I have a friend who likes to point out that all the names I use for colors are food-based. I don't deny that food is a large part of my life, but after today, I believe I am part food. Not just in the way of "you are what you eat," but that I am absorbing what I do for a living. I have sourdough starter crusted on my right forearm. I just washed about five pounds of flour from my face. And I believe that my cuticles are in danger of becoming permanently chocolate-encrusted.
Krissy, our Bread Baker Extraordinaire, is on her way to Disney World with her husband and two small children, and Tracy, her relief baker, is off today and tomorrow. And we are two pastry cooks down, which means I spent a large chunk of my day today at work. I arrived at 5 a.m. to make the breakfast pastries, something I haven't done in probably four years. I made biscuits, brioche, chocolate-filled Danish called Babka and raisin bran muffins. To be clear, Tracy made the Babka and brioche days ago, and simply pulled some from the freezer for me to proof and bake. Then, I started the bread for the day. I only had to make the dinner bread, since Krissy and Tracy have been baking ahead for this week, but Krissy has so far surpassed my bread knowledge since I was last her boss, I don't understand her recipes. I had to skip the normal rotation and pull up some old recipes from the computer. I made one I love from the old days, sunflower wheat rolls, but I didn't take pictures. Suzie baked them tonight; they were still in the fridge when I left. I did make this sourdough rye bread from an unfamiliar but understandable recipe, and it came out quite lovely. It was my first time "loading the deck oven," in which one flours a pizza peel (those long wooden spatulas you see at pizza restaurants), gently lifts the risen loaf onto the peel and pops it into the oven, right on the oven floor.
After I finished the doughs for dinner, I made the lunch desserts, finished up the dinner desserts, then made chocolates for turn down. I'm not very good at making chocolates yet, but I've gotten a lot better in the last two weeks. We did learn chocolate making in school, spent many weeks perfecting the shine, crunch and texture of chocolates, but that was fifteen years ago, and I have skillfully avoided making much since then. These are spiced coffee chocolates, adapted from a book that has become my new favorite, Chocolates and Confections by Peter Greweling. He's a chef at the Culinary Institute of America, and has written the most complete book on making chocolate candies and other candies I've ever seen. A few of my pastry cooks past and present helped him test the recipes, and every pastry cook who attended the CIA knows Chef Greweling.
I left at four this afternoon, and have to be back at five tomorrow morning, so I'd best be off to bed. Just wanted to let you know what I was up to, post onion.
I should let you know that first, my chef thanked me for persevering in the face of the onion dessert, and another one of my many bosses assured me that he saw people eating and enjoying the dessert Saturday night. Hopefully, they still had sweet dreams!