The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Richard Bertinet wins major UK award

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

Richard Bertinet wins major UK award

Richard Bertinet operates a bakery as well as a cookery school from his premises in Bath and his sourdough loaf has just been awarded the UK organic (the Soil Association) food organisation's 2010 award for baked goods.  I have tried his sourdough and I enjoyed it far more than the Poilane offering.


www.soilassociation.org/Default.aspx?TabId=682


Ruralidle

lumos's picture
lumos

Good on him! Thank you for the info, Ruralidle. :)


Another of his great bread is Pain de Campagne in his 'Dough'. It's not sourdough bread as a real pain de campagne is supposed to be, but it uses overnight pate-fermante (which he calls 'fermented dough' as English translation) with mixture of white flour and rye as well as the final dough. For something without proper sourdough, it's surprisingly good.....and much easier to make especially to someone who doesn't keep a 'pet sourdough.'


Many years ago I had really wonderful pain de campagne in a very small restaurant in Dijon, France, and I'd been searching for a recipe to somehow re-create it on my own, with not too much luck. When I bought the book and saw the recipe, I decided to give it a go without too much expectation, because it's not sourdough-based, but it turned out to be really beautiful and quite similar to the bread I had in Dijon.


So I sent email to Mr.Bertinet straightaway to thank him and he kindly replied to me soon after. We exchanged emails a few times after that, mainly me shooting  him a tons of question about French bread and flour and some tips on making decent-enough French artisan bread imitation at home with limited resources of appropriate ingredient and tool which was available in UK and him answering them where he could. He was really kind and helpful....and I was really pushy, perhaps. :P


After a while he told me his second book 'Crust' was going to be published, so I promised him I'd definitely buy it and duly I did as soon as it came out.


I love the book and I thoroughly recommend his recipe for poolish baguette. It's one of my favourite baguette recipes.  I know  Hemelman's poolish baguette/rustique bread is highly regarded here and I do like it myself, too, but Bertinet's one has small amount of rye flour in the poolish which really deepens the flavour. So if anyone has the book, I urge you to try it if you haven't yet.


lumos

Franko's picture
Franko

Just Bought RB's 'Crust' today. A quick thumb through at the book store told me it was worth buying but I'm pleased to hear you think it's a good one as well. It's a rainy Sunday  here on Vancouver Island so I think an afternoon in the easy chair with a new baking book and a cup of coffee is the way to spend it.


Franko

lumos's picture
lumos

Good luck with the book. I think the recipes on various types of baguettes are quite good. May not be the best recipe in the world because his books are more geared for 'advanced' beginner/intermediate-level home bakers compared other, more professional-oriented books like Hamelman's. But by showcasing how each method produces a baguette with different characteristics, I think it's a good and gentle introduction to the never-ending (to me, anyway) quest for the perfect baguette making at home.


He believes in long fermentation at lower temperature himself, but the recipes are based on more regular method of fermentation with regular amount of yeast to, I suppose, make the book average-homebaker-friendly and less intimidating, though he does sometimes mention benefit of longer fermentaion as a possible way for improving the flavour in some of the recipes.  So I usually reduce the amount of yeast than the recipe and lengthen fermentation time longer than the book suggests. .....and I don't bother with fresh yeast anymore. I used to, but after experiencing long fermentation, I realized instant dry yeast would do the job quite nicely without any compromise on the flavour.


The only problem with the recipes is it's based on humongous amount of ingredients, especially on baguettes recipes; far too much for an average home baker with a modest home oven. His first book "Dough" wasn't like that at all, all the recipes based on 500g flour or about. So with "Crust", I had to calculate to reduce the amount of all of my favourite recipe and wrote it down on its pages. 


And his recipes on ciabatta,  either in "Dough" or "Crust" have never worked with me. The hydration is, I think, too low for ciabatta and have never been able to produce ciabatta-like light and holey crumb. It may be just me, because the ciabattas in the photo look great. I'll be very interested to know if anyone had success with his ciabatta recipe.


Let me know how you get on with it. :)

Franko's picture
Franko

Just finished the initial read through and I agree about it being geared more towards an advanced home baker, but he doesn't dumb it down either. I love finding some new recipes to try and there are some interesting breads in his book I've never run across before such as Breton Bread and the Pain Brie that I'm looking forward to doing in upcoming bakes.


 For me the ciabatta formula seemed to be about a normal hydration at 67% , but I've found in any formula that the hydration levels are more a guide rather than something to be strictly adhered to. Flour and water vary so much from one region to another that it can never be definitive for everyone using the same formula. I read it more as the author implying that this dough should be a soft, sticky, and well hydrated dough, that needs to be worked up on the table.


For the recipes alone I'm happy that I bought it.


All the best,


Franko

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

Hi Franko


I made the ciabatta on Friday/Saturday and it turned out OK but the hydration was perhaps a little low, particularly the biga, which was still very firm and did not display much activity.  I had halved the recipe and will do so when I bake them again, perhaps on Friday, so next time I will add 10ml more water to the biga and see how that goes.


