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Competing in the Louis Lesaffre Cup

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ananda's picture
ananda

Competing in the Louis Lesaffre Cup

 


Taking Part in a Baking Competition


Way back in early January, not long after I first started posting on TFL, I found an invitation in my e-mails to compete in what becomes the baking world cup: La Coupe du Monde de Bolangerie, next taking place in 2012..


At the international qualification stage, this is known as the Louis Lesaffre Cup http://www.coupelouislesaffre.com/ with the European part set to take place in Paris in 2011.   This sounded quite interesting, so I thought I'd give it a go.   An e-mail enquiry suggested I would have to make baguettes, a tinned loaf, and a speciality loaf of my own.   I decided to give it a go, thinking the UK heats were to be held in May, or, June.   By that time my teaching commitments will be less, and I should have completed the second module for my MSc in Food policy.   So, I entered.


I didn't hear anything more for a few weeks, except confirmation that I was the first applicant, but I would definitely be taking part.   Right at the beginning of March I received a phone call from Nick Townend of BFP Wholesale [yeast company owned by Lesaffre here in the UK], informing me the Competition was set for sometime between the 20th and 24th March, at the NEC in Birmingham, live at the Baking Industry Exhibition.   Let's just say that this event is HUGE!   I'm in the midst of trying to get an assignment complete for my MSc, and I'm already behind schedule, needing a week's extension.   Also, I'd put no plans in place to publicise my plans and score some publicity for Newcastle College, where I lecture.


OK; well I'd better not panic, it'll be just fine, I resolve!   Better get some practice in, and, sort out some materials.   I contacted my colleagues in Kent [see: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/16151/working-french-flour ]and they agreed to post up 10kg of their wonderful T65 Campteclair Farine de Tradition.   I knew this would be a score on the competition, and had no problem getting permission from the judges to use this flour.   I'd put in quite a lot of work to develop a Caraway Rye Bread with Blackstrap Molasses [see: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/16273/carawy-rye-bread-black-strap-molasses-superwet-ciabatta-too ] and thought this would be a great choice for my own loaf.   For the tinned bread, I had plans to use a seed soaker with a mix of wholemeal and white bread flours.


Then the Rules were finally published on the 12th March!   Baguettes were indeed required.   One dough using 7kg of flour; half of this to make traditional hand moulded baguettes, the other half to process through a moulding machine.   Finished weight of 240g, I calculated this would give me 36 baguettes!   And, I'd only got 10kg of flour in the first place.   I double-checked, but was told I could only make one dough.   I thought I may get away with a dough using Campteclair for the traditional baguettes, then another dough using industrial flour T55 for the machined products.   No go on this.   Tinned loaves:   3 x 800g finished weight of White Farmhouse, White Sandwich Tin, and Wholemeal.   You can't get much more ordinary than this, but I knew I could at least use sponge and dough methods to get some interesting flavours.   The loaf of choice was also something of a letdown.   Clearly the judges had made moves to keep the competition as "English" as possible...you can all draw your own conclusions on what that implies!   Two from Cottage, Bloomer and Cob loaves; 3 x 800g and 400g finished weights; all white flour.   A minimum of 1 hour bulk ferment was stipulated, but no mention made of overnight fermentation.   For all these products, Lesaffre bread improvers were available, as were their dry sour preparations!!


Well, I was starting to feel somewhat disheartened by now; seriously I was thinking I should pull out.   But a hotel room was booked and paid for by Lesaffre, and I was just about psyched up for the competition side of the whole event.   I needed to talk to some colleagues, big-style.   Thank you to Eric Hanner of TFL who from this point on was of sterling support.   My line manager at work also stepped up and gave me loads of positives.   It was great to have word from Jeffrey Hamelman, explaining some of the rationale behind aspects of the rules [he will be judging in Paris, I guess], but also obviously uninspired by the English choices of bread available to me.


So I frantically began e-mailing through to Nick Townend, establishing whatever I could to know it would all work on the day.   Quite why I had thought the event was in May/June, I really have no idea at all now.   I did 3 days of test baking on 15th, 16th and 17th March, in my bakery kitchen, but teaching a host of different classes at the same time; so, it was extremely stressful, and not all my products turned out how I wanted them.   Still, I had a load of notes, and the confidence in the methods used and my own knowledge and skill to believe I had everything there to make it all work over the upcoming weekend.


I had a trip to Nottinghamshire on Thursday 18th March to visit "The School of Artisan Food".   I had a table seat reserved on the train, so spent the 4 hours tapping away on my wife's laptop to complete all the recipe/formula and methods for each of the breads I was going to make.   I had a great day out visiting what is a wholly exciting new venture, and, I got all this planning work completed too.


Back to College on Friday, to teach a practical baking class, and gather a whole load of equipment and materials together to take to Birmingham.   I slept badly on Friday night, and was up by 5am tapping away on my pc, and catching up with the latest from Eric to help me through.   The drive to Birmingham is over 250 miles from where we live in the very far north of England.   We made very good time, and checked in to the hotel by mid afternoon.   My wife, Alison, went shopping, and I went off to the NEC to make my starter doughs for the next day.


I arrived at the NEC, eventually checked into the right Exhibition Hall with all my stuff, and it was bedlam.   Everyone was working like crazy to have the Hall set up for the next day.   Our "live area" was hardly in any state at all.   There was no baguette moulder, and the equipment available was not really set up, and we had to share it with the Bakels/Rondo team doing live demonstrations in the same cordon.   Well, no machine-moulded baguettes anyway.   Having met all the co-ordinators who were supporting us, the 3 competitors, we then had one hour to make all our overnight ferments.   I had 4 to make!


Anyway, mission accomplished and back to the hotel.   Alison and I made an exit from the hotel to a decent restaurant, so we could get a break from all things bakery competition for a while at least.   I drank just a few beers, and ate some good food, but we went straight to bed on return.   I had an early rise, as the Competition kicked off at 7am.


We were there early and away by 06:50, with 8 hours to complete all our loaves.   Counting against all of us was the equipment.   One of the ovens was low-crown, and we had a lot of tinned breads to make; there was a massive shortage of proving space; we had only one spiral mixer between the 3 of us; the benches we were given were absolutely tiny, and far from robust.   And I discovered the wholemeal flour we had been given was really not up to much.


Well, we were on view to one and all, and I want to say thanks to all those who came past and took such an interest in what I was doing: especially Mr. Tony Jenkins from Soothills Bakers in Hampshire.   He was fascinated that a baker had turned up at a bakery competition prepared to make very simple products using long fermentation methods only, and no improvers.   I was glad to find I wasn't the only one.   Stephen Salt from Tameside College, near Manchester, was on a similar mission; the other baking competitor was Andrew Iyare from London.   There were 2 competitors on the following day, one being Emmanuel Hadijandreou from Judges Bakery, the other was Wayne Caddy who is a bakery consultant based in Rotherham.   I met up with Emmanuel after the competition, which was great; I've been wanting to meet him for a good while.   I know Wayne from my time at Leeds Thomas Danby, as he studied there as well, although some years before me.


The competition was pretty stressful at times.   The lack of equipment was difficult for all of us, and it was difficult to stay organised throughout.   We all managed to work well together, and the support from the co-ordinators on the day was much appreciated.   Andrew had finished in very good time.   Stephen baked his baguettes last of all, then he was finished too.   So I had the run of the ovens at the end, which was a bonus.   This was when I discovered that the Tom Chandley deck oven was low crown, so my tinned loaves were getting a bit stuck on the top heat bars!   I'd taken longer than the others quite deliberately; this had given me 4 hours to prove the baguettes in the chiller following a one hour bulk fermentation.


The Judging Panel had emerged, and I met up with Colin Lomax from Rank Hovis again.   I met him a few years ago at one of Rank's mills in Selby, North Yorkshire.   The current NA President was on the panel, with Peter Lonnican from Blackpool, and Sarah Auton, who had been helping to co-ordinate the whole thing.   All 4 were very supportive, and full of positive comments for our hard work.   I set my 18 baguettes on the sole of the oven with a trusty baguette peel specially made for me at the College, using some coarsely ground semolina from a local organic mill in Northumberland.   I had hoped for a little more proof, but they were so easy to handle, and baked up so crispy in the best deck oven I've worked on in years.   "Best bread of the day" was Colin Lomax's comment.   It was worth competing for that moment alone.   I didn't win the event.   That honour went to Wayne; my congratulations to him.   He gained the place in the UK team for bread baker.   The other places are for a Vienoisserie expert, and for someone to do a decorative dough piece.


