Bread week: baguettes, bagels, and boules, oh my!

 

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My first “lean” loaf of bread! A lean loaf is a very basic bread recipe. Bread week began last week, and continues this week. Lots to learn about yeast!

“Bread week” started last week and continues this week – that means two weeks of all flour and yeast all the time! I love it all.

These posts are becoming harder to know where to start, I have so much to say about each day of the week. Each bread day has been a longer day than in previous weeks too, covering a lot material.

Bread week is also literally more filling too – with samples of each bread! Good thing kneading all the dough by hand takes some real effort. No need to bring carbs for lunch or eat carbs in general, for that matter. My lunches have consisted of fruit and vegetables each day, knowing we will be sampling.

Once again, we donate almost all of the bread to food runners (a Food Bank program), and take up to a quarter of what we make home if we want/can. I can’t eat that much so I often take less than that home.

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Here are some soft rolls, we learned different ways to tie them up. Top left, is a double knot, top right is a single knot, bottom left is a triple knot. These buns turned out so soft and tender, almost sweet in flavour too.

 

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My lean loaf close up! We are learning about scoring the loaf as well, i.e. cutting the top before it goes in the oven. It is not that simple, you have to be careful to score just the right amount (not too little and not to much) as it effects how the loaf will rise.

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We made whole wheat hamburger buns too, here they are waiting to be trayed up, shaped a final time, and then proofed before baking.

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The finished soft rolls, one of my favourites. Classic white bread.

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The inside of the bread is called the crumb.

We look at everything we bake at the end of each day, to assess the “crumb” inside and compare with other stations to see how theirs turned out. We learn if more or less kneading would have made a difference. It’s fun to see the differences and understand why, some bread has more holes and others less. To the untrained eye you may not be able to notice, but we are being trained to look for these things.

I am amazed daily. Bread week is fun – with a lot of flour! I have been making something new everyday. Things I have had before but never made, like a baguette, and some that I’ve never eaten had before, like rye beer rolls.

It has been nice to do have savory switch up, after the first few weeks full of so much sugar!

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We also made bagels! They were AMAZING! Here they are proofing in plastic bags overnight, before we finished them up to bake.

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Bagels are boiled in a malt water bath for a few seconds (see this video I took) then topped with your desired nuts or seeds, and baked.

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They turned out very well, chewy inside and crunchy crust. The best bagels I have ever eaten. 100%

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I ate this bagel. It was DAMN GOOD too. I wish I could eat it again. I guess I’ll have to make another batch! Who wants in?

But I think the highlight for me this week was that we completed our first test at the top of the week. The instructors mark very fast and we received our test the next day, I was very happy with my mark. But I studied a lot for it. I studied they way I probably should have studied in first year science, back in my SFU days – 15 years ago.

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My study display.

The test results gave me a surge of motivation and reinforced my career change decision. I am starting to feel like I was made to do this. It’s been an amazing experience so far (can I say amazing anymore times?)!

I often think about what I’ll do when this ends, but then I realize I don’t have time to think about it either. I am trying to focus on enjoying school and being creative. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be here.

We get to create our own bread recipe this week, and I love recipe development. My creative side just squeals with excitement for all the possibilities….

The big challenge for me this week has been making baguettes, and it will continue this week because we make them everyday to practice the shaping – its not that easy! By friday of last week, we’d made them three times and noticed improvements across the class. You have to shape them perfectly without over working the dough (or you get tough bread). We have this coming week to practice – practice makes perfect – and I am determined to make a perfect baguette. They start out in a shape called a batard (a football-like shape) and the shaping process takes a few steps to get it right. I don’t like batards. Darn you, baguette! I’m coming for you this week – look out!

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The kneading of baguette dough continues, my station partner and I took turns throughout the steps. We will be graded on our baguettes during the midterm practical.

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It starts out as quite a sticky dough.

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Then they are shaped and proofed before baking.

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Here is my very first baguette. Not too bad, but not perfect either. You can see it is not that uniform. I will get there!

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By day three, I was much more pleased with my baguette, and my slashing improved. Still need to make it more round. They taste really good too!

Onward to bread week part II. Wish me luck with my baguette!

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