It surprises most people to find out that it took several months of attending school at the Culinary Institute of America before I actually stepped foot in a kitchen let alone a bakeshop. In actuality, at least the first three months a baking and pastry student spends at the Culinary is in more traditional classroom settings. It seemed like an eternity before I hit Culinary Skills for Bakers and then it was finally here, “E” block, our first baking class: Hearth Breads and Rolls.
Not only is this the first baking class, its also a production class meaning that some of what we produce goes to the school’s restaurants and also for student meals. Before the first class this made it slightly terrifying but now that the block is almost to a close, you feel a sense of pride when you see a cut up loaf of bread that the night before you mixed and shaped. Throughout the fourteen day class, you and your team rotate through each station so by the end you’ve covered each of the stations. You also rotate through being oven team who is in charge of basically baking the bread under the guidance of Chef.
Each day the shaping gets a little better, and it seems like the dough speaks its state. One of my favorite parts of the day is standing by the mixer watching the dough and gluten develop. It just amazes me how flour transforms into this structure with some water and motion. All in all, just being able to create out of so few ingredients delights me daily. It just reaffirms that I am in the place I am meant to be!