Today I spent a day in Basic Bread Baking at Brettschneider's Baking & Cooking School. It's Part One of a three-instalment Christmas gift from my boss, Caspar. Aren't I lucky?
The fun foundation class is thought by Dean Brettschneider himself. Today we learnt the technique of hand-kneading the dough. Using the same basic white bread dough, we were able to create two breads of very different texture:
- White Bread loaf that is well-risen, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. The crumbs are small and evenly distributed;
- Fougasse that is more of a flatbread with larger, uneven crumbs.
We also made focaccia but mine is hanging its head in shame. :)
My take-away from today's workshop:
(1) If the dough feels very wet and sticky at the beginning, it is normal. Don't immediately add flour to make it easier to handle. The ingredients take time to mingle, make friends, and work magic together.
(2) Kneading is essential for a well-risen airy loaf.
(3) The secret of easy and effective kneading by hand is to rest for 30-45 seconds several times during the kneading process. This allows the elastic flour protein to relax a little before further kneading.
(3) For a fluffy loaf with a fine crumb (or 'holes'), the dough is given a "knock-back" in between proofing to expel the gas.
(4) For Fougasse the dough doesn't require knocking back, allowing gas to be trapped, thus creating the porous interior perfect for dipping into soup or soaking up gravy.
(5) Bake loaves (in a tin) on the lowest possible rack of the oven.
(6) Fougasse needs to be baked on the highest rack of the oven.
(7) Baking your bread in a steam oven gelatinizes starch on the outside layer of the dough, producing a bread with a crisp and evenly browned crust.
(8) Baking your bread on a pre-heated pizza stone gives the dough a strong shock of initial heat, puffing up the crust.
I am very much looking forward to attending the Advanced Bread Baking One - 2 day Intensive.