Culinary Sense

Adventures with Food and Life

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

Little Clay Figures

Hey Peeps,

sorry I’ve been gone for so long. It’s been a busy busy few weeks for me as I finished up my first term here at NECI! I can and can’t believe it’s already over. I’ve learned soooooo much in the last three months, and can’t wait to start the next term (on July 5). I will still catch y’all up with what I’ve been doing in Baking I, and a final IT project.

But first, I wanted to show you some little clay figures I made in my early teens that I just found in a box. Looks like my art subject – even then – was FOOD!

A tiny cake.


Fruit basket and veggies!

I hope you can see the detailing on the carrots and the ear of corn.

Fruit and vegetables.

In this photo I added a penny so you can see the scale of my art. There are carrots, an eggplant, an ear of corn, bananas, grapes, cherries, oranges, a pear, and a green apple. And a large watermelon.

And finally, some savory favorites.

Taco, hamburger, hotdog, and PIZZA!

My favorite is the taco, which my mother and I occasionally had in Germany. We used to buy the special taco shells from the Old El Paso brand, and it was totally special and awesome. Thank you, Mami!

Mhhhhh… who’s hungry now?

~ Carolynn




Beat the Clock Challenge

Hey Peeps!

A couple of early mornings at the bakeshop, before starting production, we had some bread making challenges. Here’s the situation:

You are on internship working for Chef Maurice, a.k.a. “The angry French Chef”. Chef Maurice just called from his home in Calais, stating he can’t get out of his driveway due to snow (freak storm) and will be late. Chef Maurice’s mother (also very angry) will be in at 10:30 am to pick up a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Chef Maurice instructs you to make a precise  1.5 lb loaf of bread for his mom, using available ingredients. Chef Maurice doesn’t trust anyone so he takes his entire recipe library home with him at night. You do not have any formula so you must make your bread from scratch, using baker’s percentages.

The available ingredients you have to utilize are: bread flour, whole wheat flour, water, fresh yeast, salt, butter. He also says he will be in by 5:30 am and expects to have the loaf mixed and ready for him to verify as soon as he arrives. Don’t make him angry!!!

At this point, the whole class scrambles to get the scales and bowls and other equipment to mix the dough by hand and have it done within 25 minutes (by 5:30 am). Except first, we have to do the math and figure out what the ratios of the recipe will be.

That time, I did well on time and formulation, but the weight of my actual dough was way off (too low), and so I got “below standards” for the challenge. It’s fine, though. I was excited to have made a loaf of bread from scratch at all. At the end, our breads were judged on weight, texture, appearance, and taste.

The next day, we faced the following challenge:

You are still on internship working for Chef Maurice, a.k.a. “The angry French Chef”. Today might be your last if you don’t get your bread mixed by 5:30 am. 

Chef Maurice was just called away to tend to his sick mother. He left instructions for you to make a precise 2 lb loaf of 50% whole wheat bread for his sick mom. You do not have any formula, so you must make your bread from scratch, using baker’s percentages. The ingredients you must use in your bread are: all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, water, fresh yeast, and salt. 

He left you a note to say your dough must be mixed by 5:30 am or else! Don’t make him angry!

This time, I did a bit better, getting my dough the correct weight, and done on time. I didn’t win the challenge, but things went a lot more smoothly.

Below are some photos of bread we made, including a kalamata loaf I made on the third day, when we were allowed to add a garnish into our doughs.

~ Carolynn


Knotted and Braided Breads

Hey Peeps!

More from the bread bench today. My favorite part of this class is braiding doughs into different shapes.

We start with the rounded doughs, and roll them out into snakes. The key to rolling the dough into snakes is to keep both your fingers and your palms on the bench. That’s how you know that it’s the correct width. Also, try not to stretch it too much. The dough should expand naturally. If needed, you can roll it out a bit, and then let it rest for a moment, then continue.


To make a figure eight roll, start with a reverse 6.


Twist the loop part once towards the tail end. Take the tail and pull it through the loop.

Tuck the tail underneath the eight, and it’s all done! Here’s the final product, after egg wash and baking.


Next up: single strand braid or braided roll

Start with the same backwards 6, then proceed as above, twisting the loop towards the tail, then pulling the tail through the loop.

At the end, it should look like this. Tuck the tail under the final loop. You can also sprinkle a garnish on before baking, like sesame seed or poppy seed.

In the past, I’ve really had problems with yeast doughs at home. I always seem to do something wrong. But hopefully with this professional training, I will not only be able to successfully create a nice yeast dough, but also shape it into pretty things.


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