The Pastry Crawl Vol. 1

the-pastry-crawl-vol-1

Sunday is becoming my day to catch up with the blogging world. Until recently, I’ve been working six-day weeks at two cake shops, and let me tell you, the only thing I’ve wanted to do on my Wednesdays off was stay glued to the bed. I’ve always been happiest when I don’t have a lot of down time, and this schedule made sense for a while… work three days a week at my internship, and then three more days a week at my paid job.  Now more than ever, I’m learning the importance of pacing myself to focus on some of my other personal goals, like building up this blog and training for a 5K run.  This is my first of a series of Pastry Crawl posts… I intend to share a few of the things that catch my eye during my pastry-obsessed weeks!  This week I focused on goals, in all flavors and sizes.

  • Dessert Goals, New York’s first annual dessert festival, reportedly sold out within two minutes of tickets being live. I’m so ecstatic that I snagged one!  It was pure luck that I wasn’t at work when the tickets went live.  I can’t wait to graze among vendors that carry treats like dragonfruit bowls (by Baba Cool) and Portuguese egg tarts (by Joey Bats).  The cupcake shop I work for, Butter Lane, will also be there.  I signed up for a workshop with Instagram star @onehungryhew (214K followers!!) about how to turn your Instagram into your full time job.  I’m excited to get a few tips from the foodie pros!
  • Becoming a regular somewhere has been a goal of mine whenever I move to a new city, and New York is no exception. While it’s hard to feel positive about any regular spending habit when the money is flying from my bank account, it does feel better to invest those few extra dollars at independent, quirky places that recognize your face rather spending here and there at the hapless Starbucks on every corner.  I have my sights set on Shangrila, a cute cocktail bar in Chelsea that offers fun drinks like spiked bubble tea.  They don’t know me by name… yet!
  • Style goals, anyone?  Ruche, one of my long-time favorite clothing brands for the occasional online shopping spree, is open again!  Which means that my wallet is opening too… I seriously love this brand’s earthy-chic styles. Each piece is picture-perfect for a blog shoot!  And to be honest, they’re perfect for just about every other activity that deserves to be photographed.
  • Finally, I want to end on a note about adjusting goals while staying true to your ultimate ones.  I am thrilled to be pursuing a career that I truly care about.  Having gone to the University of Chicago, I am still in touch with a lot of people who have stayed on the more conventional paths of what they were trained to do from the beginning.  I’ve gotten a few comments about how I chose an “easier” path.  I don’t think this statement is true (consider pastry school tuition and bad hours of unpaid physical labor).  Going through pastry school was some of the hardest physical work I have ever done in my life.  I do, however, truly enjoy the work I’m doing and in that sense, it makes the job easier.  I’m a big advocator for seemingly drastic changes that will infuse your life with much more value in the long run.  You should go after the job that truly makes you happy, no matter how long the path that gets you there!  There is no such thing as starting too late.  While I’ve had to make a few adjustments along the way, I’ve forged a path that will get me closer to my end goals.  Don’t define your own success against the career timeline of others.

Field Guide To Breads

For the past two weeks, I’ve worked with breads during my pastry school classes.  I learned how to feed the dough, care for the dough, and coax it into fluffy existence… I’ve realized that making bread is kind of like taking care of a pet!  Often, my chef would pat the dough as if it were the flank of a horse that successfully followed his command.  Through observation and one-on-one handling, I learned that breads have personality!

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We started with simple shapes like the boule (a ball), and worked our way up to batards (somewhere between a boule and a baguette) and finally baguettes.  We also learned how to score the surface of the bread so that it wouldn’t lose volume during the proofing and baking process.

I felt a connection with the bread that I didn’t feel with other pastries that we’ve produced thus far.  Coming out of the oven, some of the loaves looked like little dinosaurs with their spiky crusts and oblong shapes.  I have a soft spot for food with a  mind of its own!  Each bread took much longer to make than the cakes and petits fours we made earlier this year, so I felt more of a connection with each loaf.

Here are a couple breads that are regional specialty breads in France.  I made them using a recipe for country bread.  After shaping the loaves, it was important to let them proof upside down so that their designs didn’t thicken or become altered.

This little guy reminds me of a clam peeping out of its shell.  It is the Auvergnat style.  It originates from France’s Auvergne province located in the center of the country.

clam bread

This very similar loaf reminds me of a lily pad (see the Pokemon “Lotad“).  Instead of a flap of dough folded over the top, a disk rests on the surface.  Its edges curl up during baking.  It is called Tabatiere.

lotad

This is beer bread.  We painted on a mixture of flour and beer on top of the loaf after shaping the dough.  It baked in a crackled pattern that reminds me of leopard spots.

beer bread 2

beer bread 1

And this sourdough loaf looks like it might crawl right off of the table!  I wonder where it would wander to…

slug sourdough bread

slug bread

Here’s some pull-apart monkey bread.  Is it called monkey bread because the individual pieces of dough stick to each other like plastic monkeys in a barrel?  We used left-over puff pastry dough and some cinnamon sugar to construct this loaf.

monkey bread 3

And finally, this flower design won the World Pastry Cup in the past!  This is a multi-grain bread with decorative poppy seeds in the center.  It was definitely my favorite bread to shape, and its design was perfect for springtime!

flower 3

flower trio

flower

flower stack