Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Weeks 13 & 14: Wake up and smell the baking

Picture this: 8.00am on a Monday morning - two half days of costing theory ahead of us. About two thirds of the class are there and a few more dribble in over the next half to three quarters of an hour. Some of those already there, and most of those who dribble in, have cans of V or Coke or Mother or some other noxious crap in a can. They sit down, fold their arms on their desks and put their heads down. Excellent. 
"I've got such a hangover" groans Jiggly.
"Then go home" - I'm all sympathy.
"But we have to be here."
"But you're not here, are you. You're asleep on your desk."
"Ohh, sorry, sorry eh."
"Don't apologise to me, apologise to the tutor, and effing wake up."
Thus starts the week.
Once again, two half days of theory could easily be compressed into a shorter session or self-paced tutorial. It isn't complicated but at the end of the second day some people are still struggling with costing recipes. The formula is simple: price per purchase unit of the commodity, divided by unit size by the quantity used in the recipe.
For example, you buy 500grams of butter (of course you do!) for $4.55. The recipe uses 50 grams. 4.55/500 x 50 = .45 cents. Do that for all your recipe components, divide by the yield (how many portions does the recipe serve?) and you have cost price per portion. Divide the cost price by the food cost percentage the business works to, multiply by 100 and you have the selling price per portion. Easy. And fun. We work though a couple of examples then take some recipes, food costing sheets and ingredients prices away for homework.

Last week, and I do apologise for the lateness of the blog, but this way you get two for one! Bargain. Last week we baked. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here's a few thousand words.
Fruit flan, involving sweet pastry, creme patisserie, shingling fruit and glazing. FYI, the Risk Consultant and the GM come for lunch, and after a Thai Fish Curry help dispose of the flan, which they pronounce  "really good". We also make Apple Pies, Palmiers - the curly things - Baklava, Meringues, Apple and  
Cinnamon Turnovers, Vol-au-vents, Fruit coulis, Vacherins - meringue nests - Lemon curd, Lemon Meringue Pie, Blueberry Muffins, Cheese Scones, Anzac Biscuits, Florentines, SablĂ© Biscuits - kind of shortbread, and the first time I have piped biscuits. The mixture is quite stiff so the shapes are a bit odd at first, but once the mixture softens and I get the hang of it they go well.
I also now know what happens if you forget to dock puff pastry! (remember docking? pricking the pastry base before blind baking).
I forget to dock the base of my vol-au-vent cases before baking them. They rise beautifully, but the leaning tower of Pisa has nothing on these babies! I wish I had taken a photo as they did look funny - not a bit like a pastry case should. Interesting aside, more than half the class do not know what a vol-au-vent is before they make them.

Starting to have mild panic attacks about next week now. We are in the Production Kitchen that serves the Bistro -paying customers. Our tutor has divided our group into two so there will be 6 or 7 of us in the kitchen rather than the whole class, which varies in numbers depending on any given day. He has divided the four competent ones - yes, that does include me - so two of us are in each group. We also have our share of challenges - tongue stud and one half of Dumb and Dumber included. We are doing lunch service on Monday and Tuesday, so stand by for tales of these exciting adventures.....