My favorite class...
One of the first classes a Baking and Pastry Arts student takes here at the CIA is BIET, which stands for Baking Ingredients and Equipment Technologies. Culinary Arts students have a similar class that focuses on their equipment and ingredients used. It is a class solely focused on teaching students about the equipment they use in bakeshops and all of the different ingredients and how they work, where they come from, what their purpose is and how to utilize them, among many other things. Personally I loved the class. I was very fortunate in the fact that my class had a Chef that was extremely knowledgeable and cared deeply about what she was teaching. We had many conversations about one specific property of an ingredient, the way in which you could alter it for a different mouth feel or flavor or even change some of its properties to better fit your need. So far, it has been my favorite class that I have taken here and I am sad that it has come to an end. It is a 12 week course that you attend just once a week, so while you cover many topics you are limited on how in-depth you can really get. My advice to any incoming students; bring a notepad with you to write down any and all questions you have or ingredients that interest you. I did this and after class I would research any ingredients I found interesting or a technique that was mentioned that I had not heard of before. I fully suggest asking as many questions as possible and always have an open mind, that is what helped me enjoy the class so much.
Here is a list of a few things I found intriguing or wanted to learn more about:
- Whipped honey
-How yeast blocks are made?
-Bee pollen (as an ingredient)
-Black strap molasses
-Marigolds (Pepper flavor?)
-Making own extracts
-Sunflower oil / butter
-Vanilla orchid plant
-How to make your own condensed milk?
-How to use left over whey?
-Which flowers are edible?
-Can you make flour from egg shells?
~Remember to smile :)
Adding another layer of knowledge...
Who doesn't love a delicious croissant? Or how about a warm, jam filled danish? I know that I would happily take either of those as breakfast any day of the week.
This week we learned the process of lamination, which is how to create thin layers of fat in-between layers of dough in order to create a wonderfully delicious honeycomb pattern inside. It was a surprisingly easy process, much simpler than I had thought it would be. We made puff pastry and Danish dough to introduce us into the world of lamination. Both doughs are very similar, the only variances are the use of yeast and fats (typically being eggs) being incorporated into the dough itself. (Fun Fact: technically, croissants are made from a lean dough because the dough itself has no eggs in it, the fat comes from the layers of butter that are folded into the dough to create layers.) Puff pastry made from scratch is a very labor intensive product, and not very practical for many businesses, but it is something I feel every Pastry Chef should know how to do even if they are not required to do it on a weekly basis. The process is one that can be applied to many products, and puff pastry itself can be made into many products as well with very simple changes to the fillings, shapes or coating. We went the traditional route and made croissants and pain au chocolat from our puff dough. (Another fun fact: if a croissant is straight when baked, that means it was made with just butter, if it is a crescent shape then another fat was used as well such as shortening or margarine.) With our Danish dough we then made an array of products from a cherry filled “basket” to a blueberry “pillow”, both are in quotations because I never learned what they were really called, our Chef just referred to them by their shapes. Maybe they don’t even have an actual name, I do not know. My favorite was the pain au chocolat. I had never had one before making them and I have no good justification for this. I didn’t even try one when I was in Paris, I simply just never thought about trying one. They are the best when they are still warm, and the chocolate is soft but even after a couple of days they were still delicious as a breakfast on-the-go. Take a look below to see some of what I made!
~Remember to smile :)
You are too much
This is something that I’ve been told quite a few times recently and it is something that truly frustrates me. Who are you to tell me I am too much? If I am too much of anything for you, if I am too loud, too strong willed, too vocal or anything else, then maybe you should evaluate yourself and ask why you can’t handle me instead of telling me to change. I refuse to alter who I am, because I have worked hard to become the version I am now and I am proud of who I am.
The main characteristic I’m “too much” of is blunt. I’ve been told a number of times, tonight being the most recent. The phrase actually used was “You need to speak more delicately towards others. You hurt their feelings when you talk the way that you do.” And when I asked “In what way would that be?”, he shrugged his shoulders and said “That. Exactly what you just did there. You are too straight forward and come off as threatening.” I honestly found this comment entertaining. A 5’8’’, built male is telling me, a 5’3’’ slim female, that I am threatening? I know he didn’t mean himself, but those I work with, but still the idea seemed so abnormal. Also, how does one go about talking to another “delicately”, especially when in the middle of a busy service with customers needing food and Chef yelling orders? Do I need to speak softly, as if talking to child? Should I just stay quiet and not speak or ask for help? This is still a question I am trying to answer, because in a kitchen there is no “delicate” anything except for the details on a plate. I have never come across a chef that isn’t harsh on their cooks. It builds their character, and in the long run, makes them better in the kitchen. If my first kitchen manager had spoken to me delicately, I probably would not be where I am today. I hated that lady, but she made me better. When I messed up, she was upset and made it known, but then she explained what I did wrong and then made me redo the product until it came out perfect. If I did something she didn’t like, she made sure I didn’t do it again. There was one way of doing things, and if you didn’t like it then you could leave. And here’s the thing, I loved it. I learned so much from her, things I still use today.
I understand that what started my love and desire for the kitchen atmosphere is not what fuels others’ but it is the only way I know. Since coming to the CIA I have come across so many wonderful managers that have this thing about them. They are able to convey their message to others and have them listen and they do so in such a polite manner that you don’t even realize they are giving you orders. All you know is that you don’t want to disappoint them. They are able to look at situations and calmly explain what needs to happen, step by step for someone who isn’t grasping the concept, and that’s a skill that I am not sure I will ever be able to develop. One of my managers once said to me “You’d make a great manager. You know how things need to be and never let standards drop or waiver from your ways. People need that type of structure, and leadership.”I thought she was kidding, but she was dead serious. Maybe she sees something that I have yet to realize, or maybe she is mistaken. Only time will tell. I want to believe that she is not mistaken and that one day I will find a balance somewhere in the middle, but I also know that I have a fire in my soul that refuses to be dampened and I have no plans on lowering that flame; not now and not in the future.
~Remember to smile :)