Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Good bread..."

"...is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts." - James Beard

For most of the past week we've been swimming in chocolate, but there really is a lot to say about that - more than one post could hold - and the module isn't done yet. So, today's post will only be concerned with Friday.

After a very trying week, we were all glad to be in the bread module with our other teacher on Friday. And because it was Friday; and because we won't be in this module again for another week or so; and because the teacher wasn't feeling well... it was a really relaxed and fun day, just what everyone needed! :)

We started off by making a brioche dough. Brioche dough is one of the strangest things I've ever made. The first time I made it (in the summer before starting Pastry school), I was sure I must have made a mistake, or that the recipe must be wrong. You start by making a simple yeast dough, and when it's all come together in a ball... you throw in a whole lot of butter, it all gets greasy and falls apart, you're sure you've ruined it or that there is way too much butter for the recipe... and then it magically comes back together in a very soft, sticky dough. We popped that in the freezer to make sure it stayed really cold so there was no chance of the yeast starting to activate. After about 30 minutes we cut off 12 lumps of 60g each, which we then rolled into balls using a very specific method that takes a lot of practice for some people and seems to work better if you don't have to wear gloves... Six of these we shaped into brioche à tête, and the other six we formed into little rolls (I didn't write down the name so now I can't remember) which we snipped before baking, and sprinkled with coarse sugar. We also let them rise for 10 or so minutes before brushing with egg wash and baking.

Brioche à tête

Little brioche rolls

With the remaining dough, we made cinnamon brioches - yum! We rolled the dough out into a rectangle. Because there is so much butter in the dough, we just brushed water over the dough to help the brown sugar and cinnamon stick, then rolled up and sliced! We let these rise before egg washing and baking, as well.


Cinnamon brioche

We also made bagels! So exciting! I almost tried to made them last weekend when I was in a baking frenzy... But I had already made bread-y things and decided against it. So it was super exciting to get to try them this week! There is almost nothing to making bagels, it's almost disappointing. Just a firm yeast dough that we rolled into smooth balls. Then we made holes and stretched them, then let rise for about a half hour. Next you (gently) drop the raw bagels in boiling water for approx. 1 minute per side. When you take them out of the water, you can dunk them in whatever coating you like (grated cheese, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc), then egg wash and bake! I was given the ok to skip the water step because my dough was a bit softer than it should have been and time was running out, so I just went ahead to the egg wash and baking, and left mine regular. They baked flatter than expected, but oh man... Are they every good!!!

Bagels

Then, as if the day wasn't fabulous enough with all that, we made English muffins, too! English muffins are also pretty easy. A fairly firm yeast dough, let rise for 20 minutes. Then we rolled it out to 1cm thickness and cut out 9cm diameter circles which we dipped in corn meal, then let rise and baked until very lightly coloured. Cool! Such a great way to end a crappy long week. :)

English muffins

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