day twenty-three - middle eastern desserts

Note: For six weeks, July 5 - August 11, I will be enrolled in the culinary arts cooking and pastry/baking certificate programs at Boston University. Cooking is Monday and Tuesday, baking is Wednesday and Thursday. We have to keep a daily journal of the experience, so I'll be blogging about the class every day.

Oh hello. I've been very bad about updating about my last few baking classes. It's been so strange having each night off, all to myself, to do whatever I want to do. I can make whatever recipes I want! I can read whatever I want. Right now I'm reading that new book about Scientology? Jeepers. Although, I'm going to start my own cult because you can say anything and people will be like, "Where do I sign?" And now I have the time! "Oh good, a blog post about how the blogger hasn't updated his or her blog in a while. I love those and there are not enough of them." That's what you were just thinking in your head. Well get off my back, ass, I blogged like three days ago. Join my cult. OK!

Anyways. The second to the last class was all about Middle Eastern desserts (not deserts! hahaha), mainly from Egypt. They were...interesting. 

First we started with ma'amoul, which are shorbread pastries filled with a filling (good thing to fill with). They are very fun to make! The dough is very soft and feels nice and to make each one you have to create a little pinchpot from a golfball size piece of the dough, then put your filling in (each group made a different filling: pistachio, almond, walnut and date), then you close it up, then you press it into a mold that has a handle and then you smack the mold against the table to pop the little cookie out. Fun! When they come out of the oven you dust them in powdered sugar. They were very dry. So dry I asked if it is how they are supposed to taste. Apparently it is. Hmmm.

Next up was basbousa. A lot of people really love basbousa. A lot of people in class really loved the basbousa. And it's not bad. It looks nice too, because you precut it and it comes out perfectly scored with a single almond on the top of each piece. It's just, it tastes exactly like cornbread that has been soaked in a lot of simple syrup. So, if you like super sweet cornbread, basbousa is for you.

Finally, palace bread. Or, the sweetest thing I have ever tasted in my life. It was unusual. You cook slices of bread in lightly caramelized sugar, honey and water for a long time, until the bread has soaked up all of that caramel and turned translucent. We cooked ours a bit too dark, but it was so sweet it didn't taste much different from the other ones. We served it with marscarpone cheese and the best way to eat it was to have a spoon of marscarpone with a teeny, tiny bit of the palace bread on top. 

One more day to go! We are all making a pre-1900 recipe and the modern version, serving it and talking about it. And then it's all done.