Danish: Bearclaws, Pinwheels, and Duchesses

Today I learned:

  1. Danish pastry dough is super versatile.
    I have a new found respect for danishes, similar to my awe of choux pastry. With the same dough, I yielded four different kinds of pastries. The fourth, danish twists, is not pictured above because they were not as picturesque... which brings me to my second point.
  2. Laminated doughs need to be handled quickly, or else the butter will melt...
    Like croissant dough, danish dough is laminated. When working with laminated doughs, one either needs to move fast, or work in a walk-in, to avoid warming up the dough too much. My danish twists were so small that my warm hands overworked the dough causing the butter to melt out of the dough when baking. I could consider dipping my hands into some ice water before handling dough...

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Today I learned:

  1. Decorated sugar cookies are expensive because of labor.
    A sugar cookie costs mere cents when you're looking at costing, but the labor involved ain't cheap. The delicate piping takes patience and a steady hand— both something I lack, or maybe need more practice and less caffeine. 
  2. Getting the royal icing at the right consistency is key.
    You can tell that the consistency of my icing was too soft, not enough powdered sugar. As a result, the droplets on the peony cookies ran into each other, creating more of a blob than layered droplets. Note to self: don't be afraid of thick icing.

Notes from Lecture

Sugar Cookies

  • royal icing: egg whites + powdered sugar
  • powdered egg whites: pasteurized and dried egg whites, safer?

Passionfruit Macarons

Today I learned:

  1. An Italian meringue-based cookie will help actually fool-proof your macarons.
    I've never attempted macarons, but I have watched friends try their hand... to no avail. I definitely read up on macarons the night before... Loads of troubleshooting macaron articles that made me more anxious about the process. There are so many things that could go wrong, terribly wrong! The number one culprit of failed macarons: improper whipping up of the egg whites. Eggs are wonderful, but temperamental, especially when it comes to whipped egg whites. Luckily, the recipe we used was an Italian meringue base. Thank you, Thomas Keller. 
  2. Macaron shells are kind of boring.
    I mean, traditionally. Since the filling has all the flavor, the shell can seem a little "vanilla," or in this case more almond. I wonder if I could make a taro macaron that had real taro puree in it...

Notes from Lecture

French Macarons

  • almond meringue cookie
  • originally Italian
  • almond flour: smoother product
  • almond meal: creates texture
  • color of cookie reflects flavor of filling (unless it's chocolate or pistachio)
  • average macaron: 1- 1 1/2"
  • it is possible to deflate an Italian meringue

Pain de Mie, Classic Croissants, and Kouign Amann

Photo Mar 15, 6 14 46 AM (1)
Photo Mar 08, 5 54 36 AM
Photo Mar 08, 5 53 33 AM

As a part of my internship at school, I get to work real baker hours: 1AM-8AM. Above are some of the daily pastries I get to work with: pain de mie, classic croissants, and savory and sweet kouign amann.

I think my interests have slowly leaned more towards breads over pastries. The physicality of working the dough makes the end product more satisfying.

Once I settle into my new apartment, I'll have more at-home tests.

Bûche de Noël aka Yule Log

Photo Mar 11, 1 48 47 PM

Today I learned:

  1. Multitasking is key.
    For this yule log, there were four components: the chocolate sponge cake, chocolate ganache, sea salt caramel (Italian) buttercream, and meringue mushrooms. Timing and prioritization are key to multitasking in the kitchen.

