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!).