Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 2: Movin' Right Along

So last night was a bit slow, at first. We've begun the first of three lectures regarding proper food handling, leading up to our first test to get our food handlers license. What can I say about it except that we should remember to wash our hands often and that you probably shouldn't eat raw oysters the night before a big vacation (there was much anecdotal information given by the chef instructor). Fortunately, we only have two more classes that involve sanitation, so hopefully the pace of class will pick up after that.

Unfortunately, because of the sanitation lectures, we seem to be a bit behind schedule. We still haven't finished our apple tarts, and we didn't get to make pastry cream, either. Chef Cynthia is unconcerned and assures us that we will easily cover everything by the end of the tarts and cookies unit.

On to the fun stuff! I actually made pâte brisée last night! I've had so much trouble with it in the past, but last night, we made it the traditional, French way. It was a bit time consuming, yes, but it was also a great learning experience. For those of you who don't know, pâte brisée is a traditional tart dough, but you'd probably recognize it best as that tender, flaky crust that we associate with most American pies. It is an extremely temperamental dough. You can't work it too much or add too much water, or your dough will form too much gluten and become tough. If you add too little water, however, your dough will be too dry and brittle to roll out properly. Well, I think mine came out pretty well, although we'll see when we finally roll it out. A little lesson: all pastry doughs should be made at least a day ahead of time and put into the refrigerator, to give it time for the gluten to relax. Also, cold dough is MUCH easier to roll out than warm dough.

So that's what we did in our second class. In our next class, we'll be having another lesson on sanitation, finally putting our tarte aux pommes into the oven, and making a banana cream tart! I can't wait.

Oh, just to whet your appetite, here's a picture of my apple tart, just waiting to be baked to a perfect golden brown.