Last week I began baking and pastry school. After about ten hours of class, both classroom and kitchen time, I feel like I’m already learning so much. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve learned so far:
1. How to tie a neckerchief.
2. How itchy neckerchiefs can be.
3. How you can’t get into the cafeteria without being in full uniform, including your neckerchief.
4. How to make really flaky biscuits.
5. Homework in my class means bringing home my work and eating it the next morning for breakfast.
6. How to make delicious scones and blueberry muffins.
7. How NOT to transport those scones and muffins home. And how crumbly and smush-prone freshly baked scones and muffins can be. It’s days later and I am still finding crumbs on the seat of my car.
8. How to deal with one wash station for a class of 20 people. Then again, I think we’re still trying to figure that out. This is probably my least favorite thing about class.
9. How there’s gloriously no traffic driving home after class (as opposed to the drive in), so I can make it home by midnight.
10. How much I love what I’m doing.
Why, donuts of course! Or bombolini in this case, little donut holes rolled in sugar and filled with cream, jam, or nutella. Is it donut or doughnut? I never know which to use, but for the sake of brevity (in typing) I will use the former.
You should make these even if your oven isn’t broken. Even if you didn’t stupidly pour water on a hot oven door, cracking the glass window rendering the oven useless and a glass-shattering hazard. (And even if you finished baking your bread with the glass broken, risking said hazard, because you were not about to waste good dough).
Or was that just me?
I was terribly distraught when I learned my oven would not be operational for an entire week. However, I can use this week to make things that do not require an oven. Or get other things on my to do list done without getting distracted by proofing bread or baking cookies.
These days, I’ve fallen in love with pâte à choux.
This special dough, which I only just learned to pronounce, is used to make cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles, gougères (savory cheese puffs), and zeppole, (the Italian version of beignets typically made on St. Joseph’s day).
The best part about this dough is not only its delicious puffiness, but how wonderfully easy it is to make. It’s also unlike other pastry because you mix your flour, butter, milk and water over heat, essentially cooking the dough before you even bake (or fry) it.