Technically this week’s curriculum was supposed to cover laminated doughs, but our three weeks of bread and laminated doughs are all kind of blending together. We spent a lot of time on breads this week too, with more laminated doughs (croissants!) coming next week. The outstanding bakes from this week: kouign amann and baguettes. This probably comes as no surprise since I’m always a fan of the classics.
The two laminated doughs we worked from start to finish this week were kouign amann and flaky brioche. I have a not-so-secret love affair going with kouign amann so I’ve made them several times at home in the past. Of course they’re always delicious, but I learned some new tips and tricks this week to troubleshoot issues I’ve had. In class I opted to make mine earl grey by flavoring the sugar that’s laminated into the pastry (another eye-opening moment since the only flavoring I’ve ever done is by adding a filling) and I absolutely loved the result. My kouign amann game is stepping up from now on. The flaky brioche we made reminded me of a Danish dough since it’s essentially an enriched dough that’s then laminated like croissant dough. It’s buttery and delicious and will be a great canvas for different projects.
To increase our carb intake mid-week, we made tons of bready things including babkas, stuffed pretzels, sourdough waffles, english muffins, milk bread, gibassier, and chocolate levain. Naturally I loved all of them, but english muffins hold a special place in my heart. I don’t know why I don’t make them more often, but from now on they’re officially on the weekend menu at my house.
Arguably the most exciting part of this week was our bookend trips to Central Milling in Petaluma. On Monday we spent the day with Mike Zakowski learning about his unique whole grain breads and on Friday we spent the day with Nicky Giusto mastering (ha!) three different types of baguettes. The kitchen space at Central Milling was awesome to work in and exposed us to new equipment like a spiral mixer and an actual loader for the bread ovens. Both Mike and Nicky were so much fun to work with and their love of bread is infectious (as if I needed another reason to love bread). Mike definitely inspired me to explore whole grains for new flavors and dimension in baked goods and Nicky taught me that shaping baguettes is a whole lot harder than it looks. That probably sums up my general feeling about baking though – anyone can bake, but doing it well is a lot harder than it looks.
Since we’re getting down into the final weeks of class, we started conversations about our externships this week. Once our four months of curriculum are finished, we’ll each be placed in a restaurant or bakery for a two month externship before we graduate. The school works with each student individually to understand your goals, likes and dislikes, and desired experience so that you can work in a kitchen that suits you. I’m still somewhat undecided on some factors so I’m constantly trying to remind myself that while it’s an important decision, it’s just a two month externship and not a life altering choice. Wish me luck and stay tuned for an update on where I’ll be headed!