original post titled 'braids - turtles - flowers'
6:15AM - banana foster crepe and Craquelin for breakfast
7:00AM lecture from Chef Ruder. Chef Welker went fishing for striped bass. Chef Ruder was our instructor for our final class. As their names imply, they are both German and both tell of being an apprentice at an early age and working under their Master to develop their skills. And skills they do have.
8:00AM - Tasting the biscotti from yesterday, as well a other cakes. Today we are again making bread...one lean and one enriched. Chef tossed partial handfulls of flour into the huge Hobart mixer as the dough transformed from flour, water, yeast, and salt into an aromatic mixture, ready to be rested, worked, and formed.
Chef Ruder’s baker’s hands....you would just have to see them work. The pictures capture only a small portion of the magic. Chef shaped two large perfectly rounded balls of dough, one using his right hand and one using his left hand, both at the same time. It’s as if he were a juggler, only with bread dough. The dough yielded to him and shaped perfectly.
Chef Thomas Ruder instructs today. He demos bread mixing, handling, shaping, and baking.
Click HERE to see Chef’s demos
Click HERE to see baking boot campers at work
And if that wasn’t amazing enough, Chef began to braid the dough. He braided using 5 ropes of dough, and then formed the braid into other shapes. After rising, the shapes were sprayed with water and sprinkled with seeds of choice, and baked in the huge, porous floor, steam ovens. The smell of baking bread reached throughout the rooms and up the stairs. Ahhhhhh!
Chef’s whimsical side surfaced as he formed turtles from the enriched dough, using raisins for eyes, and a few snips with the scissors to add authenticity. I asked Chef for a flower, and a flower he produced. Chef stated that sculpting dough would be of a different mixture, but his pieces of ‘art’ were impressive.
11:00AM lunch today was prepared by the students in the banquet section. The food had to be prepared and presented to all tables timely, hot food still hot, each plate looking identical to the plate nearby.
After lunch, we watched the TA’s pipe whipping cream and make Swiss Meringue for the cream pies from Day 3. They had also added the chocolate dip to the hazelnut biscotti, readying it for us to taste. It was quite good, and beautiful in form. The cross-section cuts of the hazelnuts in this dough are very pretty.
Daily, at the end of class, we boxed cookies, cake, scones, pies, breads. Today, we bagged bread for the final time, taking it with us to either give away or consume ourselves. Chef presented each of us with a group photo and we all said our good byes. How many of us will go home and bake? Or, how many of us have to return to our day-to-day world of work, rush, worry, stress, and McDonalds? One thing is for sure...we were all changed by the experience. Changed by the classmates with whom we worked, by the instruction of our Chefs and the three very valuable teachers assistants, changed by the handling of the ingredients, changed by the quality of the items we produced.
scales are imperative
scale it out
mise en place
my final walk by the windows of the Apple Pie Bakery...watching the students produce the beautiful breads and pastries
my final gaze over the campus, it beautiful buildings and landscaping along the banks of the Hudson, the aroma of the herbs in the herb garden
...final, only until I return to the CIA for the pastry bookcamp in the future!
I’m exhausted, but the experience was worth every ounce of energy and every cent of tuition.