I had my second Baking and Pastry class on Saturday, and it was a success. Here’s the story.
The weatherman was calling for a snow storm the entire week before class. Over the week, the forecast was changed to a light snowfall with heavier snow to the south. All of the snow was supposed to start at noon on Saturday, so my class which ends at 1:45 would be over before there was too much on the ground. In anticipation of my class being canceled, I woke up at 4:30 and checked my phone. No message. Whew, I look forward to my classes. I lie in bed. Once my brain is awake, I can’t get back to sleep. I get out of bed, head to the basement, and watch some TV. I come up an hour later, shower, and get ready for class. I put on my uniform, and head out into the cold. It was about 18 degrees, according to the news before I left the house. Now, there really is no reason for it to ever be that cold anywhere. After making the drive (and stopping for a bite to eat on the way) I park in the garage, and eat my breakfast.
When its 18 degrees outside, and you’re in a warm happy car, you really don’t want to leave. You also don’t remember what 18 degrees feels like, so when you open the car door, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Especially if you’re only wearing a T-shirt, because wearing your chef coat in the car would make it all wrinkled. I donned my chef coat, and walked across the street to the building and pulled the door handle to enter the building, and it was locked. Dammit! I stood outside the school with two others and waited for someone to arrive and open the doors. About 5 minutes later we were all in the warm building. Well, the building wasn’t entirely warm. The kitchens have super sized vent fans, which pull in cold air, so the kitchen was cold. Not freezing, but cold.
At 8:30, class began, and our lecture was about pie and pastry dough. Very interesting lecture, followed by our first real work in the kitchen. We were paired up and tasked with creating two pie doughs. A mealy pie dough and a flaky pie dough. But first, we were allowed to make the dough for our focaccia. We were told last week that we were going to make focaccia and we could top them however we wanted. I came up with an idea, which my lab partner quickly agreed with, for a fig and gorgonzola focaccia with prosciutto. We followed the recipe, which was very easy, and set our dough to rise. Meanwhile, we got started on our pie doughs. We made dough to be frozen and then thawed much later in the semester. This was a combination of practice of making pie dough, and an experiment by our chef to prove that the pie dough should be made the week before we were going to use it, and refrigerated. We made both of our pie doughs and while my lab partner was doing a little clean up and macerating the figs, I walked to the grocery store and picked up the gorgonzola. I had purchased the prosciutto the previous evening and already stored it in the temporary fridge. In the two and a half hours that we had been inside, there was already a nice blanket of snow on the ground. About 3/4 of an inch at the time. I trudged through the snow, in my chef uniform, to the grocery store and purchased the gorgonzola. When I got back, I saw all of our dishes in a neat little pile, waiting to be washed. Dammit! So, I took them to the sink and realized something. You never see anyone in a chef’s coat washing dishes. Do you know why? Because when you’re reaching for the mixer attachment that you dropped to the bottom of the deep sink, your sleeves soak up a lot of water. I was now drenched. Grrrr…. But I got over it, finished washing the dishes, and returned to our now risen dough. Well, mostly risen, or at least partially risen. It seems that our yeast was on its last legs, and nobody got a very good rise out of their dough. We put our dough on our prepared 1/2 sheet pan, added the toppings, drizzled on some grapeseed oil, and put it in the proofing box to help it rise. Again, nobody got a good rise. We baked our bread and it turned out beautifully. We were very proud of our creation. Our chef told us while we were making our dough, that the dough was a living thing (because of the yeast), and we should name it. We named ours Newton, because we were using figs. We quickly cut into Newton and tasted the spoils of our hard work. He was delicious. Crispy top and bottom, soft tender inside. Sweet figs, salty cheese and ham. He was a good bread.
A few minutes later, we were dismissed and walked out into what must have been at least 3 inches of snow. Yep, the weatherman was wrong. Grrrr… The roads home were treacherous. My car was sliding, as were most of the other cars on the road. I got home safely, and stayed inside where I finally got warm.
Next week, yeast dinner rolls, pre-ferments for the following week’s breads, and a second focaccia, this time with live yeast. We’re keeping the same partners for a few weeks, and we’ve decided on another non-traditional focaccia, this time with Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Cayenne Pepper. Should be fun. If the next winter storm doesn’t cancel class. Stupid weather.