I've attached a load of photos from the day, and all the recipes and methods used.   I've already given thanks for support above, but would like to add to this list.   My wife, Alison, took all these photos, bar one obvious one.   She accompanied me all the way to Birmingham and back, and supported and encouraged me all the way.   Also, Mary and Nigel in supplying me the special T65 flour, gave me a chance to put over at least one really top class product.   The white cobs were very fine too, and the sandwich loaves were just about up to scratch.   The wholemeal was poor, and I learnt a lot from this.   I would always take my own preferred choice of flours to a competition in future.   Trying to achieve 72% hydration, and mix in a planetary machine were big mistakes; the BFP flour was not the same spec as the Carrs Mill Race Wholemeal I use in College.   The bloomers "got away on me".   They tasted fantastic, but looked a little bit too ragged.


I'd made 52 loaves in a pretty stressful situation..but, I d had a thoroughly good time and felt totally at home in this rather strange environment.   I want to do this again; it was a lot of fun.   Next time I'll be a lot more organised in the run-in!


 


 


WHOLEMEAL TINNED BREAD


 



Material

Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

Recipe [grams]

1. Quarter Sponge

 

 

 

Wholemeal Flour

25

1750

875

Water

17

1190

595

Fresh Yeast

0.2

14

7

TOTAL

42.2

2954

1477

 

 

 

 

2. Final Dough

 

 

 

Quarter Sponge [from above]

42.2

2954

1477

Wholemeal Flour

75

5250

2625

Salt

1.8

126

63

Fresh Yeast

2.5

175

87.5

White Fat

1.8

126

63

Water

55[max]

3850

1925

TOTAL

178.3

12481

6240.5

 

Method:

  • Make the sponge the day before; DDT 21°C.   Mix 3 mins on speed one. Store ambient, covered in lightly oiled bowl.
  • Autolyse flour and water for half an hour.
  • Combine sponge, autolyse plus salt, fat and yeast and mix the final dough 2 minutes on first speed, and 6 - 8 minutes on second speed.   DDT 24°C
  • Bulk Ferment, covered in an oil-lined container for 40 minutes, ambient.   Knock back and rest 10 minutes.
  • Prepare tins, and scale and divide the dough into 950g pieces.   Mould round and rest covered for 10 minutes.
  • Shape and pan the loaves
  • Proof at 31°C, 85% rH  for approx 1 hour; ensure oven set and pre-heated
  • Bake to the following profile: Use a deck oven set at 235°C, top heat 6 and bottom heat 8.   Use steam set at 2 and keep the damper closed for the first 25 minutes.   Check after 18 minutes, turn the loaf pans round if necessary, and drop the heat to 225°C.   Open the dampers after 25 minutes, drop the heat to 220°C and bake a further 5 - 8 minutes.
  • De-pan and cool on wires.

 

WHITE COB AND BLOOMER

 

Material

Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Eighth Sponge

 

 

Strong White Flour

12.5

875

Water

7.5

525

Fresh Yeast

0.1

7

TOTAL

20.1

1407

 

 

 

2. Final Dough

 

 

Eighth Sponge [from above]

20.1

1407

Strong White Flour

87.5

6125

Salt

1.8

126

Fresh Yeast

2.4

168

White Fat

1.0

100

Water

55.5 [max for 63% hydration]

3675 [60%]

3885 [63%]

TOTAL

168.3

11811

 

Method:

  • Make the sponge the day before; DDT 21°C.   Mix 3 mins on speed one. Store ambient, covered in lightly oiled bowl.
  • Autolyse flour and water for half an hour.
  • Combine sponge, autolyse plus salt, fat and yeast and mix the final dough 3 minutes on first speed, and 3½ - 5 minutes on second speed.   DDT 24°C
  • Bulk Ferment, covered in an oil-lined container for 1¼ hours, ambient.   Knock back and rest a further 10 mins.
  • Prepare trays with silicone paper dusted with semolina for bloomers, and banneton with white flour for cobs, and scale and divide the dough into 950g pieces for large laves and 480g pieces for small.   Mould round and rest covered for 10 minutes.
  • Shape the loaves, tray up the bloomers, and turn the cobs upside down into the banneton.   Recipe yields 4 large and 3 small of each product.
  • Proof at 31°C, 85% rH  for approx 1 hour; ensure oven set and pre-heated.
  • Bake to the following profile: Use a deck oven set at 225°C, top heat 7 and bottom heat 5.   Use steam set at 4 and keep the damper closed for the first 15 minutes.   Use a peel to set the loaves on the sole of the oven; bloomers on silicone, cut whole surface with angled cuts; cobs tipped onto the peel then transfer to oven after cutting, cross shape over whole floured surface.   Check after 20 minutes, to see if the small loaves are baked,   Open the dampers and bake a further 8 minutes.
  • De-pan and cool on wires.

