The latter part of Week 11 was all about alternative baking. I also gave my class presentation on this topic on thursday morning. Preparing for the presentation is mostly what threw my blog schedule off in the last two weeks. I spent alot of time reading and researching. It is a huge topic, and a very interesting one. One we should all be aware of.
Each student has to give a 20 minute presentation on a topic in our program, and last week was my turn. I had chose alternative baking at the beginning of the term. It is basically baking to accommodate different lifestyles, diets, allergies, and eating preferences.
Public speaking is always nerve racking and I have contributed to many presentations in my past career of communications but it is always different when you’re the one giving the presentation. Although, when it is a topic you are passionate about and have prepared for, it is a little less stressful. I enjoyed doing a demonstration for the class too, I actually loved it!
Alternative baking is a topic that I have developed an increasing interest in over the past few years, after working with and knowing people who have intolerances to various foods, allergies, or new moms who have to change their diets when breastfeeding.
The baking world is full of so many ingredient options and variety that everyone should be able to enjoy a sweet treat while still accommodating their diets and lifestyles. I see alternative baking as a fun challenge, and I love to experiment.
After my presentation was done at the top of the day, we were introduced to our guest Chef for the next tow days who taught us all about alternative baking.
We learned so much and had a lot of open dialogue about different areas of the subject and the food industry in general, like knowing where your products come from, and understanding how your ingredients work.
On the first day we made lots of gluten free goods, then we were more vegan focussed on friday. We also worked with different sugar alternatives each day from xylitol, to dates, to rice bran syrup, and coconut sap. I now love rice bran syrup, it is also a complex sugar that is better for your digestive system. Go check it out.
Also, I have to say that if you use artificial sweeteners, for no good reason, you really must stop using them (like Equal, Splenda, etc). They are SO bad for you. Try stevia instead, it is a natural plant-derived sweetener. Or just eat fruit, or use fruit as a sweetener, or honey or natural maple syrup. There are more natural alternatives than that, it really depends on your recipe though. That is my little sweet tip.
I enjoyed making all of the alternative recipes, it was a great couple days of experimenting also. We made a brown rice bread, and each station changed up the flours so we could see how it would effect the flavour and end result. We had 6 different breads in the end, and here is what they all looked like.
On friday we had to bring in our own recipe, so I tried one from a new cookbook I have, and I made chia jam for the first time. It was super easy and turned out really well. I highly recommend chia jam. My recipe was from Oh She Glows.
The entire week it seemed like the temperatures outside continued to increase, but working with sugar we did not really need the ovens as much, so it was not too bad inside (except for when we use the heat lamps).
But when we began alternative baking the ovens had to turn on again, and thursday they were not too bad but friday we made pizza and cranked them up to to 500F! Hot damn it was hot in the kitchen. We were all feeling it. I have never loved a walk-in fridge more. I would leave my water bottle in there, on my station shelf, to keep it cold – it was a godsend.
The gluten free pizza was totally worth it.
After friday wrapped up, I had saturday to look forward to >> I had my second stage, at an executive club downtown. So I carried all of my kit (uniform, books, toolkit, etc) home on friday after class, and transit home was brutally slow that day too, I was beat in the heat. I had a nap when I arrived home.
I was rested for my next stage though, and started nice and early at 7:30am. I was there for a full shift and made lots of different things. The space was much bigger than the last weekend in the bakery, and I enjoyed that.
My skills were put to the test, and had to remember how to make recipes like creme anglaise, italian meringue, among others methods/techniques without my notes. Since I didn’t have my notebook with me, I did ok I think. They provided the recipe ratios, and I went from there checking-in as needed too for guidance. I made a massive batch of italian buttercream (like 5 lbs of butter massive) and made french meringue for meringue cups, then practiced my piping skills too.
I am really enjoying the stage experiences because it is what it is: good examples of different work environments. I am looking forward to the next ones.