Perhaps not my best work, these chocolate cranberry breakfast rolls are the product of four different attempts at my own recipe of chocolate bread. We were assigned to create an original bread project. I really wanted to incorporate chocolate since I am the "Chocolate Boy". Actually, Chef Lora called me the "Chocolate Man" the other day, so maybe I have matured from Chef Guillard's initial title. You know, chocolate is really difficult to work with, especially with breads--it really conflicts with the fermentation process. Anyway, this is what I came up with. They are actually quite tasty! I think I just need to work on appearance...
Chocolate Cranberry Breakfast Roll
Since this is my recipe, I can share it with you all. Let me know if you want the recipe and I'll post it.
Today, we probably made some of the most delicious bread I have ever had! I woke up significantly more tired than I have ever been since I moved to Pasadena. I blame the late night workout and meal. Ha! I had barely enough time to chomp down the pancakes and fresh fruit Yolanda had prepared for breakfast. Somehow, I managed to get ready, briskly walk to school, and slip my way into Lab 2 before the start of class. Chef demonstrated three different types of bread for the first 45 minutes of class—Whole Wheat, Ciabatta, and Focaccia. I always find her methods so intriguing. She works so quickly, it’s almost too fast for my note-taking. At the same time, I love paying attention to every little thing she does so during production, I can try to mimic her technique—including speed.
After demo, each of us started on our whole wheat dough. After placing them in a large bowl to ferment, Becky and I divided our ciabatta/focaccia dough that we made the day before. I took my half and divided it again, placing half of the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment and doused in olive oil (focaccia) and the other half on the back of another baking sheet heavily sprinkled with flour (ciabatta). For the focaccia bread, we periodically spread the rounded dough with the tips of our fingers until it reached our desired thickness—dimpling the dough as we worked. The ciabatta was cut into two strips and stretched thin before proofing. At some point during the production of these two breads, I managed to scale my whole wheat bread and round them. After they proofed, I washed them with an egg wash and then used some oats for garnish. I asked chef to show me different cuts one could use for small rolls. She showed me a few and then allowed me to be creative and make up my own. I baked the rolls in the convection oven and they were perfectly brown in no time. While they were baking I focused on garnishing my focaccia, which had proofed quite nicely. I garnished the focaccia with pesto, fresh parmesan, and basil; and after waiting another 20 minutes or so for it to refill with CO2, I placed it in the oven surrounded by a pool of olive oil.
I removed my rolls and placed them on a rack at my station. After the focaccia was fully cooked and rustic brown I removed it from the oven and placed next to my rolls. We were running out of time, but I wanted to finish my ciabatta so I quickly threw it on the oven stone after sprinkling more flour on top. While we waited for the ciabatta, we surrounded Chef’s table as she critiqued her own bread. All of a sudden, Chef Guillard walked in and wandered over to the table. After Chef Lora finished her critique, both chefs meandered to the corner of the lab and seemed to strike a heated conversation. We later found out that Chef Guillard was criticizing the recipe Chef Lora used (since Chef Lora’s ciabatta didn’t turn out as well as she hoped—something was wrong with the oven). Five minutes before the end of class, I took my ciabatta from the oven and Chef Lora called out at me.
“Are those yours? Those look great!”
She took a knife and cut the bread revealing the porous inside she was hoping to find.
“Hey, hey, everyone come here! We found the one, we found the winner.”
She explained the correct quality of the texture inside and then asked me to run over to Lab 1—where Guillard teaches—and tell him that the recipe does in fact work. HA! Chef Guillard didn’t realize that I made the bread until he came back in the class afterwards to continue the playful chef drama. Chef Lora told him.
When I got home I quickly photographed the food with Yolanda’s help. We tasted some of the focaccia and Paulo snaked on a little bit of the ciabatta (only because he thought the flour was actually sugar on top—ha). I played with Paulo for an hour or so and then crash napped on the couch. When I awoke, Yolanda had prepared an Italian meatball soup for us to pair with the focaccia. It was delicious! The soup too, but I’m focusing on the bread—ahem. The focaccia was soft and intensely flavorful such that your taste buds scream for more. The crust is not tough like a baguette or the ciabatta, it’s soft as well. Since the dough is baked in a pool of olive oil, the bottom of the loaf has this crispy texture that is somewhat reminiscent of a Pizza Hut pan pizza crust (back in the day when they were actually delicious). Oh my goodness, I’m craving more just as I type this.
