This week was kind of a breeze so I’m not really sure if it felt super short or super long. There were no specific techniques to study and master or complicated bakes to manage. To finish up our study of pastry doughs, we basically spent the first half of the week cranking out cookies. We made peanut butter, chocolate chip, oreos, molasses, gingerbread, macaroons, hob nobs, linzers, blondies, brownies, graham crackers, rugelach, breton and more. We splashed into some savory by making crackers too. The lesson of the week? There’s really no right or wrong way to make cookies. As long as they taste good, you’re good to go. Cookies are a real demonstration of your own creativity and your understanding of ingredient function. You can play around with ingredients, temperatures, bake times, etc. to change a bad cookie to a great one. It wasn’t necessarily a challenging week, but it was definitely a fun (and delicious) one. I now have several great cookie recipes that I’m planning to riff off of and create my own versions.
On Tuesday, we got the ultimate treat as we closed up the kitchen early and headed over to Craftsman and Wolves for a tour. Craftsman and Wolves manages to combine the hipster aesthetic of the Mission with that of a high end French patisserie. Everything they make is incredibly unique, creative, and above all delicious. We met with chef and owner William Werner to walk through their production kitchen, check out the equipment, and hear about how the business is run. Much of their facility is pretty state of the art, which is how they manage to produce exceptional, detailed desserts in an efficient way. Of course we finished the tour with a tasting and got to hear about his process for developing new recipes and exploring flavor combinations. Field trips like this are what really set SF Cooking School apart from others.
The second half of the week was almost entirely dedicated to crafting our “bakery boxes”. Our class had the task of selecting a handful of items (we decided on seven) to be baked off in large quantities and carefully packaged into boxes. These boxes were delivered on Friday afternoon to various VIPs and friends of the school. Of course we had to narrow the items down to ones that are sturdy and non-perishable so that they would travel well, which meant things like cookies and cakes. As a team, we pulled recipes we particularly loved from weeks past and a few that we liked, but wanted to fine tune. After some testing, we finalized our choices, baked everything off, individually packaged, and packed the boxes on Friday morning. It was a great exercise in teamwork and I have newfound respect for any baked goods that are nicely packaged and sealed. Deciding on how to package things and make them look neat was a challenge in itself.
This officially marks the end of the first unit of curriculum on foundations and from here on out we dive deeper. Next week we revisit chocolate work for advanced chocolate and confections. Needless to say, these are not things I typically do at home, so I’m very excited to see what’s in store!