7 weeks down, 3 more to go. This week was all about bread. We learned about the 10 – 12 (12 if you count cooling & storing) steps of bread making, which included things like benching and punching, and I’m not talking about things you do at the gym. Bread making takes an incredible amount of patience. Something that for me, can be on short supply after a long day at work, so I went into class last week reminding myself to be ready for a long night.
We started out with some basic breads, egg bread, milk bread and focaccia. On Wednesday night we did the first few steps – scaling ingredients, mixing the dough and setting it up for fermentation which we slowed down by letting it retard in the cooler overnight. On Thursday, we took to the final steps – folding, punching, shaping, benching, panning, proofing and finally baking.
All of the dough was quite easy to work with. And we used instant yeast, so that helped too. With the egg and milk dough, I spent quite a bit of time rolling and shaping the loaves and rolls. It felt like I would never get done. The focaccia was much less high-maintenance. You don’t have to work it as much; it’s a little more forgiving because you really want those air bubbles on the inside so you can skip the punching phase.
I was actually surprised at how many things we could do with the dough we made. I thought that we were just going to have a bunch of plain old bread rolls, but that definitely was not the case. I made cinnamon roll bread, and a few different styles of knots and topped them with sesame and poppy seeds.
My favorite by far was the focaccia. I made half jalapeño cheese and half tomato basil. Second runner up was the cinnamon bread. The egg and mild bread made great toast for breakfast this weekend. I don’t see myself replicating these recipes any time soon, but they were approachable enough for the home baker that’s looking to try some bread making.
Up next week: laminated breads, also known as Danish pastry and cinnamon rolls!