Saturday, May 31, 2008


I'm in the Intro to Baking class, and I had some nice pictures, so I figured I would give an update on my schooling.

When it comes to bread, there are lean doughs and rich doughs. Lean dough is low in fat and sugar. The bread is crisp and crusty. The perfect example of this is French Baguettes.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to bread. Baking is an art that has stayed so constant for a very long time. These baguettes have four ingredients: bread flour, water, salt and yeast. What makes them so distinctive is how they are formed.

True baguettes can only be made by hand. You scale the ingredients, mix them by hand, hydrate (hydrating is resting the dough so the water and flour come together), knead, ferment, punch and fold, ferment again, scale and pre-shape, bench, final shape, proof, score, and finish by baking.
Now, I could make this bread at home, doing all the shaping, and I could bake it in a regular oven, but the crust would not be as attractive. What makes French bread so distinctive is that there is steam in the oven when it is baked.
There is nothing better than a perfect baguette; crispy, lean, and flavorful. I believe that French bread has the perfect balance of crust and crumb.

The first week of class I made baguettes four times to practice the method. I think I will probably make them a few more times in the last week of class because for the final exam we have to make baguettes.

We also made pita bread, which was a lot of fun. They are baked for just a few minutes; until they blow up in the oven.

We made some white bread dough, and we had to form hamburger and hot dog buns. The pre-shapes were rounds and squares.

When it comes to baking, shaping is one of the most important parts.

Gluten (the starches in bread) is a very complex thing, and there is a lot left to chance in baking (or the yeast) and it is important to know how these things work.

When I'm baking bread, I really feel like I am doing what medieval bakers of Europe were doing, It's a lot of fun.

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