bakin’ it

earlier this month, i took a baking class. i’m very comfortable cooking almost anything, and i have no trepidation or fears about making cookies and cake from scratch. but anything involving a crust is another story, save for graham cracker crust. i can make graham cracker crust. a three year old can make graham cracker crust.

actually, let me include anything that uses yeast in that category of “things i’m afraid of”. or at least in the category of “things i’m not confident doing”. that means any kind of bread, dough, or crust – brioche, pizzas, pie. but i love brioche, pizzas, and pie.

The Institute of Culinary Education, on West 23rd Street, offers a fabulous pastry program. i know it’s fabulous because i went to the information session and learned all about it, including the fact that the program costs over 30 grand to complete. not really so bad if you’re in your early twenties, haven’t already been to college (twice) and want to truly be a pastry chef. i’m not any of these things. i just want to learn how to make brioche, pizzas, and pies. i want a… comfort level with this stuff.

okay. they have recreational classes. phew. i took the pastry intensive course – it lasted a week, and it was glorious. every day from about 9-3 we baked: pâte sucrée, pâte brisée, pâte à choux… we made pies, tarts, galettes, puff pastry from scratch(!) a fruit strip, paris brest, baklava, éclair, profiterole, strudel, and some wonderful things involving almond paste. we also made all of the accompanying sauces: chocolate sauce, pastry crème, crème mousseline, hot fudge, orange blossom glaze…..

some interesting tidbits i learned: the Paris Brest is a dessert invented to commermorate a bicycle race between the french cities of Paris and Brest. and an old hungarian wives tale: a woman is a suitable bride when you can read through her strudel dough. yikes! (it gets stretched very thin).

so. am super pleased and can’t wait to make some killer galettes and the like this summer. next up is the intensive bread course. please stand by…

(photos taken quickly during class using instagram, by laurakinsey)