Posts Tagged ‘Baking’
Anybody who knows me knows that I love food, but I especially love baking & pastry! As we finished mod 3, I grew more and more excited to start a course all about my favorite topic. I often came home after class and would spend my nights baking different treats. I figured since it was some time until I learned about it, I might as well try to self-educate. Many of the results of my self education are posted.
Now that I am in the baking & pastry mod, I have begun to re-think some things. Do I wish I had enrolled in the pastry course in stead of culinary? No–I learned a LOT in the culinary segments. And should I stick with this industry, I do think it’s important to know how the savory side of the kitchen works. I also think it’s important to consider the full picture of a meal from the production standpoint as well as from the consumer’s standpoint. What dessert would someone want? Someone that just ate a steak may not want something very rich and sweet. Maybe just some sorbet or a light panna cotta? Knowing how to end a meal on a high note means you also have to know the other notes in that meal’s symphony. I do however wish I had the opportunity to also enroll in the pastry course. The expense right now is just too much and while I’m sure I would enjoy every minute of it, I’m not entirely convinced I absolutely need the course to succeed in the pastry kitchen. That being said, I do think I need to ensure I constantly educate myself about different aspects of the sweet kitchen and that I try as many things as possible on my own.
In class we are learning classic French techniques of pastry. Of course, this results in rich, delicious, butter-filled goodness every time! The progression of this course is good in the sense that we seem to mimic the pastry program, but in a 6 week period. Even though chef says this course is going at a very fast pace, I’m really loving it and I’m not finding myself needing to come up for air anytime soon!
We started with poaching, candying and cutting fruits. This is harder than it sounds. Many people, myself included, in class were not aware of how to best peel an apple nor how to best slice it for a pie or tart. Then we moved on to doughs. Doughs have always been scary to me. I’ve only tried to make simple pizza doughs never a pie or tart dough. I just never quite knew how to handle them. But we did learn all about pate brisee, pate sucree, and pate sablee (cookie dough). My classmates and I successfully made several different tarts using the pate brisee and pate sucree. I also used the same technique I learned in class to make a cherry pie at home! More practice doesn’t hurt right?
Week 2 of pastry took us to the land of puff pastry and yeasted doughs. I never made any of these items before so I was super excited and I really loved it! We made puff pastry and then proceeded to make napoleons, cheese sticks, apple crisp, pithiviers and palmiers. These were all flaky, sweet and delicious! Then we learned how to make fresh croissants, brioche, bagels and pretzels. I never knew how delicious croissants were when they were made so fresh! I also never knew how easy it was to make fresh bagels & t! I’ll definitely be trying those recipes again!
I’m looking forward to learning about pizza doughs and petite fours. Pizza day is gonna be delicious! I’ll leave you with some shots of the sweet productions made in my class.
A while ago a friend of mine sent me this link to a very simple bread baking recipe. This recipe for No Knead Bread seemed almost too easy. The basic idea is to let the yeast do all the work of building up the glutens in the bread, so you don’t have to really knead it. I also watched the video while trying this. Here’s a link to the video. As far as my bread, it was delicious!! Crusty outside, warm and soft inside with lots of air bubbles. It was a long wait but totally worth it! If you try to make this, I recommend baking a few loaves because one loaf won’t last very long!
Today was another cold, grey, wintery day and so I decided to try making olive bread again. The last time I made it, a few weeks ago, was my very first attempt at making olive bread. This time I used a different recipe from the Cooking Bread website. So far, I actually do NOT like this recipe. I am a novice at bread baking so I need very explicit, step-by-step directions. While making the bread, I was not sure when to add certain things to the recipe. For example, it calls for adding 1/4 cup of water with sugar and yeast. This is to activate the yeast. Then it says to add the yeast mixture to the bowl with the flour and then to add 1/2 cup of water. But the recipe calls for 2 cups of water and never specifies when to add the rest of the water to the dough. I ended up slowly adding the water after I had turned out the dough to begin kneading. I also was not sure when to add the salt. And, adding the olives last made it hard to incorporate the olives into the dough.
Here were the ingredients I started with.
Here’s my yeast. I put it in a bowl with warm water and some sugar to ensure it was active. This is tricky since I had to be sure to use water that wasn’t too hot so I didn’t kill the yeast!
Here’s my yeast bubbling away….
Here’s my flour as I mix the yeast mixture into it.
This is the dough when I turned it out. It really did not have much moisture, so I slowly added more water as I kneaded it.
After I kneaded, I then added the olives and then kneaded some more to incorporate them into the dough. I then set the dough in an oiled dish so that it can rise.
Here is the dough after rising. I placed it on a floured pan so that it can rise again. Then, I put it in the oven.
Here is the finished bread.
I loved the golden crust. It was very crunchy and had a great texture.
Here’s a slice of fresh bread. It had lots of olives, but it didn’t have great texture. It wasn’t light or airy, but very heavy and even a bit mushy. The flavors were also not evenly distributed. I think if I had mixed the olives earlier it may have resulted in a better tasting bread. I did eat it with my dinner that night but I do still think I can do better. Next time, I’ll try using bread flour and mixing my olives in earlier.
As I’m in between jobs right now, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen trying new things. Today, I noticed we had some overly ripe bananas so I decided to make some banana bread. I used this recipe from Simply Recipes. The bread was yummy and delicious. It was very full of banana flavor, moist inside and had a nice crust on the outside. It was also sweet, but not overly sweet. I do think I have to adjust the cooking time for my oven as it was a little burnt around the edges. I know this isn’t ideal, but I actually happen to like the crust that formed and that bit of crunch. Here’s some pictures of my day’s project.
Please pardon the not-so-great photos. I’m using my blackberry for the time being, since my digital camera broke! 😦
Usually most people go out for Valentine’s Day either for dinner or a show or movie or both. This year, my significant other decided to cook a delicious meal for me! He made a chicken francaise and a pastry stuffed with spinach on the side. It was delicious! But best of all, he made it all on his own from start to finish! This occasion also marked my birthday, since it was earlier this week. This was truly the best gift! He also gave me some lovely flowers that almost looked hand-painted.
On Saturday, I decided to do some baking of my own and try my hand at baking bread. I didn’t have my cookbooks, so I just looked up basic recipes online. I also didn’t have a mixer so I did all the mixing and kneading by hand. The first loaf was a plain white loaf. This one was dense and crusty. It was a heavy bread but it was still savory. The next was a nice olive loaf. The bread was lighter and softer. It was also MUCH tastier with the addition of chopped olives and some dried thyme. I think I’m definitely going to make the olive loaf again! Have a look at the baking I did over the weekend.