Brioche, beautifully braided, tender, buttery bread.
Of all the baking there is to learn about and to execute, I think bread baking is one of the hardest to master. In general, baking is more precise, having to weigh or measure all ingredients out seems tedious to those who prefer say culinary, where you have free reign to play around with the components of a recipe. All ingredients in a baking recipe serve its purpose, especially with breads. It involves a lot more science and math than most people like to handle; you can’t just throw all your ingredients in a pot and call it a day. If the water isn’t at the right temperature the yeast won’t activate, if you don’t knead the dough enough the gluten won’t develop. There’s fermentation – process where yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide – and proofing – time given to shaped yeast breads to allow to rise before baking – and a whole lot of waiting time in between.
I can see now why bread bakers work from the wee hours of the morning, there’s a lot of work and time involved! In class we only made a few loaves of each type of bread, so I can only imagine what it would be like for mass production. I’m sure they have equipment that makes it easier, but nothing beats the power of your own two hands (which get really tired!). Some breads you only have to ferment for an hour or two while others you have to ferment for days. For me, the whole process is really interesting. It’s crazy how much the bread dough doubles or triples in size!
It’s necessary to learn the science behind it all to facilitate things; actually reading through my textbook and learning why this step is necessary or what the next move is, is important. That’s one of the reasons I decided to join culinary school in the first place, so that I expand my mind and know why things have to be baked a certain way. In this way it’ll make it easier to develop my own recipes, when I know the reasons behind the ingredients and methods.
The most soothing part of the whole bread bakin’ ordeal is the kneading and forming time. When you get to punch down the dough and hit it with your hands, massaging it over the table. It is therapeutic in the way that beating hard, cold pie dough fresh out of the fridge with your rolling pin is! And the most fun is right before you put your breads in the oven, when you get to sprinkle it with any toppings you want like garlic, cheese or a simple egg wash.
A few days late, but I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day. I spent mine at school, where we had a feast and some red velvet cake. Afterwards I came home to eat the box of chocolates I received from my sister and enjoyed the breads I baked. Joy. I’m going to gain a lot of weight this month.
Love & Sweets,