September 2 1998
Up to our elbows
in cake batter

The task of the day:

Basic Baking

Today was basic cake baking. We made some sponge cake. Okay, we made a fair amount of sponge cake. Okay, we made 20 quarts of sponge cake batter (which is 5 cakes, ten inches in diameter and two inches tall).

There are a few different ways to make sponge cake, but the most basic consists of whipping together the eggs (30 eggs) and sugar (about 30 oz.) until a thick ribbon forms. In a 20 quart Hobart (commercial mixer), this results in a foamy mass to the top of the container, and takes about ten minutes. Not a hand mixing job, I assure you.

Next, the dry ingredients are folded in (for us, flour and cocoa). By hand. As in, you stick your hand (and most of your arm) into the bowl, up to your elbow and fold in the dry ingredients. Remember, this is chocolate, so it's extra messy and staining. No tools required.

* * *

We also rolled out pie fillings. Not sure when we'll be baking these off, but it will either be tomorrow or the next day. I'm hoping for cherry pie for mine, as that's my favorite. We also filled cream puff and so on that we made yesterday. These were put out for lunch, which was neat. They looked good, and the one I tasted was very yummy.

The rest of tomorrow is going to be occupied with making "laminated doughs." This is puff pastry, croissant dough, and danish dough. These are all doughs in which a large amount of butter (4 pounds in my group's case) is placed into the center of the dough. Repeated rollings and foldings result in a geometric progression of layers. By the time you are finished there are literally 1459 separate layers of dough and butter. This is what makes these items flakey. I've made all of these before, but am getting some good tips. Interestingly enough, the method I used turns out to be the one our Chef recommends as well.

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Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy