Thursday, October 12, 2006

The 12 Steps of Bread Baking

  1. scaling (ingredients)
  2. mixing (kneading)
  3. fermentation (rising)
  4. punching
  5. scaling dough (dividing)
  6. rounding
  7. benching
  8. makeup and panning
  9. proofing
  10. baking
  11. cooling
  12. storing (or eating, if you are like me)

This is when you realize baking really is magic - when you see something like flour, water and salt turn into delicious bread. I didn't have my camera that night, so no pictures unfortunately, but we made this in my class with Chef Foran two weeks ago (at Grossmont's culinary program.) I just love his class, he's such a good teacher and a lot of fun. I lost the dough hook to my mixer at home, but I ordered a replacement and as soon as it gets here, I am whipping up a batch of this at home! Leftovers freeze very nicely - just wrap them well before putting them in a heavy plastic bag, and cut pieces into portions so you can only defrost what you need. To defrost, either put slices directly into a toaster or warm in an oven at 300 degrees for ten minutes or so.

Baguettes - Makes 5

2 pounds 12 oz bread flour
1/2 oz yeast
26 oz water @ 105 degrees
1 oz kosher salt

Put bread flour and yeast in bowl of standing mixer, fitted with dough hook. Add water and salt all at once. Mix until the dough comes together, and continue to mix for about five minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a board or table, and knead by hand until it is smooth and elastic enough that a small ball can be stretched paper thin without tearing (the window test).

Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and tuck the edges under - pulling the top taut and smooth. Cover with plastic and allow to rise to double volume (about 45 minutes)

Turn the dough out onto the table or board and punch down thoroughly to expel air. With a dough cutter, divide the dough into five equal pieces. Allow to rest approximately ten minutes, and shape each piece into a long snakelike form, rolling it back and forth between your hands. If desired, form pointed ends on the loaves by rolling them between your fingers. Place the dough on a baguette pan (long ridged perforated pan - they have them at Great News) and place in a warm moist place to proof (rise) until it is the appropriate size for baking. Slash each loaf diagonally with a razor and sprinkle with flour for a rustic look.

Preheat the oven to 425 or 450 depending on how hot your oven burns ( the bread should start to brown fairly quickly, if it doesn't turn the oven up a notch or two.)

Place a couple of handfuls of ice in a rimmed sheet pan, and place in the bottom of the oven. Slide the baguette pan into the top of the oven and bake the loaves until they start to brown. Rotate the pan, and continue baking until the loaves are an even deep golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a rack to cool.

Devour immediately, or to store in the freezer - wrap each piece in foil or paper and place in a plastic freezer bag.

Sweet dough recipe, appropriate for cinnamon rolls, yeast rolls or challah bread - coming soon!

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