and I worked on as a group. Jeremy and I also got our Pane Sisiliano graded from the day before, I think we got As on that too, but I can't remember. We also took another quiz last night. Piece of cake. It was a lot easier than the first one, which I got a 92% on and definitely had room for improvement... thank goodness for the extra credit questions! I wouldn't be surprised if I got above a 95%... we'll see. It's kind of hard to get excited/nervous about these quizzes when they are only 10% of 1/3 of your total Breads grade.

Well, I'm pooped. I'll be making the trip to Corti Brothers with Mom tomorrow, so that's something to look forward to, but I'm pooped. I sure hope I can get some sleep this weekend. Maybe I'll move the couch cushions outside and sleep by the pool. Hmmm, guess we'll see how hot it winds up getting.

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Busy day at work. 4 research projects... not a whole lot of time to write about last night!

Last night was our last night on service. Tonight we're going to make foccacia for production and, hopefully, have enough time to re-make our lavash crackers. I forgot to change the temperature on the oven, so I wound up with Cajun crackers... hee hee. I guess Jeremy and Steve also over baked theirs a bit, so it'll be good for us to re-do them. Tonight will be our last night at the Artisan bread stations before we migrate to Viennoiserie (sp) where we'll be making Danish, coissant (sp), quick breads and puff pastry. We'll be working with Chef Rene'e (I've been spelling her name wrong! eek!)... I know it's going to be a lot to cover, but I think it'll be a hoot!

Last night we made seeded twists (they had anise seed in the seed mix... not my favorite!) which were under proofed and the pane siciliano (made with semolina flour) which, I have a suspicion might have been over proofed, but we'll see tonight. Poor Chef Malia... at least she doesn't actually swallow all that bread... I'm telling you, I'm surprised that most of these instructors aren't bulimic. I can't imagine anything worse than having to taste 15 student's bread every night... sometimes 2+ varieties. Ick. Chef Malia and I were talking while she was grading our projects and I mentioned my comment yesterday about the 4 ingredients... she got a kick out of that. She also mentioned that Breads is like chemistry class in high school. Yea, except nothing is written down... and it feels like you've got to wing it at some points. Lots and lots of variables... thank goodness for thermometers! I can't even begin to imagine what bread life was like before them! EEEEKKKK!

Chef Rene'e and I were talking about cheese (Barney made these ballons that had bleu cheese and walnuts on them and then he drizzled them with honey. Pretty tasty, but after that first tasty bite there wasn't anything else to look forward to... just a plain roll. Chef Rene'e and I discussed variations on the theme that might make the overall end product better.) and I mentioned that I hadn't been over to the Cheese Board yet. (Actually, I haven't been to the Gourmet Ghetto at all yet! I know, I know, what kind of chef wanna be am I!??? I live in SF and I haven't even made the short pilgrimage to Chez Pannise, et all?) She was extolling it's virtues and those of several other stores in the neighborhood. I mentioned that Plugra is coming out with a new salted version... hope Trader Joe's carries it... at $5+/# at Whole Foods, who can afford it unless you can get it at TJ's for $3.50/#. Anyway, as we were winding up our chat she told me that my assignment this weekend was to go to Cheese Board. I mentioned that because this was Father's Day weekend I'd be going to Sac, so she gave me an alternative assignment. Corti Brothers. Never heard of it, but she says it's amazing and has quite the cult following among foodies, so it's going to have to be a MUST! Mom and I are going to make the pilgrimage on Saturday and decide what we are going to do for Father's Day dinner... I've already got dessert under control.

Corti Brothers (apologies for sending you to Citysearch, but I couldn't find a company website.)

Noreen (our receptionist at work) brought me the best raspberries I've had in a long time... from her BF's garden. Oh am I jealous!

