I'm halfway through pastry school friends! Thinking about this makes me both a bit anxious and sad. Anxious because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Meaning, when people ask me what I’d like to do after I finish school (which has been a go-to question since enrolling in school), I don't have an answer. I have a few ideas I've been mulling over, but it would be much easier if the answer hit me like a ton of bricks, or perhaps if it came to me in a dream…delivered by Matt Damon. Just sayin’. I’m hoping over time this will become more clear. Being halfway done also bums me out because I actually like going to school- hell, I even look forward to it! I mean, why wouldn't I? I get to make copious amounts of killer desserts daily, and I'm constantly learning something new. Everyday includes brand-spanking new recipes I’ve never tackled before, and that’s so exciting to me. It's kinda like opening gifts on Christmas morning, but filled with more dessert and less pajamas.
Some of the best things I’ve learned so far have become mottos that I repeat in my head all the time (I usually hear them in my teacher’s voice though). Here are a few golden nuggets for your pleasure:
• Have a sense of urgency! You're going to get more done faster if you work quickly and efficiently. This also includes walking with a purpose, and if you don't, I'm going to mow your ass down! Sorry I'm not sorry.
• If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean. Funny, yes, but damnit it's true too. Don't be a slouch and go wipe something down or put something away. I've used this line on my hubs recently...he wasn't amused.
• Get your full yield! Translation: when you're doing any kind of product transferring from one container to another (i.e. measuring cups or a mixing bowl), scrape out as much of what's in there as you can. I’ve had those moments in the past where I'd shrug and say “good enough,” but there’s actually a lot more on the sides of that bowl than you think. It can effect your recipe and it’s a bit wasteful too, unless you're planning on licking the bowl, then I fully support that.
• The oven light is your friend, use it. When you open the oven, the temperature drops 25 degrees! 'Tis a lot so stop opening that blasted oven and use the blasted light!
• Keep your work-space clean. Done with the Kitchenaid? Put that sucker away! Got a pile of dirty bowls? Get that pile to a sink pronto! You will feel more organized and will work more efficiently if you clean as you go. It's a fact.
So mottos aside, I need to catch you up on these last three weeks. It’s been FULL and loads of fun.
Week 7 was all kinds of awesome. It focused on pastry doughs: brownies, blondies and cookies galore. Highlights? We made over 25 different cookie/brownie/blondie creations. Having to sample each of these goodies was hard work <said nobody ever>. By the end of the week, we made bakery boxes for our VIPs filled with our favorite desserts we’ve made thus far. This was a fun project because we had to really team up and work together in order to get these boxes done on time. My favorite thing in the box? The Candy Cap Pecan Cookies, hands down. Candy Cap is a mushroom, but alas these taste nothing like 'shrooms. They instead taste like a nutty maple buttery dreamboat. Other than the lucky VIPs, each of us were able to take a box of love home too. Another highlight was taking on a fun project: as a class, come up with our best version of a chocolate chip cookie. Apparently, a former pastry class tackled the same project and their recipe ended up being published in Bon Appétit! Hugely impressive and the bar has been set. Game on.
Week 8 was themed “advanced chocolate and confections.” Translation: we made a plethora of gourmet candy bars (i.e. Snickers) and other yum-tastic candy. Highlights? We spent one of the days at Feve Artisan Chocolatier learning how to decorate and shell chocolate. This was super fun because we got to get artsy-fartsy with the decorating by using gold dust, a spray gun and even just finger painting. It’s unreal how gorgeous chocolates can be. These chocolates that Feve make literally look like works of art. I'm almost inclined to say that they're too pretty to eat, but lets be honest, these beauties were meant to be pretty in my belly.
Week 9 was boot camp week- repetition and timed drills. Highlights? Other than being able to make 30 crepes in 10 minutes and dice 2 carrots into 1/4 inch squares (my own personal hell), we had a THREE HOUR cheese tasting workshop. It sounds amazing right? It really was, but towards the end of the last hour, I felt like a wheel of cheese in human form. Another workshop we did that week, was a gluten-free/food allergies workshop. We live in SF so this is great knowledge to have as the gluten-free population is strangely growing higher by the minute. We also made macarons! These are one of the most beautiful time-consuming cookies I've ever made before, but so worth it in the end. We even got to create our own version with a teammate- we made lemon poppy seed macs.
As for this week, it’s ice cream o’clock! More specifically, a week of ice cream, gelato and frozen desserts. My husband clearly is most excited about this week because after I told him, he did a happy car dance that lasted an awkwardly long time.
Want to stare at some pretty desserts now? Cue this song, enjoy and I’ll see you on the flip side.