Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets: bread
In the UK there is a fantastic TV show called "Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets". It's a delightful program presented by the wonderfully enthusiastic Raymond Blanc. His passion with food is thoroughly addictive. In each of the series' eight episodes, Raymond Blanc concentrates on a topic and showcases several related recipes. Some are quite simple, some are exceedingly complex, and Raymond does them with such grace and ease it is a joy to watch. There's a genuine feeling of honesty throughout the series.
Last night's episode was about bread. Raymond began the episode by making a wonderful cream-filled brioche. He placed his ingredients in the mixer, then struggled trying to operate it, realizing that it wasn't plugged in (such is the joy of this show). Once that problem was solved, he mixed the dough, added the butter, and proved the dough. Then, he shaped it by hand to a perfect round, filled with a creme-fraiche custard, and baked this delicacy. The nice thing about this show, that they are not afraid of showing mistakes -- Raymond had shaped the dough too thinly, and there was a little hole in his round, so that some of the filling escaped. He shared the brioche with his two sons.
Raymond moved on to make a versatile country bread dough, which he made into a plain loaf of bread, a fougasse topped with various tasty things, and beer-topped rolled that looked delicious. Watching Raymond talk about bread with such passion was a joy.
Raymond then went to visit a miller in search of some flours to make a Gluten-free loaf. They made an attempt with some chestnut flour that wasn't a total success, but was quite tasty, according to them.
Raymond's final project was an apple croustade, a yeast dough preparation I have never seen before. He made the strangest yeast dough, where the liquid was in the form of beaten egg white mixed with egg yolks, water, and some sugar. The dough is then stretched by two people to a paper-thin layer, not unlike a strudel, and brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar. This is cut into squares, and place in neat little nest-like parcels in small tart tins to dry overnight. Then, Raymond thinly sliced apples, arranged them in a beautiful rosette, and baked them with butter and sugar. The next day, the dough parcels are baked and the caramelized apple rosettes are warmed up. The dessert is plated: place the apple rosettes onto a plate, and top with a dough parcel. Pour some vanilla-pear sauce around this, top with ginger-vanilla ice cream, and finely diced stem ginger. Wow! They finished the program with with Raymond and one of his apprentices sharing one of these.
I'll probably never make the croustade, but the cream filled brioche is on my "to bake very soon" list.
I whole-heartedly recommend that you watch this program. If you live in the UK, you can catch the program (and past episodes; I recommend the chocolate episode) on the BBC iPlayer, here. If you live outside the UK, as do I, you should make the effort to get a copy of this episode, because it is well worth watching.