Well, back to work. Sorry for the short post and lack of pictures. Breads class just isn't quite as eventful as Cakes. (Well, that and I keep forgetting my camera at work!)
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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

First, apologies for not writing. I've been slacking to the worst degree. (You'd think I was working or something!) Unfortunately, breads is not turning out to be my favorite class. Yes, there is a lot to learn, but I'm just not feeling the spark that I felt in Cakes class. I'm not sure if it's the lack of creativity (I mean, really, how creative can you get with only 4 ingredients... of course, as soon as I say that I remember that bakers have been getting creative with those 4 ingredients since the dawn of time, so really, who do I think I am anyway!).

Not sure if I mentioned this before, but I really am liking the small group I'm working in: Steve, Jeremy and I are really working well together... except this Monday. If we could have @#($*&@#($& up the bread on Monday, we did... TWICE! Below are the details, but, short version, it was a Monday... in the worst way. Thank God we made these mistakes in school because if we were working, not only would we have been fired, the chef would have told us to try not to @#(*$& up the door hitting our asses on the way out... but we would have probably lost our last paycheck and maybe even owed the restaurant money. Yes, it was that bad. So bad we were surprised yesterday to see that each other had shown up. So bad we wanted to quit, at multiple points in the evening, and just start again fresh the next day. So bad we were almost begging to go to Cost Control with Chef Amy.

The Gory Details: aka The Monday Everything Went Wrong
Monday was our second day (of a two day rotation) of ciabatta production. Ciabatta (literal translation is old slipper) is an Italian bread that uses a starter called biga. The biga is kind of like sourdough starter, but instead of being made with wild yeast, it's made with commercial yeast. The finished product should have a nice crisp crust and lots of big, airy holes throughout the body.

We started off well enough. Each of the people in the group were racing around to gather ingredients and we all started combining. We'd just learned about altering the arrival temp of the dough, so we were taking temperatures and going like mad. (We were also, simultaneously, making oatmeal bread for our project. Mistake #1) We needed to warm up the biga because it was too cold, so we measured out how much we needed into a smaller container so it could warm with we did M-E-P. I don't remember it happening, but Steve asked Jeremy if we were done with the biga. Yes, we were done. I'm not sure how, we're done, and throw the biga away got mixed up, but the remaining biga got thrown out. (Mistake #2) Now, at the very least, biga needs to ferment over night and usually, 9 times out of 10 -us being that 1 time- you carry the biga from yesterday forward to tomorrow. You just feed it like barm and then retard over night. Well, the biga got pitched. OK, we can recover. Go to chef, confess, see what we can do to fix the situation. Make new biga for tomorrow. We were moving along nicely, a little rocky, but nicely. I added the olive oil to the dough too soon (Mistake #3), but that wasn't a total deal breaker. Everything had been added to the 20-quart mixer and we were ready to add in the remaining 2/3 of the flour. I went over to the table to get the flour and there was only one bowl, so I grabbed it and Steve and I added it to the dough and started mixing. Then, after, maybe 2 minutes, Jeremy added the salt. After reviewing the recipe again, we were supposed to develop the gluten for 6 minutes and then add the salt and mix for another 2. Whoops! (Mistake #4) It's at this point that we notice that the ciabatta looks awfully thick. Ciabatta is a pretty slack dough, like foccacia, so the fact that it bore a striking resemblance to baguette dough was not a heartening sign. At about this point, back at the table, Jeremy is asking what happened to the flour for the biga. Apparently he'd started M-E-P the ingredients and now the flour was missing. Hmmmm. I told him that I'd grabbed the only flour that was on the table for the ciabatta. Great. Now our ciabatta had 2x as much flour as it needed. (Mistake #5) OK, we can recover. Go to chef, confess, see what we can do to fix the situation. She chuckles (frankly, as you read this, you have to give Chef Malia a lot of credit. She totally kept her sense of humor through the whole debacle.). We do a little math. I get totally lost. We calculate how much water should be added to the lot to get the hydration to where it's needed. We chop up the dough, add it to the mixer, add the water, let it sit and soak up the water. Take a break. After we come back we return the dough to the mixer. Mix on speed 1. Looks like lumpy soup. Mix on speed 2, looks like lumpy soup. Mix on speed 3. Gluten starts to form, but at best it looks like a nice raised pancake batter. Not exactly what we were going for. Chef comments that we, the four of us, probably miscalculated the amount of water needed. (mistake #6) Great. No real way to start over. As it is the olive oil and salt percents were way out of wack. Great, to make matters worse, we don't have any biga to start over with. It's not so bad, we can recover. Change of plan. We're going to make ciabatta with firm starter. Chef actually looks a little pleased with that and says that ciabatta made with firm starter is quite tasty. OK, we can do this. Chef says that we should grab the PM firm starter in the white container in the fridge. OK. I go to the fridge. I see two white containers. One says AM firm starter. The other is sitting right on top and doesn't have a label. OK, white container, next to AM firm starter, this must be the container Chef was referring to. We all get back to the table. OK, we aren't going to @#($*& this up again. Someone is going to be sous chef and the other two people with get the ingredients. I become sous chef. Jeremy and Steve track down ingredients and weigh. I make sure we've got what we actually need in the correct amounts and that we're following the steps correctly. Good. We get the dough into the mixer. Good. All remaining ingredients are mixed in. Good. I'm watching the time for gluten development and I'm holding on to the salt. Good. Jeremy and Steve are going to re-make the biga and then make more firm starter to replace what we'd used. I'm watching the time. We're recovering nicely. Jeremy comes up to me... uh oh. He looks sheepish. UH OH! WHAT NOW! It turns out that the container I grabbed was not the PM firm starter, it was an unlabeled container of AM ballon dough. (Mistake #7) Great. @(*@#&$(*@#&$(*&!!!!!!!!!!!! So now our monumental @#($& up no only affects us and our class, but we've oozed over into affecting the AM class. Great. At this point there is no recovering. We feel totally deflated (like our dough, because it only had 1/5, maybe, of the yeast it should have had) and defeated. The bread won. We lost. Can we please go home and start over again tomorrow. No, we need to trudge on. By this point we are laughing hysterically. Not because the situation is particularly funny, which, in retrospect it is, it was more of a case of trying not to cry. Trying not to think we are the world's biggest failures when it comes to bread. Trying desperately to cling to some hope that we, eventually, will be able to make and bake bread... something more than brown and serve rolls at Thanksgiving.

