The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Never been to a bread festival so I drove 400 miles to Asheville Friday night.  Its actually 350 miles away, but I took a wrong turn around Lynchburg's new bypass, and went 25 miles before I realized I was on an unfamiliar road.  I went there really to see the Peter Reinhart demonstration and almost couldn't get a ticket, even though I got to the festival a half hour before it started.  The price of a ticket was to buy a loaf of bread from an artisan, and you would receive one free.  The maker of my bread didn't have any, but searched the whole place and found me one.  The festival itself consisted of about a dozen bakers set up outside the Greenlife Grocery.  It was a beautiful day and the bread I purchased, a baguette, and an Asiago/rosemary ciabatta was really good.  I went into the grocery to look around, and in the flour section, I saw that King Arthur flours sold for close to $7 for a 5 lb bag.  In my area, its around 4.50 and I bought some on sale last week for 3.69.  Later on, as I drove around Asheville, I went into another store and found KA flours for 7.20 for a 5 lb. bag.  Sticker shock!  All in all Asheville was a really nice town. 

The ticket I had for Peter Reinhart showed as 2:30.  I mistakenly thought there was one at 1:00 so I thought I would try to get into it.  When I got there, however, I was told that he only had one demonstration, and it was scheduled for 2:30.  The student/chef was nice enough to direct to a demonstration that had just started, being put on by Lionel Vatinet, of La Farm Bakery.  It was an amazing surprise.  Lionel's demonstration was about handling dough, and forming different loaves.  He was using a French country bread recipe for his demonstration, and gave us all a copy of the recipe.  He only baked one loaf in demonstration of the use of a La Cloche clay baker as his energy was directed towards dough technique.  I did not go to Asheville thinking I would learn as much as I did so I felt incredibly satisfied.  La Farm has a website, and if you don't know of Lionel, you're missing out on a true talent.  He seems young, but he's been baking bread for 30 years, and bread is his specialty.  On the other hand, with the Fresh Loaf group, I might be the last one to learn of him, but if not, go to their site and check him out.  I really can't say enough about his demonstration or his expertise.  Great bread makers have a manual dexterity and a oneness with dough I can only admire.

Peter Reinhart was in his room earlier than 2:30, signing his books, and setting up.  Most of his prep work was done earlier, and most of his bread was baked in an adjoining room.  He is a wonderful teacher and I think that was largely the purpose of his demonstration, talking about flour, and the mystery and chemistry of harnessing its flavor.  He did bake us some Chocolate Babka for tasting and it was quite marvelous and he demonstrated its creation for us.  As soon as my oven is repaired, that will be the first thing I bake.  If Peter was alloted three or four hours for his demonstration, it probably wouldn't have been enough.  There was so much he wanted to cover, and really, so much that he did.  I enjoy a nice long road trip, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.   

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One night my wife and her friend had dinner in a local French restaurant.  The owner/chef came out to speak with them about their dinner and offered desserts.  My wife mentioned to him that I had been making Madeleines that night before she left.  The chef got very enthusiastic and took my wife and her friend on a tour of his kitchen, offering them free desserts and sending a suggestion home to me that I should try to make canneles (kan-nuh-lay), which he did not make.  I started researching canneles online and not only found many different recipes with slight variations, but also a rich history of folklore and fact, but, geez, I needed yet another specific mold to make them.  The options for molds were either the tin lined, individual copper molds which ran about $12 each, or the silicone mold which was over $20 but had 8 openings.  I was skeptical of the silicone molds having never used them, but bought them anyway.  About a week later, they arrived.

I like watching youtube for creations as watching holds my attention a lot better than reading, however, there weren't alot of videos to watch, and they were all pretty much in French, which I don't speak.  As things French, you can either make them easy, or you can make them hard, hard being individual cups lined with bees wax, so I chose the easy way out.  I looked online for recipes and found what looked like a fairly simple one.  I would like to cite the blogger that I copied it from but I haven't been able to relocate the site again after having written it down.  Basically, its a custard recipe, baked in a mold giving it a unique outcome.  My first attempt using the recipe was a failure because the cooking times and temperatures simply didn't work.  It also didn't help that I'd never had these before, ever, even though I've been to France on a number of occasions.  Using the posted directions the first time out, they did not cook enough, they didn't achieve the proper color, and internally, they weren't done.  Lastly, they rose of their molds, stayed out,  and didn't really look like they should.  A second reading of a different recipe had me cooking them 100 degrees hotter, but that also created problems.   Before I get to the actual recipe I will say that no matter what the temperature, they want to cook themselves outside of the mold.  They rise out of it, and lean like the leaning tower of Pisa.  It says in recipes that they'll go back down, but they haven't for me.  Perhaps its the silicone molds, or perhaps its the temperature, I don't know.  What I do know is that if I take them out of the oven near finish time, and trick them back down, then finish them, they will mostly come out right.  You can see the creases on my picture.

2 Cups of milk  Heat to a simmer, adding

3 tablespoons of butter.  Chill the milk down to warm, setting the pan in cold water before combining.

In a mixing bowl, whisk

2 eggs, plus 3 egg yolks, add

1 cup of sugar

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean split and warmed in the milk, then scrape the pulp out, however, I went with the extract.

3 tbsp of dark rum.  Then add the chilled milk mixture, whisking in very well. 

Cover with plastic wrap, chill overnight.  The next day, before filling molds, give it a good whisking.

Fill each mold almost to the top, and place the mold on a cooking sheet with a lip.  Place into the oven, preheated to 400 degrees, and let it cook.  I put a little melted butter in the mold first.  Cooking times will vary between 30 and 45 minutes.  As they begin to form, you'll see them rising out of the molds.  As I said before, several places write that they'll fall back in.  Mine haven't, so I remove it from the oven, and I take a wooden spoon, to gently push in the sides, and another, to push it back down.  Once they're down and they stay down, I simply wait for the crowns to turn a fairly dark brown. 



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