Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bread Baking Resources and Tools
As my “hands on” time in the professional bread kitchen concluded last Friday, and now I must adapt the techniques to my home kitchen, I thought I’d offer up a couple of resources and tools I’ve encountered in the last four weeks for anyone attempting to try artisanal breads at home.

Try and get a copy of “Bread: The Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes” by Jeffery Hamelman. This seems to be the reference book of choice among professionals and, in fact, Hamelman, a Certified Master Baker, is the director of the Bakery and Baking Education Center for King Arthur Flour. Hamelman covers every type of loaf imaginable, from yeast breads to rye sourdough, and provides measurements in U.S. and metric, as well as specific formulations for home baking and larger batches. There are beautiful photos and detailed instructions for shaping each style of bread. “Bread” is available in hardcover and was published by John Wiley & Sons in 2004.

A digital thermometer is essential to take the temperature of the dough. Many recipes show a “desired dough temperature” based on the types of ingredients in the formulation. If the temperature of the dough is higher after mixing, that means the loaf is likely to ferment more quickly and you may need to shape and bake it sooner.

Until taking my recent class, I wondered how those interesting circular shapes and patterns were achieved on round rustic loaves. Check out retail stores like Sur La Table for a circular woven basket, sometimes called a “banneton,” where the bread is kept for its final proofing and gets that circular beehive pattern on top. A dusting of flour in the basket helps to define the circles.

Finally, for a little bit of historical context, it’s fun to read Julia Child’s narrative of how she investigated the correct procedure for making classic French bread in her memoir “My Life in France.” Julia’s reflections on bread begin on page 253, and you can read her humorous account of what she describes as “the Great French Bread Experiment” as she worked on the manuscript for “Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II.”

© 2006 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

Veron said...

Thanks for the book tip. When I get serious about baking bread I shall look into acquiring the book. In the meantime I will count on your site for inspirations in bread making.