Archive for February, 2006

My Biggest Pet Peeve

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

The fact that although every chef and pastry chef uses weight measurement, their cookbooks are invariably in volume measurements. Many even have the audacity to say that weight measurements are the best way to measure… and then provide neither weight measurements for their recipes nor conversion charts for ingredients from volume to weight.

I can understand that not everyone wants to deal with buying and using a scale (although they last forever, are soooo easy to use, and cause less dishes to wash), but the least that normally-scale-using recipe authors can do is to provide recipes in both volume and weight. I’m getting tired of converting–and am suspicious that they use different weight equivalents for their volumes. One of these days, I’ll post my inflammatory treatise about the kinetics of flour and volume measurement (others have written them, too), but for now I’ll just say that, under this system, for instance, I don’t think that any cookbook-user ever measures the exact same amount of flour for a recipe as another person does–even those who try to convert it to weight. That’s jacked.

In related news, I’ve had to research quite a few recipes to make in class in the past week, and I’ve found so many recipes that I want to use, but I just don’t know how much certain things weigh; without that, I can’t convert it and use it. So, rather than looking for recipes that I really want to make, I have to scour for convertible recipes. And even when I find one, converting the recipe to weight, adjusting it to our desired yield (which has been 24 4-oz most often for rolls), and then calculating baker’s percentage makes me feel like I’m doing my taxes every single time.

Waiting for Schlumberger

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006
Schlumberger CU

So, it’s day two of my roll sequence, and I’m gaining a bit more appreciation for the things. Although they are slightly tedious to make because of their high numbers, they are pretty convenient to eat, and if made properly so that you can break one open and be greeted by muscular striations formed into a lil gift just for you, then they can be quite charming… even if they still have too much chewy crust for me.

Shaping the dough has a huge impact on what the texture will be like. I like rolls that are worked so that they are rolled up, knotted, or somehow have a choreographed “muscle” structure (completely my own term; don’t blame CIA for the visceral analogy). Round rolls with a slash on the top don’t have this, and many of them are languishing in the depths of my freezer… Perhaps becuase I feel that they belong in Siberia. They’re still rolled around like all others rolls to form them, but the muscles are broken into by the slash rather than formed into the slashes, like schlumbergers, knots, and cloverleaves. Of course, larger slashed loaves are just great, but that’s because they form a better crust and crumb than rolls.


Hearth Breads & Rolls

Monday, February 27th, 2006

For the next three weeks at school, our subject will be Hearth Breads & Rolls. Although I’m slightly initimated by the multitude of breads that we’re supposed to make with increased speed and efficiency (given our not-exactly-novice-anymore status), I’m really excited about the breads we have slated…. To name a few–sourdough bagels, bialys, cheddar onion rye rolls, pretzels, focaccia, raisin orange stollen, cheese pockets, bear claws, whole wheat croissants, chocolate cherry sourdough, roasted potato bread, ciabatta, naan, lavash, rosemary olive…..

Plenty of pic’s and tales of adventure to come 🙂

A Decorative Breads Interlude

Monday, February 27th, 2006

After getting up at 3:30am on Friday and doing the practical test,  I wanted nothing more than to go home and rest/sleep/daze out, but I’d told a chef at the school that I’d help out on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to make breads for about a 1,000 person event on Saturday at the school.  So, I stayed with a few other students, and I’m really glad that I did… even if I was stultifyingly loopy by the time I left after 7pm… and returned at 5am the next morning after only 2 hrs of sleep with a body that wouldn’t believe that the work had ended for the night.

Not only did I mix and shape large quantities of breads like yeasted corn and sourdough, I also got to shape decorative breads… specifically, the ones above and below.  Since they are not meant to be edible, the dough is made with workability and shape in mind.  It’s high in fat, high in salt (to inhibit yeast growth) and low in yeast.   It is baked to brown it, and then the temperature is dropped so that it just dries out.  I’m kind of bummed that the one below wound up with a couple air bubbles in the middle of the base, but in all, it was an experience more than worth the ensuing loopiness.

Wheat Deco Bread

Kiwi Sorbet

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

kiwi sorbet

The winter is a rather good time for many tropical fruits, so I when I had another sorbet craving, I turned to the kiwi. I have just acquired a used copy of Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere, and she seems to have ice cream and sherbet recipes for everything you can think of. Actually, what she calls sherbet, I would call sorbet. And since I find the word “sherbet” unpleasant and to be used only in extreme situations, I will refer to her concoctions as sorbets; sorry, Shere.

Sorbet is usually mostly fruit juice, sugar, and sometimes water, but Shere’s sorbets usually slip in a clever accompanying flavor or two–so mango sorbet has lime juice and rum and cherry sorbet has kirsch and balsamic vinegar. Her nutmeg geranium ice cream does not contain nutmeg, however, because it turns out that there is a nutmeg geranium variety of flower. She also has a rose geranium pound cake recipe. I digress, but if you ever come across something you think is edible, rare, and could be sweet, you could probably find a recipe for it in the book (most likely a sorbet or ice cream, and perhaps molded into a bombe, if you want) — along with many other recipes for common ingredients. You can also get a sense of her go-to’s in the recipes featured in the book – caramel, kirsch, and honey especially pop up in her desserts. She even has a kirsch sorbet recipe.