Ruralidle

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish


Pics of a Bertinet Sourdough loaf I picked up earlier in the year from the "bakery" (really not a full time bakery since it's only open Saturdays last I checked). The bread was decent but I wouldn't quite put it up with the likes of Poilane. Nonetheless congratulations to M. Bertinet.  

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

You are quite correct, foolishpoolish.  Apparently RB is expanding his bakery operations.  It started off as Saturday only walk-in sales then he began selling his sourdough in his website.  Now Riverford Organics in parts of the south west England and Wales will be supplying his products.


I quote from the Bertinet Kitchen's latest newsletter that I received today:


"The BERTINET Bakery is expanding and we are absolutely delighted to announce a new relationship with Riverford Organic - the country's leading box scheme that currently delivers around 47,000 boxes every week. 


Our range of Organic breads are now available to order with your veg box from Riverford in Bath, Bristol, North & South Gloucestershire, Stroud and all parts of Wales where Riverford deliver.  Our delicious range includes our signature Sourdough loaf in both the small 400g and large 1.2kg sizes,Ciabatta, Spelt, White and Brown loaves, a Rustic Rye bread and changing seasonal specialities which kick off with a delicious Provencal Olive & Lavender bread.   Seasonal specialities that will appear later in the year include Walnut, Cheddar, Caramelised Onion and Cumin, Prune, Rum & Cardamon and Lemon & Thyme Foccaccia."


Unfortunately I am outside the area that they will be supplying :(  


I bought a whole sourdough from Bertinet when I last ordered yeast but my purchase of Poilane bread was only a half loaf (very expensive) through an online retailer so it may not have been at its best when I got it.  Whatever the reason, I didn't think that it ate as well as the Bertinet loaf.  Maybe now I have a daughter living in London I will get a chance to buy another Poilane loaf if I visit her and I will report back.


Ruralidle


 

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

Good to hear they are expanding. Agreed, one does pay a premium for the Poilane. 

lumos's picture
lumos

Right....this is acutally the first time I've seen the pics of his bread except for the ones in his books.


Yeah, you're right, it certainly doesn't quite look as the same class as Poilane's, does it? 


Can't say about the taste obviously because I haven't tried it myself, but The Soil Association does have their own issue and criteria, so unless the product is made within their specific requirements, many bakers, including Poilane, wouldn't even be considered in the competition, would they?


Do you think the one you bought was based on the same sourdough recipe as the one in his 'Crust'? I really like many of his recipes in both books, but the sourdough recipe there is not my favourite, I must say....

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

Agreed. Bertinet uses mostly Shipton Mill flour (at least that's what he told me, when I asked) . Since most of their range of flours is organic, I guess the bread meets the criteria for the Soil Association. 


I've not made the sourdough recipe in 'Crust' so I'm not sure if it's the same. I get the impression that the book (and bread baking courses) serve more as an introduction to sourdough than a comprehensive treatment.


The bread from the bakery is not always consistent (comparing the above loaf with sourdough I've tried there in previous years). Perhaps the formula has changed in that period? Don't know. I got the impression the bakery mainly serves as a "shop front" for the school and allows members of the public to see what goes on in the baking classes. You can watch folks learning to "slap and fold" while perusing the baked goods or buying a couche or banneton.


To M. Bertinet's credit, he's always been very generous with help and advice when I've seen him hanging around the bakery and seems genuinely passionate about  getting folks baking bread at home. 

lumos's picture
lumos

Sourdough bread in his book looks much flatter and dense....and it comes out dense from the oven if you bake it from the recipe, while the one you posted the pic of looks more airy with better oven spring.


Yes, I agree, he was really kind and generous when replying to my persistent emails with millions of questions, and I still really hope there'll be more of someone like him as the driving force to improve this country's bread-life.


I also agree he was probably show-casing the elementary method of sourdough bread making in the book for beginners, rather than exploring the deeper/wider possibilities with it.


And I think you're right about the bakery being 'the shop front' of his school, too. Having been baking breads for friends for small fee for few years, I'm realizing baking bread wouldn't make any profit to speak of at all, unless you do it in a quite large scale, with a lot of 'short-cuts' here and there to bring down the cost, or charge astronomical price as Poilane's. :P I think running baking/cooking classes would generate more profit more easily....as does my small, humble cookery class, compared to selling breads.


Yes, Poilane is in its own class. It has a mysterious magnetic power which I can't resist and every time I go to Borough Market, it somehow finds its own way into my shopping bag while I'm not watching..... 


 


ETA: Have you been to his baking class? If you have, how was it?

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

No, I've just been stopped by the bakery a few times over the years. I looked online at the course availablity and they're often booked-up way in advance. To be honest, the sourdough course is probably the only one I'd be interested in. 

lumos's picture
lumos

OK, thanks for replying, both foolishpoolish and jemar.


