After a relaxing three day weekend, I was ready to get back to school and into the kitchen. Today was particularly exciting because it was our first full day in the kitchen, during which we would be producing products. Even more exciting was that our dough preparation was to be done by hand, no dough hooks or mixers!
First we prepped a single batch of lean dough. Lean dough is comprised of the four basic elements of bread: flour, yeast, water and salt. Lean doughs also have little or no fat content. I don’t have any photos of these steps, as we were all elbow deep in sticky dough. We then prepped an additional half a batch of lean dough that will be used tomorrow as a pâte fermentée . Pâte Fermentée is a batch of dough that is prepped ahead of time and allowed to ferment. The long fermentation is beneficial for developing and enhancing bread flavors.
After fermenting and folding the dough, we sectioned it into the proper weights for each loaf. Baguettes were sectioned into 12 oz, portions while the boules and bâtards were sectioned into 1 lb portions. We roughly shaped them, bench rested them, and then did the final shaping of the dough. Our chef instructor showed us a great clip of Julia Child forming baguettes which was informative, and even more entertaining!
Our baguettes and bâtards were proofed while resting on a couche, which help in forming the distinctive crust of these types of breads. The boules fermented in a lightly floured banneton. Bannetons help provide structure for the bread and are used most often for sourdoughs. They should be lightly dusted with rice flour which will become cakey in the humid proofing environment.
We learned how to properly transfer the baguettes from the coucher to the loader of the large deck oven. With the coucher in the left hand, lift it up gently to slide the baguette onto the board. Then roll the baguette off the board onto the loader, seam side down.
I’ve always scored my bread for the sake of appearance. But, these cuts do more than just make a pretty bread. They allow the bread to expand quickly when they are exposed to the high heat of the oven. Steam in the oven keeps the surface of the bread moist and prevents a crust from forming too quickly.
We then evaluated the bread, specifically looking at shape, expansion, density, crust, and smell. We also were allowed to take a a loaf home. At the suggestion of the Chef Instructor, I stopped by Dean & Deluca to pick up some meat and cheese to enjoy with the bread. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to dinner!