The neat thing about this module is that we are learning to make and manipulate recipes that are so delicious! They don’t require a lot of ingredients, my friends. They require the know-how and meticulous hands. Oh, what a great day in the kitchen. I took care of my finances and organized myself for the weekend with the remaining time of the evening. I did yoga before finally going to bed.
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First thing in class today, we scaled and pre-shaped our baguettes. I scaled three 12 ounce baguettes and had just enough leftovers for a mini one. After pre-shaping, we left the dough on a lightly dusted flour surface to bench. After about 15 or 20 minutes, we shaped the baguettes. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous! I just feel very out of my comfort zone when it comes to bread and sensitive dough. Thankfully I had taken very detailed notes, so deciphering them enabled me to remember the precise way Chef Lora had made the baguette the day before. When I finished shaping the bread, I felt a little bit overly concerned with my seemingly less-than-perfect baguette. Chef Lora reminded me that this is my first time and this is the time to make all the mistakes. Looking back, even now, I can already tell you things I would do differently so produce a more aesthetically pleasing piece of work. After the bread proofed, I slashed it with a double edged razor. I think I caught Chef laughing at me out of the corner of my eye. I imagine that I had a very serious look on my face as I stared at my razorblade and my dough. She came over and observed while I cut into my fragile baguettes. Cutting through dough sounds easy enough eh? Well, it has to be done properly! Too deep, no good. Too shallow, no good.
The next step was the most exciting! I preheated the oven just after placing a bread stone on the bottom rack. Chef helped me shimmy the parchment containing my baguettes onto the stone. At the same time, I was throwing ice on the bottom of the oven to create steam. I also sprayed above the bread to create a more steam. This is essential for baguettes because you don’t want the crust of the dough to harden before the baguette has time to reach its size capacity. It makes for a nice, crispy crust and a soft, full center. I’m sorry, but can’t you imagine Giada saying the sentence I just wrote—all the while showing her pearly whites? Ha! The only other task for the day was preparing our milk bread dough and leaving it in the fridge for overnight fermentation. I was running a bit behind, but Chef asked me whether I would calculate baker’s percentages (I’m not even going to try to explain what this is) for a recipe of pita bread we will be making on Monday. It’s actually a bit time consuming to do, but it makes it a lot easier to work with recipe formulation. Okay, I’ll explain. It’s basically finding out the percentages of ingredients based on the heaviest weighted ingredient. The strange part is that our percentages exceed 100%. It makes the math easier. So, are you confused yet? Anyway, I appreciated the trust of Chef Lora and gladly worked out the math.
The latter part of class consisted of eating! Chef made several kinds of bread for us to taste. Sabastian brought some prosciutto which we sandwiched between 100% naturally leavened sour dough bread which contained fresh olives. Armine brought Armenian cheese, basil, tomatoes, cucumber (I stayed away), and a strawberry fruit spread (which she ended up giving to me at the end of the day—so kind!). I brought Dutch chocolate to garnish our fresh bread and balsamic vinegar to mix with the extra virgin olive oil already in Lab 2. I couldn’t stop eating! I have to make a conscious effort to stop before I made a fool of myself. Before the end of the day, we were asked to present our baguettes. Chef Lora grades differently, it seems. We looked at each other the student’s baguettes and talked about what went right and what when wrong. I liked this method because we were able to continue learning and it was nice to see exactly what the outcome is when something is done right and something is done wrong. When she reached mine she didn’t say much.
“Whose are these?”
“They’re mine Chef.”
“They look good, consistent in shape, great color, pretty good slashes. Yeah, I like them. Very good!”
It was relieving! I felt as though she would find something wrong with them. Even though there wasn’t much said, I can still see what I can do better next go around. I really think I may have lucked out, that’s all.
