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| August 29, 2016


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baking school: cupcakes for breakfast.

I learned last night that T-Swift’s new album, when played at proper decibels, cancels out the noise of tiny children.

When I get sick of fighting traffic, my evenings/weekends consist of watching Carnival Eats on the Food Network (it’s apparently the only thing that’s on), singing loudly to 1989 during small child’s Olympic training sessions, fighting over ownership of Indiana Avenue on Monopoly (the AI is relentless), and finishing up the Harry Potter series. I'm reading slower than I had originally planned, because I purchased the entire movie collection to watch while I was here… and the DVD player is broken.


I'm generally an optimistic person, but in being completely transparent - the only great thing about this trip is the class itself and the people in it. Thankfully, that covers the majority of my time here as well as the reason I'm here… but I feel like I just can't catch a break! It’s been a long time since I got caught in one of those spins, and it’s just a bummer that I’m away from home during it all. I guess that’s just how it happens. God give me strength!

day seven.
This morning I woke up at an insane hour with food poisoning. I'm pretty sure only my pastor gets up then, which I suppose could be taken as really good timing. But I didn't exactly inform him that I was dying, so I think I'm just talking in circles at this point and owe you an apology for rambling. (Sorry…) I was traumatized because I knew I couldn't miss a class, but I could barely sit up without passing out. I was highly tempted to check my temperature with the candy thermometer we have in our kit. I didn't, so it’s still sanitary.

Jesus answered my pleas and sent me off to class right on schedule. It ultimately went well, but I ended it with a bad migraine from dehydration, and an email saying that I didn't get the job back home that I'd been hoping for.

After a while, it's really hard to take a good picture of a loaf on the exact same table.

Let’s be positive for a change. Today! Today is the halfway mark of the course and today the elephants upstairs move out! (I made sure to ask when I gave them a cake last week… I'm terrible.) I'm fairly certain Nadia wants me to move up there now that they're leaving. The fact that she gave me access to her wardrobe during my stay leads me to believe that she normally lives down here when she doesn't have residents. I'm not really into sharing clothes… especially strangers. And especially people who are a foot and a half shorter than me.

But it's a sweet sentiment!

Today was breakfast pastry day, and we made three things. In the end, we only had enough time to bake two of the goodies, saving the brioche for tomorrow morning. The processes were involved. It was fun, though - I'd never made any of the things we prepared today, so lots of learning happened. Always a good thing. :)

We began the day by preparing croissant dough. Making a proper, flaky croissant from scratch involves a lot of wait time… and a lot of upper arm strength. (Actually, bread day was probably worse, but I’m feeling it today!) While our dough was resting and waiting to be rolled out, we mixed up a sponge starter for our brioches. And while that was resting, we made lemon pound cake with a tart lemon glaze.

I’m thankful for the sweet ladies in my class, because one offered me a bite of her pound cake before we left for the day. I now can photograph an unharmed loaf and wrap it up nicely for home without worrying that it will fall apart. Sheila, you're great.

I was pretty loopy today - I think it was the sickness wearing off. I spoke sweet encouragements to my stubborn croissant dough as I rolled it out, and know I gave some kind of concert during the day. Probably a cross between a hymn and chopsticks, because that’s the usual. I also know there were multiple occasions that the only sounds in the room were coming from me talking to myself… or to my dough. So I guess today was pretty normal in that sense.

For an interesting bit of baking knowledge: brioche. If you've never made it… oh, man. The process, quickly broken down: make a goopy sponge starter (runny dough that rises), add flour and other things to make a goopy dough ball, knead for 10 minutes until it isn't quite so goopy, then add half a pound of butter to make it even goopier than before.

Yes, add a slab of butter to a ball of dough. Big. Goopy. Mess. I wish I could have taken a picture. It was nasty, but wonderful.

day eight.
We made cupcakes today. Thanks to a minor mess-up by my team, I went home with much less than everyone else. Except I'm overjoyed about it and genuinely thankful because I have exactly 1.5 dozen cupcakes now and that's just right. How could I possibly manage more than that?! Where do they think we put these things - our stomachs?? (I also realized that I could have saved the six cupcakes I tossed this morning, thinking that I'd have to make room for the ones coming home today. Oops.)

Even though no one had anything nice to say about doing cakes yet again, cupcake day ended up being halfway decent. We went home with... (drumroll, please):

  • Chocolate with a dulce de leche filling and buttercream
  • Lemon with lemon curd filling, toasted meringue topping, and candied lemon peel
  • Red velvet with tinted buttercream frosting
  • Spice with apple marmalade filling, salted caramel buttercream, and sweetened apple crisps

Everything was made from scratch. Including the salted caramel and lemon curd and yes... everything. I even got to use a torch for the first time to toast my meringue. Cloud nine.

Oh! And we made candied lemon peel to garnish our lemon meringue cupcakes. It's so easy and looks so cool. All you do is throw any kind of peel in cold water and bring it to a simmer, strain and repeat twice, then strain and add them to a boiling pot of simple syrup. Let them hang out for a bit, strain, then toss in sugar. (The 3x water dunk helps to cut the bitterness of the lemon peel.)

And now you know how to make fancy garnishes, too. :)

Today was a riot. We prepared eight different recipes, so you can imagine that we were constantly moving, grabbing supplies and ingredients and KitchenAids and induction burners. You forget something, run into the supply room to grab it, realize the first thing you grabbed is the wrong size, go back in to get a smaller one, see that the container you swiped for flour is still wet, grab a clean towel to dry it out, notice that the line for flour-scooping is super long (aka 2 people) so you go back to get a different container to weigh out butter instead. The person who measured butter before you got the wrapper all goopy (goopiness - it never ends), so you ruin the clean towel you just swiped a moment ago to clear off your hands.

And that's just 60 seconds.

We were everywhere; stomping on each other, elbowing faces (okay, that was me.. I'm too tall), body slamming, side-stepping... at one point Rohini had a big knife in her hand and we nearly collided. The look on her face was pure terror when she realized what almost happened, but I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. I don't think I react properly in certain situations...

Tomorrow is exam #2, and FRIDAY! Praise the Lord, I get to sleep soon and hopefully reset my brain to proper functions.

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