July 15, 2008

Baking Class

A little cooking school update for you… My baking class is now over but I thought I’d show you some of the things we made like tempered chocolate, piped shortbread, chocolate mousse cake, strawberry shortcake, knotted buns, cream puffs and biscotti. Of course I have a habit of forgetting things like my camera, (and my whisk… it’s just too big and bulky so fit properly in my knife roll) so these are only some of the things we made.

Baking class was one of my favourites, (the Chef I had was great and she sort of reminded me of Dorie) but there are definitely other students who didn’t feel the same way about it. Some people say you’re either a chef or a baker but not both. Although I don’t completely agree with that, I can see where this train of thought comes from. Cooking allows for a lot more freedom with ingredients and quantities. It’s also easier to fix mistakes in cooking. If you taste your sauce just before serving and it’s not quite right you can always add salt or spices or another ingredient until it tastes the way you want it to.

Baking requires much more precision and exact weights and measurements. With baking, if you cut into a piece of cake just before serving it and the flavour is off you can’t unbake it and adjust the ratio of ingredients, you’re stuck with a bad cake and no dessert. I happen to enjoy both cooking and baking but I ended up in the Chef Training program instead of the Baking program mainly because of timing. Due to my inability to make decisions there was only room in the Chef Training program and not in the Baking program when I finally decided I wanted to go back to school. I would have had to wait two more semesters before I could get into the Baking program and I didn’t want to do that so Chef Training it was.

It’s clear however that some of my peers are in the Chef Training program because they only want to cook. Baking is frustrating for them and they often made mistakes because they were impatient and didn’t measure ingredients properly... or at all. The importance of order of ingredients in baking was also something that was overlooked. Some people believed that if they just dumped everything in the mixing bowl and gave it a whirl, everything would turn out. Not so. The upside to this was that the whole class got to see what not to do and how the outcome was affected by abusing or neglecting the recipe. When we made chocolate cakes, Chef took one of the cakes she made and put it beside one of the disaster cakes. The ingredients were the same but the final product was drastically different. Chef’s cake was moist and chocolately and perfectly risen with an even crumb. The disaster cake was sunken in the middle, dense, terribly dark and had a bitter flavour. Unfortunately, I doubt the owner of the second cake learned anything from this little lesson. He happily ate his cake, oblivious to the fact that it wasn’t good. I question some people’s tastebuds.

Decorating skills were also tested in baking class. I’m not even sure how some people came up with the monstrosities they made. It’s as though they wore rose coloured glasses that made everything they did look good, at least to them. I’m not saying my goodies were perfect, but I definitely knew when they were lacking, (you will not see a photo of my braided loaf, it was hideous, apparently I thought I could braid bread like I braid hair, I was wrong). The decorating skill that seemd to be the biggest stumbling block for a lot of people was piping and although it certainly is not my forte, I feel confident saying I was not the worst of the bunch. Far from it. I think some people gave up on piping after the first class when that’s all we did. Little did they know, piping would return again and again and it was better to practice a little more in the beginning then to end up trying to scrape rosettes off a finished cake later on.

So there you have it, a little overview of my baking class. It made me consider returning to school to do the pastry program but I don’t think that will happen just yet. I still have to finish Chef Training and acquire some money before doing that, (and for the record, I’m still looking for a life sponsor to help with that whole money thing, so if you want to be that person, let me know!).

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30 comments:

Gigi said...

Great job on your baking class Brilynn! The last cake is just GORGEOUS and PERFECT!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

All your creatins are gorgeous! You have baking talent girl! I loved reading your post, I coulnd't agree more with you. I studied pastry and my mates that were studing cooking were allways understimating pastry and baking, as it was an inferior or easier thing. That used to annoy me so much! Now that they are working as chefs they understand that there are a lot of bakings technics they need to use in their cooking and so they call me and ask for help. That's my little revenge, ahahah!

jef said...

My culinary teachers (and co-workers) always said you can make a baker a chef but you can't make a chef a baker.

In my experience, it was painfully obvious who the chefs were and who the bakers were. Lucky for me I was a baker.

Ann said...

What absolutely gorgeous cakes and pastries you made! It's so true about chefs and bakers... the former wants to wing it while the latter uses science. :-)

Mary said...

I think all of your desserts look beautiful! And I love the cream puff swans. I truly can't resist cream puff swans when I find them in pastry shops.

LyB said...

Sounds like you learned so much in your training. And had fun too. Almost makes me wish I could go back to school! Your creations are beautiful. :)

Maria said...

Looks like a fun class! I want to sample everything you made:)

Veron said...

Simply gorgeous, Bri! I beg to disagree with some of your classmates. You can be a great cook and a baker. My mom is one and so is my sister in law. And Chef Michel Richard was a pastry chef first before he moved on to become a chef for everything.

zlamushka said...

I came here through What´s For Lunch, Honey? I am hosting an event dedicated to trying foods from other bloggers. Meeta is in the spotlight for July. I really hope you can participate :-)

Katie said...

Great Job. I am jealous I wish I was taking baking class.

Chelle said...

Beautiful job on everything! Those piped shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate remind of ones my grandma always bought when we were little :)

Elle said...

Oh my gosh, everything is gorgeous! And now I'm looking around for an afternoon snack, hehe.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I wish I had the patience for baking -- I would be that classmate who dumped everything in at once instead of in the right order. Your cakes look really lovely, so obviously you did it the right way!

Dragon said...

I hope you got an 'A'! I especially love the first cake. So beautiful.

Cakelaw said...

Your finished products all look delicious. It's a shame that some people in the class were not open to learning new techniques and the precision associated with making great baked goods.

jasmine said...

Lovely work in your class.

The cook vs baker thing is interesting...maybe it's a left/right brained thing?

I agree with you that I think we can be both, but perhaps it's the culinary equivalent of ambidexterity?

j

Peabody said...

LOL- I forgot about your life sponser! If I find one I will send them your way.
Everything looks good. And oh yes, most cookers don't like to hang with cakers.

nicisme said...

What fabulous creations you have made Brilynn, thanks for sharing your photos!

ChichaJo said...

Great job on your baking class projects! :)

Manggy said...

Sorry, I don't yet earn anything so I can't sponsor you :( But I will give my glowing endorsement that the money, based on what I've seen so far, will not go to waste! :)

People are funny about baking. It's not as easy or as hard as some people make it out to be.

Tartelette said...

That's why I like getting behind the hot line once in a while, gives me a break from all the weighing but that lasts about 1 evening!! You did fantastic with all of these!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

This sounds like a lot of fun and your creations all look really great. I'd love to take a class like that...

Cookie baker Lynn said...

All so beautiful, dear. I certainly hope that your life sponsor steps up to the plate because it would be such a sad loss if you weren't able to complete the baking / pastry training. You have a wonderful talent for making beautiful, amazing, and creative things.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Hi Bri,

This post just made me laugh and laugh, since I can remember some horrific looking "masterpieces" my classmates made....oy! I agree with jef that it's easier to make a baker a chef than the other way around - baking just seems to require some innate ability and a good eye (neither of which can be taught, really.)

I qualified first as a pastry chef and then as a straight chef, and it was most amusing to hear the complaints the chef group had when they had to do the ONE patisserie subject. You'd think we poked their eyes out with balls of hot choux or something!

As for the whisk, I had the same problem until I swapped to a silicon one. I don't love using it (beause it takes time to get used to how soft it is, so it feels like nothing is happening even though it works as well as a metal one) , but it squishes nicely into a knife roll so there it lives.

Sounds like you're going great guns at culinary school - keep up the great work!!

Michelle

Madam Chow said...

Everything looks wonderful. I, too, questions people's taste buds, but have concluded that most people are used to eating crappy commercial baked goods, so even a homemade "failure" is vastly superior to what they've been eating.

Jenny said...

Wonderful work! I hope you are able to find that life sponsor (and maybe share him/her with me?) so you can do the Pastry program as well!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Love looking at all of your photos! Reminds me of my days in pastry school...what fun!

Margaret said...

You are so lucky to have a baking class where you make such wonderful cakes and pastries.

Chef Matt said...

Your cakes and cookies look amazing. Great work.

Liz said...

All your goodies look so good! This post made me seriously nostalgic to go back to culinary school--I hope you're loving it!