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Lamination – Dough Handling

We have arrived at the Lamination Station! Croissants, Danishes, Puff Pastries such as Eccles Cakes, Cheese (or Cinnamon) Straws, Butter Horns, Turnovers, & Strudel (among other types) for almost as far as the eye can see!

When working with your dough and in handling it, temperature is very important.

Problems will arise if your dough and butter are not the same temperature. If your butter is too cold, it will not spread easily and could possible break into chunks. Likewise, if your dough is too cold, it won’t be east to roll out & might even tear.  Though on the other hand, if your dough is too warm the dough will get very moist and could even proof right there on your bench. If your butter is too warm it will become too soft and could very well leak out from your dough while you are trying to add folds  to it. At either of these points, it will be very hard to work with your laminated (or in the process of being laminated) dough.

The type of flour used can also play a part in how easy or difficult it is to handle your dough. Softer flour will require less resting time, as opposed to harder flour which obviously will require a longer time of rest. While we are on the topic of resting, your dough should be properly rested in order to give the gluten time to relax.

To prevent these problems from happening, there are a few thing you could do to keep it at an agreeable state. When taking dough out from the fridge, only take out what you need, so that the rest can stay cool. Working quickly is a good idea to prevent the dough from getting too soft. Chill your dough in the fridge for approximately 30 mins. (depending on what kind of laminated dough it is) after each fold. Make sure that you have scaled and mixed your dough correctly to ensure that your dough isn’t too soft or too dry.

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Bread Fermentation

Fermentation is the process when yeast begins to act on sugars and turns them into carbon dioxide gas, acids, & alcohol. Without the act of fermentation, we would not be able to attain the correct amount of leavening to achieve a successful batch of bread. Other factors also play a part in making a successful batch of bread, but the fermentation process is a big part it. It contributes to both the leavening and the flavour of the bread.


-Italian term for preferment

-It is a stiffer dough and is used in stiffer doughs

-Takes longer to ferment

-Similar to poolish, except that it has about half of the water content, an ample amount of yeast and no salt.

-Stronger & more flavourful than poolish

-Has a longer shelf life

-Can be used in Baguettes & French Bread

Poolish (Sponge):

-Comes from the word “Polish”, as it is said to have come from Poland

-A thin yeast starter created with equal parts flour and water, in addition to commercial yeast

– High moisture content is why it is used in slacker doughs & breads

– Can have a sharp smell and taste

-Little yeast is needed

-Doughs containing poolish rise quickly as there is a high water content making the yeast very active

-Can be used in Stollen & Challah



-French term for yeast preferment

-It can be stiff like biga, but can also be thin and slack like a poolish

-Can also be scrap dough (and so having a mixture of commercial and wild yeast)

-Flavour depends on fermentation time and water content

-Mildly sour flavour due to lactic acid

-A good preferment to use in the Country Loaf


Fermented Natural Sour:

– The way bread was made in the olden days

-Wild yeast only, no commercial yeast is used at all

-Can be flavoured with herbs and spices (such as Oregano & Rosemary)

-The natural way to preserve bread

-Some cilliacs can eat it, though technically it is not considered gluten free

-No water? No worries! You can substitute the required amount of water for beer

-Unbleached flour is better for it

-As long as it’s fed & kept healthy, the sour can be kept for years

-Used in sour doughs


After doing this course, I a lot more confident in making bread and have learned a lot about the process of fermentation.


I am now a very proud parent of baby preferments!


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A Week of Professionalism and Organization

This past week we have learnt about Professionalism, and Organization. I found that it was a lot more fun than I had expected!

My overall sense of the week has been that I have learnt the most about myself. Before this week started, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but looking back at it, it was a good week. The field trip to the Four Seasons hotel and stops to cafés such as Faubourg, Belcafe, & Cafe Artigiano definitely game me taste of where I would prefer to work (or apprentice) after graduation.

