Pastry School – Weeks 1 & 2

Starting the pastry program at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (to be known now & forever as The CSCA) was the catalyst for finally getting this blog up and running. During the first few months of school I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted the blog to be (to start), what the tone would be, who was my audience, blah, blah, blah.  Then  I decided to apply my usual philosophy, you’re either in the pool or you’re out of the pool. I sat down and just started writing; the blog will evolve as I go through school, spend time in professional kitchens and decide what I want to do next.  There’s also a host of topics not related to school that I want to include and plan to do so…soon… In the meantime, let’s go back to the beginning (it’s a very good place to start).

Lemon Raspberry Tea Cake with Almonds

Week 1 – Ten students, two instructors, one assistant instructor.  Student backgrounds ranged from recent high school grad and small business owner to former serviceman and corporate attorney.  Ages from late teen to grandmother of three.  We had committed to spending 19 hours a week together, in the kitchen (16 hours) and the classroom (3 hours), for the next 16 weeks.  Kitchen experience varied widely, as did confidence in whether even being there was the right decision.  Luckily for us, this crazy mix of personalities, experience and level of pastry knowledge was the norm for The CSCA.  Day 1 was Quick Breads, including scones, muffins, sweet breads, etc.  How hard could it be? Well, we ran around the kitchen that day, and the next, knocking into each other, searching over and over for the same ingredients (I know I saw the sugar/salt/baking powder here a MINUTE ago) and appearing generally overwhelmed.  Despite that I did turn out some decent product, IMO.

cornmeal roll baked in blanched cabbage

cornmeal roll baked in blanched cabbage

Benoiton

Benoiton

Day 2 was Basic Breads.  I started to get a decent feel for the kitchen and where things were, along with how sore my legs and feet would be until I got used to standing and walking around all day versus driving a desk as I had for many years. Having a (very) little more confidence in the kitchen resulted in a bit of a better end product. This was also the first day of the big freeze…a terribly massive amount of baked goods that are lovingly prepared, enthusiastically tasted and finally wrapped and exiled to the freezer for “later”. Bring on the zombie apocalypse, I got carbs to last, a while.

Hard Rolls - Lean Breads

Hard Rolls – Lean Breads

Week 2 – Continuing to be eased into kitchen work, working together effectively and following a recipe as a pastry chef, not a home baker, week two was more, lots more, bread.  Lean Breads & Enriched Breads in particular.  Week 3 was when THE SNOW started. We attended our Pate A Choux class and then a challenging schedule of make-up days and double classes ensued. Pictures and details to follow.

Baba (Savarin) - Enriched Breads

Baba (Savarin) – Enriched Breads

Assorted Lean Breads

Assorted Lean Breads

Pain Au Lait

Pain Au Lait – Enirched Breads

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