Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Another Post about Butter

Today we each brought home with us:
  • about 24 croissants (plus we each left about 3 behind)
  • two loaves of wheat bread (plus we each left one behind)
  • kugelhopf and langhopf (same dough as kugelhopf, but shaped in a fancy loaf pan rather than the ceramic tube pan, plus the former is dusted with confectioner's sugar while the latter is brushed with butter and rolled in granulated sugar)
  • 10 beignets and
  • monkey bread, which is what you get when you take croissant-making scraps, chop it into bits, roll it around in granulated sugar and cinnamon, and then bake it in a small loaf pan

So, really, there's enough food today for the third fleet. I held back the kugelhopf and the monkey bread, and I'm going to take some of the croissants to my yoga teacher. I've got butter oozing out of my pores.

I was pleased, more or less, because our wheat bread looked good (and tasted good, too; coarse and grainy, the way I like it, but with an even crumb), our beignet earned us compliments from the chef, and my croissants weren't half bad. They'll be better next time, I hope, but they weren't bad for a first time around. Our kugelhopf was pretty spectacular, too.

I think I'm going to practice my brioche this weekend, seeing as how I bought a pound of Plugra on Sunday. I probably need more practice with croissants and puff pastry, but (a) that takes even more butter, and it ain't cheap, and (b) we're making croissant dough again tomorrow, so I'll get some more practice with that in the kitchen at school. I think I want to aim for practicing one thing each weekend, and I'll probably not practice the basic breads, not least because I have a fair amount of bread-baking experience and just need to follow these specific recipes closely. I will probably make the toast bread, though--even though it's the most basic bread--because C really liked it and I suspect The Kid will like it, too, and it's really, really easy to make. One of my classmates has a timer that allows you to time four things at once AND it clips to your belt/apron--I totally want one. I think it's the way to go--we're supposed to coordinate our baking with the rest of our classmates, and usually one person times whatever's in the oven, but I want to be one of the people who can do it, too, rather than relying on my classmates to bake and time things.

I've also decided to buy a second notebook like the one I'm using and then just copy everything over into it. That'll organize my notes on each product better, and it will matter less that the original notebook occasionally gets messy with use. (I could probably do it on the computer, in Excel outlines, maybe, but I actually think paper is more functional for this task.) That will reinforce what the chef is saying, and will also allow me to make notes on how my product did or didn't work. I want a camera, too, but that requires an expenditure of several hundred dollars that I really can't afford right now. But pictures would be good, too.

The amazing thing--and I'm not happy about this--is how it has completely changed my diet. All that low-fat, high-fiber stuff? Pretty much out the window. I used to have a bowl of wood chips and burlap bags (or their cereal equivalent) for breakfast, but I've started to skip breakfast or just have some iced decaf coffee or hot tea. For lunch I've been having a salad with a low-fat dressing plus one of the bread-like products from the day. I've nearly eliminated the hard candies; I used to eat 5-6 a day. I've been eating so much pastry--even if I try not to gorge myself, just tasting things means you have to have a fair amount. And, really, you do have to taste the stuff, to figure out whether it came out, to figure out how you might change it a little next time, whatever. I've also nearly eliminated dinner. I'm just not getting enough exercise to keep eating the way I was eating and not gain back the 20 pounds I've lost--I've already gained back a few. I don't much like this steady diet of sugar and butter, if you want to know the whole truth, but I don't see how I can learn how to make this stuff without also learning how it tastes. And, really, some of it is pretty damned good, so more than a taste seems like a good idea.

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