Over this week I some of the things that I have learnt are, how to dress for an interview in the baking industry. When going to interviews, I try to dress as professional as possible, but have learned that it is much more casual when applying for a job in the baking industry.                                                                                                     I have also learnt some things about resumès and cover letters. For example, I have learned that it is really necessary to write “references upon request” as most people already know that.                                                                                                                            I also learned how to makes proper production list, and that, depending on which method you use, they can take a long time to make. I also learned that when making production plans for other people, you should know a bit about how they work best. For example, are they better at reading tables, mind maps, detailed lists, or do they work better with a more vague kind of a list. Things as little as whether the plan is typed or hand written makes a big difference.

I found the most challenging part of this course was writing a production plan as it can take a long time to write depending on the way you want to write it. If yon are somewhat of a perfectionist like me, things tend to get rewritten a lot of times.

I will continue to practice writing production plans to get better at it, and trying to make less corrections to my work that require the use of wite out.

In the next course, I am looking forward to fermentation as I feel that I need a lot of practice doing yeast dough. I am excited to get started to practice and perfect my bread making methods!

Part 2

Learning my “type” was an interesting experience. I took all 3 of the tests (http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp, http://www.41q.com, and http://www.learnmyself.com)
and 2 out of 3 of them said that I was more extroverted than introverted. I wasn’t really that surprised with the results that I got, but some of the parts of the results that I got were off key.

The learnmyself.com site was pretty accurate, except for a few things. It said that I was a bit more extroverted than introverted (55% introverted, 45% extraverted.) I don’t really agree with these results. I’d consider myself more of an ambivert (one whose personality type is intermediate between extrovert and introvert.) It really depends on where I am and who I am with. Sometimes I am very quiet and laid back like an introvert, and other times I am very outgoing, loud, and chatty like an extrovert.

To a degree most of my results made sense, but other things didn’t make as much sense. For example, it said that my weaknesses are; being overly traditional, unimaginative, and that I can be closed-minded. To that I say “oh thanks test, thanks.”
On other things, though, it was spot on. For example, it said that I dislike confrontations, make friends quickly and easily form close relationships. Also that I am pretty relaxed and am a follower rather than a leader.
From another test, it said that I am a Social Realist, (Warm-hearted, popular and conscientious. Tend to put the needs of others over their own needs. Feel strong sense of responsibility and duty. Value traditions and security. Interested in serving others. Need positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves. Well-developed sense of space and function.)  I agree with most of that statement  to a certain degree.

Yes, in my experience it made sense in how I contributed and participated in in the teams. Since I am more laid back and at ease, I tend to contribute, but sometimes I just sit back and listen while everyone is talking. It was a lot of fun working with everyone during this past week.  It was good to work more with the people that I don’t normally work with, and to see what they have to contribute.

At times I am very good at organizing, yet other times not so much.  It can sometimes be hard to express your opinions to the more outgoing team members, as I used to pretty shy as a child.  Now that I am older, it is somewhat easier to express my views.

Knowing my type doesn’t really change anything. It confirms what I already knew, but also gives what I already knew a name. I don’t think it will really change my participation or contribution to teams that I will work with in the future.

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Retail Operations – Bakery

I am tired but, it might be because I have had a couple of pretty long days.

Working in the bakery was a lot of fun! It was fast paced at times and slow at others. It was great to see how the bakery works and, what happens ‘in front of the curtain’ as opposed to being down in the lab ‘behind the curtain’ baking products to be sold. I liked how the stations were divided and how they worked as you could get a feel for what it will be like when we get into a commercial bakery.
It’s kind of sad that the two weeks are up and that we won’t get to see the regular customers on a daily basis anymore.

I have learnt that the lab and the bakery go hand in hand. If there is a glitch in the lab, it affects the bakery and customers with it.
I have also learned how to better serve and interact with the public. It is so much fun helping people any ways you can and answering their questions about the products.

In customer service, I was most proud of the the number of orders I accumulated while interacting, helping, & talking with the customers. Also helping them have the best experience in the bakery possible. Focusing all of your attention on the customers is another thing that I am proud of. I like helping customers because you kind of get a rush from helping people and making their day better.

