17 November 2014

Falling in

It's definitely fall here in Seattle, and I've fallen through seven weeks of the quarter without a single blog entry. I blame this beast:

The Boss

In a fit of wild optimism, I decided it would be fun to take a work-study job, doing the mixing of muffins and scones for the early shift at the Pastry Case. I did NO due diligence about hours and responsibilities, and oh have I paid for my ignorance. The job included more hours than I'd expected - 6 or 7 hours on Mondays mixing a week's worth of muffins and scones, plus an hour and a half Tuesday through Friday, baking from 6:30 am to 8.

But besides the hours, the work had more heavy lifting than it turns out this old baker can handle. The mixer above has a 60 quart stainless steel bowl that weighs about 30 pounds. Add 35 pounds of muffin batter to that and it's not an easy lift. 70 scones packed onto a full-size sheet tray is not light either. I was exhausted by the end of the day and started getting repetitive motion aches and pains and finally decided I had to quit. It took a week or two to find and train a replacement, but I am now happily free again. My replacement is a cheerful first-quarter student who loves the job (she is also about 1/3 my age and a head taller...).

So, enough about work! Second quarter is challenging in other ways. We have classes from Tuesday to Friday, with five rotations of two weeks duration. We also have a Baking 102 (baking theory) class from 8-9 each morning, and a Food Costing and Purchasing class twice a week from 2-3. From 9 to 1:30 each day we are working & learning in the Pastry kitchens.

There are nine of us in my quarter, still all women. So with five rotations, there is always someone who is alone (i.e. no partner). These are my rotations:

1. Culinary
2. Cakes
3. Viennoiserie (also known as Doughs)
4. Individual Desserts
5. Bread

For the Culinary rotation, we work in the culinary kitchens (they have four kitchens, to Pastry's two), and have different stations each day. Their kitchens are madhouses of activity, and I did not take any photos. The stations that I can remember were Fish (how to filet a trout), Sauces (making a basic red and a white sauce), Butchery (pork tenderloin), Starch (we got to choose a starch, and I chose potato gnocchi, which turned out beautifully), Breakfast (poached egg, hollandaise, pancakes, omelet), and Salad Dressing. I enjoyed the stations, and two of the chefs were very patient and attentive so I felt I learned quite a bit; also it was educational to see how the Culinary kitchens are run, but I felt it was a very brief overview... and it's our last time of working in Culinary. I did get a lot more practice on my knife skills, in any case.

So, Cakes! In first quarter, the cake rotation makes 'American style' cakes, like carrot cake and basic sponge cakes. In second quarter, we make European style cakes, with thin layers of rather dry sponge (that gets soaked in flavored simple syrup) sandwiched between layers of mousse and/or buttercream and/or jam/jelly. We also do more decor work with chocolate, caramel and marzipan. Here are some of the cakes we made:

Eggnog Gateaux

Eggnog Gateaux: pumpkin cake with rum simple syrup and eggnog bavarian mousse. Caramel decor - those black sticklike things are whole vanilla beans.

Pumpkin Mousse Cake

Curcurbita: pecan sponge cake, pumpkin cheese cake mousse, and swiss roll sponge with cranberry jam. Chocolate trees and marzipan pumpkins for decor. You can tell we made this one during Halloween week.

We also made opera cake (coffee buttercream and chocolate glacage), a caramel apple cake, and a spiced chocolate cake with passion fruit / apricot glaze and vanilla buttercream. All very rich, sweet cakes, that were fun to make but that I don't much care for to eat, or at least not more than a bite or two. Rich! Sweeeet!

I'll write about Viennoiserie in my next post.

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