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Well I Guess it’s Risen Enough

Many of you may have noticed, or not noticed as the case may have been, that I have neglected to post anything about my baking class that I took way back when. OK well truth be told I kinda forgot about it. Yes, I meant to post something about it a long time ago but it seemed to just get left in the proof box. *oh yes another bread reference* So join me if you will on a step back in time to the long ago time, and through a secret door and down a flight of steep, narrow dark stairs…

No, really I’m not kidding. You have to go in the secret door to get to the bake shop or kitchen in general for that matter. Baking for me and my block was held in the National Life building, if you really want to know more about the building just go here. Because I only ever saw the secret door and the steep, dark, narrow staircase of “doom” that is really all I can talk about, well OK I saw the dish pit and the main cafeteria where I would eat lunch. Anyone who has had to go into the kitchen has probably thought, at least once “if I slip on these stairs I will die…” However, after you make it down the stairs you are presented with the first of many kitchens. See the metal cabinet hiding behind the farthest away metal table? Good, turn right and you will be looking in to the cage- ah hem, I mean bake shop.

At some point you will probably notice that I’m referring to the bake shop and bakers like we are in a dungeon. (Honestly if you haven’t by now I’m a little worried about you) I’m making these references for two reasons. First, when you compare the National Life Bake shop and La Brioche you will notice that we are underground with no windows in a “lovely” brick yellow color. La Brioche on the other hand is nice and open with bright white walls and HUGE windows that allow the outside world to watch the students and teachers like fish in a bowl. The second reason I make the references to a dungeon is because of my baking chef. This was something that he said we should get use to if we wanted to be bakers or pastry chefs as normally they are in a similar dungeon, ah hem, kitchen as the one in National Life.

Time out really quick, I want to talk about my chef. Now normally I don’t do this as I don’t want to play favorites or give the wrong impression about the instructors, but I have to give a nod to my baking chef. I won’t say his name but he is one of the hands down funniest and nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know, as much as you can get to know someone in 3 weeks. He supported every student in our block to the best of his capabilities, pushing everyone as hard as they wanted to be pushed, and holding us to our standards. All the while he would crack jokes and make us laugh. He really showed us how relaxed it is to be a baker. Yes, you still have pressure and deadlines to meet, but he did more than just teach us baking and pastry, he taught us how to live the life of a baker.

Time out is over now, bake to the bake shop. Oh look here we are… well some of us anyways. The funny part is that picture is taken at 6am, yes 6 in the morning, and look how happy and awake we all look. Also featured in this picture are the (in order left to right) “big mixer”, “Erica”, and “The Sheeter”.

From our dungeon kitchen we would make all kinds of things. From different types of pastries, to all kinds of little side projects for fun, and breads. How could I have forgotten the breads.

Bread is very much a labor of love. So much can go wrong that you have to be very careful, and nowhere else is your culinary math more important. Personally I’m a breads guy, don’t get me wrong pastries are delicious, but bread is so much more than that. If you would ask me what my favorite bread is I would give you two answers. Focaccia  and Sourdough, both of which I got to make.  Here is the Focaccia I made, half is covered in Asiago cheese, the other half left free to compare the taste differences. All of it cooked with pan roasted garlic and then brushed with the oil I used to roast the garlic in, and sprinkled all over with fresh thyme.

Now in order to make Sourdough many of you may know that it takes a sourdough starter, and I once again thank my chef because I learned how to make a starter from him. I still have my starter today (or I did when I left for Jupiter Island) and he is still making very good breads for me. Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you in his much over due appearance on this blog, Yeastamust Prime!! While it might not look like much this little guy to my left has made me many a fantastic tasting sourdough. Take a look at this beauty, his first ever sourdough bread! That is my Yeast at work! I know I said that like a proud father right? Well in a way I am a father. He is a living, breathing, yeast that has to be fed once per day, unless he is sleeping in which case I feed him once per month. He is a very good strong little yeast if I do say so myself. I mean take a look  at his handy work compared to my chef’s yeast of 15 years. (hint mines the one with the “G”)

Besides just making breads, as I said earlier we got to make side projects and for mine I chose to make a pie. It wasn’t just any pie though it was an Espresso Silk Pie with Lemon Whip Cream Topping! OK, yeah, I like coffee and espressos with a lemon twist and that is the roots behind this pie idea, but you know what? I got to make it! I think this counted as my final for the class and let me tell you it was a fantastic tasting pie!

After three very short weeks we said goodbye to the beast that was our oven. Packed up our tools and left the Dungeon and stepped back out into the sun light. I learned many things while in bake shop. More important than anything I learned that I don’t have what it takes to be a pastry chef. Give me breads to make any day of the week and I happily will, but I need the thrill of a line. While I can sneak off to the bake shop for fun, adventure, and “relaxation” I’ll always know that should I want it it’s waiting for me.  For any students who don’t like the thrill of the line and the fast paced excitement that working in a kitchen brings then, as my Baking and Pastry friends always say, “Come to the Dark Side; We have cookies.”

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2 Comments on “Well I Guess it’s Risen Enough”

  1. Grandma December 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Grant, you are my favorite story teller. What a way with words, Makes your journey more interesting.
    Can’t wait for wonderful breads to come out of your kitchen, Love Gma

  2. Tori December 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    I loved this post! It shows a lot of personality, yours and the personality of the bakeshop. I loved my baking class in Mod 1, although I had it at La Brioche. I had Cooking Theory down there, though. The whole National Life kitchen area is like a dungeon! It was disappointing to go in there for my afternoon class because I knew I wouldn’t be seeing sunlight until the next day since by the time I got out it was dark.
    You made some very yummy things in bakeshop. I hope Yeasty is doing well. 🙂

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