Food Channel Producer Christen Nehmer, along with one of our Food Channel Chefs, Cathy Nehmer (yes, 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.” Take a look at all three Days to see how they did!
Day three had finally arrived. I couldn’t believe it was already the last day of class. My mom and I needed to get to class early because we had to re-do our beignet dough. We got to class about an hour before to try and get the dough made so it could rise. Right off the bat, I messed up. I put in the wrong measurement of flour and ruined the yeast/milk/flour mix. I couldn’t believe it; what a great way to start out our final class. One of the French Pastry School interns quickly measured out a new batch for us and this time, I read the instructions correctly and we did it right.
The rest of the class arrived right on time and we were told we needed to go upstairs for a group picture. One of the women who works for the school handed out certificates of course completion. As she was giving them to us, Chef Dimitri said, “Well, they haven’t completed the course yet.” His sense of humor cracks me up. We took our photos and headed back to the kitchen.
The first recipe Chef Dimitri demoed was for a chocolate pound cake. He was going through the steps and started making the French merengue. I asked him why it was called French merengue and his response was, “That’s a good question,” and then he went back to making the recipe. He finally paused, though, and explained the difference between French, Italian and Swiss meringues. A French merengue is used only in recipes where something is going to be baked. An Italian merengue is used in baking and non-baking applications, like when you are making a mousse or marshmallows. He went on to talk about how the Swiss merengue is an odd mix of the Italian and French merengues.
It was time to roll and form the brioche and the beignets. After the dough for both sat in the proofer, an oven-like unit that keeps a steady temperature and humidity to allow the dough to rise, Chef Dimitri showed us a special technique on how to roll the brioche into balls, while creating a seam that would end up on the bottom of the ball. Turns out I am a pro at rolling brioche dough balls. Who knew.
Tonight we baked up the brioche, the coconut rochers, the chocolate pound cake and we fried up the beignets. After everyone was finished, Chef laid out everything we made on a table in the back so we could see just how many different types of pastries we had created. I can’t believe how much we made in just three days. Then, of course, we get to take it all home. My mom and I had two large brown bags full of everything we made. It was such a good experience and I can’t wait to test out my newly learned skills at home in my kitchen. I want to sign up for another class already.