Baking is… ON!!!
Welcome to my last class of the term: Baking I.
Here’s the deal: I get up at 4 am, try not to make any noise, leave the house around 4:30 to get to class on time at 5 am. Chef Chuck unlocks the front door of the bakery for us. HE gets there at 4 am, so I really can’t complain. There’s also another class that meets from 10 pm – 2 am – crazy!!!! They call it the overnight class.
But: back to business. NECI has a bakery/cafe called La Brioche. Our classes take place in the back, where all the oven and kitchens are.
There are three different areas, one with the ovens and big mixers, and the other two with large tables and smaller mixers. And of course, a dish pit/storage area with all the cookie sheets and loaf pans, etc. We wash all the mixing bowls, sheet trays, pots, pans, and other items used in the bakery. Part of the learning process is understanding all the positions in the kitchen, including the dishwasher’s.
There are various stations we go through that switch every other day: bread bench, baker, breakfast, mixer, quickbreads, and cookie doughs. I started on the bread bench, where we kneaded and shaped all the doughs. The baker puts the goods in the ovens and times them, and makes sure they are baked properly. Today, I was at the quickbreads station, which is basically pie doughs, scones, muffins – anything that is leavened with a chemical agent like baking soda (rather than a biological agent like yeast).
At the end of the production day, we clean up, of course! Three days a week we also have lecture for one hour on such topics as leavening agents, mixing methods, and Baker’s Percentage.