Before I started pastry school, I only had one fear of what it was going to be like. I feared that we would bake sometime incredibly easy, like muffins or cookies, something I have done dozens and dozens of times. And I was afraid that for some strange freak reason, I would completely mess up. I would be completely embarrassed and have to explain to everyone that I did actually know how to make that simple thing, just not today.
Chocolate chip cookies. How easy can it get? Honestly, I can make them with my eyes closed. I've tried several different recipes, some that were good, some that were great. But I've never really screwed up a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe.
That is, until yesterday. Yep. I screwed up a chocolate chip cookie at pastry school. In my defence, the first batch weren't that terrible. The cookies spread more than the recipe I tend to use and therefore I spaced them out improperly. Chef said to make them again, but half the recipe. I could bust it out in a ten minutes, so it wasn't any skin off my back.
Determined to make them exactly right, I halved the recipe and started over. I was hurrying a little bit because we had several other things to make and I needed to plan out when I would get a time to use the oven.
In my haste, I incorrectly halved the sugar. Basic division. Grade 2 stuff. I consider myself a fairly smart person. I have gone to two of the best universities in Canada and apparently I cannot divide.
Too much sugar, so the cookies turned into flat crispy pancakes. People laughed. Chef looked over my copy of the recipe and immediately found the problem. I still didn't catch the error when he gave me back my copy, he had to point it out. Basic division. Ugh, I still cringe about it.
I was mortified and embarrassed and tried to tell everyone that I really, truly was great at making chocolate chip cookies, I really was. It was all joking though, no one was truly mean. But my pride, my baking pride, was badly bruised.
They turned out great, as always, and I brought them to school. It was more for me than for anyone else, really. It really bothers me when I mess up a recipe and I almost always try to remake it correctly (a perfect example of this is my Honey Lavender Macarons).
Despite my embarrassing mathematical error, I'm still confident in my baking skills. I've got a whole blog of things that I've baked! I can look back and think to myself, "Yeah, I made those! And they were good. So I'm good."
On a side note on the jam, if you don't have the certain type of pectin mentioned in the recipe, I would not suggest using regular pectin. Pomona's is available at Whole Foods and other well-stocked supermarkets.
Peach Vanilla Jam
Recipe from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
2 1/2 pounds (about 1 kilogram and 137 grams) peaches, peeled or unpeeled
1 1/2 cups sugar, preferably superfine
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 teaspoons Pomona's Universal Pectin, but not the calcium packet
First, remove the peach from the pit and roughly chop into about 1/4 or 1/2 inch chunks using a chef's knife. You should have about 7 cups chopped fruit. Put the chopped peaches in a bowl with 1 cup of the sugar, the corn syrup, and the lemon juice.
Use the tip of the paring knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the scrapings and the pod to the peaches. Stir to combine everything well.
Put the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the pectin in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Put the peach mixture in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the liquid (peach juices, corn syrup, and dissolved sugar) to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed and stirring occasionally.
Add about a cup of the hot peach mixture to the bowl of pectin-sugar and whisk to form a paste. Scrape the paste back into the saucepan, return to a simmer, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove the jam from the heat and ladle it into clean jars, removing the vanilla pod. You can properly seal your jars by screwing on the lids and placing the whole jar in a large pot of boiling water for ten minutes. If you plan to use up the jam within a month, you don't have to do this. If you're not sealing your jars, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the jam in each jar to avoid forming a skin and allow the jam to cool to room temperature. When the jam is at room temperature, remove the plastic wrap, screw on the lids, and place in the fridge to set, at least 8 hours.