    The most difficult part about this yule log? Italian buttercream. Italian buttercream is a bitch, but fulfilling and delicious. Italian buttercream is the most difficult buttercream to nail. It involves cooking sugar to the perfect temperature, careful tempering into frothy egg whites, and tossing in butter. Timing is everything because you're working with specific temperatures. Due to a faulty thermometer, I almost ruined the buttercream. Luckily, the temperature was too low, so Chef just brought it up by torching the bottom of the mixing bowl. Crafty.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Ding Dongs, Carrot Cake, Strawberry Buttercream Funfetti Cake, Tiramisu, Coconut Chocolate Lamingtons, and Strawberry Chiffon Cake

Photo Mar 01, 1 23 51 PM
Photo Mar 01, 1 19 34 PM
Photo Mar 03, 12 48 44 PM
Photo Mar 04, 1 32 58 PM
Photo Mar 08, 12 08 36 PM
Photo Mar 08, 12 41 09 PM
Photo Mar 10, 1 17 53 PM

Today I learned:

  1. Frosting a cake is fucking hard.
    Before frosting the cake, you need to trim the top so it's level. If your cake doesn't get enough rise/volume, you run the risk of cutting off too much cake. Don't do that. Not enough frosting- you can see the naked cake, unless you're doing a crumb coat. Too much frosting- the cake starts to sag. 
  2. Writing in buttercream is nothing like writing in ink...
    Before piping inscriptions onto our cakes, we practiced on the worktable. The consistency of the buttercream will drastically effect how the inscription turns out. Hot hands? Work fast, or else you'll melt the buttercream in the bag. You would think working with typography on the daily would help, but buttercream is not pixels, or traditional calligraphy.
  3. Fondant = sugar clay.
    I'm not a fan of the taste of fondant, but I will admit it's fun to use.
  4. Follow instructions and focus on your work- the rest will come.
    It's easy to get discouraged when your cake, or whatever, falls apart, especially when you begin comparing your work with others around you. It's easy to get distracted by others around you, their gossiping, and frustrated exclamations. Don't let their shitty attitudes affect your mood. Put on some blinders and move the fuck on.

Notes from Lecture


Types of Cakes

  1. butter (American style)
  • dense
  • proper temperature of ingredients: room temperature for emulsifying
  • proper creaming of butter and sugar
  • double in volume; fluffy and pale
  • if not creamed enough = dense
  • alternate dry and wet ingredients
  • dry / wet / dry / wet

2. foam/spong


  • pan prep
  • oven temperature
  • testing
  • storage

The "Standard Procedure"

  1. cream butter + sugar
  2. eggs + vanilla
  3. dry + wet alternate


Types of Buttercream

  1. American: butter + 10x
  2. Swiss: eggs + sugar (warm) + butter
  3. French: yolks + sugar (warm) + butter
  4. Italian: cooked sugar + egg whites + butter

Foam Cakes

  • relies on air to leaven
  • low fat / high sugar
  • fat in liquid form
  • soaks up moisture
  • simple syrup
  • bakes high heat
  • bakes fast
  • fold in dry ingredients

Types of Foam Cakes

  1. angel food: no fat, never spray the pan
  2. genoise: whole egg + sugar/bain marie
  3. biscuit: yolks; no leaveners
  4. sponge: yolks + whites
  5. chiffon: yolks + oil


  • slightly pulls away from pan
  • springs back at touch

(Maple Bacon and Cherry Lemon) Doughnuts and Churros

Photo Feb 26, 12 42 43 PM
Photo Feb 26, 12 30 06 PM

Today I learned:

  1. Deep frying doughnuts: 380-400°.
    If the oil is too hot, the exterior of the doughnut will burn before the inside is cooked. If the oil is too cool, the doughnut will absorb too much oil, leaving the doughnut too greasy to enjoy...
  2. I need to experiment with flavor combinations.
    A plain doughnut is just that... plain. The toppings are what make the doughnut unique. My interest falls in the combination of sweet and savory, something more surprisingly, or just weird. Still have to test out my taro fix...
  3. Real homemade/housemade churros are slightly curved.
    The way the dough curls up when piped into hot oil is natural. If you get a super straight churro, please question its origins. It may be factory made, frozen, delivered and then deep fried...

Notes from Lecture

Photo Feb 26, 8 54 04 AM.jpg

*If you want to learn more about the history of a doughnut, I would recommend this short read.

