Bread 2: Butter Crust and Baguettes

2006-01-23

I was a bit disoriented at the start of this session because we moved into a different lab and my partner was nowhere to be found, but the ingredients had all been scaled out on our bench. It turned out to be a classmate I hadn't seen since Baking Basic who had registered late for the course so we worked together.

Butter Crust BreadWe started by watching the instructor demo the dough for butter crust bread. This was a slightly enriched white bread, using egg, vegetable oil and malt. I didn't quite catch what kind of malt we were using, whether it was diastatic or not, whether it provided flavour, or if it had some other purpose. The method was a repeat of last week's: make a yeast-water slurry, dump rest of ingredients in, knead with hook, round and rest, round and shape, proofing box, bake. Chef emphasized that we were to learn these steps thoroughly, as she would not hand-hold us in the remaining weeks. Since this was our first loaf-pan bread, she demonstrated the shaping technique. We used both hands, one on top of the other, to press out most of the gas and pulled the dough into a rectangle. Then, with the short-end facing us, we folded it in three, like a letter, pressing down on the seam to seal it. After giving it a quarter-turn, we rolled it up tightly, then pinched the resulting seam. A final rolling produced the right shape to fit into the loaf pan. Before baking, we gave it a single slash with a razor, then brushed clarified butter on top for flavour.

Baguettes (1)For the baguettes, the dough contained only five ingredients: yeast, flour, water, salt and malt. The shaping technique was slightly different: with the rectangle's long edge facing us, we folded it in three, then folded it lengthwise in half, pinching the seam closed. We then rolled it on the table, tapering the ends. After placing the baguettes on a cornmeal dusted pan, we made five slashes on an angle, then egg-washed the loaves. For the final (slightly silly) touch, we threw some flour on top to give it a “rustic” look.

Baguettes (2)When the baguettes came out of the oven, our instructor let it cool for a bit while the assistant whipped together some garlic butter for us to sample and take home. There's nothing like freshly baked bread slathered with an aromatic flavouring like garlic butter, yum! I was again amazed at how fast we can produce bread in class. Granted, the baguettes tasted like plain white with uniform-sized holes, and not the irregular pockets that a sourdough or slow-rise product would have, but the fact that we can produce two different products in just over 3 hours from start to finish impresses me.

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