A lot of the first day’s activity involved learning how to be pastry students and where to find things in the kitchen. The class consists of six women, two of whom are only doing the first half (certificate program). A couple of them have actual kitchen experience.
The chef instructor has an assistant each night. Paul assists on Wednesday night and Jay assists on Thursday night. Paul and Jay did the professional pastry course last year, and I saw them in action when I observed a class. They’re excellent assistants because they know what they’re doing and they remember what it was like to be a student in this program.
The most exciting thing so far is the walk-ins. There are two walk-in freezers and three walk-in refrigerators, and you really have to walk in and let the door close behind you so the temperature in the walk-in doesn’t rise. The walk-in freezer in the kitchen has a digital thermometer on the outside, and it’s supposed to read 4℉. Chef Sharon opened the door, held it open for about 3 seconds, then closed it; the thermometer read 8℉. Obviously, walking in and holding the door open while you’re in there is a problem. But it’s scary at first to just walk in, let the door close, and believe you’re going to get out again. In fact, the walk-in freezers have a sign on the inside of the door that says “You are not locked in!” There’s no latch inside; you just push the door open. Now that I’ve done this a few times, my heart rate stays steady while I’m in there.
The first lesson is muffins, scones, and quick breads. The kitchen time is limited by all the orientation plus the lecture, and I guess a lot of people have made these sorts of things before. We broke up into three teams of two students and picked one of each type of recipe to make out of a total 22 possible recipes. My team didn’t have enough time to make muffins, but we made teacakes (creaming method) and scones (biscuit method).
It’s not enough to make them edible (or, preferably, delicious). Even in the first class we have to think about making them pretty. The scones got dusted with powdered sugar, but they could’ve been glazed.
Eventually we’ll have learned enough techniques that we can just go with inspiration, but right now I feel like I need lots of direction. The teacake recipe includes a glaze. Chef Delphin told me I could brush it on or drizzle it on and gave me a tutorial.
Then he suggested decorating the cakes with shaved chocolate and a fresh raspberry. I had to venture into one of the walk-ins for the raspberries; that’s when I started to feel comfortable with that. He showed me how to shave the chocolate using an idiotproof method: With a relatively sharp edge (e.g., of a spoon), scrape the block of chocolate. Proper shaving technique is taught later.
At the end of each class we split up the entire class’s output and we each take home some of everything. I’ll have to start getting photos of that. For now, here’s what some of the others came up with: