Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Great Bread Classes

I spent yesterday evening at the Artisan bread class taught by staffers from King Arthur Flour. It's a terrific two hour class on how to make terrific bread. There's a pretty good amount of information on what happens to bread chemically at the various stages the process, but the best part of the class is being able to watch a bread pro work with ingredients and form different loaves. The dough they use is a very wet dough (66% water by weight) using about 30% pre-ferment, poolish in this case. The large amount of pre-ferment gives the bread terrific flavor since the yeast has had lots of time to extract the utmost flavor from the flour. (Flavor comes from flour, NOT from yeast!) Wet dough makes for a lovely, springy loaf with all those wonderful holes in it. Such a wet dough requires care, patience, and a bit of a knack when trying to work it. I've always had problems with wet doughs degassing when trying to move them around, leaving a flat, unappetizing, miserable hockey puck of a loaf. Pain a l'Ancienne in Peter Reinhard's _The Bread Baker's Apprentice_ is the first really wet dough I've had success with. It's been the standard here since last fall when I got re-energized to start making good bread again. Last night's class motivated me to experiment with KA's recipe, but perhaps the best thing I learned was how to form batards, the thicker "torpedo" loaf. I've been so stuck on the simple baguettes and cibattas from Reinhard's book that I've ignored boules and batards, not to mention epeés (beautiful sheaves of wheat). I plan to rectify that very soon, perhaps even before we head off for vacation next week! I'll try to pass on some details, perhaps even a photo or two. The King Arthur staff travels around the nation presenting the Artisan and companion Sweet Bread classes. Check here for a schedule. On a final note, I managed AGAIN to not win any door prizes at an event. My life is sooo horrible.

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