Challah, Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpernickel Loaves, and Conchas

Photo Feb 18, 10 41 09 AM
Photo Feb 18, 11 30 41 AM
Photo Feb 18, 12 19 07 PM
Photo Feb 18, 11 30 35 AM
Photo Feb 18, 12 44 49 PM
Photo Feb 19, 1 32 16 PM
Photo Feb 19, 1 33 33 PM
Photo Feb 19, 1 33 43 PM

Today I learned:

  1. It's a pain in the ass kneading dry dough.
    Best way to avoid kneading dry dough? Don't accidentally make the dough too dry- duh. The humidity of the room also affects the dough, so this should be taken into account when determining just how much flour to add to the wet.
  2. I want to make challah every Friday.
    It's a tradition many Jewish families keep, and I think it'd be fun to stick with. My friend Ben- His mom bakes challah on Shabbat, and I'll soon be moving into the same building as him, so let the challah baking commence. (cue Fiddler on the Roof's "Tradition")
  3. Vegan alternatives are not a thing in formal pastry education.
    I'm a little bummed that the curriculum doesn't cover vegan baking. I know it seems like a niche sub-topic of pastry, but I think it's valid to teach it, especially since it's a topic that's on the upswing. I don't see vegan eating as a fad. I understand it to be the inevitable future of food and eating. Of the 1136 pages from the CIA's textbook, Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, it dedicates a single paragraph to describing what "vegan" is. This should illustrate my point.

    I think I need to experiment and just test out vegan equivalents. There's more pastries than just banana bread and fruit cups that are dairy- and eggless.

Notes from Lecture

Photo Feb 19, 1 08 04 PM

General Notes

  • derivative of the original Turkish red

Wheat Flour Varieties

  1. hard red winter: high in protein
  2. hard red spring: high in protein
  3. hard white: high in protein
  4. soft red white: less protein
  5. soft white: less protein
  6. durum

Protein Percentages

  • high glutein 16%
  • whole wheat 13-15%
  • bread 13-15%
  • AP 10-13%
  • pastry 7-9%
  • cake 6-8%

Flours *

  1. rye
  2. corn
  3. oat
  4. barley
  5. buckwheat
  6. rice

* obviously not a comprehensive list

Rosemary Sea Salt Bread and Rustic Country Loaf

Photo Feb 16, 1 13 52 PM
Photo Feb 16, 1 21 07 PM

Today I learned:

  1. Making bread seriously works your muscles.
    Kneading activates the gluten and my muscles. I worked up a sweat kneading the rosemary sea salt bread for a good 15 minutes. Any breadmakers have a kneading workout regiment?
  2. Yeast is like a dog.
    Chef compared yeast to a dog, or pet. You have to feed them, take care of their environment (i.e. temperature, moisture, ambience), and just be aware of how it is, or feeling. I don't know, maybe yeast has feelings.
  3. You can't rush the process.
    Yes, this can apply to every baked good, but I find it especially true for bread. There are 12 steps to breadmaking, and each one takes a set amount of time. The food chemistry is so apparent in breadmaking because you can see the yeast activate. You can see the bread grow as it proofs and brown as it bakes.

Notes from Lecture

Yeast Breads

Types of Yeast

  1. cake/fresh: condensed, creamy brick, shelf week: 1 week
  2. active dry: 70% wall
  3. instant: 30% wall
  4. rapid rise: gimmicky, made for home bread machine
  5. ambient/wild


  • water (minerals)
  • protein (flour)


  • carbon dioxide
  • alcohol


  • 75-90°
  • Water
    • cold: will work, but takes longer to proof
    • 110°+: will kill yeast

Types of Bread

  1. enriched: more tender/softer; contains sugar, butter, eggs, and/or milk fat
  2. lean: water, flour, yeast, salt
  3. straight: yeast to dry ingredients
  4. pre-ferment: starter, or sponge

Steps of Breadmaking

  1. mix/scale
  2. autolyse
  3. knead
  4. 1st proof
    • doubled in volume
    • anywhere 30 min - 8 hours
  5. degas/punch down
  6. preshape
  7. shape
  8. 2nd proof
    • proofing vessel will be the baking vessel
    • faster than 1st proof
  9. score/glaze
  10. steam
  11. bake
    • internal temp: 200°
  12. cool

