Baking Bread

After my experience on Pastry yesterday, I had mad respect for Pastry Girl and all the work she does day in and day out. There’s a lot of heavy lifting involved — 50 lb bags of flour, 10 kilo batches of dough, full sheet trays of loaf after loaf of bread… I think the most difficult part of my day though was oven management. You would think that two convection ovens and one still oven would be plenty for a kitchen but when everyone wants to bake things at different temperatures for different lengths of time, it gets hectic.

I tried to ask Pastry Girl and Sous Chef J a lot of questions before I was thrown in head-first. Even though this is the second time I’ve covered the Pastry station, my to-do list this time was much more extensive and representative of a proper day’s work. I had a few (fixable) mishaps — I had forgotten to spray the ramekins before filling them with sticky toffee batter, but luckily Sous Chef S noticed about halfway through so I was able to just scrape them out and start over. And then when I was making apple chips, they came out lovely but I let them cool on the tray for a bit too long and the sugar started to solidify, sealing them to the parchment. I was able to salvage enough but also inadvertently made a snack of broken apple chips for the guys to share. haha.

The biggest mistake I had made was making vanilla ice cream base. The recipe had the measurements but not the instructions, and I had forgotten to whip the eggs separately and add the boiled cream slowly to temper. I just threw it all into a pot and ended up with custard. :( I wanted to try again but we were out of vanilla beans. Thankfully we have plenty of vanilla ice cream in the freezer so Pastry Girl should be OK being one day delayed in the process.

Service went smoothly though. During Happy Hour, I kneaded and portioned the ciabatta we use for table bread. Then later on, I whipped up two batches of pizza dough as well. Passers-by seemed impressed by my productivity! I didn’t miss any wellingtons or chicken pot pies (it happens from time to time that Chef asks how long on a welli and it turns out that no one had put it in the oven in the first place!) and I had fun plating up all of the desserts (helping out Pastry Girl had given me plenty of practice).

At the end of the night, Station Lead called me over. He recounted my mishaps, said they could happen to anyone, and then concluded — “Not bad for your first day!” (well, first real day). He added one more thing that he had noticed… “Desserts were flying out like that [snaps fingers]!” My timing for both desserts and the baked entrees were on point and I was happy about that. So my day was full of ups and downs but for being thrown into a new station on my own without any actual training, I’d say I did pretty well!

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