Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday's Plate- Or Should I say Bowl :)

Intro to Baking Class has been quite an adventure so far.... quite basically though- I love it!  Every single class has had its successes and also some challenges too.  I tend to be a very focused little lady when it comes to production time in the kitchen.  Being the people pleaser that I am- I like to present flawless products of my hard work.  Together with my class partner Rye, we both pay very close attention to the recipes, ask Chef Fred lots of questions and do our best to simply show our competence in each assigned task.  Each week we go into the bakery with every intention of creating delicious results that look good too.  So far we have developed a significant number of "high-five" goodies, but there have been a few not so proud moments too. These are the wonderful ways "Team 8" is demonstrating to the class what your products should NOT look like:

-Flattened Biscuits- I already can't remember why this happened- I guess I blocked it from my memories it was so traumatic- though they did taste good!

"Flat Biscuits" vs. "What the should look like"

-There was A Muffins episode where the batter exploded from the cups with a lava oozing appearance over the side- The oven temp somehow had been turned down 50 degrees cooler which was determined to be the culprit.

-Scones with dried cherries that were good for the most part- but we didn't chop up the dried cherries enough so they didn't distribute through the dough all the way.- Minor issue

Cherry Scones- The dried cherries were in the freezer and hard to chop- next time get the cherries out sooner to thaw a little

-Coffee Cake that thankfully "did" release from the pan, but gave us an awful scare when Chef Fred initially tried to release it and it didn't budge.  (We didn't put parchment on the bottom of the pan, but thankfully Rye greased the pan good enough that it did finally release)

In the pan- before Chef Fred found out we did not parchment paper the bottom.

And then the Oatmeal Cookies....

These were supposed to be simple.  We "Mise en placed" our ingredients.  This means we gathered up all the components for the recipe and also the tools we would need to complete the recipe directions.  We creamed the butter and sugar flawlessly, and incorporated the remaining ingredients according to the directions and then put the dough into the walk-in cooler until the next class when we would have more time to bake them off.  In our minds we believed everything went according to plan, until we put the portioned cookie dough into the oven and set the timer during the next class.  Being the attentive students that we are we took a look at our cookie sheets turning in the roller rack oven after about 4-5 minutes.  Our expectation was to see a slight rise in the dough and the beginning of a spherical cookie that would be setting up and ready to brown.

Here is what we saw happen in the oven....

Instead what we witnessed was a catastrophic melting mess, and our beautiful oatmeal cookie batter spreading out over the entire pan surface into a carmelized heap.  WHAT HAPPENED!  Since Rye and I take a lot of pride in our work this was ultimately very embarrassing.  All we wanted to do was get those trays cleared into the garbage as soon as possible.  Ah, but Chef Fred discovered our blunder and together we tried to figure out what went wrong.  Did the batter get over mixed?  Was the batter too warm before baking?  Did we measure an ingredient wrong?  The mystery continued on into a third class day when we baked off the rest of the dough and banked on the mishap being warm dough.  We really were hopeful this was the case but to our dismay the dough once again flattened out and completely disappointed us for a second time.  

Only a Mother could love these ugly things at first impression, ah but the taste, now that is a different and very yummy attribute!

The difference is this time we took it a little easier and just reminded ourselves this is why we are students.  We are here to learn from our mistakes.  Take it as a lesson in learning and move on, oh and enjoy a moment of humility- just have fun with it!  The problem was most likely a measuring issue on the oatmeal- which also lended itself to some additional fun, a class inside joke.  Our cookies were the "lesser of two weavils."

Left side represents what our cookies were supposed to look like- Oh LOOK its cookie Monster behind me!

The funny thing is, the finished disaster actually tasted GOOD!  A very rich carmel flavored result that had a nice crunchy texture.  Everyone in the class decided it would taste good in an ice cream preparation.  I took it home and made a batch of homemade ice cream with the Oatmeal Flat Cookies mixed in.  My son Riley who is one of my reliable taste tester had this to say about the concoction:

"My Tongue Tasters are Dancing Mama!"  

Needless to say, He loved it!  So did the rest of the family.  I only wish we truly knew what went wrong so I could recreate those flat cookies. They could be a signature item in my creative arsenal someday- only if I can get my baking partner to sign off on it.  

Chef Fred during the end of the production looking at everyone's results and giving us his professional critique.

Chef Fred says that I should not worry about these trials and tribulations in my baking practice.  I think as long as I pay attention and learn from some of these unexpected outcomes, then I am on the right track to mastering the art of Baking.  The oatmeal cookie error did make a nice BOWL of ice cream.  I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings....