Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Knives and Fire XXI (Week 6)

Bread and Cookie Day

First, we discussed fish purchasing, where we figured out that there are times it's more cost effective to purchase already dressed (drawn, scaled, head/tail removed) as opposed to merely drawn (just entrails removed.) It might cost more in time and labor to dress a fish on site than you'd save otherwise.

Then we moved to breads. We touched on types of leaveners (chemical and yeast), types of flours (high-gluten, bread, all purpose, pastry and cake plus rye). We were to make bread sticks, rye bread, garlic knots, white bread, French bread and foccacia - all yeast breads, some using all purpose flour, some bread and some high-gluten. And, of course, rye flour.

Y and I made foccacia. Foccacia is basically pizza dough. We proofed dry yeast in sugar and 90°F water, and, using a stand mixer, put in 1lb 2oz of weighed and sifted AP flour slowing until it started forming a ball. Then we added salt and onions as per the directions. This was placed in an oiled bowl and covered with plastic wrap and allowed to rise. (Chef took our baker's rack (a metal rack which holds sheet pans as shelves) and turned it into a proofing chamber by placing a couple of cans of sterno on the lowest shelf, and a roasting pan of water just above it, and wrapping the whole thing in aluminum foil. It got up to 100°F, which is what we wanted.)

When it doubled (we went to lunch), it was punched down and put in an oiled half-sheet pan. Y pushed it until it filled the pan, and then we drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil, rosemary, oregano, kosher salt and black pepper, and then topped it with sliced tomatoes and onions. We then drizzled it with more oil and added more seasonings. This was put back on the baking rack, along with L's foccacia, which used spices, oil and garlic. We let it rise until doubled and put them into a 350°F convection oven (recipe called for 400°F, but that's a normal oven.) And we let it cook until it was risen and golden brown, and then they were let cool on the rack.

When we finally ate them - well, ours was delicious. No question. L's was better. She used a bit more salt in her bread.

We had a lesson braiding challah - chef made a double one (a small braid on top of a large one.) Oh - we took all of the doughs after the first rise, in their bowls, and covered them with the same cover, and E took challah, because challah is both the braided Shabbos bread, and the dough removed from a large enough batch of bread (over 5lbs of flour with a blessing.) This handful of dough is destroyed, usually by being burnt in the oven. It used to be given to the Kohanim, but not anymore. We had much more than 5lbs, but once was enough.

And then, since our breads were either finished or baking, we made cookie dough. This, as you can imagine, was torture. I love cookie dough, and I can't eat it! I wasn't doing anything, but J and D had been asked to make a checkerboard cookie that used almond flour, and J is allergic to tree nuts. So I offered to help D. As I sliced up margarine to make it creamable, D assembled our two similar but not identical recipes - one for vanilla and one for chocolate. These would be assembled in layers, and then sliced and reformed to make checkerboards. D made the vanilla, and did it first, and I was to do the chocolate. D did fine, making a nice, firm vanilla dough. As for me - well. I got flustered and spilled a lot of the powdered sugar and then the entire container of four eggs, and, well. Because once you get flustered, you make all sorts of mistakes.

However, all was well, and I made a nice chocolate dough as well, for the first time in over a decade. Both doughs as well as a chocolate cookie dough - one with and one without nuts - were put in the freezer. Y made chocolate macadamia nut cookies using melted chocolate (I used cocoa) and they smelled heavenly.

We have the next two days off, but we'll continue with pastry on Thursday. These days will be made up.
Tags: cooking school, knives and fire

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