January 17, 2017
When that reoccurring feeling of an overwhelming schedule hits you on a holiday weekend and you realize that you have accomplished nothing but relaxing your soul from everyday life…I swear it was a double-edged sword. The moment you get an important email relaying the plans of the next week, your heart just drops because reality is once more thrust upon you. Such is the way of the student. I make it sound so daunting a task to wake up at 6:00 am every morning and trudge 200 steps on concrete to the college’s bakery door and participate in a 10 credit advanced pastry/bread class that allows me to smell exquisite confectioneries and delicious desserts. I have to say…it is quite wonderful, especially if you are surrounded by such knowledgeable and humorous people.
Four buffet desserts were to be reviewed and started today, not to mention a new bread pre-ferment to mix — multi grain. Our sourdough turned into a volcano that could barely contain it’s lava; the yeasty substance leaking down the plastic edges of its container. Some pretty happy starter going on here. New menus and recipes were handed out so Kayla and I swapped the sleepy, groggy state of mind that we shared for an alert and ready-for-action mode, though it did take some time to transition.
First order of business: Flan. I have never enjoyed the jiggly and somewhat intolerable texture of the dessert. Hopefully this time around my taste buds will grow a mind of their own and leave me a scrumptious teaser. Kayla and I started by boiling some water and sugar with lemon and vanilla to make a syrup, then I lightly beat some egg yolks and incorporated the pre-made syrup at 120 degrees into the yolk to slowly make a custard. Before the custard could be baked, a sugar base had to be made which held 2 cups of sugar that had been melted and darkened to a root beer color then molded in a heavy bread pan. This base was then set in the refrigerator to harden; doing so guaranteed the permanent separation of the two mixtures once placed inside a water bath in our deck oven. Trouble brewed over the following hour or two when we found ourselves setting a timer over and over again for a custard that was only supposed to take 40-45 minutes to bake. This stirred a troublesome thought in our heads as to if there was a miscalculation on our part when measuring the ingredients, but we scanned the formula and found no mistake. We then proclaimed that it was the temperature setting inside the oven and how it might have fluctuated in a way that tampered with the cooking time of the flan. We felt relief when an hour and a half later, the flan was cooked and the uncooked liquid that was once inside the pan turned solid.
Second on the list: Pecan Squares. Very similar to the lemon squares I used to do at home, the filling is the same as pecan pie and the pastry dough is light and reminds you of a very soft version of sugar cookie dough; only if you can imagine so. The sweetness of the filling balances the slightly buttery and floury taste of the dough which compliment each other. I cannot wait to dig into that heavenly goo filled with pecans and all the sugar that could tide one over for 3 days. The only trouble with this recipe was it assumes that you are an expert at reading between-the-lines directions, well I am here to say that is just not right. Thankfully, the dough was somewhat underdone once you broke the outside dough and we were able to press and mold the half-baked mixture until a grotto was formed for the pecan filling to smooth over and coat.
Lastly, we prepared an almond tart dough for our upcoming Cherry Clafoutis on next week’s American Regional buffet menu.
Though the day went flying by like an arrow, we accomplished a great deal.
The completion of projects today will further the anticipated frivolous creativity of tomorrow.