Food Channel Producer Christen Nehmer, along with one of our Food Channel Chefs, Cathy Nehmer (who happen to be mother and daughter), had the opportunity to attend a class at the French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College in Chicago. The class was called “Fundamentals of Pound cakes, Coffee cakes, Scones and French Cookies,” with Chef Dimitri Fayard.
It was hard for me to sit at work today. All I could think about was what I’d be making in my next baking class. I knew brioche was on the list as well as baking up the Madelines and the financiers. I had a vegetable-fruit smoothie to get some nutrients in my body before I indulged on sweets filled with sugar and butter. I try to think of it as I’m eating real butter and real sugar, so that’s kind of better for you, right? I keep telling myself that.
We arrived on time and ready to go. Chef Dimitri took us through our lecture where we learned how to make poolish, which is the fermentation starter for the brioche and the beignets, also known as the mother dough. Poolish is a mix of dry yeast, sugar and milk. After the poolish, Chef Dimitri showed us how to butter and flour the Madeline pan before piping the batter into it. A woman asked if she could use a cooking spray specifically for baking instead of using the butter and flour method; he looked at her as if he was offended. Once he made it through all of the recipes, it was off to the mixer to get the poolish started.
I grabbed a chocolate croissant with homemade raspberry jam and a cappuccino, and got to work on the mother dough. By the way, the croissants are so decadent, and with the cappuccino, I was set. We put aside the poolish and began the lemon pound cake. We decided to work out of order so we wouldn’t have to wait in line to use some of the equipment. Our brioche dough came together beautifully as if we had done this a thousand times before. The beignets, on the other hand, not so much. Something went wrong and our dough did not double in size. Chef Dimitri came over and we asked him what to do. He asked us if we could come in a little early on Thursday. My mom and I looked at each other and said, “Of course we can.” Spending a little more time with a world pastry champion, how could we say no?
We brought home another large brown bag full of treats. We laid our baked goods out on the table and realized just how much we had created in only two days. There’s only one more day to go, which means one more day of me being back in school learning a new trade. My mom and I are trying to decide what class to do next.