General Notes

  • never add salt directly to yeast
    • buffer with flour
    • saf yeast = good
    • water should be neutral
      • more acidic: less proof time
      • soft: add a drop of acid
      • frozen post-proof bread has 1 month shelf life
      • steam= browning/flavor/color

HBW, Chapter 2: Heat Transfer

Questions for Review

  1. The three main ways that heat is transferred include radiation, conduction, and convection.
  2. Radiated heat penetrates into foods just on the surface. It is the frictional heat that transfers the heat throughout the object/food.
  3. Radiation is considered a form of indirect heat because the heat energy is transferred without direct contact.
  4. The primary means of heat transfer in conventional ovens is radiation. The heat radiates off the oven walls.
  5. Radiated microwave energy typically penetrates into foods 1-2 inches below the surface.
  6. Dark, dull sheet pans bake fast than shiny new aluminum ones because 1) dark surfaces absorb more heat energy to begin with and 2) dull surfaces absorb and radiate more heat with an emissivity of 1.
  7. Heat conduction occurs when heat passes from a hot area of an object to a cooler area. The heat is passed from molecule to molecule through direct contact.
  8. Aluminum is a better conductor of heat than stainless steel (relative heat conductivity: 2.2 > 0.2).
  9. When cooking pastry cream, a stainless steel pot should be used. Aluminum reacts with foods, turning milk and egg mixtures an unattractive gray.
  10. The two main features of cookware that affect how quickly heat is conducted through it are material and gauge.
  11. Using the example of two teams passing a ball, heat conduction is slower than radiation because the ball (the heat) is passed from molecule to molecule. With radiation, the ball is passed through the air.
  12. Aluminum is a better conductor of heat than air (2.2 > 0.0003).
  13. A heat insulator is a poor conductor of heat. Examples of insulators include air, Teflon, and silicone.
  14. Cookies might be baked on a double layer of sheet pans because this method allows the cushion of air between the sheet pans to act as an insulator, slowing the heat conduction. This prevents the cookie from browning/burning, and unevenly.
  15. The main way that heat energy travels to the interior of solid food radiation. The two ways heat travels to the interior of a liquid are conduction and convection.
  16. An example of when it is desirable to slow down heat transfer would be baking cookies. You could use a silicone baking pad, or a double sheet pan, to slow heat conduction, preventing the bottoms to burn.
  17. The main difference between a conventional oven and a convectional oven is the fan, or fans. This allows for the the air to circulate the heat evenly throughout.
  18. Reel and rotating ovens increase convection currents by moving product through the air.
  19. A convectional oven requires lower baking temperatures and shorter bake times, compared to a conventional oven, because the fans distribute the convection currents more efficiently and evenly.
  20. Induction cooking takes place on special smooth-top ceramic surfaces, below which are coils that generate a strong magnetic field. The magnetic field causes molecules in a pan to rapidly flip, generating frictional heat within the pan. Induction cooking has its advantages over gas or electric coils because less heat is lost to the stovetop or air as the pan heats directly. The heat is also more regulated.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Although aluminum may discolor food, it is the most common material for sheet pans because it mainly discolors foods like milk and eggs. Aluminum is inexpensive, and a great conductor of heat.
  2. This would make sugar a poor conductor of heat because it acts as an insulator, preventing the milk from burning.
  3. It is faster to cool products in an ice water bath than it is to place them in a refrigerator to chill because water is more conductive (0.006 > 0.0003).
  4. Cookies baking in an oven are heated by radiation from the heat off the oven walls, conduction from the hot sheet tray itself, and convection as the cookie rises.
  5. Deep-fat frying is a good example of heat transfer by both conduction and convection. The hot grease surrounds the fry, convection of oil, while the heated walls cook it through conduction.

