I love to create things with my hands and this is the story about how I learned to make bread, croissants and danishes from Chad Robertson and his wife Elisabeth Prueitt.
Last July I moved to Nashville, TN and when I got here my cross-country coaching job fell through. Being so close to the start of the school year in the south, all other positions within the school districts had been filled. Needing to pay my bills, I took a job selling health and life insurance.
I sat in class for weeks that summer and spent many a friday evening at Starbucks studying all of the state and nation wide laws in relation to insurance. September came, and I passed my tests for certification.
I never dreamed that I’d be an insurance agent, but those bills don’t pay themselves. So, there I was in the world of pin striped suits, high heels and leather brief cases chatting with co-workers at the office who read the Wall Street Journal every morning with their grande skinny lattes.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for any excuse to go to J.Crew for a nice outfit. And if you happened to look in my closet you would find many a pair of high heels, but I’m more of a Cappuccino girl myself. I don’t do well with all those skinny, no whip, no sugar drinks. I say, if you’re going to have Starbucks, then have Starbucks.
As the months passed I realized that I couldn’t consciously stay with the company. I had inquired about baking jobs all over Nashville, but couldn’t even get an interview because I had no professional culinary experience. Simply put, I’m a fighter. Sometimes it gets me into trouble, other times it’s a good trait.
One Friday night I came home from meeting with clients all day and was really distraught. This job just wasn’t me and I wanted to do something I loved. Didn’t have culinary experience, I thought to myself. Okay, maybe that’s true, but they had never even tried my food. I was determined not to wallow, so I took off my heels and came up with a game plan. I made a list of all the desserts and breakfast foods that people had told me they really enjoyed. The plan was as follows, go to the store and buy ingredients, stay up until 5 am to bake, sleep until 7 am, add the finishing touches on all the baked goods until 10 am, package and load everything into my car and then go around Nashville to all of the places I wanted to work and give each manager a sampling of my food.
Although I knew this was going to be an extreme challenge to accomplish all that I had planned with one oven and no mixer, this plan really excited me. So with some good music playing, thanks to Pandora, I began. Everything was out of the oven by 5:30 am and I slept until 7 am. My roommates were fairly used to my “adventures” and woke up to an array of baked goods on our kitchen table and counters.
I added the finishing touches, such as ganache, icing, coconut and dustings of confectioner sugar and headed out to deliver my goods with hand-made business cards. It was a huge success and later that week got several job offers. Stay tuned for recipes I learned from Chad and Elisabeth.