Baking 1 finals

August 13th, 2008, by Francesca

How do you like my telescopic fork?

It was a gift from a friend a while back (hey, Laura, where did you buy it? I'm getting requests) and I'd been waiting for the right occasion to use it. This is finals week for my Baking 1 class and today seemed just like the perfect time to do something silly; you know… stress and all that.

My menu for today was focaccia and cream puffs. I did good on the focaccia, at least from the locals' point of view. What they call focaccia here is similar to what we call spianata in Romagna, but our spianata is more flat. There is so much regional variation in Italian dishes that it's hard to tell what's what sometimes, and living in California doesn't really help straighten things out. The locals have funny ideas about what qualifies as Italian; don't even get me started.

Anyway, being that I had to follow the school's recipe for focaccia, I had to make it quite poofy and fluffy. Check.

My version is less rich than others I've seen in class (olives, caramelized onions…), and I like it that way: just sea salt crystals and fresh rosemary.

With the cream puffs, I didn't use enough cream. I hadn't realized that they needed to be filled more and on top of that, once we set things out for the chefs to grade and left the lab, the heat deflated the cream and the tops ended up sitting on the puff bases. Oh, well…

But my boys always like what I bring home. The focaccia was partly eaten at dinner and partly frozen. We'll see how the freezing part works out. So far, it's been a mixed bag. Some baked items freeze wonderfully; others not so well. It's all a big experiment.

I know I've been silent for a while. Things have just been hectic and having both a lab class and an academic class this term has sucked up all my time. Next term I'm going to take only academic classes which means losing the group I've been with for the past three months, but I need to take a breather.

The new schedule should also mean that I'll be able to blog more regularly.

5 Responses to “Baking 1 finals”

  1. MaryjoO Says:
    fork is cool! But where is the chocolate for the cream puffs (drizzle on top) LOL
  2. Francesca Says:
    Maryjo – No chocolate in our version, not on top. We brushed some melted chocolate inside the base of the cream puffs to act as a moisture barrier, then scooped a little bit of strawberry macédoine and piped Chantilly cream on top of that. They are actually quite tasty.
  3. Laura Says:
    Hi Francesca: The telescopic fork is named "Fork it Over" and available year round at Restoration Hardware. It's usually in one of the bins by the cash register. They also have another version of the same concept but shaped to handle roasting hot dogs or marshmallows. I have not seen a spoon, but that doesn't mean that it isn't made. It's funny that you should pull your fork out just about now. I'm scheduled to attend a very formal Vietnamese Banquet in a couple weeks in celebration of the wedding of a very good friend of Eric's. I don't know if an opportunity to use my own fork there will present itself, but I plan to have it in my purse just in case...
  4. Peggy Says:
    That is the poofiest focaccia I've ever seen, but since I've only seen my own, I'm no expert. The recipe I use (Marcella Hazan) tells you to poke your fingers into the dough to make indentations. It's the best part of making focaccia. I think with so many Italian immigrants and their descendants in the US, it's very easy for anyone here to have an opinion on what's Italian (like in the movie "Big Night" or go to any Starbucks!!).
  5. Ava Says:
    The focaccia looks wonderful - wish I had some now. I've cut back on simple carbs and crave them like crazy. I caved last night and ate an entire Wolfgang Puck frozen pizza all by myself! Fortunately they're not that large. Let us know how the freezing works. It is always an experiment as you say, and I always hate it when the experiement fails, feeling that I've wasted food. Conversely, I'm always thrilled when it works! I froze whole wheat hamburger buns recently and successfully thawed them by wrapping them in wax paper nuking them. They were as good as new.

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