Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"How can a nation be great..."

"...if it's bread tastes like Kleenex?" - Julia Child

I do so enjoy a Julia Child quote... :)

Kouign-Amann (pronounced roughly kwin-ammon) is to die for. It is everything that's wonderful (and terrible) in a dessert. It's got pastry, it's got butter, and it's got sugar. Lots of butter, and lots of sugar. It's delicious, but it's sooo caloric! Oof! Small bites! Anyway, it comes from the Breton people of France, and it is more or less a croissant with sugar, baked in a cake form. To make it, we made a soft dough which we rolled out into a long rectangle. We then spread softened butter over 2/3 of the dough and sprinkled approximately 50g of white sugar over the butter. Then we folded the bare third of the dough over onto the sugared part, and folded the other exposed third over that. Let this chill, then roll out into a rectangle, sprinkle with another 50g of sugar, tri-fold and chill. Roll out into a large square, spread another 50g of sugar over the whole surface, fold the corners into the middle like an envelope, and repeat folding. Then flip this into your cake pan and bake. Halfway thru baking, remove from the often, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more sugar before returning to the oven. Yum. Just, yum.

Kouign-Amann - look at those layers! :)
With an Italian bread dough we made a "demi loaf." Apparently a regular loaf is twice the size...? *shrug* There are specific rules for how many slits you make on the top of a specific kind of bread. Baguettes have 5 slits, demis have 2. I made baguettes for the first time today. I think my dough was a little soft, because it seemed especially difficult to get the long skinny shape. With a portion of the dough (French bread) we made a sun loaf, which was just a big round disc of dough that we let rise, and then depressed the middle and cut lines around the outside which we twisted to make the sun's rays. Fun :) We also used the French bread dough to make épis (corn cobs?). It starts out like a baguette, but instead of slitting the tops after proofing, we made deep cuts and flipped the points to either side.

Demi loaf

Sun loaf
Épis and baguette
We also practiced croissants again, and this time we could make either almond croissants (a dollop of almond cream inside before rolling up, then a little more cream on top and rolled in slivered almonds before proofing/baking, finished with a dusting of powdered sugar after baking) or fruit croissants (a thin line of jam/pie filling inside before rolling up, and then a drizzle of fondant on top after baking). I chose to make regular (to practice) and almond croissants, because my cousin mentioned that she loved almond croissants. :)

Almond croissants
For the onion & cheese loaf, we started it like a baguette but a bit bigger. After proofing, we cut one long slit down the middle and filled it with onion slices and shredded cheese before baking. Another day we made baguettes, wreaths (which we cut the same way we did the épis), and hats. They are pretty silly looking, but it was kind of fun to make. We just took a big ball of dough and flattened out one side, then poked a hole into the middle of the fat part. We rolled a smaller ball of dough in poppy seeds and dropped that in the hole. After proofing, we flattened down the beak of the hat (leaving the very end puffy) and made small cuts around the outside to help it rise upwards.

Onion & cheese loaf

Baguette, wreath, hat
 We made a loaf called, I believe, fleur de campagne. But I didn't write it down and can find no evidence to prove it. This one also starts as a baguette, but before proofing, we made three holes along the top, and two shallow slices along both sides of the holes. Then we stretched out and squished up the holes together in the middle to give it a sort of flour shape. After proofing, we dusted with flour and baked.

Fleur de campagne
We made saucipain (red wine, sausage, pistachios), which was absolutely disgusting, in my humble opinion! I don't like wine, and I don't like nuts in my food, so... The recipe made a very tiny loaf and it was hard to work in the sausage and nuts

Saucipain (photo courtesy of Kelly)
 We made other types of breads and shaped loaves, but I didn't take the time to photograph them, or write down their names. So, below is my last photo taken on my last day of the 2013-2014 school year! The last exam we did was brioches et pains briochés. I was absolutely convinced that croissants were a part of this exam, but apparently it will be one of the first exams we do upon returning in the fall. For this exam, all we had to make were salad rolls and brioches à tête. My salad rolls, as you can see, were as near perfection as could be. The brioches are a bit darker than I, personally, would have liked them to be. But the buns themselves are the best shape I have made to date. Normally the heads all fall over, but these all stayed very proudly on top. :)

So, the school year is finished now for the summer. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm very glad for the break... But on the other hand, it seems silly to take 3 months off, when we only have about 3 months left to finish. A two week break would have sufficed? *sigh* If we were to continue the course through the summer, I think we would be finished by the end of September. It makes more sense to me. But, I'm not the one in charge. So... instead, I face the decision of whether or not to a) look for a full-time summer job that may or may not continue as part-time when school starts, b) look for any full- or part-time summer work I can find, or c) just enjoy my last free summer and work on some personal projects, and hope for a few baking jobs on the side to have a bit of income.

Brioches et pains briochés - exam

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