Intl Breads 6: Fougasse and Herb Bread

2007-12-12

Herbed Farm BreadFor this last week of class, we started by making the farm dough. We used another levain that we prepared last week and which I had been maintaining in the fridge at home. During the final minute of kneading, we added an herb paste which coloured and flavoured the dough. A bit of whole wheat flour made this bread slightly denser, so we used slightly warmer water, and a bit more starter dough to ensure the bread would have a good rise. We shaped our loaves into batards, gave them an oil wash, slashed them deeply, then followed with a sprinkle of coarse salt. This was a very tasty loaf which my tasters devoured very quickly.

FougasseOur other bread of the evening was all about shaping, rather than the ingredients (which consisted of the bare minimum of yeast, flour, salt and water). After patting the rested dough into a rectangle, we cut it into triangles (as for croissant dough), then rolled them thin. Using a pizza cutter, knife or razor, we slashed the dough right through lengthwise, then added smaller cuts on an angle. This gave the flatbread a leaf or wheat sheaf pattern. Unfortunately, the baked bread got hard quite quickly. Bread, especially flatbread, really only lasts for a day.

So, that's the end of this course. Chef remarked that she pushed for a 10-week syllabus but the powers that be felt she wanted to include too many flatbreads. I was quite pleased with the variety of the breads. I've come to accept that George Brown will never teach about artisan baking or talk about food chemistry in the way that a lot of the newer home cookbooks do. For me, the classes are more about meeting people who enjoy baking, practising technique and being able to bring home a lot of baked goods once a week.

This also marks my 10th Bakery Arts class, so I now have enough credits to get the diploma. I might take one more course, the one about Austrian Empire baking as it teaches strudel, something I've never done before. Or I might also switch to the Culinary side and take some of those courses. However, the campus is currently undergoing extensive renovations that will see brand new equipment, floors, benches, etc. in all of the cooking and baking labs. Maybe I'll wait until they're finished before resuming my studies.

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