Meathenge attends #2 in a series of baking/cooking/skill classes taught by Chef Shuna

Cream butter, then add sugar. Not all at once, ya bone.
Pimpin’ baking skills at local fancy kitchen supply stores is nice and all. The visiting chef has access to multiple mixers, stoves & ovens. There are assistants to set up, take down and wash dishes. But dangit, The House walks away with the bulk of the cash and the classes can get too large. This produces an impersonal class and the pupils wander away with less than a positive experience.
Yeah well, Pastry Chef Shuna Lydon thought she could do better and has headed out in a positive direction. A direction where her pupils aren’t left with unanswered questions and her pockets have a tad more of a jingle when the day is done.
Today’s Story: Meathenge Labs attends #2 in a series of baking/cooking/skill classes taught by Chef Shuna. Or how Biggles dares The Big City a second time and learns to walk fast past the watchful eyes of shaggy junkies in the Mission District. Near the Bart Station (subway) that is.

Shuna demonstrates the bendable scraper she uses frequently. Apparently one can use this to scrape delicate batter from a mixing bowl without ruining it. And as you can see, makes a nice scooper for dry ingredients too.
My wife and I showed up first, the others soon after. I think she’s been baking already, I’m sure you can figure out how I knew this. “SnUrF”, oh my that smells good.
Her kitchen is a small place with just enough room for the 7 of us to sit. As it turns out, the group were all pretty much avid bakers of some sort or another. Maria is the Ninja Bread Baker, even brought a out-of-print cookie book she had questions about. For the day we were to learn 2 recipes she’d put together, a Tea Shortbread (lots of butter!) and a Buckwheat Sable. Along with the recipes, we were to learn Shuna’s wily ways in the kitchen. It isn’t enough to know how to make a cookie, but you need to know how and why things happen. How else can you learn if you don’t know why something happens?
Shuna was able to roll through more than a few hours without breaking a sweat. Just a smidge of what she talked about were; if you’re going to use a leavener, such as baking powder you must sift. Baking powder will cake up and you need the sieve to break down the pebbles. Otherwise, don’t bother. I always wondered about that, mostly while I make pancake batter. Tiny E just loves to sift, we sift many things. Measuring flour with the scoop & scrape method? Shuna can handle it, just rotate the flour container over a few times to unsettle the flour each time you scoop. This helps standardize your measure. Are you wanting a less sweet batter? Only cut the sugar by 10% or less, never by 1/2 or 1/4. You NEED that sugar to work with the butter, it’s a molecular (science) thing. Don’t mess with it, ever. If you’re worried about your sugar intake you shouldn’t be making cookies in the first place, foo.
As the afternoon rolled we made our cookies, learned about the subtle science of cookie making and finally got to taste the shortbread & sable. The texture, smell & taste were spot on. No flour all over the bottom of the cookie, nasty. Crumb was just fall apart butter crunchy. Personally, I enjoyed the cookies due to the fact you didn’t wind up with a mouth full of sugar. Very nicely done.
I’d already been through Shuna’s Knife Skills class, she did really well. But it was clear from the getgo that Shuna really grooves on baking. She’s quick and pulls no punches. Her vision of what’s right and what’s not, is very clear. If you’re looking to improve, you need to contact Shuna. If your restaurant or bakery’s product is sliding and need some help, contact Shuna.

After the day was done, both my wife and I had a great experience and came away with inspiration to do some baking. And I’m sure that’s what Shuna is hip to, sharing her love for cooking so that her attendees walk away with inspiration. And hopefully the ability to make short bread.
Xo Xo
Chef Shuna’s Contact info:

2 thoughts on “Meathenge attends #2 in a series of baking/cooking/skill classes taught by Chef Shuna

  1. Wow, you are a wonderful photographer! I think food photography is one of the most difficult photo genre, and you do an amazing job at it! I like your pictures of The Chef here too – nice contrast and awareness of colors. Looks great!!!!
    Just out of curiosity – are you a scientist-doctor with a passion for food photography too? I noticed your Dr. Biggles signature as well as mentions of the Lab. If so, I’m one too! I’ve always said that one should never trust a bench scientist who can’t cook, since the processes in the kitchen are identical to the processes in the lab!!

  2. Hey Alice,
    Good to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words.
    Sorry to let you down, but I am not a scientist, nor a doctor. Unless we’re playing doctor, but that’s another story.
    Ya know, taking those pictures in Shuna’s kitchen were some of the toughest conditions I’ve run across yet. Considering what the originals looked like, that’s nearly worth a post in itself. I didn’t have my big flash gun and didn’t want to use the lame onboard flash. I had to go from 200 asa to 400, chancing the grainyness. Then knock of maybe 4 shots of one situation hoping one would be in focus (trying to hold the camera still). I attempted setting my white balance off her jacket, but that didn’t work. I’d left my 18% grey card at home. I also attempted using my spot meter to read the light I was looking for, but that didn’t work to my satisfaction. So it was matrix metering and holding the camera steady. And that, was that.