For the merchandising project, we choose to do Alice in Wonderland for our theme. We chose it because the classroom is filled (well, consists of) with a lot of things that just SCREAM Alice in Wonderland.
We made Queen of Hearts Raspberry White Chocolate Cupcakes and sold them in sets of 3. If you bought a 2 boxes (6 cupcakes) you got a bag of (eat me) cookies free. We sold a lot of cupcakes but also gave away a nice sum of samples. We interacted well with the customers and answered any questions they had about our items.

In the next two weeks, in addition to being back in the lab and starting to bake again. I am looking forward to not being sardined on the train when I commute to school. I also look forward to getting off school earlier then 2:30pm.
Filling the orders that our classmates acquire will be interesting, new, and an important responsibility. It will be an new challenge to master and enjoy.

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Menu Design Week Reflection

This week has been exciting. I learnt that even though the recipe says it’s been tested till perfect, it can always get better.

On Monday, I made Lemon Meringue Tarts, I learned that the filling takes some patience to make. The first try at the filling, I thought I had gotten it right, but it was a bit lumpy due to scrambling the seems a bit. The second try was worse. The eggs were majorly scrambled due to walking away from the stove, while the stove was on high heat, to discuss the first batch filling. The first batch of lemony kind of scrambled eggs went into the fruit bars. The second batch got eaten. Very lemony eggs.Later, I made tart shells out of S.S.P (Sweet Short Paste) and blind baked them. I learned that tart shells can be baked as is, not blind baked. They weren’t browned, but still usable. I made and baked off another batch tart shells, these shells came out nice and light brown as I hadn’t blind baked them. I also made the meringue. The meringue was kind of dry, could have been because I put the sugar with the egg whites from the beginning. Sugar should be put in after the whites have been whipped a bit.

Tuesday, I made Chocolate Raspberry Muffins. I noted that the batter tasted a bit too chocolaty. Thursday I will reduce the chocolate. Overall the muffins look normal. The 3rd and 4th tries of the lemon filling were successful!! I kept the stove on low and stood there the whole time and stirred continuously. After this, I put the, in the fridge for about an hour, the filling was still kind of soft. So I put them in the freezer for about 10-15 mins. I also piped the tarts and used the torch to give them that nice light brown color you usually see on meringues at the store.

Wednesday, I made Almond Chai Cookies. I learned that using the purple scooper was much faster than hand scooping them. Also packaged my lemon meringue tarts and realized that meringue can get destroyed really easily. Every time tart’s meringue got touched, I had to touch it up with the torch.

On Thursday when the lemon filling was done, I was told by a classmate that if I put the filling through the robo coupe, that I would’ve even need to strain it!! The robo coupe worked wonderfully and the filling was gorgeous! So much better than when it went through the sieve. Whipped up 2 batches of meringue as the first batch couldn’t cover all 36 of the tarts and they didn’t look very nice without the meringue.
The Chocolate Raspberry Muffin batter didn’t taste like how I would expect it to taste on Tuesday, and since there is both cocoa powder and chocolate chips in the batter I decided to lessen the cocoa powder by 10 grams and increase the raspberries by 10g. This was not a good idea. The batter tasted better, and when they came out they looked fine, but after sitting in dry cooler for about an hour, they looked ghostly and weird. The tops were kind of grayish and kind of scary. These muffins look totally different than the batch made on Tuesday. Also the tops and sides also look different from each other. The only time they would be sellable, would be around Halloween. Too bad we’ve passed Halloween by about 5 months. So, this batch of muffins went into the fruit bars. Out of the 3 recipes, the Chocolate Raspberry Muffins are the most expensive ones to make. Well, that’s going to take a toll on my profit.
The Almond Chai Cookies were fast and easy. A bit too little butter and sugar was used (I probably forgot to tare my scale), causing the mixture to be a bit sandy and easily breakable, but that was easily fixed. I added a bit more butter and sugar to account for the shortage, and all was well. They baked nicely in the rack oven and didn’t spread anymore than usual.

