During my first week of baking school, I have learned that I know nothing. And anything I thought I knew, I didn’t. But I expected that. So, I will be stripped down and rebuilt like the bionic woman. I’ve been whisking wrong, frosting wrong, and holding my offset spatula wrong. I’ve been chopping, slicing and dicing wrong. I think I’ve been eating wrong. My baking school posse and I? Well, we’re gunna be hittin’ ya up with some worldly stuff. We’ll be baking in positively sophisticated ways. We are not doing home economics, people, we are doing professional. (That’s what my chef instructor likes to say.) And we will be jammin’ en français. (Thus, I have understood only about 30% of this week.) It’s like a freakin’ fairy tale for grown ups.
Also, just so you know:
- My program – Boulanger & Baking Art – is the only one of its sort in the country. That’s because of the bread focus, and the training we get in making breads in quantity. Why make one loaf of bread when you can make 50?
- I got condoms in my college orientation pack. Along with shower gels, shampoos and other personal hygiene products that you can glop all over yourself to cover your stench. So, I learned that college marketing is aimed at people who actually go out on the weekends – and want people to sniff them.
- Dudes that travel in large packs (and wear pants that don’t cover their underwear) seem to make up about 60% of my college’s population. I’m worried that one of them is going to hang me up by my chef’s jacket in the bathroom one day.
- When your chef pak is twice as big as your torso – and just as heavy – it is very difficult to remain standing when it is strapped to your back.
- Our lockers are pint sized – they are half lockers. We are supposed to house our chef paks, street clothing, outer wear, street shoes, bags/purses, a metre stick and an extra pressed-to-perfection uniform in there. In a space that is about a foot wide, a foot deep, and four feet tall. IT ISN’T POSSIBLE. So, I guess next week I’ll be learning MAGIC at baking school.
I got my textbooks, uniform, and equipment – tons of delightful tools of the trade. I also got knives that terrify me. I’ve completed my food safety & handling, WHMIS and Occupational Health and Safety courses and exams. On Monday we do some more training on the equipment in the kitchens – the 60 quart mixers, stack ovens and other machines that could suck you in and spit you out. And then on Tuesday? We wear our uniforms for the first time and start to bake. Which we were all excited about until we realized that baking can kill you.
Now, if you’ve been worrying about getting maimed and stuff, you could make some of this blueberry snacking cake. It will take your mind off things. You can use fresh berries or frozen – I’ve tried both. And when you make the batter, you will think it is wrong – because it is a very sticky dough. Quit cryin’, you’ll be fine. You have to drop mounds of that sticky batter into a springform pan and press it down with your fingers – just a little, and gently. You’ll be thinking it’s weird, and you might think things won’t turn out, but you’ll have to trust me – it works. The original recipe called this a blueberry marble cake. People, you cannot swirl sticky dough. So it isn’t a marbled cake. Don’t be silly. No, it’s a snacking cake. It would be great at breakfast too. Just the thing to get you ready to do battle with, say, a locker…
. . .
Blueberry Snacking Cake
recipe: adapted from Homestyle Cookies, Muffins & Cakes
Yields one 8 inch round cake.
- 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided into two equal portions
- 1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into small cubes, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- icing (confectioner’s) sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8 inch round springform pan, and line base with parchment paper.
Place 1 tablespoon of white granulated sugar and half of the blueberries in a small saucepan. Stir together over medium-low heat (stirring constantly so the sugar doesn’t burn) until the juices begin to run, and the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining blueberries and then allow the mixture to cool.
Sift together the self-raising flour and sugar into a medium sized bowl, and set aside. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, and beat lightly. Set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand-held mixer), beat the butter and vanilla for 1-2 minutes on low speed. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the beaten eggs, and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. The butter and eggs won’t combine completely – don’t worry.
Stir in the flour mixture by hand with a metal spoon until smooth. I have found that using my hands brings the dough together much more cohesively. The batter will be very sticky.
Take half of the batter and gently stir it into the blueberries. Place alternating spoonfuls/dollops of the plain and blueberry batters randomly into the prepared tin. Gently press the batter down into the pan (with fingers, spatula or knife), making sure the batter is spread evenly with no spaces between the dollops of batter or along the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in its tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan. Dust the cake liberally with icing sugar before serving. This cake is best eaten on the day it is made.