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| August 29, 2016


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baking school: kneading dough and needing dough.

Yesterday morning I woke up early to a text from my host asking me to pick up some cat food and take care of her outdoor cats. For one, I really don't like cats and don't know a thing about taking care of them. "Leave the can outside" seemed simple enough, but one was a big pig and wouldn't share, so I felt obligated to watch the darn things and make sure the fluffy one got a chunky bite of tuna, too.
Come on, Fluffy. If you want food, fight for it. I saw the big dead mouse you left in the alley. I know you're capable.

Feeding time was clearly not the morning's highlight. Rather, it was noticing the hockey sticks hanging out in the car next to mine at Loblaw's supermarket. I now have the strongest desire to embrace my inner Robin and find a game to attend. I've impressed myself with my lack of spending… maybe I'll splurge on a ticket and set my budget back on track. Ticketmaster flaunts weekend Leafs tickets for a mere $275-$900+ CAD, so why not.

This guy's got a mason jar for a drinking cup. They're everywhere.

day five.
I'm really, really glad that I give myself 45 minutes to get to school even though it normally takes between five and ten. I live right next to an elementary school. Quite literally right next to. I have to turn at a major crosswalk and it can be a long wait, because I'm not as gutsy as Toronto drivers and don't like to force myself into traffic.

Well, today I forgot my hat at home. I realized it halfway to school and even though I prayed to Jesus for a miracle, it did not magically appear in my locker like I so hoped it would. The miracle came in that I was able to race back to the house and to school again with fifteen minutes to spare.

I left the bothersome thing in my locker after class today and never plan on bringing it back with me ever, ever again. If you aren't in full uniform, you don't get to go to class. And you can't show up late. Plain and simple.

Moving onto other, less-relevant topics - I am an old lady. My back and shoulders kill from bending over to do dishes constantly. And today was bread day, so we kneaded dough like nobody's business. Working on those guns, let me tell you!

...I took this at night. Yeah, I was being lazy and didn't want to get up early. Sorry, Dad.
We made plenty of things today (including another "extra" that normally doesn't get made - baguettes), but didn't get it all baked before 5:00. So, we'll have fresh bread for our lunch break tomorrow, which will be WONDERFUL! The group knocked out ciabattas, pita bread, baguettes, and honey whole wheat bread with a brown sugar cinnamon swirled filling. (Yes mom, I'm bringing that one home!)

We also made rolls out of the honey whole wheat and the ciabatta doughs... I seriously wish I'd brought at least four other people with me, because I HAVE SO MUCH FOOD. There's no way I can freeze it all! Or eat it all!

It's tragic. Honestly and truly.

Bread day was fun - but I can definitely understand the hype in using a bread mixer instead of kneading by hand. It takes forever and is tiring. It was entertaining, though, to constantly compare our doughs to each other and hold our breath as we each did the window test to see if we'd tortured our sticky globs enough. (No, it's not setting your loaf in the windowsill like I first thought. It's stretching out a small piece and determining whether you can see through it without it ripping apart. So much learning!)

Big Pig does not approve of my photography.

The most fascinating aspect of the day was that each bread involved different processes. From the initial mixing, to the kneading, to the shaping of the dough - none were the same.

The baguettes, for example! I always figured that bakers rolled them into long snake-like strips and baked them as-is. Hardly! So far from reality. Instead, you flatten them out into long rectangles and fold them in thirds lengthwise, then pinch them in half to form a long, fat rope. You let it rest, then stretch it out to create the long air bubbles inside that are characteristic of a baguette. Looking forward to baking them in the morning and seeing how mine turned out!

day six.
There's just something about every day that makes my inner self groan, "Pull yourself together, Susan." Today, I had it in my head that we'd have warm, fresh pita bread for lunch. I could have sworn our instructor said we'd finish baking in the morning... so I packed accordingly. But we had a different instructor today, and by noon it was clear that pita was not as high on his priority list as it was mine.

Lesson learned. Thankfully, I now don't have to worry about dinner, but lunch was prettyyyy sparse today. Eating hummus by the spoonful just didn't seem okay.

The baguettes that I finally brought home were huge... the length of my arm, at least. I literally cradled them like an infant on my way to and from the car. Once home, I ripped them in half to package them up - they look and smell amazing!

I am going to be so disappointed if my treats don't hold up well in the freezer, because right now I feel like a leprechaun hoarding gold. Please taste good, please taste good.

We took our first exam/quiz/test today. Everyone was nervous. Most of us got to school early this morning and reviewed our notes for half an hour, then blissfully forgot about the exam until lunchtime when they sprung it on us. (Okay, they'd said it would probably happen at lunch... but you get sidetracked when you're busy baking things.)

It actually was hard. During lunch we discussed the questions and voiced our fears that we all tanked the exam. It was nice to hear that I wasn't the only one feeling stupid. By grace or chance, I ended up doing quite better than I guesstimated, and I now have a 5% better idea of how to study the next time around.

As far as the baking part of the day, we finished up last night's unbaked pitas and baguettes after focusing on quick breads. Surprisingly, a quick bread is anything not considered a bread or cake. That includes cookies and muffins.

So, we made three "quick breads" today and whipped up some currant scones (I ate one for lunch. I was desperate. Thankfully it was tasty!), blueberry muffins, and Irish soda bread.

After lunch, we focused on costing and figuring out how to properly price our goods, taking overhead and labor into account. This is terrible, but I'll admit I actually felt kind of bad during this process because I'm fresh out of college (and like math) and breezed through the work... unlike most everyone else. It's like a reflex; I'm used to homework assignments and it's always been a challenge for me to be the first one done.

I think our instructor might have gone a bit faster because of it, but ultimately we left around 3:30 or so - I doubt anyone was too upset!

Tomorrow is our halfway point! It amazed me how slowly the weekends rolls by but how I lose an entire week in the blink of an eye. I'm really missing enjoying the Christmas season at home - bless my mother for sending an advent calendar with me. :)

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