BP: Week 3 – Breads

To be honest, I wasn’t actually looking forward to bread week. But this is mainly because Chef Gert told the class that he thought it will be boring (though I’m sure he didn’t mean that literally, he was just talking about the things we basic patisserie students will be learning that week). I actually reckon bread is an interesting subject, especially when you make it by hand. I can only imagine the bread artisans lovingly kneading the dough and making each bread an individual entity differing greatly with each bread he makes and especially differing from other artisan’s artwork.

Chef\'s Gert\'s Bread

Chef Gert’s white loaves

On the first day, you can see it in Chef Michael’s eyes that he loves bread. Apparantly, he initially didn’t want to get his hands dirty but ended up demonstrating anyway (it wasn’t necessary) with Am’s batch of flour in our practical class ^^ (she ended up having a lot of free time because she didn’t need to knead anymore like everyone else in class). I like Chef Michael. You can actually feel his passion to teach and he tries hard to impart his knowledge to everyone in the class. Bread making used to be hard work; can you imagine kneading 5kg of dough? How about 20kg in a morning? All by hand. It makes you respect true artisans who take pride in their work, and who constantly strives to create and improve. However, I feel that machines now play too much of a role in the bread making industry and this greatly takes away the 1 ingredient that truly makes a bread legendary: baker’s love. Haha, wow I just made that up. ^^

I felt I did a great job this week especially with the kneading, my dough, etc. I voluntereed in our first demo class and kneading bread dough for the first time was really tough work (it was warm and I was sweating) and I eventually formed my own technique on kneading the dough (one of the main reasons why I volunteered: to get a head start in learning to knead properly). I’ve always liked Chef Gert anyway, so it was good to learn as well as do my thing beside him in the demo kitchen. ^^

Our breads!

Mine are the bottom left 3, the odd-shaped braided bread, the brownier coloured bread with seashell motive, and the really huge poppy seed topped bread

Back to the first day practical, I realised that Chef Michael prefers a slightly moist dough from Chef Gert’s (another good information learnt from volunteering). Oh, a good story! I followed Chef Gert’s habit of mixing the yeast with water first and then got distracted by Chef Michael’s demonstration in class. It was after his demo that I realised I’ve forgotten to check the temperature of my water. I then quickly went back to the sink and got the right temperature water before realising that I’ve forgotten to take into account the cold water mixed with the yeast and it’s amount. >< So I decided to just redo the water but this time a few degrees higher than needed to compensate the cold water with the yeast and I’ll just figure out the amount of water needed by feel. Wow, and after constantly kneading and adding a little water at a time till I felt that the consistency was good, I asked Chef Michael and he said that it was perfect! ^^ Who doesn’t love compliments eh. However I had some doubt as like I said earlier the consistency was a little more moist when compared to Chef Gert’s so I asked him about it again and he said no, it was good and then he decided to just take my dough away from me and chucked it into the mixer to demonstrate to the class how fast it could be done with a machine. To be honest, I would prefer to finish it up by hand but ah well, thanks to Chef’s enthusiasm my workload for the day was lighter. ^^  Oh and after kneading, I checked my dough’s temperature: a perfect 27 degrees. ^^ Pretty amazed at myself (and lucky) there.

Chef Gert\'s dinner rolls

Chef Gert’s dinner rolls

As I was travelling home, the smell of the bread was so good it was all around me as I was carrying the container partly opened with my bread inside. An elderly even complimented me on the nice smell of the bread. ^^ Happy.

The second day was pretty disappointing for me. We had to make crusty and soft dinner rolls and I felt that the crusty ones doesn’t really taste good. It was ok when it was still crusty fresh from the oven but once it has lost its crustiness, it became pretty bland.

My Dinner Rolls

The chefs like the flower shaped roll in the top left corner

Sun Hee\'s rolls!

I really liked Sun Hee’s rolls ^^

The soft rolls were kinda ok however. But Howard who was in charge of mixing together 5 batches of dough into the mixer (to save time, and the huge mixer needed a good amount of dough to work properly) forgot to add the butter (the butter!!). >< So my soft rolls were disappointing as well (it was still good) and I’m definitely sure that the butter would’ve made it much better tasting.

Chef Herve as usual was pushing us hard on the second day. He even wanted everyone to just mass produce circular breads instead of taking the time to make nice patterns or shapes (and using both hands to roll 2 doughs at the same time instead of just 1!). He’s a very practical chef though, and learning from him can sometimes dash your dreams away as you realise how difficult it is as a pastry chef in the real world where the profit margin is really small. Time wasted on useless decorations is profit lost. I’ve always known that it’s not easy in the culinary world, but I’m sure that there are many like me who just honestly want to make nice pastries or food rather than mass produce them without much care into our work. But who would hire a pastry chef who could only make 10 good looking dinner rolls a night?