Monday really my only days that had waste. Monday being the eggs and Thursday being the whole batch of ghostly looking muffins. They both went into fruit bars, except for the 2nd batch of waste that I ate. In correcting my waste calculation, I had $0.26(hopefully I did the calculation for it correctly) in waste that went couldn’t be saved. The rest went into the fruit bar bucket. After calculating my profit I realized that I hadn’t factored in my waste. After calculating my waste I realized that I had a negative profit of 0.60 cents. This is when I realized that I made an error in calculating the packaging for the Almond Chai Cookies resulting in a much lower selling price per dozen cookies. With that corrected, I now have a profit of $10.98. I don’t think that is too good..

Overall, it was a very enjoyable week. I had fun tweaking recipes to make them what I thought they should be without throwing them off kilter (though sometimes it didn’t work).
Next time I design a menu, I will choose more profitable recipes, and try to keep waste to a minimum.





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Waste Management Reflection

These last few weeks have been a great learning experience.

I have learned several things during these last few weeks. I have learned that proper creaming techniques (creaming sugar and butter together, till light in colour and until enough aeration has taken place.), are crucial to a product coming out well. There is also creaming like you’ve creamed before. You have to cream it till it is a pipeable consistency (sand cookies are an example of this type of creaming.)

When I was on the oven station crew, I learned how to tell whether or not an open face pie is fully baked. When checking an open-faced pie such as a pumpkin pie, a sour cherry pie, or pecan pie, you must jiggle the pie to see if the filling moves. If so, the pie isn’t fully baked. In pumpkin pies the filling shouldn’t move at all, whereas in custard pies, it should only be slightly jiggly about 3/4 of the way into the pie.

I have also learned about proofing and how to check if a loaf has fully proofed. If the loaf has proofed to about two fingers above the loaf pan, it has fully proofed. Not enough proofing and your bread won’t rise, over proofing could cause your bread to collapse.

I was surprised that my butter tart mixture wasn’t liquidy like it should be. It looked kind of like dough except not rollable. When a dozen tarts were baked with this strange mixture, the inside was dense and unlike a normal butter tart should be. It remains a mystery as to why it the mixture wasn’t as it should be.

I would like to know more about how to make different kinds of breads and tarts now that I have realized that they can be fun to make. Prior to this course, I had never made bread or tarts in my life.

During these last few weeks, I have encountered some challenges. I found that the big digital scale can slow you down. I plan to address this challenge by using my own digital scale which I had to order and just arrived last night (which was Valentines Day, interestingly enough.)

In the next course I look forward to being up in the bakery, assisting customers, organizing the baked goods on the shelves, and learning even more than I do now. I will continue to work on time management, being prepared, and getting my methods and techniques down pat.

Part B

Waste management is the skill of being able to use what you have to it’s full potential. Whether it is cutting out dough to minimize scrap, or just recycling unsellable baked goods & left over product. Wasting products and unsellable baked goods can make or break your business. You are pretty much throwing money down the drain every time you waste something. This is why waste management is so important to know and learn.

I have learned how to reduce waste when baking. We reduce our waste by making sure that we minimize our scrap when we cutout dough, saving unsellable products, using the FIFO rule (first in first out), & by using opened products first before opening a new package. Sometimes we also reduce waste in ways that we don’t always know we are doing at first. For example, we use the plastic containers to store left over products in, but we can also use them as scoops to get product from point A to point B. After we are done with them, we can rinse, wash, sanitize, rinse, reuse & repeat! We also reuse parchment paper that isn’t too dirty, sticky or broken up. We always recycle and compost unusable waste such as fruits, vegetable skins egg shells and the like. Veggies can be preserved by putting them in bags to keep them from wilting and going bad too fast. We do the best we can to scrape down our bowls well, date our ingredients, & use up old ingredients first so that they don’t go bad and become waste.

These waste management practices and procedures are vital, and highly beneficial to have in a bakery, so it can flourish and so that there isn’t very much money lost in the process.

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Problem Solving Reflection

When baking, things can sometimes go wrong. We can use critical thinking to help us remedy what went wrong and to learn from it.

