The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

High School

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mcs's picture
mcs

Greetings everybody!
Today was 'Fundraiser Day' at the Back Home Bakery in Kalispell, MT with all of the profits from the sale benefiting  the Flathead High School French Club.   A small crew of high school students worked the final shift baking, packaging, and delivering croissants, palmiers, and pains au chocolat for their happy customers.

It started a few weeks ago as the students took orders for different combinations of pastry boxes so we could get our work order.  Next two shifts of teacher, student, and parent volunteers came up to the bakery to shape everything (a new experience for all).  Lastly, this morning we baked and packaged everything and even had a little left over to feed the worker bees. 

Ready for the grand totals?
Croissants: 198
Palmiers: 264
Pains au Chocolat: 319

Not too shabby, huh?  Check out the pictures below to see how well everything came out. 

Good job everyone and I hope you enjoyed your time in the bakery!

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

 


cutting and shaping Croissants

 

 


Pains au Chocolat and Palmier shaping

 

 


more shaping of Palmiers and Croissants

 

 


finishing the croissant shaping and then begins the baking and packaging

 

 


lots of eggwashing and 'bien cuit' Palmiers

 

 


Pains au Chocolat and Croissants fresh from the oven

 

 


a beautiful box of pastries

em120392's picture
em120392

Challah Bread


Hey Guys! I've been baking my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice for a high school project. Here's my entry for Challah from a blog about bread which my brother and I share!  http://bakingacrosscountry.wordpress.com/


There are two Hebrew words for bread: lichem is an everyday bread and challah is the bread eaten on Sabbath, the day of rest. Challah is an enriched bread with oil, sugar and eggs, while Lichem is a basic lean dough. Before the bread is baked, the baker sacrifices a piece of the dough to the Gods. At any event, two challahs are two challahs must be blessed to prevent the breads from being shamed. To do so, the bread is placed under a challah Cover while the wine is being blessed. At Sabbath dinner, before the bread can be broken, the family must say in Hebrew, "Blessed are you, Lord Our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."


Traditionally, challah is braided into a long loaf and lacquered with egg wash on the Sabbath. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, challah is circularly shaped to represent the coming year and long life. Sometimes it is shaped like a ladder, to symbolize the ascent to God after death. In comparison to the regular Sabbath Challah, the holiday bread is sometimes enriched with raisins or saffron, which were considered prized ingredients.


In comparison to his other recipes, Reinhart does not use a preferment in his challah recipe. Since it's an enriched bread, most of the flavor and texture comes from the eggs and sugar.


I began by mixing together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In another bowl, I mixed together eggs, egg yolks, water and oil. Using my new dough whisk, I stirred the wet into the dry until it made a shaggy dough. I added more flour so the dough was not sticky, and kneaded it for about 6 minutes, until it passed the windowpane test.

I let the dough rise for the first time for about an hour. At this point, Reinhart suggests to punch down the dough and knead for a few moments. Then, I let the dough rise for another two hours, until it doubled in size. Then, divided the dough in six equal pieces (making two loaves), shaped them into balls, and let the gluten relax for about 20 minutes.

With a dough ball in hand, I pressed the dough against the counter, slightly elongating it. Next, with two hands, I pushed the dough outwards in order to make it into a long strand. When I thought I reached my desired length, the dough shrank back slightly. So, I let the dough relax for a few minutes, and then stretched each section into a foot and a half length strand.

Next, I began braiding the strands. I opted to make two 3-strand braids so I wouldn't have one gigantic loaf that we'd never be able to finish. Beginning at the midpoint of the strands, I laid the three strands next to each other, and placed the right strand over the middle strand. Then, I placed the left strand over the middle strand, and continued braiding like I would hair. When I reached the end, I turned the loaf around 180 degrees, and braded the other side. Then, I rolled the ends together by pushing the dough against the counter with the heel of my hands. I tucked the ends underneath the loaf so it would have a finished look.



When I looked at the time, I realized it would be past midnight by the time the challahs proofed and baked. I was silly and didn't think ahead, and egg-washed the dough before refrigerating it (it was late!). I let the dough proof in the fridge until the next afternoon. After resting on the counter for about 2 hours so it warmed up, I baked the bread loaves in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes. As it was cooling, I realized that I forgot the second egg wash. This resulted with the loaf having an uneven, semi-shiny, semi-crackly surface. The braids looked nice, but it didn't have the lacquered crust.

