Friday, February 22, 2008

Vanilla Cheesecakes

Well, this isn't the exact cheesecake that my partner and I made in class today. But it's close. I swear. It was a thing of beauty. I checked out the restaurant before I left school and there it was, offered as dessert. It was a proud moment. I'm going to start taking my camera to class everyday. There are definitely some Kodak moments happening.

Several of my classmates were sleepwalking today, but we made it, we made it through our first week of pastries. Besides finishing up the cheesecake, my partner and I made chocolate chiffon cakes. We whisked some cocoa with hot water, then added egg yolks, vanilla, oil and dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda). Then we used a Kitchen Aid to whip up egg whites with a tiny bit of cream of tartar and a good amount of sugar. Once the whites were shiny white and fluffy, we folded them gently into the chocolate batter and ladled the batter into 9" and 3" pans. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I'm Listening To...

Early '08 edition:

Sheryl Crow's new CD, Detours
I'd heard great things about this CD, so I bought it as soon as it was released with what was left of an iTunes giftcard. It didn't disappoint.

David Gray's Greatest Hits
Great British pop.

Bruce Springsteen/Magic
I love this CD. Radio Nowhere made me seek it out, but now I gravitate toward Livin' in the Future and Girls in Their Summer Clothes.

Rilo Kiley/Silver Lining
I have this band's latest CD, but I can't stop listening to this single.

By the way, all of these tunes are especially important to me right now because I play them SUPER LOUD in my car to ensure that there's no falling asleep at the wheel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Plum Market

OK, you know you have a serious obsession with food when you note on your calendar that a new market is opening in town.

G was in Boston for the week so on grand opening day I drove from school straight to the new Plum Market. I did a quick walk of the entire store, oohing and aahing at the carnival of colors, aromas, and gracious, lovely people offering free samples. The market not only offers the usual products, but there's a small See's Candies store inside. And I found bags of Peet's Coffee. Coffee we always drink when we go to San Francisco. See's Candies, Peet's Coffee? My little heart skipped a beat.

I couldn't wait to tell G that Ann Arbor has hit the big time. Yes, he's not as excited as I am, but when I told him that there's also a Zingerman's Cafe there? He was at the front door with his boots on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Next Class

Today was my introduction to Pastries I. Four days a week and did I mention that I have to wake up at 4:30AM each morning? Maybe I have. So let's see...3:49PM...I've been awake for almost twelve hours. Anyone want to place bets on when I fall asleep on the couch tonight?

Pastries promises to be challenging. The chef is a different kind of instructor than what we've been used to. He's very structured and stresses professionalism, organization, resourcefulness. I don't mean to say that the other chefs do not do this. It's just that this particular chef is especially...serious.

Our class just finished goofing around in the bakeshop. That early in the morning, either we were punchy from lack of sleep or we were trying to find toothpicks to keep our eyelids open. So trying to be diligent and focused pastry chefs for five weeks proves to be entertaining.

We'll be rotating stations each week--custards and creams, puff pastry/pate a choux, pies, tortes/cheesecakes, fruit desserts.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Baking Final

From the lack of posts in 2008, one could call me a slacker, but no. Not only have I been inundated with homework and school obligations, I've been adjusting to getting up at 4:30AM.

Our five week rotation in Baking went by in a flash. We definitely got into a routine here at home. On Fridays, G would ask, "So what did you bring home today?" His favorite? Cinnamon rolls. Drool.

Last week, my practical exam consisted of baking kaiser rolls, pumpkin bread, and oatmeal apple cinnamon chip cookies. Here are photos of my finished products.

[Photos soon!]

And now, I must try to go to sleep for my way-too-early wake up call.