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What I learned in 2007


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Ditto on better late than never...

2007 was a super fun year for me. I guess most monumentally I made my first egullet post! =)

I went to the French Pastry School, where I learned at least 10,000 things.

Along the same lines as so many other people, I fell in love with chocolate. I got my first molds. I got a bunch of other tools. I learned how to temper as if it was second nature. I got to work on my molded chocolates & dip lots of truffles.

Through school, I got to meet JP Wybauw. I got to meet all the egulleters who were at that course. I got see Laurent le Daniel, Nicholas Lodge & Jeffrey Hammelman in action.

I fell in love with bread baking. I kept my own sourdough culture alive.

For a couple of months this summer, I got the chance to work as the cook at Camp Natoma, a small summer camp for children on the Central Coast of California. That gave me the chance to grow tremendously. I planned and executed three meals plus a snack every day for up to 100 campers and 25 staff.

When I got back to Chicago, I got a new job, working in the pastry department at the University Club of Chicago, a busy hoity toity (in a good way of course!) private members' club. Right at the end of the year I took over as the baker there.

What a great year! A lot of fun!

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This year I finally started baking with a scale! I made my first molded chocolates, and fell in love with it! I made fondant from the grewling book to fill them, and I used transfer sheets. (No magnetic mold, so I carefully brushed melted chocolate on top of them, and set a small piece of the transfer on top).

I fell in love with decorating, and have tried every sugar cookie recipe I could find, and I still have not found "the one". I have been making my own fondant for cookies and cakes, and it tastes great.

I would love to go to pastry school, but lack the funds, so I am pretty much on my own with learning, but I am happy to be here, because this site is a gold mine of information.


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I keep thinking I need to sit down and make a list before I post but that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon so I'll just list what I can remember...


pain au chocolate

puff pastry


sour dough starter - after keeping it for some time and experimenting a bit I found I preferred the taste of long ferment bread and I didn't like maintaining the starter so I ditched it.

(The above all from a pastry course I took)

sponge for cake rolls (thanks Jeannecake)

Pain brie (Thanks to Pastry's Best magazine. I now make it all the time)

edited to add: I finally mastered a Butter Cake with the Whimsical Bakehouse recipe (I think K8memphis suggested the recipe)

Edited by CanadianBakin' (log)

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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In 2007 I learned that chocolate doesn’t have nearly the level of mystique that I thought it did; it is actually something with which I can work. I’ve always been awed by chocolate confections, especially truffles, but never thought that I would be able to make them. On a whim (after joking with my wife about opening a chocolate shop in town – which, btw, this town really needs) I decided to try it in October of 2007. I downloaded the Godiva dark chocolate truffle recipe from their website, made a few substitutions, and miraculously my first batch turned out really well.

Also in October, I first bought high end chocolate bars to taste and compare. I have probably had many of these chocolates in truffles that I’ve bought over the years, but never tasted them by themselves. I really learned that the chocolate you use can make all the difference.

I learned that my palate for chocolate is not as bad as I thought it would be. I was amazed at first by the quality difference between high end chocolate and mass produced chocolate. After a few of these tastings, and sampling nearly all the high end chocolate I could find in my area, I began to notice the subtle, and not so subtle, differences in flavor and texture. I also learned that I really don’t like eating a lot of the lower end chocolates that I liked at one time.

I learned that ganache is not quite as easy as it seemed the first few times I made it, and that it is not nearly as hard as it seemed the next few times I made it.

I learned that I can temper chocolate, and even though I am supremely unconfident in my abilities somehow I’ve been getting good results (I know, I know, wait for those humid summer months).

I learned that learning how to make chocolates is not all that friendly to the pocket book.

I also learned that making chocolates and other confections is something I really enjoy doing.


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