Long story short, we wound up forming our puny bread like ciabatta and baking it off. It actually did rise, but because of the lack of fermentation time (because of all the screw ups and the wonky combination of ingredients) it wound up tasting like wonder bread. No crisp crust. Not sweet. Not yeasty. Pretty much just starchy. Edible, but not good.

I think the technical term for Monday's debacle is "multiple points of failure".

Lessons Learned
  • Read the recipe before you begin working. Start to finish. I don't care how many times you've made it.
  • Set out a game plan.
  • Only work on one project at a time (until you are comfortable enough to multi-task)
  • When working in a group, elect one person to be sous chef to watch over the M-E-P and to follow the recipe.
  • Label your ingredients.
  • Label any products that need to go into the retarder over night.
  • Don't assign blame.
  • Ask for help.
  • Don't cry, unless you are also laughing.
  • Keep trying to fix the problem until it really can't be fixed. If the chef gives up and tells you to start over, then do it. Otherwise, keep trying.
  • Share your mistakes with others. 1) It keeps you humble. 2) It helps your fellow students learn from your mistakes.
  • Tomorrow is a new day.

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    Tuesday, June 15, 2004

    Another closeup
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    Our lovely star.
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    We kind of messed up the braid on our 5 braid. But at least we were consistant, so it looked good, just a little off on the side.
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    Challa bread - 5 braid and 4 braid star... very tasty!
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    Top left is the inside of the Chef Malia recipe, bottom right is the Giesslen recipe. See the yellow streaks through the middle of the dough?
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    Egg wash
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    Dipped in water
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    Dipped in nothing
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    Pretzel dipped in Chef Malia's variation
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    Pretzel dipped in the Giesslen recipe
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    Relatively even layers. Got the best compliment... "This is your best cake ever." YEA!!! Improvement! AND, this is an original!
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    Beginning of the pretzel experiment
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    Close up. Shell border at the bottom and rope border at the top. I used melted white chocolate, tinted pink, for the writing and for the decoration.
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    White chocolate shavings for a little masking
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    So, the writing needs a little work... it was 6am and I'd only had 5 hours sleep...
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    Shane's birthday cake. White butter cake, fresh strawberries, strawberry mouse and white chocolate whipped cream
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    Thursday, June 10, 2004

