So as most of you know it has been sweltering in SoCal lately. No change yesterday, my first day of baking lab. So imagine 25 people squished into a tiny baking kitchen that is made to only hold about 16 max. This with only a window about 3 feet by 2 feet, no door except that straight to the food kitchen (where the burners and ovens are), and it is about 90+ degrees outside. Yeah...that was my introduction to baking lab.
Other than the heat, things were great! The teacher kept the lights off, had the air blowing (not that it really worked) and the tiny window open. Once everyone had shown up that was on the list....she sent us away for a half hour. Literally....she said, "Go away and come back in 30 minutes." haha There were so many people petitioning and already a full class...plus me. A full class is 12 and she let me add before school started so she had a roster already of 13. When we returned, there were only 16 people in class and she got things underway. One of the good things for me was that the class was a mixture of genders and ages. I didn't feel out of place at all. There were women and men way older than me and way younger. We have a nice range of people in there. And a few that I have already kind of made friends with which of course always makes classes like that more fun. Especially since we will be pairing up with different people each week.
We went over the rules, where things were located and how we are supposed to act. She then told us that she isn't very patient. I thought it was funny. There is already a guy that is testing that for her, I can tell. She then added, "I am working on my patience. That and being a better person in general." I found her comedic and pleasant because people bug me too. I get her. She showed us around the facility which is amazing for a junior college. I also got to see a picture and article on the wall of the huge cake (I mean....HUGE...think bigger than an American flag) that won awards last year. The cafeteria alone at the school is the best I have ever seen at a JC. Everything is so clean and organized. Great facility.
The worst part, in my opinion, is that it is going to cost me more than I thought, above and beyond the cost of school and class material charges. There is the uniform: chef's jacket, neckerchief, chef pants, slip-resistant black leather shoes, hat (our choice but she gave us guidelines), and a white apron. Then there is the list of items that we need to have and bring to lab everyday. Some are little things like small scissors, a sharpie, and our own towel. Then we also need to have a chef's knife, a paring knife, a pastry brush, measuring spoons, a peeler, a quart sized plastic measuring cup, and a bench scraper (dough divider). $$$$$ I bought my shoes today....$60. And that's only one item off the list. Oy vey. Remind me I want to do this please. :-) Seriously though....despite the anticipated costs, I was really excited.
After we got all of those discussions out of the way she wanted us to do dough rolls and chocolate chip cookies as a class. The dough she mixed herself but went step by step with us. Then after cutting them she showed us 5 different ways to shape them and then let us shape them all for baking. Very cool stuff! You know when you go into a bakery to buy bread rolls and they are shaped all fancy? Yeah, like that! Of course, I took the hardest one and did that one first. It comes out looking like a figure 8 but you shape it nothing like an 8! Nine,Q, twist and pull the tail through. That is how I remember. haha Unless you have done this you are probably thinking I am talking jiberish. I wish I would have taken a picture. Maybe I will make some for Thanksgiving and will take pictures.
Next was the chocolate chip cookies. With this she gave everyone in class a specific task. I didn't exactly get a good one. My task was to find where to plug in the commercial Kitchen-Aide while others were measuring out ingredients. haha But, because of that I got to scoop most of the cookies with one of the other girls that I had kind of made friends with.
Class was almost over as these were all baking and the teacher had those of us that needed to order uniforms go try them on. Well, when we were done and returned to class pretty much half the class had left thus leaving the rolls and chocolate chip cookies for the 8 of us remaining! My mom was a happy camper last night! I tasted both. BOTH were amazing! Wheat allergy be damned...I will be tasting all of the products. In moderation of course. haha We will also be bringing stuff home every single week. Next week we make short bread and a cookie of our choice from the list.
So, all in all I had a great time. We only learned a few things last night but those things that we learned were great! Here's a tip for better chocolate chip cookies: refrigerate the dough until completely chilled for better cookie shape and texture. They don't flatten out that way (and use a small scoop to form them and leave them in a round ball on the pan to bake). I also figured out why I always screw up breads with live yeast. While continuously mixing, add the salt last. Salt kills yeast. So THAT is why my dough would never rise! ;-)