Bread week: baguettes, bagels, and boules, oh my!



My first “lean” loaf of bread! A lean loaf is a very basic bread recipe. Bread week began last week, and continues this week. Lots to learn about yeast!

“Bread week” started last week and continues this week – that means two weeks of all flour and yeast all the time! I love it all.

These posts are becoming harder to know where to start, I have so much to say about each day of the week. Each bread day has been a longer day than in previous weeks too, covering a lot material.

Bread week is also literally more filling too – with samples of each bread! Good thing kneading all the dough by hand takes some real effort. No need to bring carbs for lunch or eat carbs in general, for that matter. My lunches have consisted of fruit and vegetables each day, knowing we will be sampling.

Once again, we donate almost all of the bread to food runners (a Food Bank program), and take up to a quarter of what we make home if we want/can. I can’t eat that much so I often take less than that home.

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Fun with food, and fearless at Terra Nova Farm!

Catching up here a bit this weekend after last weekend was a long weekend and it threw me off schedule. I’m not complaining though, it was nice to have an extra day off! This weekend has been great too, I enjoy sharing these updates with you.

Last weekend almost felt like a four-day weekend to me because it started on Friday at Terra Nova Farm, in Richmond, for our pastry school term field trip. It was so amazing to be outside all day and learn about the cycle of food, bees, and baking in a cob oven. It was a working day, lots to learn, but it was really fun too.

This post has a lot of photos, which really tell the story of the day best. I can’t wait to go back and help out again. There is a lot to be done there and my school has a few plots in the community garden their too.

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Week 2: Team work is the best work, especially in the kitchen.

Morning glory muffins ready to bake.

How my week started: Morning Glory muffins deliciously filled with finely diced pineapple, apple, grated carrot, spices and more yummy things…

Fresh baked puffed pastry

How week 2 wrapped up: fresh baked puff pastry on a sunny day.

I feel like every experience I have had to date has prepared me for this pastry school experience. From high school foods class, to personal home baking experiences (and failures), chemistry, biology, math classes, and art too. These are all some of foundational skills of a Chef. But the lesson and skill to understand and know (that I think is one of the most important) to survive in a kitchen is about team work. Continue reading

Pastry School Here I Come!

It’s official: I am going to pastry school this year!

Before you read further, I’ll warn you, this particular post is a long one and shares how I came to this recent career decision. It all started somewhere around the time of this photo:

Jeanette LeBlanc helping bake in Terrace, BC, at the approximate age of 3 or 4.

Jeanette LeBlanc helping bake in Terrace, BC, at the approximate age of 3 or 4.

Well, I won’t go that far back, but there are many moments in my life that contributed to this pastry school decision. I’ll fast forward to 2014 and confirm that I’m still as excited as I was as a kid to be in the kitchen.

So, switching gears in my career from communications to enter the kitchen professionally may seem like an easy decision. It’s a big decision, but, an easy one. Continue reading

The Pastry School Switch-up with Amanda Goats

Orange Tyme Curd Tart

Orange thyme curd tart ganished with fresh thyme and a plump blackberry.

I arrived in Amanda’s north shore home kitchen on a Monday afternoon and was offered, “an after school snack” that trumps all of my previous after-school snack experiences: an orange thyme curd tart. Garnished with a plump blackberry and a sprig of fresh thyme, from her herb garden – in one bite it’s amazing. I had never considered the combination of orange and thyme before, but these are the secrets you learn in the pastry world.

Now a trained Pastry Chef working in Vancouver, Amanda Goats shared her experience with me on the switch from a corporate world to pastry. Amanda grew up in small town BC, where food was the heart of family social occasions. “I have always loved baking, since I was young. My sister and I used to fight over who got to bake the birthday cakes… My mom would also bake all of her own bread. I guess it started from there”.

After working in the corporate world for a while, Amanda’s artistic side grew restless, so she signed up for pastry school. Instantly she said, “I loved pastry school. It was the most fun thing.” Her program covered all pastry and some culinary fundamentals. Despite the intense amount of detail learned in a short time, she said it was all fun including, “…black box competitions at the end [of the culinary course], iron chef style, and you don’t know what your ingredients are. It was intimidating, but really fun.”

French Macarons

A sample of her French macarons, not macaroons, I learned from Amanda the extra o is part of the difference between these and the common coconut cookie.

My after school snack slowly disappeared, and Amanda share more pastry adventures, including what her transition out of school. Fortunate to work straight out of school, she has now experienced designing menus and creative desserts. Amanda even shared an insider perspective on Dine Out Vancouver, where the menus are set with dessert, “On weekends we were doing 400 desserts per night, and I was having to make all that product.”

Is it what you expected? It’s a lot harder and grittier…than I expected. It is physically tiring, but you don’t realize it until the end of the day. It is very hard on you. …I find it comical cooking at home now because the portions are so much smaller. I had to scale my [pizza dough] recipe from work down. I usually make a double batch and I made one-quarter of a single batch here, which made four pizzas. I generally make a double batch [at work], which requires 22lbs of flour and 7.5L of water. …I am definitely a lot stronger.


What do you enjoy most? I like the people I work with. Working in restaurants attracts a different type of person, there is a different sense of camaraderie.

Where do you find your inspiration? I have subscribed to bon appetite for years. They are by far my favourite… Epicurious is a mainstay for recipe searches too.

Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

At home with Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

Where do you dine out? My favourite place [right now] is The District. It’s a Belgium pub and all the food is good. They do really good brunch on the weekend too. Fishworks is really good as well.

When did you start your SweetPursuits blog? Before pastry school. A lot of my coworkers and friends were interested in what I was doing.

Amanda is looking into starting her own side cake business now, “I’m excited to do this,” she said with a smile. Simply by talking to her you can tell she favours quality over quantity and has a pastry instinct that is sure to satisfy any customer’s sweet expectations.