Exercise: Heat Transfer

  1. Answer provided in book.
  2. Shiny metal sheet pans are less conductive than black matte ones.
  3. Stainless-steel pans are less conductive than aluminum.
  4. The old, stained sheet pans distribute the heat unevenly.
  5. Thick-gauge pans take longer to heat than thin-gauged ones.
  6. The cushion of air between the two sheets create a buffer.
  7. The oven walls generate a lot of radiant heat.
  8. The silicone pad will buffer the heat.
  9. With the fan turned off, the oven will slowly heat up.

Coconut Cream Pie and Sweet Potato Pie

Photo Feb 11, 1 05 36 PM
Photo Feb 11, 1 05 36 PM
Photo Feb 11, 1 11 42 PM

Today I learned:

  1. Timing, timing, timing.
    Timing was everything today, especially with preparing the coconut cream pie. There was the graham cracker crust, toasting the coconut, patiently waiting for the coconut cream to thicken, chilling the filling, whipping the cream chantilly, and finally piping the cream. Each component has its temperamental moments; the coconut cream was the most testing as it requires constant stirring and attention.

Bacon Cheddar Quiche and Salted Caramel Apple Crisp

Photo Feb 09, 12 35 22 PM
Photo Feb 09, 12 35 09 PM

Today I learned:

  1. I love quiche.
    A good quiche is not rubbery. A good quiche is almost fluffy. A good quiche does not pull away from the crust. A good quiche I can eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Notes from Lecture


  • Crisp is laid on top of filling
  • Ingredients: butter, flour, sugar/brown sugar


  1. biscuit topping: drop (sweeter biscuit)
  2. cake topping

Brown Betty

  • "just like a crisp" + breadcrumbs (stale bread)
  • more texture and "crispier"

Mixed Berry Tarts & Sugar Cages

Photo Feb 05, 12 31 59 PM

Today I learned two things:

  1. Teamwork is especially hard to achieve in a kitchen.
    Today was the family and friends pop-up lunch. With the culinary students, we hosted 60 guests. For Pastry, we made 65+ mixed berry tarts with sugar cages. The tart shell was brushed with semi-sweet chocolate and rimmed with lavender honey and crushed pistachios. The filling was an almond-diplomat cream, topped with mixed berries and an edible violet. The tarts were slightly less than identical, but the taste made up for it. Despite "pulling it off," there were definitely stumbling points.

    We pre-baked our tart shells the day before, made and assembled the other components morning of, then plated during service. Although our morning began 3 hours before the event, it was mildly chaotic. For the first time, our class worked as a restaurant-style production line. We were divided into teams and this is where it began. After 5-weeks of training, we still sat on different levels of skill and competency. Personalities clashed. The performance anxiety was palpable.
  2. For pastry cooks, there's plenty of downtime during service.
    The culinary students definitely had a more grueling day, cooking as the guests placed in their orders. Pastry was done before our guests arrived, but the hustle was real in the kitchen next door. Our class would peek into the kitchen to watch the magic. The pressure affected everyone- their facial expressions, a giveaway.

Lattice Peach Pie (and Tart Shells)

Photo Feb 04, 1 59 06 PM

Today I learned:

  1. Pie dough is, well, doughy while tart crust is crumbly.
    I'm not going to lie- I've definitely put pie dough in a tart tin and called it a tart. Prior to today, my understanding of the difference between a pie and tart was purely aesthetic, which is just not the case.

    If we're talking pâte sucrée, or a sweet tart, there is significantly more sugar in the crust, compared to a sweet pie crust. The sugar is what gives the tart dough more crumble.

    n a pie dough, the liquid is water. In a tart dough, the liquid is egg yolks (and a bit of cream).

Notes from Lecture

Pie Dough

  • flour (AP, pastry)
  • salt + sugar
  • liquid: water (cold)
  • acid (a drop or so): cutting gluten
    • makes a tender crust
    • fat: creates flake
      • butter
      • vegetable shortening (100% fat, no liquid)
      • lard (100% fat, no liquid)

Pie Crust Types

  • double crust
  • single crust
  • lattice


  • baked fruit
    • traditional
    • par cooked
    • fresh fruit
      • can lightly coat with jelly or preserve
      • baked custard
        • i.e. pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie
        • cold custard
          • i.e. coconut cream pie

Tart Dough

  • traditional fluted edges
  • pâte sucrée
    • texture like sugar cookie dough
    • pâte brisée
      • less sugar, savory
      • cold crust baked at high temp.