 

WHITE TIINNED BREAD: FARMOUSE and SANDWICH LOAVES

 

Material

Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Third Sponge

 

 

Strong White Flour

33.3

2331

Water

20

1400

Fresh Yeast

0.3

21

TOTAL

53.6

3752

 

 

 

2. Final Dough

 

 

Third Sponge [from above]

53.6

3752

Strong White Flour

66.7

4669

Salt

1.8

126

Fresh Yeast

1.7

119

White Fat

1.8

126

Water

43[max]

3010

TOTAL

168.6

11802

 

Method:

  • Make the sponge the day before; DDT 21°C.   Mix 3 mins on speed one. Store ambient, covered in lightly oiled bowl.
  • Autolyse flour and water for half an hour.
  • Combine sponge, autolyse plus salt, fat and yeast and mix the final dough 3 minutes on first speed, and 3½ - 5 minutes on second speed.   DDT 24°C
  • Bulk Ferment, covered in an oil-lined container for 40 minutes, ambient.   Knock back and rest 10 minutes.
  • Prepare tins, and scale and divide the dough into 12 x 950g pieces.   Mould round and rest covered for 10 minutes.
  • Shape and pan the loaves; makes 6 as sandwich loaves and 6 as farmhouse
  • Proof at 31°C, 85% rH for approx 1 hour; ensure oven set and pre-heated.   Be ready to bake the sandwich ahead of the farmhouse, as these loaves do not need full proof.   Lid the sandwich loaves first; dust the farmhouse loaf tops with white flour, and use a single slash, the full length of the loaf.
  • Bake to the following profile: Use a deck oven set at 235°C, top heat 6 and bottom heat 8.   Use steam set at 2 and keep the damper closed for the first 25 minutes.   Check after 18 minutes, turn the loaf pans round if necessary, and drop the heat to 225°C.   Open the dampers after 25 minutes, drop the heat to 220°C and bake a further 5 - 8 minutes.
  • De-pan and cool on wires.

 

TRADITIONAL BAGUETTES MADE WITH A POOLISH

 

Material

Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Poolish

 

 

Campteclair T65 Farine de Tradition

33.3

2331

Water

33.3

2331

Fresh Yeast

0.3

21

TOTAL

66.9

4683

 

 

 

2. Final Dough

 

 

Poolish [from above]

66.9

4683

Campteclair T65 Farine de Tradition

66.7

4669

Salt

1.8

126

Fresh Yeast

0.9

63

Water

32.7

2289

TOTAL

169

11830

 

Method:

  • Make the sponge the day before; DDT 21°C.   Mix 3 mins on speed one. Store ambient, covered in lightly oiled bowl.
  • Autolyse flour and water for half an hour.
  • Combine sponge, autolyse plus salt and yeast and mix the final dough for 9 minutes on first speed.   DDT 24°C.
  • Scale the dough into 2 equal portions.   Bulk ferment both portions in oil-lined, covered bowls for 40 minutes.
  • Scale the first portion into 18 x 325g pieces and mould round.   Rest covered for 10 minutes.   Meanwhile, scale the other dough portion into 18 x 325g pieces, and mould round.   Store these covered in the chiller for 2 hours.
  • Once rested, roll out the 18 pieces from the first batch of dough, using a baguette moulder, to 60cm.   Place these onto stick wires and set to prove; 35°C, 85% rH, for 45 mins to 1 hour approx.   Use 6 diagonal cuts just prior to baking.
  • Bake as follows: deck oven, full steam; 240°C, top 6.5, bottom 5, for 20 minutes.   Turn the heat down to 225°C, for 5 minutes.   Open the damper and turn the heat to 215°C and bake a further 5 - 7 minutes.
  • Cool on wires
  • For the second batch, gradually and carefully, roll each piece out by hand to 60cm.   Set to prove, ambient, en coûche and well covered with cloth and plastic.   Use semolina, as dust, as required.   Try to keep the seal of each baguette on the bottom.   Prove approx 1 hour.   Cut each loaf using a grignette, 6 diagonal slashes.   Set on the sole of the oven using a baguette peel.

