Categorized | Culinary School

Bread, Bread and more Bread

Posted on 04 November 2010 by Mădălina

My favorite part about commuting is the people watching. It’s interesting how strong the similarity between humans and cattle are at peak rush hour times. If you listen closely, muddled conversations sound exactly like cows in a heard—not to mention that occasional mad cow.I can’t help but laugh at the human race; rush hour brings out the worst in us.

Although funny at times, the commute is starting to take a toll on me. Waking up almost 3 hours early just to make it to class is extremely draining, and a true testament of my commitment to the program.

These past few weeks have been especially difficult, because as always, I take on more than I can handle. Okay, enough complaining…

(After the dough has a chance to rest and rise, we shape them)

(For pain rustique, they get floured, and placed in proofing baskets, or left on trays. This cart is headed for the proofer for the final rise)

(This is the final product, a scored Pain Rustique)

(These are my pain rustiques and baguettes. Baguettes are a lot harder to shape, hence the warped end. Ops)

Aside from our Chef, the entire class comprises of all girls; at times the estrogen level is too much to handle.  Most students are right out of highschool, and as expected, cliques have already formed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because we tend to gravitate towards people that bring out the best in our work. However, this does slightly suck on my part, having been out of high school for quite some time. I find it a little tough finding common ground with some of my classmates, and at times I feel a little old.

(Raisin Biscuits)

Weeks four, five and six were a continuation of our bread unit– I am officially sick of bread making. Going into the program, I never expected to graduate as a bread maker. It’s a combination of disinterest and the difficulty involved in bread making that makes this unit extremely daunting.

(Three types of Challah)

Chef keeps our egos in check– he has made it clear that no one in the class will see a mark close to an 80% (A). Truth be told, I was pretty pissed off that some of my best piping skills barely got a passing mark, but its only pushed me to be better. The constant critique, if not taken constructively has pushed some classmates to tears, but if you can brush it off (which you should), it makes for great stories outside of the class.

Grading is based on a few factors: mise en place, which is our setup; uniform, which needs to be in pristine condition; culinary techniques, and clean up. We usually start class with a short debrief, followed by a demonstration of what we will be making. We have time to scale our ingredients, and make our products for final grading. Once we have finished baking, we layout our products and Chef comes around to each person and critically assesses your work. Some critiques might be brief and vague, usually with a point and a comment like ‘good’, or ‘terrible’. Other times, it might involve a personal demo on how to perfect your technique.

Once chef comes around for grading, we package our products by weight, and prepare them for selling. We have the option to purchase what we made for cost, or we send them to the school shop, where they will be sold to customers. Most of the stuff we make is under $3.00 at cost, which explains why I’ve gained about 5lbs.

What I’ve Learned So Far:

-       I forgot how much bread I actually made, until I started adding the photos—WOAH carbs

-       I’m a natural group leader—I automatically take on that role in a group setting. It can be mistaken for being bossy… so I have to learn how to step back sometimes.

-       Hanging around with recent high school graduates makes me act immature.

-       I got to stop biting more off than I can chew: I’m putting on way more pressure on myself than there needs to be

-       Wine tasting at 9a.m. in my wine theory class rocks—Its not alcoholism if you’re learning

-       I dislike making bread. Actually, that’s not entirely true, I dislike shaping bread (braiding, twisting, making baguettes and buns.)

-       Keeping a diary is a lot tougher than anticipated, hence why I’m running a few weeks behind.

Now… for some more pictures from the bread unit…

(Pear and Ginger Bread… this one is one of my favorites.. I might have to post a recipe)

(Chop Suey Bread)

(Three types of streusel: Apple Poppy, Sticky Toffee, and Walnut)

(The end result of the Apple Poppy)

(Sundried Tomatoe and Olive Bread)


(Pizza; had a lot of trouble shaping this into perfectly round disks)

(Not quite bread, but this is what we do while our bread is baking: practice piping. Ugh, not great, but its not easy)


19 Comments For This Post

  1. Peggy Says:

    As a future culinary student (hopefully!), I really look up to posts like these! Your work looks great and it’s awesome that you have learned so much already! And I’m just like you, I’m hard on myself… but sometimes it works out to your benefit because it shows you take more pride in your own work!

  2. Mădălina Says:

    Going to culinary school was one of the best choices I’ve made. It was also one of the toughest, but I’m glad I took the plunge. I don’t think I would of been ready to do this right out of high school, and have no regrets completing my degree first. My advice to you, and yes it is a little biased, is to go for it.

    I didn’t want to go through life pursuing a different career path with complete regret. I’m happy I rolled the dice on this one :)

  3. Jeannie Says:

    Those are pretty good looking bread…really like all of them despite some out of shape ones. So even coloured.

  4. Elin Says:

    Your bread looks great . well done and congrats for making it to Top 9 :)

  5. Jessica Says:

    Congratulations on your first 5 weeks. Your hard work, your talent and passion for food will soon pay off.Keep up the good work!

  6. Claire Says:

    I love your blog! Your pictures are fabulous, and your food looks Duh-Licious (sorry, couldn’t resist). It was great meeting you this weekend! I will surely be following your food adventures.

  7. meow meow Says:

    yo did you eat that bread, throw it away or give it to some one? Just wanna know cause that is carb city mah friend, my back fat can attest to this :P

    Meet up after class this week?

  8. Liana @ femme fraiche Says:

    Your breads all look absolutely stunning. It sounds like quite the learning experience!! But the harsh marking will only do you good, don’t worry.

    PS-I am part of the commuting crew and I couldn’t help but giggle at your cattle analogy…so true!

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