When I arrived home, I stayed in uniform so I could deliver the extra baguettes to neighbors before beginning on our Italian feast. I took pictures before delivering and probably wasted too much time trying to decide which pictures were the best. We had spaghetti since the kids only really like red sauces. I cut thin slices from the baguette and made bruschetta—thankfully Yolanda bough fresh basil at the store. FYI, fresh basil is my absolute favorite herb! Needless to say, it was a delicious meal. I spent the rest of the evening studying and catching up. It didn’t take too much longer for me to reach my limit and fall fast asleep!
I spent the majority of the morning cleaning and organizing my tools. Yolanda prepared some blueberry muffins which I shoved down my throat just before taking off for class. When I arrived at Lab 2, I immediately noticed an additional working station close to the front so I quickly snagged it and I think this is where I will stay for the remainder of the module. After we cleaned our stations, Chef Lora finished the baguette demonstration. She is incredible to watch—she makes it look easy, too easy. Some of my classmates scoffed at my copious note taking. Perhaps it is a little excessive, but what can I say, I want to learn—really learn. While the baguette dough was benching (resting on the table), Chef demo-ed Pain de Mie which is crumb bread. She returned to the baguette and shaped it. So cool!
Anxious to start my own baguette, I quickly returned to my station once Chef finished the baguettes and left them to proof (sit out) before baking. I have to admit, I was nervous. I don’t know what it was! Making bread is just so completely foreign to me. Aside from using a bread maker, I don’t think I have ever make anything close other than quick breads—biscuits, scones, etc. I carefully followed the detailed notes I took. When I began to knead, I started to worry because my dough did not look like the dough she had placed in the fridge the day before. In time, the dough developed enough gluten that I could stretch it and it would not tear (the window pane test). It still felt soft so I kneaded it a few more times and all of a sudden it was perfect—round and smooth! I let it sit out for 30 minutes before cater wrapping it and placing it in the fridge for tomorrow.
Before we mise-ed our ingredients for pain au lait (milk bread), Chef prepared the ovens to cook her baguettes. She placed bread stones on the bottom of the oven (just inches off the surface). She threw a handful of ice underneath. She transferred the parchment containing the baguettes onto the stone. She sprayed above the baguettes with a spray bottle containing cool water. It was like nothing I have ever seen! Of course, she was explaining the reasoning behind taking such deliberate steps, but suffice it to say that all of these steps furnished one of the best baguettes I have ever tasted! When she pulled the bread out of the oven, she had us each take a turn to squeeze the loaf. The crunch was like none I have ever heard. Brisk. Bright. Bold. She walked to a nearby fridge and pulled out a large wheel of fresh parmesan. After slicing the warm bread, she cut thin pieces of the fresh parmesan and invited us to partake. I ate three pieces. I probably shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t stop! I KNOW I’m going to love this 6-week module! Each of us devoured our bread samples and then quickly started a conversation about how excited we are to eat our own baguettes tomorrow. In no time, class was over and we were free to go.
I stayed on campus and updated my resume. I felt as though I should talk to a counselor regarding my desires to work in publishing and food television. I guess I did so in hopes that she would have a suggestion regarding viable options for my externship. Now, what I am about to share with all of you readers is information that is still in its infancy! My counselor notified me of a potential opportunity to intern in New York City for a three month period. During this time, I would be working on set with all the major shows on the Food Network. Such an experience would be incredible eh? What an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of producing a show! Not to mention networking opportunities. Again, I cannot get ahead of myself! The school can present up to three qualified people and spend them to NY to interview with the network, so there is still quite a large chance that I may not have this chance. I do, however, now have a lofty goal I can start working towards. This would include building my resume and gaining more kitchen experience. I just wanted to share it all with you because it was quite the highlight of my day! Euh, well, it rivals the delicious bread tasting that’s for sure!
I returned to the Bellevue home with a spring in my step! What a good day. I really wanted to make dinner, so I thawed some chicken and prepared Lemon and Almond Chinese Chicken. Have you ever wondered how oriental chicken is prepared in such dishes? Well, I learned today. You cut chicken in the desired shapes (I like long and thin) and soak in a beaten egg. You coat the chicken in cornstarch and fry in a shallow pan of oil. After the chicken was cooked, I poured it into my lemon and almond sauce and then garnished the entire dish with sliced lemons and green onion shafts. The chicken was cooked perfectly, but the sauce wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. Quite disappointing.
