Le Pain Quotidien

From time to time my dorm actually has events I want to participate in, especially when they involve baking. I signed up to go to Le Pain Quotidien to learn how they make their dough. Playing on the dough pun, this outing was also an educational event about how to negotiate your future contract and salary. I learned a lot of good things from the faculty-in-residence who led the event, and I think I’m definitely going to be in contact with him when it’s my turn to do this.

We got to the restaurant and sat down at a long wooden table while we waited for our turn in the baking class room. While we waited we  sipped hot drinks and went over the educational portion of the trip. I tried my first latte ever, and I have to say it wasn’t half bad.

Once we got in the room, we donned our aprons and hats and gathered around another giant work table. The woman teaching us went over the ingredients we would be using and demonstrated the proper techniques to make the dough. They actually use the same dough for their sweet and savory things, so we only needed to learn to make one dough for both the chocolate-filled rolls and the pizzas.

It was a very sticky process, with dough sticking to everyone and everything with every touch. I got the hang of it quickly enough, so I wasn’t quite as dough-y as others who have had less experience. Give them time and they’ll learn too. We didn’t end up using the dough we made for our pizzas because they had to rest and rise, so we got to take it home to make more things. Also, isn’t this oven great! It’s HUGE!

We had a choice of toppings for our pizza, and I went with mozzarella, parmesan, and bacon(!!). Their sauce is pretty much just crushed tomatoes, and they don’t even cook it at all. I LOVE this sauce. It’s perfection, with no onion bits that I can’t stand for me to pick out.

The chocolate and butter rolls were also really good. I took a couple home to share with my suitemates, and they approve of them as well.

I baked my little ball of dough and covered it in butter, cinnamon, sugar, and powdered sugar. I really love this combination. It brings me back to fried dough at the lake and the beach when I was younger.

The Infamous Birthday Ice Cream Bomb

My suitemate has a very soft spot for ice cream. We were talking about what type of birthday cake she wanted, and she asked if I could make an ice cream cake. Of course, I replied, do you want something like Carvel’s? What’s Carvel’s, she asked. Oh dear. My heart stopped at that response and I had no idea what to say. How could she have never heard of a Carvel ice cream cake? Fudgie the Whale? I guess it’s not as prominent on the West Coast.

After this complete shock, I asked if she might like an ice cream bomb. I wasn’t as shocked that she’d never heard of this, so I tried to explain the concept. You layer ice cream and cake and anything you want in a bowl, and then you turn the giant frozen mound out onto a plate. This description resulted in her mouth hanging open in amazement because this proposed bomb was the perfect dessert for her. In the days leading up to its creation, she still didn’t completely understand what I was going to make, but she didn’t care as long as it had ice cream. I thought about what flavors to use, and settled on Half Baked, Starbuck’s Signature Hot Chocolate, and Trader Joe’s Mint Chocolate Chip. I also included a brownie base and fudge sauce between each layer of ice cream. It was going to be epic!

Building the bomb went fine, but freezing it was another matter entirely. My other suitemate and I had gone to Trader Joe’s earlier in the day, and because she and my roommate don’t really cook, the freezer was full to capacity. So much so that we had a hard time keeping the door closed because it would always pop open when we closed the fridge. I thought we had shifted things around well enough to get the bomb to fit, but at the unveiling I realized I was wrong. Evidently the door was left popped open, so the bomb had been slowly melting all day, but I didn’t find out until I tried to turn it out onto the plate. Complete disaster. It was fine for a second, but then I swear time slowed down as we just watched it collapse into itself. Cue four freaking out girls and a rush to throw everything out of the freezer to shove the exploded bomb back in.

In the brief time is was out of the freezer and then on the plate, it had melted all over the place and lost any shape it may have had. We were scared to open the freezer to check on it, in case it had spilled over even more. We had another problem because we had a ton of frozen items just sitting on our couch. Thankfully our RAs are fantastic and one of them let us put our things in her freezer.

We let the bomb stay in the freezer for the rest of the night and vowed to try again the next day. I managed to coerce it back into the bowl and into a semi-dome shape, but by then the different ice cream flavors had sort of mixed, so the layer effect was lost. We sang Happy Birthday and got ready to eat, but we found that the brownie had also frozen rock hard, so I could barely cut through it. Not to be deterred, the four of us cast aside our bowls and dug right in with our spoons. It was delicious!

We also made a birthday dinner, which consisted of: Butternut Squash Ravioli, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli, Parmesan and Arugula Ravioli, a vegetable mix, artichoke hearts, and my creamy garlic bread. Despite how good dinner was, dessert definitely out shined it. You just can’t compete with five pints of ice cream and a giant brownie!