    Slightly out of order... this is the first form foccatia.
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    Hoang and the foccatia final form.
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    Jeremy and the final form for the foccatia.
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    Final form for the foccatia... see the big poofy dough in the back by Ryan?
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    Yes, that blur is my hand. And yes I am throwing the foccatia down onto the table... ahhh, you've just got to love gleuten formation!
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    I was totally cracking up athe the thought of how these pics would look. Katrina, sweetheart, asked me if I wanted her to take them of me... oh sure... why not! She kept having difficulty getting anything.
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    Me throwing foccatia
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    Our foccatia at first form.
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    Foccatia on the pan for it's final form
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    Weighing the oil on the pan for the final form for foccatia
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    Mixing in the fat (olive oil)
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    Chef Malia making foccatia
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    Turning final form levain onto the peel to go into the oven.
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    Bread service
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    First form foccatia
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    Wednesday, June 09, 2004

    Not much to post from last night. I wasn't there for the entire class. I found out yesterday that Phil is getting married. Every time I thought about it I started crying... not so conducive to sanitary baking. At least I lasted until 7:30.

    We made ciabatta last night and fed our baby barm for the second day. The first time I saw the ciabatta on the rack I commented that they were the ugliest levain I'd ever seen... little did I know that they weren't levain at all! :) Silly me! It's actually pretty easy to make. The barm is our wild yeast starter that we are growing. It'll take 5 days to mature, and I'm honestly not sure what happens over the weekends (fridge maybe). When all is said and done my barm partner and I will have a teaming population of wild yeast! Its actually pretty cool.

    We also finished off our Danish yesterday. We made snails (schnecken) and pinwheels. Not too difficult to form, but rolling out the dough to the desired thickness is a bit of a challenge. Note: Make sure you cut all the way through the dough... no, really, ALL THE WAY THROUGH. I totally thought I was doing it, but nope! Anyway, I think we're baking them off today and I assume filling them too. We'll see.

    The first test for Breads is tonight... I feel totally unprepared... as usual. When I told Chef Malia that I wasn't going to be able to stay (I couldn't hardly say the words for the tears... good grief!) I asked what I should cover. Mix Methods (lets see: Direct-baguettes, Indirect or modified direct-levain, hmmmmmm, guess I'd better look over my notes before class!), calculating baker's percentage (easy as pie... take the ingredient you want to know the percentage of, make that the numerator. Take the largest ingredient - in our case, that's almost always flour - and make that the denominator. Divide. Multiply by 100 (move the decimal 2 places). Done.), and arrival temp (most bread dough is between 60-80 degrees when it comes out of the mixer... actually most wind up hovering around 70, give or take 5 degrees.). Shouldn't be a problem, guess we'll just wait and see.

    Sorry for the shortish post today. I have some pics of my making foccatia (very amusing!), but I'll have to post those tomorrow. (I promise!)

    Off to scare off my replacement at work!

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    Tuesday, June 08, 2004

    Wow, this is a record for me... not a good record, but a record none-the-less. Pushing three days of no posts.

    Breads, is well, breads. We're still learning the groundwork, so it's not all that exciting. There are moments (we made Danish last night, our first laminated dough... that was fun!) that are noteworthy, but mostly I'm just getting irritated. There are WAY too many people for the amount of work that needs to get done. I keep volunteering to do more, but there are times when there just isn't anything to do. I NEED A SCHEDULE!!! It's total and utter chaos. No syllabus. No design to let us know what the plan is, what direction we are going or what sort of skills need to be checked off. Yes, I know, I wasn't expecting it to be EXACTLY like cakes, I was expecting something totally different, but at least there should be some sort of formal educational framework! Good Grief!

