As week seven comes to a close, I have hit the mid-point of my first semester as a student. With that, two of my classes have ended, and I am on the cusp of taking my first skills evaluation in Baking and Pastry Techniques. Life at the CIA is in full swing, and things will only move faster from here.
As some classes are only six weeks in length, my Professionalism and Food Safety courses have concluded. Luckily for me, the final for Professionalism required the generation of a website, a task which this blog happened to satisfy. Food Safety ended with the ServSafe examination, a comprehensive food safety certification exam that when the time comes, will allow me to go out on my externship. It was tough, but I feel confident about it. Unfortunately, I will not hear back about the results for a nerve-wracking two weeks. Fortunately, our kitchen classes alleviated some of the stress, as we learned all about the wonderful world of pie.
Pie is a staple of summer BBQ’s and gatherings. It’s hard to find a person that doesn’t like a good slice of the delicious dessert. It’s a crisp and flaky canvas that can be filled with limitless flavor possibilities. In our class, each team was responsible for baking five pies. I was anxious at first, thinking we’d have to make all the fillings in addition to the crusts, but it turned out to be a task shared by the class. I assisted with the filling for the pecan and peach, while others made blueberry, cherry, and pumpkin. In addition to these fillings, which were to be shared amongst the class, everyone was responsible for the production of their own pie dough, buttermilk biscuits, and cream pie. I chose to make a banana cream pie. The first day of class, where we produced the filling, flowed smoothly and production ended in a timely manner. Day two, in which we actually baked them, is when we ran into a few issues.
With each group being responsible for the production of five pies, we were left with the difficult task of baking off a grand total of 50 as a group. Needless to say, the kitchen was a little hectic. This was mostly due to issues we were having with the oven. With a steady flow of traffic going in and out, the temperature could not be stabilized, and constantly circled around 30 degrees cooler than we wanted it to be. Everything baked slower than it should have. This is really no one’s fault, and could not have been helped in any way. It was just an unfortunate circumstance of a classroom setting. There were also issues of people losing track of their productions, and mistaking others as their own. Everything tends to look the same during the rush of the kitchen. While our pies baked off, we were given the option of making either biscuits or scones. I chose to make the scones with the inclusion of dried cherries. Though biscuits are one of the more important items we are responsible for in the class, scones are pretty much one of my favorite treats. By the end of the day, everyone was rather haggard, though it was a little bit of a pick me up hearing that we were each to take home 5 slices of pie. I must admit that my definition of a slice was a bit liberal.
As class concluded, we were filled in on what is expected of us for our skills exam next week. We will each be required to produce genoise sponge cake, buttermilk biscuits, pate a choux, and pastry cream. I am certainly a bit nervous and am already putting together my game plan. In the meantime, I’ll study up and eat a slice of pie.
Andrew is a student in the Baking and Pastry Arts program. He is currently in his second year, and is working to obtain a position in the food media industry. After graduating with a Bachelor Degree in Music Industry & Technology, he sought to combine his skill set with his passion for food, ultimately leading him to The CIA. Andrew's Blog: Cookies, Cakes, & College - Baking Through the CIA