Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Super Sized Catch Up

The fat lady has sung, the eagle has landed and Elvis has left the building. Bread class is finally over! We finished our written exam Friday and the practical exam yesterday. Before I move on to the new class (Nutrition), I want to ramble a bit more about the last week.

For starters my lunch buddy recently ended up with her loaded mixer on the floor. It was an accident, but cracked me up nonetheless. If our batches are small enough, we use small KitchenAids (4 qt capacity?) at school, and they sit on the tables attached to power cords that hang from the ceiling. If the dough in the mixer is of a thick enough consistency, the mixer will wobble when set at a high speed (like some washing machines). Such was the case last week. My buddy had loaded her mixer, and the formed dough ball was causing the mixer to wobble. She turned her back for a moment too long, and the mixer wobbled or 'walked' itself off the table. The mixer stayed in one piece, and the dough stayed in the bowl. She picked the mixer up, powered it on and it was fine. It was business as usual except for a small scratched area on the front where the attachment connection is located. This made me think of a few things.

First I was thinking about the mixer walking off the table, which led to Walkaway Joe by Trisha Yearwood (born to be a leaver, tell you from the word go). Then I thought about Technotronic and "get your mixer (aka booty) on the floor tonight, make my day". When I stopped dancing, I was thinking about how durable those mixers are. That floor is concrete. I've always been a fan of and wouldn't want to try to bake without a stand mixer, but I know of others who don't feel the same way. Some say the KitchenAids are excessive or too expensive. I have friends who received one as a wedding gift and returned it to a store for the cash. My mom also refuses to use one - but for a different reason. She likes to say that she mixes her stuff by hand with love, and that's why it tastes so good [insert rolling eyes here]. Last week's falling mixer just solidified my opinion. They're amazing and every home in America should have one (or two... and an iPhone, but that's another subject).

Before we took the written and practical exams, we had three quizzes during the bread course. I've mentioned before that the chef was comical, and he included interesting questions on his quizzes. One such question was as follows.

A baba rhum is a:
a. Prince of India
b. Curry entree
c. Savory dessert
d. Gong to ring for dinner

The answer was 'C. A baba rhum is a savory dessert'. During class each student made and plated a baba rhum. The team I was a part of made a strawberry and lemon simple syrup and a pureed strawberry and Grand Marnier sauce. My plated baba is shown below. It wasn't great, but I would have totally eaten it - had someone not taken it from the fridge and tossed it without asking me.

For yesterday's practical exam, we had to make 12 classic brioche, a three-strand braid and a coffee cake of brioche dough. We also had to make a boule, a baguette and a batard from French bread dough. Yesterday was not a good day for me in the kitchen. I was off my game. It may be the fact that I was up until almost 5 a.m. after drinking too much pop with a late dinner the night before or the fact that I'm more into cookies and cakes, but my finished products were far from stellar. The shape of the brioche was about all that was on target. After the two (or was it three?) tardies and the not so great practical exam products, I'm worried that I'll end up with a B in the bread course.

Breads from the practical. Expectant baguette, bloated batard...

Classic brioche from the practical.

Mix of breads from one day last week. The filled croissants were a bit overcooked.

A bread display made by the night class (but our day class still posed beside it and took pictures).
The basket is made of bread as well.

And with that we say goodbye to breads (Goodbye Norma Jean, though I never knew you at all...) and hello to nutrition. Day one of the nutrition course was today, and I have at least an hour of homework. Other than having homework, it was a decent day. We watched the Super Size Me movie as an introduction to the course, and it was gross - more than a little TMI in some cases. It included vomit, a graphic physical exam, video of a gastric bypass procedure and more bare overweight bodies than I care to see. We also started an online food and calorie journal. It's required for the next two weeks and will make up 30% of our grade. Keeping track of everything I consume for so long will be both daunting and eye opening and brings us to the subject of my weight.

You may recall the previous post lamenting the letting go of cinnamon rolls. I've been eating so many of them and other similarly sweet foods recently that I was concerned about my weight. Since leaving the office and it's basement scales in late January, I hadn't weighed until today. In preparation for the online calorie counter, I weighed and was happy to find that I've not really changed in the last few months. The number today was actually two pounds less than when I left the company. I think I'll go have a cinnamon roll to celebrate. Not really. Based on the computer and my shortness of breath (take my breath away, take my breath away), I still need to drop about 25 pounds (drop it like it's hot).

Aside from school I've done a few cakes since the last post. The first was a 50th wedding anniversary cake on Saturday. The picture below was taken before the addition of a topper that the family had purchased. The topper was added at the party, but in the end we couldn't use it. Though the topper was nice (a clear acrylic circle with etched names and dates), it was too tall or the cake was just unlevel enough from front to back so that the topper kept falling backward. We sat the topper near the cake and repaired the piping on the top. On the way home I realized that we could have rigged the topper with the extra fondant that I had taken to the delivery, but it was too late (Baby, now it's too late, though we really did try to make it). Overall it was okay, and the customer didn't complain.

The second cake for the weekend was for a bridal shower on Sunday. The only picture I was able to get of this one was of it sitting in the passenger seat of the car during a red light on the delivery. There was no time for anything more. The picture ended up cutting part of the cake off. In addition the top hadn't been added yet, so I'll just talk about it. It was a two tier square cake. It had white fondant with black squiggles (like the one above), hot pink buttercream shell borders on both tiers and a hot pink bow made of fondant on top. One thing that I did differently for this one was the cake board. Rather than buying foam boards, cutting them down to the square and wrapping them, I used a black granite tile. The expense was only slightly more than the other, but the saved time and effort more than justified the additional cost. I'll definitely be using this route again when cake size and color allow.

Finally for tonight the airbrush system that I ordered arrived. It came late last week when I was gearing up for the weekend's cakes, so I waited until last night to break it out. When I went to plug the gun into the hose, I realized that it didn't fit. I called the company to ask about it and was told that I had ordered the wrong one. Basically I ordered a compressor that is more powerful than I need, and that's part of the reason it won't fit. I could also be prone to blowing holes in cake icing if I keep and try to use it. The customer service representative asked if I had called them prior to ordering, and I had to say that I hadn't. As dumb as it was, I just went on the website and ordered what I thought was correct. It was the middle of the night, and nobody would have been there to answer the phones anyway. How hard could it be, right? Apparently, it's quite difficult. As a result I'll be packing it back up and paying to ship it back and exchange it for the correct one (Return to sender, address unknown, no such number...)

That homework still waits, and I'm nodding off. Until next time happy grubbing.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting time you are having in school. Miss ya!