I CAN bake, afterall

This week of baking hasn’t been very exciting.  We’ve had to make a variety of items ranging from cakes to creme brulee.  Yesterday we spent a whole class on decorating cakes, sigh.  Probably the highlight of the week was making buttercreams – both French & Italian.  The difference between them is the use of yolks (French) vs the use of whites (Italian).

Today was a practical exam which saw us make Mexican wedding cookies, creme caramel and devil’s food cake.  My cookies turned out awesome – small enough to pop in your mouth, uniform and cooked to perfection.  The cake was also done well.  I have to wait and see about the creme caramel on Monday since it has to cool.  He did say he’ll be lenient on the grading of these since we had to bake them in convection ovens (the conventional ovens wouldn’t light).  So far I have 100% on the practical.

The largest variance from person to person today was in the cookies.  It’s imperative to keep them well chilled.  Equally as important is not to overmix them or else they’ll spread out.  The woman across from me had cookies that resembled crepes more than they did cookies. 

In other news Saveur magazine devoted their entire issue to the Chicago I know and love.  The pieces about North Pond and Sweets & Savories were both good to read.  Though there were omissions (One Sixtyblue being a big one in terms of restaurants for me, as well as no articles about Mexican or Thai cuisine, both huge in Chicago). But in order to do a city as vast as Chicago any justice would require more pages than a solitary magazine issue.

Here’s also an article from the Tribune about the Saveur piece, for those interested.

I’ll be making the braised lamb shank & beet recipes from Bruce Sherman of North Pond as featured in the magazine – I just returned home from procuring my lamb shanks from the butcher.

Also, my sourdough starter has bounded to life, gurgling and oozing as it does so.  It’s some pretty amazing shit really.  Fortunately the smell isn’t all that bad – in order to smell it you have to make an effort and put your nose practically right in the container.  No name has come to mind as of yet.  Utd did win on Wednesday but no single performance inspired me to name my new pet after any particular player.  Maybe the match against Chelsea this Sunday will change things.

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