Meredith circa 1982

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


That's my first loaf of real yeast bread - the first bread we started off with this past weekend was Semolina Bread. This was our introduction to the various stages of working with yeast products and making bread by hand. We learned about straight dough and indirect dough methods and mixed these first breads by hand.

Bread is a lot of fun, but we discovered there is a lot of patience required and bread baking is a very lengthy process! Chef Jeff tried to limit the amount of down time we had by staggering our recipes so that while one dough was fermenting or proofing, we were working on another bread that was at another stage in the process.

Once we were familiar with the process, we moved on to make Nicois Olive Bread and learned how to shape our dough into oblong loafs as well as rounding dough like we did on our Semolina bread.

Next we made Fougasse Provencale which has BACON in it and herbs de provence. You wouldn't believe how excited Pastry students are to get to cook and use Bacon!!!! It was strange to have that smell in our kitchen since we have never really worked with savory flavors before. This bread was really great - nice flavor and how can you go wrong with Bacon inside your bread!

Fougasse is a ladder shaped bread so we formed our dough into rectangles and then cut openings in the bread before it proofed for the last time and was put in the oven.

Saturday afternoon we made a Poolish which is the French name for a wet starter made of equal weight proportions of flour and water and a very small percentage of yeast. We left our Poolish to work overnight and came back to triple the amount we left on Saturday evening.

We used this particular Poolish to make Baguettes. Baguettes take even more time to make than the other breads we made and are very difficult to work with. True French baguettes only contain yeast, flour, water, and salt and only have a shelf life of 6 hours. In a strict French bakery, they would deem baguettes older than 6 hours not-saleable and would pull them from their shelves at the 6 hour mark.

The hardest part about making Baguettes is shaping them into those long rods. It is a tough technique and Chef warned us ahead of time it was difficult and could be frustrating so we knew we were in for an experience! We each had to make 4 baguettes and you can see that they kinda have the correct shape, but not quite!

The one on the very bottom is the first one I rolled - doesn't it look like a snake! : )

Despite their appearance, these baguettes were delicious! Roger and I had French Bread pizzas for dinner Sunday night (because we were overwhelmed with Bread products!) and it was really, really good!

One of the breads we made during our baguette downtime was called Anadama bread and was a strange mixture of flour, cornmeal, salt and molasses (and a few other ingredients) - I wasn't really a fan of this bread but we made this recipe because it only had to proof one time and was made in loaf pans which we had not used before.

It was a very dense bread that had a slight corn flavor too it - but also had a yeast element. The story behind the recipe is that a long time ago, a man came home from working and his wife had not prepared dinner the way she normally did and was not at home. Her name was Ana and supposedly he exclaimed "Ana Damn" and then looked in the cupboards to see what he could scrounge together to eat. He mixed these ingredients together, threw it into the oven and Anadama bread was created.

This next bread was by far my favorite! Chocolate Hazelnut Bread!!!! It had both milk & semisweet chocolate in it and was fantastic!!!! I could see myself making this one again - it was that good.

Here is a picture of all the breads we baked on Sunday.

And last but not least are Bread sticks - we made a Rosemary bread stick that was very tasty. These were relatively quick to make and had a crunchy texture to them - not a big, doughy bread stick like you would have at an Italian restaurant.

And that was weekend 1 of Bread!

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