If plain biscuits are tough and misshapen, there are some reasons that this could have happened. Firstly, it could be caused from over gluten development due to overmixing & over kneading the dough. Too many rolled over end pieces could also have contributed to the biscuit becoming tough. When cutting the dough, it could be possible that the dough wasn’t cut straight through without dragging the knife. Another cause could be lack of leavening. The lack of leavening would inhibit the biscuit dough from rising. Lastly the oven temperature might not have been high enough for the biscuits to rise at.

Blueberry muffins that look greenish and pale on top, lacking the caramelized, light brown crust, yet the bottoms are normal in colour, could have been caused by having the deck oven temperature set at too low of a top temperature. The greenish colour that you see is most likely caused by the weeping of the blueberries. If you coat the blueberries in a bit of flour before adding them, it will help prevent the blueberries from weeping as much.

Nobody likes a soggy bottom especially if it is raw. To avoid this happening to the bottom of a pie crust, you should always make sure that the bottom temperature is higher than the top temperature in the deck oven. The dough may also have been rolled out too thick. To remedy a raw looking pie crust, place the trayless pie directly on the deck oven stone so that it can bake a bit longer with a more direct heat contact. However, if all else fails, it could be possible that your oven is malfunctioning.

White pan bread that have a darker crust and are smaller in volume than usual, even though the baking temperature was the same as usual could be the result of many things. The volume problem could have come from adding too much salt, & too little liquid and yeast. The yeast may have gone bad & the flour may not have been strong enough. Also the oven may not have been hot enough & the dough may not have been proofed enough . Overmixing or undermixing creating too strong of a gluten network preventing the bread from having good volume may also be a factor. Becoming darker than normal may have come from adding too much sugar or milk & under fermenting. The oven temperature being too high, baking the bread for too long & not steaming the bread at the beginning are also causes that may have played a role.

By learning from our mistakes we can create a better product next time.

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Reflection – First week of school accomplished!

After waiting for a year on the waiting list, I am FINALLY in baking school! I was almost ready to change my field of study, but am extremely glad and excited that I got in at the last moment. What a week it has been!

It has also been a tiring week, from the early mornings to all the books and supplies that I have to carry from home to school and vice versa everyday. I know that will eventually change as my body gets used to this new time of waking up, getting ready, getting to the skytrain and taking it to school.

Oh Man! This week has just been choc-a-blocked with so much information. I have learned so much though! I have learnt about scaling ingredients in grams (as opposed to cups, teaspoons, & tablespoons) on a really old balance scale. This process includes having a counter balance, a “boat” and making sure that both sides are hovering and not touching either of the bottom posts heavily if at all. You must also make sure that the ball is at 0 before balancing your items. After you counter balance, you can then adjust the ball to the amount of the first ingredient, add it to the boat, and balance it. Subsequent ingredients can be added to the boat and balanced after you move the ball to the “new” number (amount in the boat plus new ingredient weight.)

Another concept I have learned about is called bakers’s percentage. On Thursday (Day 4) we were told to scale down a baking powder biscuit recipe to just one dozen. To accomplish this you must divide the ingredient weight by the flour weight. We then did a cause and effect experiment with the scaled down recipes to see what would happen if you added, took away, or changed some items (eg. too much baking powder, only 1 kind of flour instead of 2, etc.) Needless to say, the biscuits that had too much baking powder left an after taste in your mouth that wasn’t the greatest.

I have also learned that eggs are an emulsifier (bonding agent) as one side of the yolk likes water & the other likes fat. I found this very interesting.

At first I found baker’s percentage daunting as it seem like canvas and another source (possibly a textbook) didn’t share the same way of doing it, after the numeracy workbook it made a lot more sense. I also struggled with the amount of things we had to do per night such as reading in addition to canvas. I was relieved when I heard that it would be less later.

If I have other problems with work (such as “applied” math) I won’t hesitate to get help from a classmate or from the teacher.

In the next course, I am excited to start baking goods, having less of a crammed course, working more with my team inside and out of the lab & being more hands on!

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