Week three of pastry school seemed to fly by! By the end of the week my body hurt from all the kneading and creaming done by hand. We do everything by hand and I have a MUCH greater appreciation for all the hard work my KitchenAid mixer takes care of for me. 🙂 But things are still going well! Settling into the schedule a bit more and by the time I finish with week four, I hope to have a pretty solid routine in place.
Tuesday: Pork Pie & Quiche Lorraine
Tuesday we focused on a few methods of pastry making for our quiche and pork pie. For the quiche lorraine, we used a short crust pastry. The “shorter” the pastry, the more fat it has in it. Adding the additional fat also make the pastry more delicate. Our short crust pastry was made with a mixture of butter and lard. My short crust had a few cracks that appeared after our blind baking (pre-baking the crust to avoid soggy bottoms), which I used a bit extra dough to ‘caulk’ the crust. My caulking skills need work (or making of the dough so it doesn’t have cracks!), as my quiche lorraine mixture leaked out. Oops!
For the pork pie (also called a raised pie), we used a hot water paste which we molded around a cylinder to form the shape and create the top. In addition, we worked more on our knife skills to chop the leeks and onions which were incorporated into our pork mince. I also learned a new kitchen term – sweating (in regards to ‘sweating the onions’), which means to cook in butter without adding any color. The pork pie needs to get to 75 degrees Celsius in the center of the meat, and when I checked first, the juices oozed out of the center chimney hole. Not the prettiest, but still tasty!
Wednesday was a very Italian day in which we made olive dough breadsticks, focaccia and pizza. Mmm…some of my favorites! Making doughs from scratch is becoming a lot easier and it really is quite rewarding watching the changes take place as your knead and work the elements into a dough. For the pizza, I even practiced my above the head twirling just to try and be fancy. Ha! My brother makes a lot of pizza from scratch and he’s gotten really good, so I tried to do the family name proud. 🙂
Thursday: Food Science & the Chocolate Lab
Thursday might be my favorite day of class because food science is fascinating to me and I love learning as much as possible, and chocolate. I mean, the latter would make most any day my favorite and on the weeks we don’t have food science, we spend six hours in the chocolate lab which is heaven!
In food science today we talked about water bath cooking and proteins. We discussed denaturing the protein which is unwinding the protein structure to expose both fat (hydrophobic) and water (hydrophilic) elements. Heat is the quickest way to denature proteins. We talked about coagulation (the process of thickening from a liquid to a solid). We talked about the perfect egg and did an experiment poaching an egg with a little bit of vinegar, a little bit of salt and just water. I think our just water turned out the prettiest, followed by the salt, then vinegar. We also did three water bath experiments and put in whole eggs at 60, 65 and 70 degrees Celsius for 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes. I love this class!
In the chocolate lab, we made a variety of ganaches to go into dark chocolate candy shells. I was tasked with the raspberry and dark chocolate ganache (I asked for it because raspberry and dark chocolate are the best!). Afterwards, we all split the chocolates to take home (or give to friends!) with a variety of fillings. I have zero self control in the chocolate lab and could probably eat my weight in dark chocolate, if allowed. We also made and worked on our piping of chocolate truffles. My piping skills still need work.
Friday: Theory & Confectionary/Bakery
We start out every Friday with some theory and today we went more in depth of discussing pastry and the basic types of pastry. A simple definition is that pastry is the building blocks of a number of sweet and savory dishes; combination of flour, fat and liquid which can produce tarts, flans, pies and cases that can be baked or steamed. The basic types of pastry are short, sweet, suet and boiled/choux. We went through all the mixing methods: rubbing in, creaming, flour batter, blending, folding and boiling. We talked about the common problems of making pastry: tough mix because of overworking or insufficient resting, using the wrong type of flour (strong v. soft), an incorrect fat to flour ratio or incorrect liquid content.
In the afternoon, we took things to the bakery and made a Victorian Sponge Cake. We were also celebrating my classmate Jennie’s birthday, so making a cake was very fitting. The class all chipped in for some champagne because it’s only right to celebrate a birthday properly with champagne & cake!