Epi, Pain Rustic, Fougasse, Boutone d’Or

At the conclusion of class today, our chef instructor shared anecdotes about baking over one thousand dinner rolls and hundreds of baguettes all at once in a large deck oven.  Coordinating the baking process of that volume takes expert skill and planning, and plenty of experience. At the end of yesterday I thought, “Wow! We made a ton of bread!” but today we made far more (and baked some lemon pound cake, too!). Even so, our production was just a small fraction of what is accomplished daily in many bakeries.  It’s exciting to think about how much skill we will gain and how far we will come during our training and careers!

Our day started with a lecture at 7:00 am detailing the creaming method and the shaping of epi, pain rustic, fougasse, and boutone d’Or loaves. Not much later we were settling into the kitchen and assembling our doughs.  Similar to yesterday, we made a double batch of lean dough and one batch of dough incorporating the pâte fermentée. By preparing both of these batches, we were able to compare the taste and development of dough that had a portion with overnight slow fermentation and dough without.  Not surprisingly, the dough with the  pâte fermentée was better on all levels.

We spent much of the morning letting the dough ferment and then folding the dough.  Folding the dough is often referred to as punching down the dough.  While I previously took it to mean literally punching the dough, that is not what is actually intended.   The dough should be turned out onto the counter and then folded into thirds.  Turn the dough 90° and then fold it into thirds again. Folding the dough in this way serves three purposes:

  • Evening the distribution of yeast
  • Equalizing the temperature (when removing it from the proofer, the dough closer to the surface will be warmer than the interior)
  • Strengthening gluten

In between folding the dough, we made lemon pound cake.  The pound cake came together by creaming butter and sugar, to which we alternated adding eggs and a sifted flour/cornstarch mixture.  While this was intended to illustrate the importance of creaming, I instead learned the importance of exact measurement. When the batter was complete my teammate and I began sectioning out 1lb 4 oz loaves into 5 different loaf pans.  After four loaves we were out of batter and after some double checking we realized we were an entire pound short of sugar! This shed some light on why our creaming didn’t seem airy enough and why our eggs didn’t incorporate perfectly into the emulsion.

We baked the loaves nonetheless.  They didn’t look a whole lot different than our classmates, but when it came time to taste..they were awful.

After making our “low sugar” pound cake, it was time to shape the rest of the bread.  Each team was responsible for making the following:

  • 6 Epi (12 oz each)
  • 4 Pain Rustic (16 oz each
  • 4 Fougasse (16 oz each)
  • 4 Boutone d’Or (16 oz each)
  • 11 Baguettes (14 oz each)

     Epi is a french word used to describe the flower of the wheat stalk.  Loaves of epi bread are initially shaped like a baguette.  Once placed on the loading deck, each section is cut by holding scissors at an angle and cutting close to the bottom.  A great tutorial on cutting epi is located here.

     Pain Rustic is proofed on a couche dusted generously with flour.  These proof a bit longer than the other doughs and are then roughly cut into 1lb sections. Once turned over, the flour gives the gorgeous and rustic look to the bread.  The crumb should be airy due to the added time to rise and minimal handling of the bread during shaping.

     Fougasse is not only delicious, but also very pretty! Fougasse is a French bread associated with Provence.  The fougasse was proofed while resting on a light dusting of semolina flower.  After making some depressions with our fingers, we brushed the bread with a light coating of oil.  We then made the characteristic fougasse openings using a pizza cutter.  The last touch was a sprinkle of maldon salt, although fougasse would taste great with a number of different seasonings.

     Boutone d’Or is shaped by combing a small circular 4 oz piece of dough with a larger circular 12 oz piece of dough. The end product should be a circular loaf that pulls apart into five pieces.  My loaves came out too dark with poorly defined sections.

How a boutone d’Or should look, which mine did not closely resemble.

Another highlight of the day was leaving class to find a gorgeous afternoon after a particularly dark and stormy morning! I’m still thoroughly enjoying the scenery on my drive home!

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