Bake profile: as for the first portion of baguettes.   Cool on wires

 

Comments

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Well done Andy


A real bakers day out, wonderfull write up, i could feel the tension, great pictures Alison. I can remember when the Royal Agricultural Show was on there was bread judging, and  as an apprentice staying back with the boss and preparing his show loaves for weeks before the event.


I will have to revisit the SHOW and see how it is now, I think some of the rural shows they have bread cakes etc where the amateur can enter. 

proth5's picture
proth5

My sincere congratulations, indeed as just being able to compete and finish is quite a test of anyone's abilities.


In the US, the Bread Baker's Guild of America has preparatory competitions and training sessions.  Is there an equivalent in the UK?  If you enjoy that atmosphere of competition (and from your account it seems like you do) you might benefit from the coaching.


This is one of the two "sports" that I follow.  I need to live vicariously through you young folks, for as we know, this last year I passed the maximum age for competition.  But having recently gotten some serious instruction in decorative doughs, I know that I was born to do that...  Ah well, we all have lost opportunities to deplore.


Love the hats.  One of my fond memories of my time in the UK was the hats worn by various folks in the food professions.


Again, congratulations on surviving the competition and best wishes for success in the future!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Andy,


Thanks for such a thorough post and congratulations on participating


Jeff

ehanner's picture
ehanner

A great write up and description on your adventure. I answered your kind note to me on another thread so I won't repeat myself but, I am so happy you decided to plunge ahead and enter the competition. You are a talented baker and I have confidence that you will continue to do well in the future.


Warmest regards,


Eric

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

What an honor to be invited to compete.


Thanks for sharing the blow by blow. You painted a vivid picture.


David

holds99's picture
holds99

Andy,


Congratulations on being selected to compete in the Louis Lesaffre Cup, under what sounds like very difficult working conditions.  Your breads look outstanding.


Thanks for sharing.


Howard

siuflower's picture
siuflower

Enjoy your post, keep up the good work.


 


Siuflower

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Andy, thank you for painting a picture for us about what the competition was like. I admire people who can compete, because that's something I don't have the constitution for. Being invited is a huge honor in itself---Congratulations!And "Best bread of the day"... Maybe you should consider doing a lesson in baguettes next :-)


Best wishes,
Debbie

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Debbie,


I just posted on Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel from Hamelman.


Regarding baguettes, if you look at what I've already posted on in the Lesaffre Cup, plus my work with Mary and Nigel, you've got most of what I've already covered on them.   There are a lot of people on here who have done a far better job than I could hope to right now. Try these as the finest examples I've seen so far: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17111/hamelmans-baguettes-poolish and http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17101/more-fromartz039s-baguettes  from Eric Hanner; also, from Shiao-Ping: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/16213/mr-nippon039s-baguette-formulas


I think the formula I posted above is spot-on; but I'd like an extended period of cold fermentation to say 20 hours, and I reckon 2 hours bulk beforehand would have been better too.   Otherwise I'm happy to put that forward alongside those referenced above.   It's not dissimilar to Hamelman's Baguettes with a Poolish on pp101-2 of "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes", except for the long cold ferment.


All good wishes


Andy

LindyD's picture
LindyD

That's quite an honor, Andy, to be invited to compete - and quite an achievement to be able to do so well under such trying conditions.


Thank you for sharing your experience and hearty congratulations!


Best, 
Lindy

Brotfan's picture
Brotfan

Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adventure! What a great experience. It sounds and looks like it was a lot of fun - even if it was stressfull.


Your bread looks wonderful. What happend to the 52 loaves you made? Did everybody have a big bread feast?


Kirsten

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Enjoying your blog very much.  Just feeling a little of your adrenalin rush is fun. 


For the next competition, for the next competition, you should know you have cheer leaders here pulling their energies together for you!  I could even make dough pompoms and manage a jump (too old for splits) so I can applaud and shake flour all over the place!  Just for you! 


Clouds of flour and a smile from far away,


Mini

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi


Many thanks to all the above for their kind words and support


Best wishes


Andy

salma's picture
salma

Just saw this post and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  What an honor and you didnt mention being nervous making 52 (fifty two!) loaves.  I was getting nervous reading about it.  Congratulations!   Will have to try them sometime.


Salma