April 2, 2008

all in a day's work

I was feeling bad about not having anything to write/blog about tonight because dinner was just a salad with tuna and last night's was so not memorable I can't even remember.

But then it occured to me that part of this blog's original purpose was to chronicle not just my home cooking adventures, but also the ones I am encountering every day at work, in a *real* kitchen. How silly of me to not include more of that here, where it belongs. After all, it is still my cooking, even though I do it in a restaurant. While I don't consider myself a professional chef, not even by a long shot, and not even a professional cook, or pastry cook, still I sometimes have to remind myself that someone is paying me to cook, to bake, to learn and to create and these stories need to be told!

So I am vowing to myself that before this pastry gig is up (because, really, who knows when that could be? It could be tomorrow or it could be next year; I started it with uncertainty about my future and my future seems more uncertain than ever...) But before it is over and just a memory, I want to report some of it here.

So here it goes... some funny and/or interesting or educational or disappointing things that happened at work lately:

I made my first batch of cinnamon sticky buns --improvised because I had no directions and just knew they had to be done by 10am for an order. I forgot to (or didn't know to) put the buns face down in the sticky pecan stuff *before* putting them in the oven, and instead baked them --naked-- and then had to warm the sticky stuff in the oven, then put the buns in pan upside-down and turn the whole thing (with about 16 buns inside) over in one move. Whoa. But it worked!! And, after several minutes, the sticky stuff did harden like it's supposed to and it stayed on and they were delicious! Disaster narrowly averted. In fact, my boss commented on how great they looked the next day, and so did the customer. Oh, and here's the best part: I had extra and sent two of them out to my favorite regular who will remain nameless and his wife and they ate every single crumb. Probably even licked their famous fingers. His name rhymes with Black Night. The end.

Oh and yesterday I made AND decorated my first whole cake: a strawberry-rhubarb mascarpone cream cake.** This is big because so far (the cakes are new on the menu) I have only been baking the cake layers and the big boss does the decorating. But I got to do it from start to finish because it was his day off and I think it came out great--three layers of sponge cake, brushed with rhubarb compote then layered with mascarpone and strawberries, and then covered in smoothed whipped cream with piped swooshes and fresh strawberries on top. My first professional-looking fancy pants cake. I was proud of myself.

And what else? I made a beautiful half-sheet pan of raspberry pecan cheesecake bars today --for the first time-- that came out really well with swirls of raspberry and cream and pecans sprinkled on top, baked until golden brown on the edges. My timing is getting better and I know when things are done now. I don't have to rely only on the timer, but instead use all of the senses: sight, touch, smell...well, not taste. Except when I sneak a lick from the bowl before putting it in the dishwasher. But then I always go right to the hand sink and wash my hands, I promise.

And, lest you think my days are filled with successes and accomplishments, I also burned two trays of meringue cookies and two loaves of brioche this week because I was distracted by a hectic breakfast rush. It's all in a day's work.

**ps: that's not my cake up there, but close.


  1. Models eat sticky buns??? :) What a great gig you have; I hope it lasts for a while.

  2. let me know if anyone figures out "Black Knight".
    good stuff...

  3. Your cake sounds absolutely wonderful. Hope the big boss lets you do more of this!
    Great post, Joy!