Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Is that a wall there in front of me?

Because that's what it feels like I've hit. So am I going to play handball, run around a bit, get some exercise, go have a nice healthy dinner and go to sleep? No. Am I going to a yoga class, so I can stretch, unwind, mellow out, then maybe have a small bite and get some sleep? No again. Am I going to a bar to drink at least two beers, because then the food is free and it's Japanese tonight from a place that B likes? Why yes, yes I am doing just that. Even though the alarm, she will go off at 4:15 tomorrow morning. B and I will leave here in an hour or so, C will meet us there (he likes the raw fish, and the place has a non-alcoholic beer available, so I thought he'd like it), and we'll do bad things. And I'll shlep my brioche for C, too.

Yesterday we made lots of brioche dough (more on that in a second) and began the puff pastry dough. Today we:
  • made a pithivier with some of the puff pastry (which was cool--I've never made puff pastry before--though we won't know how it turns out until we bake them tomorrow),, which involves sandwiching almond pastry cream between two layers of puff pastry
  • made apple turnovers with the rest of the puff pastry, except for the scraps, out of which we'll eventually make elephant ears (we'll bake these tomorrow, too, I think)
  • baked the brioche dough we made yesterday (into a braid, onto which we drizzled sugar icing and toasted almonds when it came out of the oven; into mini-brioches, three of which had a honey-almond mixture and three of which had a streusel mixture; and into a mini-loaf, onto which we sprinkled large granules of sugar), and
  • made a strudel dough
The brioche is interesting, but not what one would call a low-fat food: you basically make a dough (one that includes some butter in it), work the dough for a bit to get the gluten going, and then you work about a half a pound of butter into the dough. The dough rests in the fridge overnight, because it has a lot less yeast in it and you want a little fermentation going on. Puff pastry is similar in that it's a big wad of butter and a little bit of dough, but you surround the butter with the dough rather than working the butter into the dough.

I can't wait to see how the puff pastry turns out (or doesn't). It's one of the things I've read about but never really had the nerve to try, but it seemed to go okay today. We'll find out soon enough. I do want to practice some of these things, especially the puff pastry. It's simple enough, in some ways, but it requires patience: if you try to work the dough when the dough is warm, you'll screw it up. It's as simple as that. It's easy enough to be patient when you're in the kitchen and the chef is there and there are five million other things to be doing, but I suspect it'll be harder for me to be patient when I'm standing around in my kitchen and by the way I don't have a blast freezer so it'll take even longer for these things to get to the correct temperature.

As for my classmates, they're an interesting bunch. I think a few people have more industry (or industry-related) experience than they said up front. Several are working in the business now in some way (though one is about to quit, because it's just too much to work full time and do this thing, too, plus she has a longer commute). Several have other culinary school experience, though nothing as rigorous as this with regard to baking and pastry. I also like my partner a lot: she's a very nice person, and extremely pleasant to work with--we seem to make a good team. I asked the administrator for the school how we ended up with these partners (the first pairing is assigned, the rest get chosen out of a hat), and she said the chefs paired us up based on what we had done before we got to the school. It's a real kitchen--i.e., you have to work with everyone, whether they annoy the everloving crap out of you or not--but I'm really glad I got the partner I got.


Blogger jordan said...

Exquisite information on culinary school. I have a culinary school secrets blog if you want to see some cool stuff.

11:08 PM  

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