Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Live, Eat, Sleep: Bread

The first week back at school we were in the boulangerie making bread like it was going out of fashion. We made bagettes, ciabattas, sour doughs, brioche, rye doughs and many many more. My kitchen at home looked like the beginings of a small bakery and I have to hand it to my housemates who managed to work their way through a respectable quantity of bread, whilst successfully avoiding a carb induced coma. Kudos indeed.

Bread making is really wonderful. As the Chef highlighted, even if homemade bread isnt quite as perfect or pristine as shop bought, nothing quite beats making it yourself. Not only is it satisfying, but it can be quite theraputic too. Anyone who hasnt tried making bread at home should really give it a go, even if its using one of those handy ready to go bread mixes. Just make sure you knead it well.

The first time we made bread in school the recipes were quite simple, and we did all the work by hand. This time, the recipes are more professional and its been great to learn a bit about some of the science behind them. Bread making really is a precise art and the recipes and methods need to be altered depending on the conditions of the flour, the humidity and temperature. Basically to be a great baker you really need to know your stuff and have years of practise under your belt in order to gain the type of instinct and knowledge you can't teach. For now, we are just honing our shaping techniques and learning as we go.

Here's a few snaps to break up the waffle

The other thing we practised a fair amount last week was brioche. Brioche is one of our portfolio dishes that, ultimately, we have to make in our final exam. I will explain the portfolio in a different post but basically, perfecting the brioche is pretty important. The feedback so far this term has been so much more detailed than before and it is really useful to hear. We have a group feedback session so the Chef can show us the higher scoring products, as well as those that show classic mistakes. I am fairly pleased with my brioche overall, the main thing I need to work on is careful handling post prooving/ during egg wash. 

One of the more exciting loaves we worked on this week is the pain surprise. The basic concept is to take a loaf, remove the middle dough in one piece, cut it into sandwiches and put it back, hidden, inside the crust - hense the surprise. To make ours, we started by shaping our dough into what the chef claimed was a hedgehog. However, when you see the critter I'm sure you will probably take the more popular view that it looks more like turtle. When we had made and baked our doughy monster, we removed the top 'shell', made an incision between his legs, removed the middle (not an easy task), sliced it up, made layers of sandwiches, popped them back in, put the lid on top and viola - pain surprise!

So far, as you can probably tell, superior is great. Its satisfying to see the skills we have learnt over the past 6 months coming together and I'm really enjoying the new schedule. We finished off our bread module by polishing off the chefs sandwiches along with a class of Kir. So dispite our new busy schedules, there is always time for a cheeky 11am cocktail to kickstart the day.

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