Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Principles of Baking - Muffin Method, Creaming Method

Monday was a busy day for me. I met Chef at 4pm like he had suggested, but he had worked a double (been at school since 6:30), so he said since I’m an efficient worker, I could come back and start at 5:30 instead. I had rushed there from work, so at first I was a tiny bit irritated, but I realized that allowed me to unpack all my stuff from my car and eat a real dinner, so I was okay with it. I came back at the appointed time, and he left me alone in the kitchen to start prepping my dough. Technically, students are not supposed to be left alone in the kitchen (we could steal or damage things), and another Chef asked me why I was there, but the Chef who teaches the other certificate class was actually keeping an eye on me from his kitchen next door.
I had to make enough dough for 12 soft rolls and then enough dough for 3 baguette loafs, the best of which would be presented to Chef. I don’t think I used warm enough water so it took my dough awhile to rise, but I was having trouble judging how long they are supposed to take to rise since I was all alone and had no one to compare to. And when there was a fire drill at 6:30 (which, I had to point out to some person in office clothes that you can’t actually hear the alarm in the bathrooms) and I saw Chef, he seemed fine with my progress that the doughs were still rising. It took me until about 8:30/8:45 to finish baking off everything, which meant I missed a lot of the lecture/demo for Monday’s recipes, but he said I meant my time requirements easily.
I got 85/90 on my baguette loaf, losing a few points for consistency in rolling and shape. But, Chef said the color was excellent, as was the taste. My rolls turned out perfect – 90/90. He didn’t even mark down points in the individual categories because he said he could see right away that I had gotten full points in each category. Master sampled one of my extras (the dough comes out to about 20 rolls) and said my rolls should be in a bakery – yay!!! Chef says I am very consistent and do a very good job. Since I was trying to not miss too much of the lecture while completing my practical, I forgot to take photos of my finished product. I took one baguette loaf and the rolls home, so maybe I’ll remember to take a picture this afternoon.
This is what happens when you try to dump flour into a mixer without lowering the bowl:

whoops! Clearly, I tried to scrape some of that back in (the tables are cleaned and sanitized after every class) since it's measured exactly to the ounce, but when I moved the mixer to clean the table after I finished, I definitely found I had not picked it all up. Oh well, it didn't effect the taste. Lesson learned.
This is a photo of my roll dough before I moved it above the oven to allow the heat to help it rise (never put it directly on the oven - put another baking sheet upside down and then set it on that). The reason I have this is I just think this photo turned out really well - the lighting and everything. Cool photo, right? The room still had daylight at the time I took it, as opposed to the ugly old fluorescent lighting we have at night.

Technically, we’re not supposed to leave with product, but Chef says that as long as he does not see how we “dispose” of the product, he doesn’t know. I was so glad I had a backpack instead of my large purse last night – it was filled to the brim with goodies!
I’ll take the exam tomorrow, which means I should really study today at work – since I’m getting about five day extra.
Okay, on to what we learned in class: we made a basic blueberry muffin recipe, chocolate zucchini bread, and vanilla pound cake. We also have a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins.
So, after lecure, Tennessee and I paired up. Since my school teaches "methods," we were taught the Muffin Method, which Chef admitted makes lousy muffins compared to the Creaming Method, but we have to learn it anyway. Basically, you whisk dry with dry, and mix wet with wet, and then mix together until just combined.
We did our mise en place one at a time because once lecture finished, we had plenty of time. We actually started last with our first one because it was kind of crazy over at the measuring table - as usual, the same people rush rush rush and crowd others out... No problems though, Tennessee and I are very efficient, so we were done at the same time as everyone else. Chef wanted to get out early tonight due to his double that day and the triple he was doing Tuesday. Even though he's part-time, he subs a lot, so he's always available to his students.
The only mistakes she and I made weren't even caught by Chef. She accidentally used 2 t of vanilla for the zucchini bread when we were only supposed to use 1 (we halved the recipe, and she accidentally used the original amount). But I don't think it was noticeable. And then our pound cake looked all crispy and done, and Chef approved it, but then when we cut into it, soft batter pooted out of the top - whoops! Good thing he was getting tired and didn't test our's with a toothpick for doneness. We had started our's in a 325 oven, but Russia said it was supposed to be at 300, so I moved it to another oven - Tennessee thinks that might be why it seemed all done except for within an inch of the top. We just dumped it - I was kind of carbed out, and she said she didn't want it either.
I took home half the muffins and half the bread. That's it below.
I haven't tasted either yet, but Tennessee said they turned out well. I tasted a little bit of the bread batter, and it was good. I love batter. It smells so good and tastes so creamy. I don't really worry about the raw egg part - since I'm the one that cracks them open, I can see that they are fresh.
We were ready to go around 10:45, but Chef kept us until 11:00. Technically, we're supposed to stay until 11:45, but 11:00 seems to be a time a lot of Chefs let their classes out. Definitely our partner class is always out way earlier than us. I still went to bed at midnight, but at least I fell asleep right around then - usually class keeps me up for at least an hour after I get home.

Lessons Learned:
If you can find good fresh blueberries, use those, but typically in professional kitchens, IQF (individually quick frozen) berries are used. Take 1 T of your dry mixture and stir it with the berries to absorb some of the moisture, or you may turn your muffins into smurf muffins. Oh, and these are all known as quick breads, because they use chemical leaveners (baking powder or soda) to help them rise.

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