All I ever wanted was a little food science

Baking class was frustrating last night, and I think I fully realized the difference between my definition of a “good class” versus what the other students believe to be “good.”

We were working with yeast breads last night. I don’t have a ton of experience with yeast breads, but worked quite a bit over the summer and fall to develop, what I believe to be, one of the best pizza dough recipes I’ve ever had. It took me months of experimenting and learning about hydration ratios, etc., but I finally landed on an excellent dough that is perfect for the home cook’s oven.

That particular dough recipe is kind of like my base/control recipe, on which I base and compare everything else. It’s a high hydration dough at 72-ish percent. So last night in class, after reading the pizza dough recipe chef handed to us, I asked what the hydration ratio was, or if he could tell me the formula (which had slipped my mind) so I could figure it out.

Chef did the equivalent of patting me gently on the head and saying, “Now, now, little girl. Don’t you worry your pretty little mind with such things.” I was furious and frustrated. I tried to explain that I was just using the ratio as a benchmark so I could tell if the dough was correct. I know what a high hydration dough looks and feels like, and wanted to know the ratio of the recipe he gave to us so I could compare it in my own mind for future reference. He told me the ratio didn’t matter because he goes by “feel.” In my opinion, that’s all well and good if you know what you’re “feeling” for, but if you’ve never made the dough before, then it helps to have some sort of reference point. It was a moot point to him. (and he wins the car [Saturday Night Live])

I rudely spent the first part of class searching the Internet on my phone for that ratio formula (because it wasn’t in our book), and pouted. Yes, I pouted. I pouted because I realized the entire semester was going to be very much like last night — monkey see, monkey do: make the recipe and don’t ask food science questions because you’re not going to get the detailed answer you want from this general baking class. For the details, I was going to have to take a specialized class (which I don’t really want to do).

Once I got over the fact that I’ll have to conduct my own food science investigations, I let the evening coast by without a care in the world. We made “acceptable” doughs. They could pass for decent at chain restaurant, but I will never make these recipes again.

The pizza dough won’t be baked until next week, so I’m not sure of the results on that yet. The focaccia we made was OK. I wasn’t crazy about the texture. To me, focaccia should be rustic and big with crazy tunnel structures running through it. The recipe he gave us came out like white sandwich bread. And I know why: hydration and short fermentation!

We also made Lavash (above), which actually came out pretty good. You can’t really mess up flour and water crackers.

With a big sigh, I go back to my original thoughts about this class from last week — I should have taken Baking II immediately after Baking I, before I got too far along in the program.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            1 Program(s) Found

            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.

            2 Program(s) Found
            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
            Show more [+]
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
            Show more [+]