We did wholemeal and Pepita (seed) bread on the third day. Oh my god, I was so very much frustrated today. I reckon that I’ve whinged so much that I dread writing about it now. It was amusing for me in the morning though as I was up earlier than usual (actually I haven’t slept yet for the day) and I bumped into 6 or more classmates in the bus on the way to school (amusing cause I usually travel alone and I never bump into anyone on the way to school from Wollongong). I was too tired anyway and tried to catch a few winks on the train as well as on the bus before the demonstration. Third days are always the most tiring for me as I’m at my most sleep-deprived-state.

Gert\'s Croc

Chef Gert’s crocodile and wholemeal breads

Demonstration was pretty hard for me as I was constantly trying to catch a few winks here and there. Chef Gert evetually allowed us to have a 5-minute break and I quickly bought myself a bottle of V (energy drink). Julie, a classmate of mine from China accidentally bought an espresso without sugar (I think she didn’t really know what an espresso actually was) from the coffee vending machine and since she didn’t really liked it, she gave the rest to me, which I happily accepted. I think I’ll get shots of espressos next time as it’s cheaper than a bottle of V.

During practicals, I shared the same dough (for the wholemeal bread) as the same 4 people I shared the dough with the day before. To be honest, I don’t like sharing. It’s not that I’m selfish (I can be at times) but it is more of a personal matter (I definitely don’t mind sharing with 2 others, but not 4). I would prefer to do my own thing, measure my own ingredients, basically do everything my way. That way, if the product turns out good, I’ll be proud of it and if otherwise, I would learn easily from my mistakes. Take the soft rolls the day before for example, when Howard the overzealous Chinese forgot to add the butter into the dough. That kinda pisses me off because I wasn’t happy at all on the second day as all the bread I’ve made turned out to be rather bland (even Chef Gert agrees with the blandness of the crusty rolls) and if the butter was added into the soft rolls’ dough, it would’ve tasted better and I would’ve been happier as well. So, maybe with that same biased reason, I did not like the wholemeal bread that I’ve made today. Regardless of whether or not it looks or tastes good, I’m still not proud of it.

My wholemeal

My wholemeal bread

When I was making the pepita bread, things started to take a turn for the worse. I followed the instructions too closely. I knew I should never follow the instructions word for word in the book. I ended up having trouble kneading the eggs into the already kneaded dough. It just causes me to do more work than necessary. I also realised that 1 egg yolk was more than enough, but I used 2 instead. The worst was myself kneading and kneading away at the dough. The consistency remained the same no matter how many times I’ve kneaded. I’ve tried adding more water, I’ve tried adding more flour, I’ve pretty much tried everything including kneading more and I was getting so pissy and irritated as well from all that kneading and no results. Good thing we had Chef Luigi today because he was pretty much of no help with my dough. He doesn’t seem to know whats wrong, nor does he seem to really care. In the end he merely told me that it was actually already good enough and I can start to let it sit. … God, that was so weak of him… . I desperately wanted to start it all over again but I’ve already decided from week 1 to always try to go ahead with my mistakes and not redo it because mistakes are a very good way to learn especially when you have no experience.

After glade-wrapping it and letting my @#&*!# dough sit on the stove, I started to clean my workbench and guess what I found: a ^�@@*# container of salt. @&*#(&*(@# SALT! *speechless*

On the bright side, I somehow felt a little better because at least I know now why the @#*&) thing ‘might’ not have developed regardless of my kneading. I’m still not sure about it though, I’ll prolly go ask Chef Gert on Monday. Anyway, bread without salt tastes horribly worse than ‘bland’. After baking it and trying it, I threw it all away. I must make a mental note to always taste everything (like my dough) more often just like Chef Herve (habit of his which I noticed).

Bread that went wrong

An example of not-so-good-looking breads (not mine)

At the end of the week, I felt very much unsatisfied as I have learnt a lot more about bread and not much chance to use my knowledge. Surprisingly I’ve learnt the most about bread from Chef Luigi’s class but it’s not because of what he had thought me. I’ve been asking him a lot of questions about bread and while talking with him, I’ve gotten him to talk more on bread than necessary as we’re merely basic patisserie students. I’ve found out more about the main components of bread, the baker’s formula, substitutions, taste, texture, salt, formulas for water temperature etc. Bread is definitely a very interesting subject as well as a personal one. I’m sure that each chef has a different take on bread, a different style, formula on making the perfect bread.

As bad as this week has been, it has only made me more determined to produce better results. I’m also definitely going to start changing the recipes given if needed.


~ by limmyfox on May 18, 2008.

4 Responses to “BP: Week 3 – Breads”

  1. Your bread week made me feel so happy when i was reading….hahaha……

  2. wahrao, now u can bake?! *impressed*

    good luck with the bread baking next time! (since u didn’t feel that this week went well!)

  3. Haha I KNOW! I can bake !!! Lol. ^^ *happy*

  4. hey. :)

    happy for u.

    can’t u just email ur entries to me (since ive no internet)? -__-

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