Monday, February 8, 2010

Baking Science & Theory wk3

Cookies and Brownies
The menu items for week 3 were comprised of: Ginger Almond Snaps, Brownies, Blondies, and Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries!  The lack of chocolate chips available for baking from our pantry afforded the students the opportunity to cut up and weigh out chocolate from the large blocks of baking chocolate which were substituted for the absent chocolate chips.  This was a wonderful opportunity for me to work with the digital scales to carefully weigh out the product required for our Brownies and Blondies.  There was also a great deal of discussion on the topic of altering a recipe to suit personal taste; for example, the exclusion of walnuts. This prompted a very correct lesson from the instructor to point out that, as workers in the food service industry, it will be our duty to prepare food based on the desires of our patrons, and the structure of our menu, not on our own taste preferences.  I think this is valuable insight that is appropriate to adjust to early on in my culinary career.

            The menu choices for this week were an education for me, as I was not only unfamiliar with the recipes, but the desired outcome for the different products was a mystery to me.  I learned that Brownies should be more fudge like than cake like; that Blondies should look like a dense Brownie; that Ginger Snaps should be crisp, require pressure to break, and have a satisfying pop as they are snapped, and that Oatmeal cookies should not spread too much, and not brown for long.  

            The critique given for our products included that they were a bit under done.  The Ginger Snaps were not brittle and the Blondie tasted like cookie dough.  We were praised on the outcome of the Oatmeal cookie, but it was a bit too brown around the edges. The Brownie tasted good, but may also have been slightly underdone.  This may have been attributed to the optional chocolate chunks which were added late in the baking process, and therefore, adding that melting sheen to the top of our Brownies. 

            I agree with the rawness of some of our products from this lesson.  But I found that I personally prefer the Ginger Snaps to be more of a chewy cookie than a brittle cracker.  That may be something to consider when preparing my own menu items. But I will strive to get the proper snap from these Ginger treats next time.  I will also work more diligently with my team mates to help regulate the cooking time for our products, and not allow myself to be continually relegated to the clean-up crew. 

            It is quite frustrating to not have run of the kitchen or control of these baked goods from start to finish. But, the ability to work with other chefs on the same menu is an absolute must in the culinary world. The confidence I must find to intervene for the betterment of the outcome of our products will be a life skill that would be of great benefit to my culinary future. And, the ability to also help my fellow workers to hone their own skills along the way, will be a good tradition to help me lead my own team of bakers one day!

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