Bread. Lots of it. I’ve always loved bread. And luckily I’ve always had the metabolism to allow me to eat a bunch of it without it really showing. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m seriously sick of bread. Seriously.
The past two weeks of culinary school have been nothing but bread. Whole wheat bread. Potato rosemary bread. Pitas. Pane pugliese. Ciabatta. Focaccia. Pain au Levain. Sourdough. Rye bread. Pane di como. Pizza. Etc. Etc. Etc. We’ve got more bread than we know what to do with. It freezes well, thank god, but we have a tiny freezer. It’s jam packed right now.
But wait, there’s more! We’ve got baguettes, bread sticks, olive rolls, whole wheat rolls, butterbraids, pretzels, bagels and other items that I just can’t remember at the moment.
The good news is that I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot about making bread. I’ve been making my own pizza dough, pitas, tortillas and sandwich bread for quite sometime, but I’ve never had anybody show me the right way to do it, and the internet is crammed full of people telling you the wrong way to do things (not that they do this on purpose, they just don’t know any better). For example, you don’t actually “punch” your dough down. You fold it; three times actually. And recipes that tell you to “rest for 20 minutes” really aren’t guiding you in the right direction because for them it might take 20 minutes, but your kitchen might be cooler so it could take 30 minutes. And technically resting is what happens after you punch down, portion and round your dough (and you only want to rest for 10 minutes). The resting that takes place once you’ve formed your bread is called proofing.
So it’s been a wonderful learning experience. It’s also been an eye opener for me, in regards to seeing just how much you can accomplish in a small amount of time. The other night I mixed, fermented, folded, portioned, rounded, rested, formed, proofed and baked two breads, formed, proofed and baked another loaf, made three different pre-ferments (yeast starters) for bread to be made the following day, scaled out ingredients and had my dishes and work bench clean all within three hours. I was really quite tired afterward. =) But it’s great to be pressed to the limit sometimes so you can see what you are capable of. But now I’d like a vacation. I very long one. Full of mai tais and sun tan lotion.
I’m not going to write out recipes for all these breads but if you’d like one of them or need info on how the process works please feel free to email me. AND… I just might get the chance to bake something at home next week, so there’s possibly another blog post in the immediate future. =)
Until then, have a great weekend! And enjoy the sun, if your city is so kind to give you any (Portland’s being a little stingy with it… still).