HBW, Chapter 1: Introduction to Baking

A few months ago, I bought How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science as a supplement to pastry school. I've decided to post the chapter reviews and exercises to hold myself accountable to complete the textbook.

Questions for Review

  1. Bakers and pastry chefs require better accuracy in measuring ingredients than kitchen chefs because small differences in method and in proportions or amount of ingredients can have a large effect on the quality of baked goods.
  2. When a baker's scale is out of balance, it is not outputting a precise reading. To balance a scale, empty both platforms to read zero, ensure both sides are level, and repeat until the weight and counterweight are equal.
  3. An electronic scale labeled "500g x 2g" suggests a capacity of 500g, and a readability of 2g. It can measure up to 500g and is accurate to the 2g mark.
  4. The smallest amount that should be weighed on a 500g x 2g scale is 20g (20g = 2g x 10).
  5. The main advantage of metric weight measurements over U.S. imperial measurements is its ease of use in converting between units. The metric weight also is more common (outside the U.S.).
  6. Weighing ingredients in grams is not necessarily more accurate than weighing in ounces because the precision of measurement depends on the design and construction of the scale.
  7. Bakers and pastry chefs prefer weight measurements to volume measurements to avoid inconsistencies caused by air (density). Air affects volume measurement, and does not affect weight.
  8. It does not matter whether flour is weighted before or after sifting because weight is the same, regardless of density. Weight remains the constant.
  9. The term "ounce" represents a unit of weight or mass. It can also represent volume or capacity. Water's weight and volume are approximately equal (1 fl. oz = 1 oz).
  10. Three ingredients sometimes measured using volumetric measures include honey, molasses, and glucose corn syrup.
  11. Honey is denser than water because it is more viscous and thick. The molecules are close together (dense) and the molecules do not slide easily past each other (thick).
  12. The main advantage of using formulas expressed in percentages is its ease of conversion when changing batch size. Percentages allow formulas to be compared easily.
  13. The advantage of using baker's percentages over percentages based on total yield is that the batch size is accounted for.
  14. Tempering describes a technique used to safely stabilize the temperature between two unequal temperatures.
  15. To temper hot milk and egg yolks, stir small amounts of hot milk into the yolks. As a general rule when tempering ingredients, add a small amount of the "problematic" ingredient to the ingredient that is the problem.

Questions for Discussion

  1. It is unlikely the dough will turn out properly because the ratio of pounds and cups does not equal each other in weight.
  2. You will be adding more OJ than required because a fluid ounce of OJ does not equal a weight ounce of OJ. OJ is denser than water, so the sauce will be slightly too thick.
  3. Density: whole milk > heavy cream, OJ > whole eggs, water > oil, honey > water; Thicker: heavy cream > whole milk, whole eggs > OJ, oil > water, honey > waterThe relative weight of an ingredient can not always be properly judged by its thickness.
  4. Whipping air into a custard sauce can make it thicker because it is increasing the room between molecules. This decreases the density of the custard.
  5. To combine warmed melted chocolate to chilled whipped cream, temper them by adding small amounts of the chocolate to the whipped cream.

Exercise: Rye Bread Formulas

  1. Formula 1 would have a stronger caraway flavor because its percentage in the formula is greater (1.5% > 0.8%).
  2. Formula 1 would have a yeast-ier flavor because its percentage is greater (4% > 2.5%).

Exercise: Calculating Baker's Percentage

Butter: 100% x 500 / 1200 = 41.667% Eggs: 100% x 125 / 1200 = 10.417% Cinnamon: 100% x 20 / 1200 = 1.667% Salt: 100% x 8 / 1200 = 0.667%