After dinner, I immediately returned to the books and before the night was spent, I finished my blog entry. YAY! I have some scripture reading to do and then I’m off to bed. What a great day!
Andre woke up during the night shrieking! I’m not sure what was wrong but for some reason I feel less alert and less affected by the noise. I accidentally slept in. It was nice to feel welcomed by the kids who eagerly jumped into my bed with me calling out my name.
Cute. I ate and quickly threw my things together after a nice shower. I hardly felt ready for my first day but figured I wouldn’t need too much preparation for the first day. On my way to Lab 2, I passed by Chef Guillard but we only spoke for a mere 10 seconds or so. I entered Lab 2 and was immediately struck by the vastness of this new home. The room has vaulted ceilings which gives the illusion that the square footing is significantly larger than Lab 3. Perhaps it is. The demo station is located near the entrance (opposite from Lab 3) and the stations are in the rear, closest to the large windows that fill the entire back wall and provide a more thorough view of Green Street. The passerby’s have a better view inside Lab 2 than they ever had in Lab 3 (which is probably planned since we are now more experienced bakers—ahem). I found myself overly excited to reunite with my fellow students. I contemplated giving hugs but decided to hold to myself since no one else seemed to be as thrilled.
We started class with a getting-to-know-you session. Our new chef is Chef Lora. She is young and quite pretty. Chef Knight had told us that she is “the best bread chef on campus.” It did not take long for us to sense just how knowledgeable she is about breads. We each gave our why-we-are-in-culinary-school spiel and moved straight into our lecture. Whoa! Chef Lora is incredible! I had five pages of notes in no time. We learned more about the differences of flours, the anatomy of wheat grains, the four major yeasts, bread fermentation, protein percentages, the twelve baking steps for bread, and baker’s percentages. Maybe the list seems rather small, but we’re talking in depth details about the magic (science rather) behind the process of making bread. I was rather enthralled by the lecture—asked too many questions perhaps. Either way, I immediately acquired respect for Chef Lora and am looking forward to learning about breads under her tutelage.
Following the lecture she gave a demonstration on French Baguettes. Her dough will be fermenting overnight and we will start baking tomorrow. We mise-ed our ingredients for baguettes and cater-wrapped our supplies for tomorrow’s first day of baking. I can’t wait to try her baguette tomorrow and then try to do it ourselves. I have learned to take meticulous notes and find the right things to scribble out during demonstration—how many bowls they use, the changes in tools, the way it’s mixed, the way it’s kneaded, the most subtle details that anyone could easily miss or maybe forget to do while attempting to recreate.
After class, I was so happy to return home! No more sanitation—which means getting out of class at 1:30 rather than 3:00. I came home and ate leftover pizza. I studied the scriptures for an hour before starting on my homework. We had the missionaries over for dinner and I was endlessly bombarded with memories from my own two years of service. Yolanda prepared a delicious Potato Cheese Soup and I bought a green leaf salad and fresh baguette which was warmed before the missionaries arrived. Needless to say, it was delicious! Before the missionaries left they shared a thought. I don’t think they had specifically planned anything thought to share with us, but one quote that Elder Richins shared with us was particularly meaningful to me.
“Eternal things are always done in the process of time . . . Direction is initially more important than speed.” Neal A. Maxwell
Perhaps it is my lack of patience or my inability to feel like I am doing everything I would like to do. Whatever the case, this quote made me feel more at peace with the fact that I’m heading in the direction that I want to be heading in and that is more important (initially) than the rate at which I am trying to accomplish all these things I would like to do and accomplish. Maybe I didn’t effectively articulate my thought processes, but take it for what it’s worth!
The rest of the night was spent studying and deciding exactly how I would like to conquer this next module (meaning, how do I want to organize myself after having already experienced a six-week module at the LCB). I look forward to the coming weeks! I need to find a job—yikes. Oh, I looked up my grades. 4.0! Yay! Okay, I’m out.