Artisan baking – the inside story

It was a depleted Baking Group today, a mere shadow of its normal self, as many of the group are in India. There has been a distinct lack of contact from any of them, which leads me to believe that they are probably enjoying themselves far too much. We certainly did.

Everything went fine until the bit where we left the dough to “double in size”. It didn’t. In fact it was hard pressed to show any sort of interest in rising at all. That was probably a fault of the room temperature. It had been below freezing last night and wasn’t much better this morning. That in turn, was a fault in me, because I hadn’t anticipated the temperature.

As a result, the flour was cold and the air was cold. Even I was cold and I’m insulated like a walrus. With hindsight I should have warmed the flour. I should also have turned up an hour earlier and warmed the room. I don’t suppose our Indian contingent are having these problems.

The proving did not go well, with only one out of four rising properly (there’s always one, isn’t there?) Even after standing the bowls in the door of the oven, the extra heat only warmed the top if the dough, the underside remained determinedly cold. The three of us with underdeveloped dough decided, after two pots of tea and a patient wait, that it was time to proceed regardless of the rising. Things actually turned out quite well despite this.

We managed one plait, one fougasse, a flat bread and a boule, using rosemary from the garden. I use those names to add credibility to what we produced, and provide a clue as to what they were meant to be. They all managed a second rise in the oven, producing slightly larger than life varieties of what had been intended.  That’s the beauty of hand made bread, it never turns out badly, it’s just “artisan baking”. If it had been a bit rougher round the edges it would have been “rustic”.

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Fougasse and boule

OK, to be honest, the plait was a bit rustic, as it pulled in rising and produced stretch marks where the pattern crossed. I’m going to have to do better before the next class.

I’m not sure about the other bread because I’ve only cut into mine but I’d say that it looks more dense towards the bottom so there’s a lack of kneading as well as a lack of proving going on. Having said that, the dough felt good and produced good windows when stretched. It also tastes good, which is really what home baking is about.

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Plait, complete with stretch marks

Final verdict – has its faults, bit rough round the edges but great taste. Bit like me really.

 

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