Baking arts

I began my culinary education at George Brown College this winter, just before the pandemic started. The sessions were held in state-of-the-art industrial kitchen classrooms. The instructor was a talented professional baker who gave engaging demonstrations, and was a skilled problem-solver with decades of trouble-shooting experience. Every week, I brought home baked goods that were better than their factory-produced cousins and fresher than their bakery made equivalents. Friends, coworkers, and family all raved about my weekend creations when I shared my baking with them, and even Nick begrudgingly acknowledged that the bran muffin was “almost acceptable!”

Was it possible that I was starting to get the magical baking touch?

Then, the pandemic hit, and classes were suspended. For a while, it wasn’t clear what would happen. The college’s administrative office was closed, and no forthcoming information was available for months. When summer rolled around, I was finally informed that classes would resume “online.”


Never mind the industrial convection oven or the hard-to-find ingredient on the recipe list; I didn’t (and still don’t) even have a proper stand mixer at home!

But alas, my concerns fell on deaf ears. There was nothing that the college could do about the pandemic that prevented our in-class meetings. The time to deliver on the instruction and services that I paid for had passed. Now, the school had a new semester of students and in-person classes to arrange.

To a limited degree, I did sympathize with their difficult position. They had students to graduate and bills to pay. Unfortunately, their decision also left me with very few appealing options if I didn’t like the “online” approach. For example, I could drop the course and pay full tuition to retake it at a later date. But I was already half way through! And another consideration was that I couldn’t register for their other fun courses if I didn’t complete HOSF 9134 first.

In the end, I resigned myself to completing the course “online,” putting my “baking touch” to the test.

So far, my home baking has turned out NOTHING liked what was prescribed in the class outline. With éclairs, my profiteroles were flat. With black forest cake, my frosting was overbeaten. With Italian meringue buttercream, my eggs were curdled. However, my new online instructor has been so generous with her grading and words of encouragement that somehow I’ve still been passing with flying colors.

I guess the silver lining here is that I will (almost) be guaranteed a spot in the cookies class, once normalcy returns!

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