    Last night I was near tears. So stupid. The women were, for the most part, being total bitches and the guys were, well, what's the male form of bitch? Bastard? Anyway, I don't know if it was residual full moon or what, but people were just being inconsiderate and rude. Come on people! We're supposed to, kinda sorta, be working like a team! When it came time to clean up I was practically run out of the job I was doing. So I went into the main room (I was in the laminated dough room) and was standing there waiting. It was 10. Now, I know there are plenty of young 'uns in this class, and I know there are plenty of people who don't HAVE to work, and I know there are plenty of, well, let's just call a spade a spade... lazy people who quit their jobs every time they get tired or stressed or feel over worked. Well, wah. Must be nice. I'm tired, stressed and feel overworked every day... for 11 weeks now, and the real irony is, is that there are people out there working even more hours per day than me! So when we're standing around waiting for people to get their shit together, well, it's just maddening! I mean really, you can only have so many people clean 1 table at a time before everyone is stepping all over everyone else. It's just silly and unorganized.

    After I finally left school and got home I saw I had a voice mail from Kari. Just what I needed, a friendly voice. (Have I mentioned that she lives in WI and works the night shift at a radio station? No? Well, it's great, because I don't have to worry about the time difference and I can talk to her whenever I want/need!) The sweetie asked me to stand up in her wedding! I was so honored. I've never been in a wedding... except as a bride... and we all know how that worked out! :) So now I get to stand up with her AND make the cake... I'm really looking forward to it. It looks like it'll be June 18, 2005. Tons of time to plan. I'm not really all that worried.

    I do have pics to post from breads class... at least from Thursday/Friday, but it's not going to happen today.

    Talk to you all later!

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    Kari and Dave got engaged! Yea!!!! I'd planned on making their cake before they even moved in together, but Kari called me last night and asked me to stand up with her. What an honor!
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    Thursday, June 03, 2004

    The classroom. Proof box, convection oven and deck ovens are off to the left. Walk in is straight to the back. Steve and Cheryl are in the foreground.

    The laminated dough room (bbbrrrrrrrr). We learned how to use the handy dandy machine last night in the foreground. It's called the Duchess and it can divide dough into equally weighed rolls... very cool... particularly if you're making a gazillion rolls at Thanksgiving time.

    Slightly better picture (taken through the glass from the main classroom).

    About an hour into class Chef Malia left. Hmmm, no explinations, no introduction for Chef Mike, or even who Chef Mike was. Seemed a bit odd, but most people just went with it.

    We started off the night by turning out pain au levain, slashing and baking off. Very nice. I did pretty decent at the turning out and the slashing, but I seriously need practice with the peel. YIKES! I had bread flying everywhere!

    Chef Rene (pointy hat) encouraging us to use a bit more semoline when placing the pain au levain on the peels.

    Next we M-E-P (mise en place) baguettes and pain au levain. (The class has been split in half for now, so there are about 16 of us in our smaller groups. It's really nice.) Chef Mike walked us through Mix Method 2: Improved (ex:pain au levain). Lots of food science! Yea!!! It's a bit overwhelming, but I'm just trying to take lots of notes and drawings.

    Alison pulling out barm for the pain au levain. Eeewwwww. (It's all sticky and slimy and smells like yeasty feet. Yum!)

    After we turned the levain out to ferment we made a batch of baguettes. Well, we knew it was going to happen to someone... we forgot the salt. Now, think about it... the only ingredients are flour water, yeast and... SALT... so, without the salt you've basically got glue that smells like feet. ICK! Fortunately we'd just turned the dough out to ferment when we noticed, so we popped it back into the bowl and re-mixed with the salt. (Now, if we'd done the window pane test before we turned the dough out we would have caught this mistake... you can't window pane without salt. Well, this is another one of those live and learn things... next time.) The re-mixing actually increased the temp quite a bit, but we were still in a safe zone (the baguettes need to be between 60 and 80 degrees to rise). Chef Mike asked how it went and I confessed our mistake. He asked about the temp and then suggested that we move the box to the laminated doughs room because it was cooler and the dough was more likely to get good flavor in the process.

    Before we could go to dinner we had to crank out the baguettes. They were a little on the less than fermented side, but Chef Mike said it would be fine. He also demonstrated how to make baguettes again. There were many similarities to Chef Malia's way, but there were some differences... the most noticeable are that he was very clear (we watched him do one then he did one with us) and he came by to check on each and every one of us. (Nothing quite like a little personal attention to make me feel like I'm getting my money's worth!)

    Chef Mike demonstrating flouring (lightly) dough before it is divided.

    Dividing the dough.

    Smaller... trying to get 12oz of dough. Not as easy as it sounds.

    Chef Mike walking us through the objective analysis of the baked rolls. He also gave us tasting instructions so we can start to develop our palate.

    After dinner (I'm a little fuzzy on the time line... it's been a bit of a whirlwind) we made ballons... by hand. Yes, it's good practice, but I have to say my shoulders are a bit sore today. Then we used the dutchess to cut the dough into nice 2 oz rolls... very slick. (think of the Hawaiian brown and serve rolls that you buy around the holidays... one piece of dough cut into nice equal pieces ready for you to finish baking and then tear apart.) There are only two first forms that dough can take on: long and skinny (hot dog bun) and round. We made both and then went back and made knotted rolls and, well rolls. Hoang and I worked together. Once we were finished (we'd each made about a dozen rolls) we had to pick out the six best of each type.

    The rolls proofed and baked while we were cleaning up the kitchen. After we were done we gathered around the table to look at our work. We started off with objective comparison (not, "it looks good", mmmmm, or yummy). We need to be able to use non-judgemental adgatives. Look at color, shape evenness of glaze. While evaluating with our eyes, also consider the placement in the oven. The browner rolls (and frankly the best looking) were on the top three racks, the lighter rolls were toward the bottom. (One thing to remember when you go into a new shop... make a ton of rolls and bake them in every available oven, watch the time closely and then take them out and evaluate. This will let you know where the hot/cool spots are in the oven, which ovens are good for baking big products and which are good for small.) Next we pulled the rolls apart, smelled and noted what happened in our mouths (without tasting!). You could "taste" the acid right away. The sides of my mouth watered just at the smell. Next we tasted the inside. Warm and yeasty were the first things I noticed. Next, salt and then acid. We pretty much determined that the salt was a bit out of balance. Lastly we chewed a full bite of the roll. Did it stick to our teeth? or to itself? Itself. This means that the gleutin wasn't over developed. Well, several minutes later... we were still chewing. Turns out that the amount of time it takes to chew is another measure of gleutin production... we HAD overdeveloped the gleutin. Whoops! (Everyone over developed their gleutin.) Chef Mike mentioned that he'd heard that for every minute of kneading it equated to two bites of chewing. Hmmmm, does that mean we should knead faster? or is that more of a gross number of times you push the dough down into the table? Basically, the more the knead, the more you'll need to chew. Something to keep in mind.

    The dozen rolls on the left are Hoang's and mine. Decent shape and color. The knots need a little lovin', but will improve with time.

    Three sample rolls. I'm honestly not sure if these are Hoang's or mine. We've got a little better than a 50/50 chance.

    After evaluating the bread we got to go home. I thanked Chef Mike for all the food science and for the good explanations. It almost sounded like he's going to be here again tonight... we'll see. Poor guy, he also teaches the morning class, so he'd been at work since 5:30... no wonder chefs look older than they really are... no sleep... puffy eyes. Oh well, guess I'd better get used to it.

    Funny, even though this was a short week, I'm pooped! I haven't had to start the day off with asprin in about two weeks and I had to resort to advil this morning. This weekend is shaping up to be pretty busy... fun but busy. I'm going to work a massage into the schedule so, with any luck, my body will be in better shape next week than it has been this week.

    Well, back to work!

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