Sunday, January 30, 2011

In the classroom: techniques of baking, Jan. 2011

We've had so much snow this month - more than is normal for the entire season in most years! And, sadly another foot is predicted for this week. I'm definitely on the big countdown to spring. Here springy spring...

this was after the first nor'easter... in one month we've had FOUR more storms

So, to keep me busy on these cold winter days, I signed up for some more classes at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, a 4-part class on the techniques of baking and a 2-part class on classic doughs and fillings (with Master Pastry Chef Delphin Gomes - he rocks!). See here for the entry on the classic doughs and fillings class.

In techniques of baking we spent a class on each of the following: pâte à choux, pies/tarts, breads and cakes (although, sadly I was really sick and had to miss the cake class). The pâte à choux was much easier than I had anticipated from having read the directions in a Julia Child cookbook. We made creme puffs with a light pastry creme filling and gougères, a savory puff with gruyère cheese and chives. The gougères were so delicious and easy enough to make as appetizers for a dinner party.

creme puffs with a small hole on the bottom to cool them thoroughly and then to pipe in the filling

pastry creme

whipped cream to add to pastry creme

finished pastry creme, ready to pipe into the puffs

finished puffs, all in a row

boxed up to take home

I made the gougères again at home but they were not quite as delicious as in class. I think the teacher used a different second cheese and I also overcooked them and they collapsed a bit. I'll keep trying though, because they tasted great.

ingredients ready

my mise en place (translates to everything - measured ingredients - in place)

piped onto sheet pan

topped with more cheese and ready to bake

slightly deflated, but still delicious

I forgot to bring my camera to the second class, but I made a fantastic lemon curd tart. The lemon curd was so delicious that I've made it again in the two week since class. Instead of using the lemon curd for a tart, I'll stir a couple of tablespoons into plain, Greek-style yogurt. It's incredibly good.

The third class was breads. I've made regular loaf bread at home, mixed in a breadmaker and then formed and baked in a loaf pan, but I hadn't experimented much so I was really looking forward to this class. I made a whole wheat rosemary garlic bread and some goat cheese scallion biscuits. The whole wheat loaves were a little heavy - I would use less whole wheat and more white flour next time - but the flavor and texture were really nice. The biscuits were fabulous. They were easy to make and baked up light and flaky, but moist (from the goat cheese).

mise en place for whole wheat rosemary garlic bread

my dough, after the first rise

shaped and midway through the second rise

heart-shaped goat cheese scallion biscuits

round biscuits

A few pictures from my classmates' creations.

pizzettas - these crisp mini-pizzas were fantastic and I definitely plan to make them myself

focaccia topped with fresh herbs, garlic and cheese

jalapeno cheddar corn bread - yum

Bye for now...

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