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Everything posted by pupkinpie2

  1. Why does it matter if your cake doesnt look pefect when its baked? As long as it tastes good and isnt too dense, so your cake can be built without dificulity and eat well, than you can fix the cosmetic issue. When making a wedding cake, no matter what kind of cake you use you should trim off the brown bottom and cut the top so its flat (no cake bakes competly flat on top) and then cut your cake into perfect layers. You will have some waste and thats ok. Use a long serrated knife or fishing line to cut the layers into perfectly flat slices. Email me if you hae any more questions. Oh and dont worry so much... its just cake.
  2. The bakers persentage is the best method to go by. How ever you break down your recipe I wouldnt guarentee that it will be the same as quality as what you made commerically. You might have to make it a few times and made changes to achieve something like you make at work. Before I bought my scale at home I commonly took the recipes I made professionally and used the Book of Yields (see link) to convert the recipes to cups, teaspoons, etc. Time consuming yes, but it worked (and I already had the book from school), and this is what you will have to due if you want to share professional recipes with the home baker. Note** - I agree with the notion that weighing your ingredients for a recipe is more accurate, but dont be so quick to assume that thats the best way or thats how all professionals do it. Of couse its easier (and more accurate) to weigh out 20 pounds of flour, as apposed to mesuring that same amount in cups. But if you are in a restaurant and making small quanities of something its not a bad thing (and some of the top restaurants I worked at in NYC do it) to use cup mesurements. Although there are some ingredients (baking powder, salt, yeast, etc) when I think that one paticular ingredient is good to weigh out. Many resturants find recipes/ideas online or in cookbooks and change them around to fit a flavor profile or idea that they have in mind. Commonly these recipes were written for the home user.
  3. It seems like there are too many variables here for things to go wrong. My first thought when you said some of the loaves came out correct and others didnt, was that the oven is not calibrated correctly or has hot spots. If part of your oven was too hot it would cause your loaves to bake faster and brown on the outside and still be raw on the inside. But if you bake other items in the oven besides bread and they are coming out fine than it could be a dough/scaling/proofing issue. When baking professionally and (I know im using a quality tried and true recipe) I run into a problem I always try to make the bakery product again under the same conditions double checking everyting the second time around to make sure im following the recipe and procedure correctly. Since its only been a few days since you made the bread, make it again and get back to use as to how the new batch came out. **To note - a hearth oven or a pizza oven is used to create a crisp crust on the bread. It is a oven with a brick or stone baking base. Commonly a 'bread' oven will have the ability to induce steam into the oven and also doors that vent to allow circulation. To avoid getting technical, these things create a quality crust on the bread and typically help create a chewey texture on the inside. One can achieve something simiar to this texture in a convection oven by using a large stone (a kitchen supply store will sell a pizza stone) that a preheated in the oven a hot sheet pan will work in a crunch. Then steam can be created by either placing a pan of water in the oven or by misting the bread with water before baking. Since you are just using the bread for sandwiches you dont have to worry about any of this. Furthermore, your customers are use to what your currently doing and might be opposed to a crispy crust on the outside of their sandwich.
  4. Another thing to keep in mind is the type of maple syrup you use. If you use the maple syrup that I grew up with (Aunt Jamiah stuff) the flavor wont be as good as it would be with real maple syrup. The common brand of pancake syrup which people think is maple syrup contains mostly sweetners and artifical flavors. It will thin down your icing and provide little flavor. Commerically icing companies use a maple flavor concentrate.
  5. The best source for answers to these questions and others like it would be to consult "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee. Although this book can be a bit dry, it explains the scientific reasoning be everything in the kitchen. This is an amazing book. It is updated yearly to include up to date information.
