Eighteen weeks of cooking classes ended on Thursday, giving us a pretty complete going-over of the basics of classic French cuisine.
Now comes the hard part for me, starting on Monday.
"How long do you cook a cake?" Chef Instructor Richard Sanchez asks rhetorically. "You don't 'cook' a cake, of course. You 'bake' a cake."
That's new territory for me, and I enter with trepidation. I am not a baker. The good news is that Chef Richard seems more than willing to start with the basics.
For example: "The first thing you will learn is to say 'baking,' not 'cooking'."
Starting with that change in terminology, it means a whole new mentality about the kitchen and a new set of mechanics. It means exact measurements, by weight. It likely means less knife work, more whipping and rolling. It means working more with eggs and flour and sugar and ...
Say, maybe this won't be so bad after all!
We will learn to make a chocolate butter cake, Chef Richard promises.
We also will learn to bake bread and make croissants and a host of other delectables.
Frankly, baking and pastry making have never been part of my attraction to the kitchen; my preference has always been for the savory side. But the territory we covered in cooking classes was far beyond anything I expected, opening my mind to all possibilities.
The newest frontier beckons. I stand ready, whisk in hand.