I learned so much at the Johnson & Wales Baking & Pastry Summer Educator’s Program. I described briefly what we did each day of the class. I also have included some products that were discussed and used during the class in case you cannot find them in your home state. Besides what is listed below, you’ll need the appropriate chef’s clothing and non slip shoes to be allowed into class.
Day 1: The first class we introduced ourselves and went over what we were going to do each day. We started off by learning about the different ingredients and their functions in the recipes. The chef also demonstrated how to scale ingredients. Scaling ingredients means to weigh your ingredients on a baker’s scale. This is for accuracy in making large batches compared to say using volume measurements like measuring cups. Next we did a pound cake experiment to practice scaling ingredients and to see what difference certain ingredients make in the recipe. Each group was given a basic pound cake recipe with one ingredient they were to substitute. More details on the entire experiment are located in the Pound Cake Post.
Next we made cakes and butter cream icing in advance so they would be ready for cake decorating day. We made fondant icing, basic butter cream, Italian butter cream, and Swiss butter cream. The difference between Italian and Swiss butter cream is the method of preparation. To make Swiss butter cream you heat the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler and you heat the mixture til the sugar dissolves and the eggs are 165F to pasteurize the eggs. To make Italian butter cream you cook the sugar with an acid (keeps sugar from crystallizing) to 250F and when the sugar is 235F you whip the egg whites and pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites really slowly.
Day 2: On the second day we listened to a lecture on the fundamentals of bread baking. Then we made lean dough items like baguettes, epi, kaiser rolls, and focaccia bread. We also made at least one soft dough item like dinner rolls and sandwich loaves. We also made sweet dough items like challah, besting, cinnamon rolls, and brioche.
Day 3: On the third day we learned basic cake decorating skills like making a smooth flat topped cake and lettering, and roses.
Day 4: On the fourth day we made all the components of our platted dessert that we were going to serve during our “graduation” ceremony the following day. We learned that there are five components of platted desserts, the main item, sauce, crunch, frozen component, and garnish. We started by planning what we wanted to create by drawing our plates and getting feedback from the chef. For the main items, we made molded gingerbread, molten lava cakes, Bavarian cream, and chocolate mousse. For the frozen component we made French ice cream, fruit sorbet, American ice cream, and lemon sorbet. We also made fruit coulis, caramel, chocolate, and anglaise sauces. Lastly, our crunch components were almond lace and chocolate and vanilla tuile cookies. The chef demonstrated how to make some fruit garnishes like strawberry salsa, strawberry mountains, half raspberries, and sugared mint leaves.
Day 5: On the last morning of the program we started by scooping our ice cream and sorbets into portions and putting them in the blast chiller. The chef had us wipe each plate with white vinegar before we assembled our desserts to be sure the plates were really clean and fingerprint free. We then assembled our plates by scribbling our sauce designs and un-molding our “main items.” The last thing to go on the plate are tuile cookies, which get soggy otherwise and of course the ice cream. After we ate lunch and received our certificates we went back into the kitchen and put the finishing touches on our desserts and served them to the culinary essentials class.
We also used some special equipment that you may or may not have in your kitchen that is specifically helpful if you are teaching a baking & pastry class. Some rare things include a kaiser roll stamp, a bread scoring lathe, and a docker.