Scenes from the Morning Bake

Frangipane croissants have been dusted with powdered sugar and are ready for sale.

Frangipane croissants have been dusted with powdered sugar and are ready for sale.

It’s hard to believe that I recently passed the one-month mark, as an employee, at Tartine. Now that I’ve been training on the morning bake shift for awhile, the time came for me to be responsible for my side of the shift (on both the scone side and the quiche side) on my own. A week ago Sunday, I pretty much handled the scone side alone, and the last two days I handled first the quiche side and then the scone side by myself.

The wonderful thing about Tartine is that no one – new or old – is ever truly alone. If you need a helping hand, there’s one there for you. It might be your partner on the morning bake team, or it could be someone on a different shift, like cakes or cookies. It’s often just a simple request to turn off a mixer, rotate a pan in the oven, or something simple like that. But when you’re juggling two or three or four tasks, having that third hand can make all the difference.

I’ve been able to take a deep enough breath lately during work to actually step back and reflect on what I’m doing – sometimes in the moment! It wasn’t like that before. I’m still not efficient enough with my time or my hands, but I’m getting there. The lemon cream tarts get poured a bit faster, the whip cream gets quenelled a bit smoother, and so on.

Our delicious lemon cream tarts!

Our delicious lemon cream tarts!

What’s really cool about the lemon cream tarts is that I’ve now worked on all components of it. The sweet, cookie-like shell (crust) is something I’ve worked on from the beginning, in the Shells shift. Separately, I made the lemon cream filling for a few weeks when I subbed on the Cream Tarts. Now, working on Morning Bake, I fill the tart shells with the lemon cream, whip the cream, and top the tarts. Love the full circle!

Fresh fruit tarts look gorgeous during berry season.

Fresh fruit tarts look gorgeous during berry season.

This happens to not be my work in this case, but topping our bread pudding with seasonal fruit adds that extra magic.

This happens to not be my work in this case, but topping our bread pudding with seasonal fruit adds that extra magic.

Decent recovery on the gougere front.

Decent recovery on the gougere front.

Meanwhile, after making gougeres mostly without any issues for most of my time on morning bake, I had two batches go completely sour a week or so ago. There was some head-scratching as to what it might have been – the culprits narrowed down to either undercooking the dough (choux pastry) on the stove or how I scooped it. With some additional eyes watching the next morning, I was happy to turn out a better batch. They were a little smaller than they should have been, but I was just happy they didn’t bake up all misshapen! Yesterday, I was back on gougeres and turned out a very good batch. Round, darkly golden, and the proper size. I loved it!

Eggs in a basket for breakfast.

Eggs in a basket for breakfast.

Some days, during morning bake, there’s time for someone to quickly throw together a quick breakfast for us as we work. B made this delicious treat for us, and the fresh peaches were awesome. Meanwhile, for a few days, M was making us fresh fruit-and-yogurt smoothies. Both great options!

Ahh...the sharp blade of a mandolin.

Ahh…the sharp blade of a mandolin.

I’m pretty used to the little nicks and bruises and burns I get from the bustling kitchen. But having my finger slip while slicing cucumbers on a mandolin was the first bigger injury. Not terrible, fortunately, but a warning. Forty-eight hours later, the pinky next to it fell victim to the ridged metal cutter on the plastic wrap box. Not fun and not terribly easy to work with finger cots covering up two fingers. But I managed!

Then there are the extra curricular activities. One of our bread bakers has experience making pasta, and a few of us gathered after work in the kitchen to learn a variety of shaping techniques from him. This simple dough is just semolina flour, water and salt, but we turned it into a variety of fun shapes and sizes.

Carb-loading with Pizzeria Delfina before the pasta class.

Carb-loading with Pizzeria Delfina before the pasta class.

After-work pasta shaping.

After-work pasta shaping.

Meanwhile, I continue to find myself having fun adventures in San Francisco – on my own, with local friends, and with friends visiting from out of town. I’m finding it hard to beat the living here in San Francisco!

Experimenting at home (sweet edition): Modifying the pastry school chocolate chip cookie recipe and making Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip...

Experimenting at home (sweet edition): Modifying the pastry school chocolate chip cookie recipe and making Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip…

...then bringing these new cookies to Berkeley as dessert, after Cheeseboard pizza with my pastry pals Hilary and Megan.

…then bringing these new cookies to Berkeley as dessert, after Cheeseboard pizza with my pastry pals Hilary and Megan.

Four fantastic Chicago friends, all of whom I didn't know before last July's Israel trip, met me at Tartine for an afternoon of Mission-based adventuring.

Four fantastic Chicago friends (Shayla, Liz, Rebecca and Lisa), all of whom I didn’t know before last July’s Israel trip, met me at Tartine for an afternoon of Mission-based adventuring.

Rebecca and her new love: the Tartine croissant.

Rebecca and her new love: the Tartine croissant.

Mimi met me for Saturday lunch at Tartine, after finishing a morning bake shift. We started with a prosciutto and cheese panini, and continued with dessert.

Mimi met me for Saturday lunch at Tartine, after finishing a morning bake shift. We started with a prosciutto and cheese panini, and continued with dessert.

Food adventures with Mimi continued at Lers Ros Thai, highlighted by the Pad Prik Beef.

Food adventures with Mimi continued at Lers Ros Thai, highlighted by the Pad Prik Beef.

On my open afternoons and my days off, there’s plenty to see and do and eat in this great city. I’ve been trying to make the most of it:

Marty and me.

Marty and me.

The San Francisco Symphony playing the score live, as the movie screens above them.

The San Francisco Symphony playing the score live, as the movie screens above them.

This Back to the Future experience was so cool. An audience clearly mixed with people who grew up with the film (like me), people who’d never seen it (often those same people’s children) and everyone in between. There was applause throughout the movie, which was fun and funny. And having Alan Silvestri, the score’s composer, on hand to introduce the event and close it out, was a special treat.

Very cool, very weird structure in Hayes Valley.

Very cool, very weird structure in Hayes Valley.

A crazy-good pastrami sandwich on crazy-good rye, imported from Detroit, at the Rye Project (a "newish" deli).

A crazy-good pastrami sandwich on crazy-good rye, imported from Detroit, at the Rye Project (a “newish” deli).

Live from Cook's Illustrated magazine: Vietnamese Caramel Chicken, finishing up on the stove.

Live from Cook’s Illustrated magazine: Vietnamese Caramel Chicken, finishing up on the stove.

A delicious dinner at home.

A delicious dinner at home.

It’s been a busy July. Can you believe August is just around the corner? I certainly can’t! Where has the time gone? And get ready for a monumental post tomorrow. It’s a big day!

Advertisements

One thought on “Scenes from the Morning Bake

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s