  6. Being a recent culinary school graduate I have staged (also called shadowing, or trailing) at many restaurants, bakeries, chocolate shops, and hotels. Being a home bakery you do have some experience and it sounds like you have the passion, which is what a lot of chefs look for. A lot of experience doesnt always grant you or put you ahead when getting a job, commonly its the passion and the desire that put you ahead of the game. Since you are not looking to get hired there, you are not necessarly looking to impress them or out-do someone else, so just relax. Being a pastry chef professionally and also baking at home, I can relate to both worlds. Generally speaking there isnt a whole lot of difference when it comes down to the basics. Mixing cake batter in a hotel is the same as you do it at home except in a hotel you will be mixing it in a bowl large enough for you to crawl into. Commonly hotels use cake mixes and they look on the back of the package for baking instructions just as you would at home. But of course there are some major differences such as hotels have lots of equipment that you cant afford at home and the have the space and knowledge to do stuff like large sugar show pieces, exotic cakes, chocolate work, etc. Something also that is a big difference is that consistency is very important. Meaning are the cookies that you made yesterday the same shape, size, taste, and color as the ones you made today? Are the truffles you rolled all exactly the same size? To give you an idea of what to expect, you will most likely be there anywhere from 3-10 hours. You will be given basic tasks. Usually chefs give you tacks to see how well you work, how clean you are, how organized you are, and if you know basic techniques. For example they may have you scale out, mix, scoop, and bake a muffin batter. For you I would say that either they will have you help somone else do something like help make something, or you will assist the pastry chef in doing something basic such as putting cookies on a tray, scooping muffins, etc. I would highly doubt they would leave you incharge of doing something (not because they dont think you know how to mix a cake batter, but because first there reliable if you get hurt, and second if for some reason you make a mistake it can be costly both in time and money). This is getting long, so back to your question. Things that I always do when I stage is 1) always keep your work space clean and organized, 2) be consistent with everything you do, 3) Ask questions in a way that doesnt annoy the chef (meaning dont ask too many questions, ask why he/she prefers to do something that way instead of another way, if you are having problems making something at home dont be afraid to ask what you are doing wrong) 4) stay out of everyones way as much as possible. One key point for you - Always be aware of everything that is going on around you. Unlike at home, there are 3-4 working around you and commonly in a very small space. Lastly dont ask for recipes unless they offer. Take mental notes in your head about techniques. Good luck and have fun. Post a comment when you are done to inform us how it went.
  7. So back to the original point of this thread. Close to downtown, with good coffee, and a good view. I would recommend Bauhaus on Pine. They have giant floor to ceiling windows with a clear view of the Space Needle. They serve Top Pot donuts and many other awesome breakfast pastries. Also a great place to come late at night if you can’t sleep as they stay open until 1am.
  8. pupkinpie2


    I ran a cherry upside down cornmeal cake on a tasting menu recently. It went over very well and all the staff loved the leftovers. I think it would also be great using a regular upside down cake batter. Also to note I used Ranier cherries, but I think you could play around using sour cherries or maybe bing cherries masserated in brandy.
  9. There have been a few threads on pastry schools and I dont know if all of them are true, but its great to hear everyones opinion. This is mainly in response to the tread about a week ago that said that community colleges were the way to go. When I was in high school, they pushed the local community college to death. They said, oh go to community collge for 2 years then go to a regular college for the last 2 years or more. This way youll save money, it will be an easier transition, etc. Yes, this may all be true, but its a community college. You dont get the atmosphere, the independence, nor the quality of education as you would from a university or big name school out of state. Isnt this the same thing as culinary schools. If I were a chef instructor, and I was at the top of my game, I would want to teach at one of the major culinary schools because it would look good on my resume, and it would most likely pay more. Yes the major culinary schools cost more, but I think its worth it for the right person. Now, heres another point. Not all big culinary schools are the same. Some market themselves and charge more because they want to have the image of a good school. Restaurants do this also. What you get out of culinary school also depends on you. I went to culinary school with some people who dont belong in the kitchen, some who will be happy working at a neighborhood bakery the rest of there life, some who dont want to be managers or pastry chefs, and others who decided that they didnt want to make cooking part of there career. When you get out of culinary school the job you get and your career path will all depend on you. You may not make as much or get a great job in pastry if you go to work in a small town in Georgia, Utah, South Dakota, etc. Yes, these places might have great restaurants and hotels, but how many pastry chefs are in the state compared to a place like NYC. Luck is also a big factor. As I recently found out after looking for a job after graduation, the great/perfect job depends on experience, your school, but also on luck. Are you looking for a job at the right time of year. Also how good are you at marketing yourself. Sure you might look good on paper, be great in the kitchen, and have brillant ideas in your head, but if you cant hold yourself up in an interview and make a good first impression you will never make it in the kitchen to show what your good at. Do some of the big culinary schools cost alot. YES!!! When I went to culinary school they would up the tuition a few hundred dollars every semester. And what did we as students have anything to do about it... nothing. Sure we took our views to the student council who took them to the president, and his reply was, well look at the new facilites we built, look at our top notch professors, and look at all the great equipment we have to offer you to use. So can you become the executive chef of a restaurant or hotel by taking the certificate program of the local community college, yes you can. But it all depends on the individual. Are you a 50 year old career changer who has 30+ years of restaurant management under his belt and just went to culinary school to learn how to cook. Are you taking the right steps to place yourself in a management position? But if your like majority of the people who go to culinary school (those just out of high school, or those who are career changers who already have a bachelors degree in a different field) than I feel in todays age and to make the process go quicker you need to go to a culinary school that will set you above the rest and make people want to hire you, and you need a bachelors degree if you want to take a management position right out of school or if you think you might want to in the next 5 years. I graduated with my bachelors degree from culinary school and some of those in my class when on to do the management training program in big name hotels such as Hyatt and Hilton and a year later they have all gotten promoted and are holding managment rolls. This happened not even a year after graduating culinary school and they are all in there 20's. And the rest of my class.... well some are working in hotels as chefs or in pastry, one is the sous chef in a restaurant, another is an assistant manager at Starbucks, and the rest I havent caught up with. But like I said you take from school what you will. Also when your looking at culinary schools, visit them and look at the facilities and the program. You may not care that some schools offer certain features, or have a degree program. So what sets the big culinary schools apart from the local community college. I think the equipment and ingredients are on the list. My school is given the best equipment on the market as a way to market for the students. Also we had any ingredient possible. Our school wide food storage was huge. The asian dry food isle alone took up a 10 foot shelf. Some culinary schools have restaurants on campus or restaurants that the school owns (and bakeries) that students acutally work in as part of there program. This is just one more thing that prepares students better and allows them to learn more. A lot of the big name culinary schools may have more resources available. We had a full size college library full of every food related magazine available, and many in different languages, and the rest of the library was full of brand new computers and every cook book or food related book imaginable. We also had about 20+ groups that met throughout the week after school. These groups would bring in speakers, hold benefit dinners, hold tastings, bring in cook book writers, and these groups where the first to help when big name people or companies came to do demonstrations. About the instructors. I mentioned a little bit earlier, and I know my other statement could be debated, but its a fact that instructors at big name culinary schools only teach one subject or class. Now the schools are getting so big that they may have 2 instructors for one subject, but they still only teach that one subject. The availablity of an internship is also key. Most schools dont offer an internship program or only give you the option of having you work at the restaurant that they own. I got the option to choose to work anywhere and at any establishment I wanted to in the world. I choose a well known, upscale American restaurant in NYC (previous to that I had never been to NYC). I learn the pratical aspect on my internship. So now when I went to look for a job, I knew how to work in a restaurant or bakery, and I had both the book knowledge and the pratical knowledge. Degree programs. Yes its culinary school and its different than a regular college, but a degree progam means that you are going to school longer and that you will learn more (learn more, yes, its a fact). Many community colleges only offer a 6 month program compared to 2-4 years at a big name culinary school. In a community college they will take your ethnic and foreign food classes and put them all together. At big schools they take 3 weeks per type of food (asian, american, european, etc). This is just one example. Big name culinary schools tend to get a lot more intense and have the time to explain all the details, all the options, and the technical side behind everything. For an example. I just moved to Seattle and I was talking with someone who I work with at a non culinary related job who is actually going to the local community college to become a pastry chef. We were talking about tempering chocolate. I mentioned that I had used the seeding method the other day at work (im also a pastry chef in a restaurant). She gave me this look like she didnt know what I was talking about, so I realized that she didnt know what the seeding method was. She is in her final semester of college and had already been through chocolate class. I had to tell her that there are (which l learned) actually 4 ways to temper chocolate - tableing, seeding, block, and cold water. I would have never made it in the restaurant I work in now if I didnt know the seeding method. There is not enough room for a 3' marble slab and seeding works just as good for the applications we are using it for. I choose to go to school at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. I graduated last May with my Bachelors in Baking and Pastry Arts Management. I made the choice that was right for me. I also didnt want any regrets about, well what if I went to this culinary schoo, how would I be different. Now when I apply for a job that is one thing that cant be held against me. Yes it was a lot of money, to go to culinary school, and even more because I choose to do in internship in NYC and was only getting paid minimum wage. But I would go back to school and do it all over again in an instant. I learned so much and school opened so many doors for me that I wouldnt have gotten anywhere else. Since graduation I backpacked around Europe for 3 months and now im working as a Pastry Chef in a upscale American restaurant. Do whats best for you, dont have any regrets, and make sure you look at all the options.
  10. One of our chefs in culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America in New York taught us this method. He referred to it as the cold water bath method. It wasnt the preferred way, but it worked. Although this is a method that you have to be careful with. Sometimes if you get the water too cold the chocolate will cool too fast before you can stir it enough to encourage crystalization. I think this is a great method if you need chcolate tempered fast and you dont have a marble handy. I still think you get the best temper by using a marble and doing the tableing method. But even if you dont have a marble you could still do the seeding method. I would try the cold water method and see if it works for you. Good luck.
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