06 July 2014

Summer Quarter

It's summer! The pastry program runs for five quarters. You can start the program in any quarter... except summer. That's because summer quarter has the same class schedule and program for all students, no matter which quarter they just finished. This year we have nine first quarters (my fellow students), nine second quarters, and 12 third quarters. It's a pretty easy (and easy-going) schedule for summer: there is a theory class Monday through Wednesday from 7:30 to 8:20, and bake shop rotations Monday through Thursday from 7:30 until 1:50. Classes run for 8 weeks.

Once again, the bake shop work is done in rotations. They are: Wedding and Celebration cakes; Sandwich bread, sandwich making, and preserving; Rustic desserts (like pies and cobblers) and ice cream; and Petits Fours (both sweet and savory). We also have one field trip to the Skagit farm, which happens on the Monday of one's Sandwich rotation. Each rotation is six days, and we always work with at least one (and up to three) partners.

Unlike the Culinary students, who spent the whole first week in the classroom, we started working in the bake shop right away, though our formal rotations didn't start until Wednesday. On Tuesday, we made a huge batch of Royal Icing (egg whites, powdered sugar, and an acid (we use lemon juice) to make the icing whiter) and practiced various kinds of decoration by piping onto cake pans:

Royal Icing

My first rotation is Petits Fours. I have one partner, a second quarter student. We're both pretty quiet and serious so are getting along very well. On Wednesday and Thursday we did prep work for two kinds of sweet petits fours: Pistachio petits fours for which we made pistachio sponge cake, pistachio pasty cream, and butter cream (into which the pastry cream is incorporated); and a fancy little cake called "Rising Sun" that involves black tea and blood orange infused sponge cake, black tea mousse, and a fancy candied orange lace decor. We'll put the cakes together on Monday, then I hope we will have time to make some macarons. For this rotation we spend three days on sweet PF, and three days on savory ones.

I have no finished cakes to show yet, so in the meantime, here is a view of the Chocolate Room in the bakeshop (yes! a whole ROOM for chocolate work):

Chocolate Room

This photo is looking into the chocolate room from the main baking kitchen. There are stainless steel counters and to the right, out of view, another long steel counter, the cool/dry storage for chocolate, and a blast freezer, among other specialized bits of equipment.


  1. Are you teasing me......a WHOLE room just for making chocolates!!??? Let me in, let me in......

    1. Yes indeed, a whole room! I think I get to explore it more in my 3rd quarter. Will let you know.

  2. I want a Dark Chocolate Room in my house!

    1. This one is dark, milk and white of many percentages. But yes, Dark would be best.