When I ate a piece, I remembered how much I love challah. I love the tender, almost cake-like texture of the crumb, and the soft crust. Like the brioche, challah with raspberry jam made breakfast (and dessert!) delicious. I brought a loaf to my mentor, Mr. Esteban. I explained to him that I was disappointed in the crust, but I don't think he minded all that much. It's still bread, right? I also brought a half loaf to my Jewish grandparents. We always have challah on Rosh Hashanah, and it reminded me of the holidays. Nothing beats a good loaf of challah bread.


 


 

em120392's picture
em120392

Hey guys! I just wanted to thank you again for your encouraging comments on my bread-baking-project for school. I appreciate your thoughts very much! =]


I made bagels the other day, and wanted to share my post with you guys.


Here it is!


(my brother and i share a blog: http://bakingacrosscountry.wordpress.com/ )Originating in Poland in the 1600s, Bagels came along with Jewish immigrants to Ellis Island. Since many people of Jewish descent settled in New York, bagels have since been a tradition in the City.



The word bagel is derived from the German word for "to bend," symbolizing the round shape of the bread. Bagels were thought to bring good luck to the receiver of the bread. Usually, women who just gave birth received them for good luck as well as a symbol representing the cycle of life due to their circular shape.


The bagel gains its distinct chewiness from being first boiled, and then baked at a rather high temperature. A prolonged, cool second rise contributes to the bagels developed flavor, as well as the "fish eyes" on the crust. "Fish eyes" are raised bumps on the surface of the bread.


The first time I made bagels a few years ago, I was foolish and used whole wheat, no-knead dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Although this dough made fine boules, the bagels dissolved in the boiling water, leaving broken lumps of chewy dough. Nevertheless, I was determined to find the perfect bagel recipe.


My brother, Evan, has been baking his own bagels weekly for about a year now. Out in California, each bagel costs over a buck, and they're spongy rolls. Out here in New Jersey, we sometimes get good bagels-but mostly, they're doughy and the size of your face.


Reinhart begins his recipe with a sponge, combining water, yeast, and flour into a thick-pancake like batter. After about two hours, I added more yeast, flour, salt and honey. I tried to mix the ingredients together, but flour flew out everywhere, making a giant mess. I tried to knead the dough in the Kitchen Aid, but the dough was so stiff, I could smell the motor straining.


That's why we have hands, I guess. For about ten minutes, I kneaded the stiff dough until my arms hurt, and the dough passed the window pane test. I measured out the dough into twelve even pieces (thank goodness for a scale). However, 4.5 ounce bagels were a bit too large for breakfast, and I think making about 16 would be a better portion.


After letting the dough rest for a little bit, I shaped them into bagels. I tried both ways, by sticking my finger through the dough and stretching the hole out, and also by forming them from a coil. I found that by poking my finger through, the shape of the bagel was more consistent, but I'm sure with more practice, I could get better at the coil-method.


I let the bagels rest again for about twenty minutes. Reinhart suggests a test for readiness: I placed one piece of shaped bagel dough in a bowl of water and saw it immediately floated.


After the test, I placed them on baking sheets, covered them with plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge for two nights.


On the second night, I brought a pot of water to a boil with an added tablespoon of baking soda. I didn't want to crowd my pot, so I only boiled four bagels at a time, for about a minute per each side. Immediately after boiling, I put them on a cooling-rack to drain, and sprinkled over a combination of sesame and poppy seeds, as well as some sea salt.


After boiling all 12 bagels, I baked them in a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes, rotated the pans, and baked them about 7 minutes more at 450, or until they were deep golden brown.


The next morning, I had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. Wow. They beat any one of the partially-cooked ones I get from the bakeries in my town. Since there are only three of us living in my house right now, we froze half of the bagels for future use. I also gave my mentor, Mr. Esteban a handful of bagels to share with his family. I hope he enjoyed them!


Besides my finicky mixer, this recipe was super simple and didn't require all that much effort (but more utensils than normal to clean). Rather than spending 12 bucks for 12 bagels on Sunday, I can bake these (better) bagels for a fraction of the cost. Next time, I'll try to find malt barley to make more authentic bagels, but for now, these are awesome!


Olver, Lynne. "Breads." Food Timeline (2011): n. pag. Web. 14 Jan 2011. <http://www.foodtimeline.org>.


 


 

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