Yeah, his classes seem to be really in high demand, aren't they?


He used to do a special class for French breads, which I was interested, but he doesn't seem to do it anymore. Been baking for donkey's ears, I can more or less manage most types of bread I want to eat myself in the way I like and been doing his 'slap&stretch' ever since I bought his first book (though I tend to do S&F more than S&S these days) but shaping cool-looking-baguettes, constantly, is my last mountain unconquered, so far. I'm pretty sure it's to do with my handling of dough why my result is so up-and-downs, so I was hoping I'd one day attend his French bread lesson......*sigh*

jemar's picture
jemar

I also have been on a course at RB's baking school, after buying both DOUGH and CRUST, and thoroughly enjoyed the day there.  Everything I have made from both books has turned out exceptionally well, especially the Brioche, which I have made many times.  I am able to buy fresh yeast, and I always use it for the recipes from his books, so far I haven't tried his sourdough because I have a starter given to me by a friend which doesn't seem to be comparable with his, I am not yet confident enough to change the starter from liquid to stiff! I like to use his method of 'working' the dough, although it can be quite tiring!  I seem to get a better dough texture than when using my Kenwood.  Could be because I can feel it better, probably. Nice to know he has won an award, I get his newsletters, but haven't received this last one yet.

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

Last night I started out to make a No Knead Bread using dark rye flour and decided to adapt it to a recipe in RB's Dough book adding in caraway seeds and raisins.  I left it in the fridge to ferment overnight for 9 hrs and continued to prove in room temp for a further 9 hrs.  When I turned the dough out to shape, it was so sticky that I could hardly get it off my hands.  I tried to do a couple of S&Fs but it just clung to my hands, I struggled with it for a while and not knowing what else to do with the sticky dough and not wanting to chuck it in, I decided to try and knead the RB way and after spending almost an hour of slapping the dough around, it was slightly better but not without having to add more flour so that I could shape it without sticking to my hands.  I quickly shaped it into a boule using the technique I had learnt from TFL and currently being shown as a tutorial on the home page and  baked it on a cast iron hot plate with a stainless steel bowl as cover, another idea I picked up from TFL. In spite of all the wrong moves I've made with the dough, i.e. kneading it  after bulk fermentation instead of before, no resting period before shaping etc etc. the bread turned out quite well except for a slightly charred bottom, even though I had put a  cookie sheet on the bottom rack to shiield off some of the heat.  All in all, it was quite a labour intensive excercise but I'm pleased to say that I can now knead the dough the RB way and I believe I am able to handle it without having to reduce the quantity.  Here are two pics of the end product...



A somewhat dense crumb but still edible



It may not be the the best looking bread but I'm truly glad I had the opportunity to put into use all that I've learnt from TFL in the last couple of weeks.


I doubt if I'll be working with dark rye flour again anytime soon.  My arms are now beginning to ache from all the kneading...


Judy

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

Hi Judy


The crumb looks fine, despite your diffculties, but the crust is not what I am used to as I bake in an oven.  I suspect that the difficulty you experienced with the slap and fold method may be because of the rye flour.  What proportion of rye did you use?  I find it is far more difficult using rye flour and the higher the proportion of rye flour the more difficult it can be because of the reduction in the amount of gluten in the dough.  You should find a 100% wheat flour dough comes toghether much easier.


Ruralidle

jyslouey's picture
jyslouey

I'm pleased to say that the bread wasn't as hard as I had expected it to be after leaving it overnight.  I originally intended it to be a NKB and used 300 grms bf + 100 grms rye and 300 grms water which makes it 20% rye and 75% hydration.  RB's recipe uses 70% hydration for his 400+100 grms. 


In any case, I'm glad I have now tried RB's kneading method and I think I can just about manage 500 grms of flour if it does not contain bits of nuts and raisins - they were flying everywhere.  Strangely enough, I didn't see any of the raisins in my bread as they probably got quite  bashed up with the kneading and just disintegrated into the dough. 


I've noticed that in some of his recipes it calls for 1000 grms of flour at a time and I can probably half the qty. as I don't want to be making too many breads, particularly if they're not quite up to standard to give away to friends.


When you say 100% wheat flour dough, do you mean using whole wheat flour mixed with rye of do you mean making a 100% whole wheat flour, w/o rye?


I will probably try to make the sasame whole wheat boule that was recently posted on TFL next week.


Cheers, Judy

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Well, go/allez Richard Bertinet!


I suppose the award is for meeting Soil Association expectations rather than baking the best loaf in the world! Hopefully this will draw wider public attention to the development of artisan baking in general in this country.


It's interesting to look at the wider categories of commended and highly commended on this link to see which other organizations entered.  


http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Sg57OGdvmQ4%3d&tabid=682


The spread of entrants doesn't seem so great and some of the categories seem a bit restrictive. For example there are not two separate categories for flour and bread, just one for baked goods. This seems unfortunate as there is now a real range of Soil Association approved millers as well as bakers. Also it throws up anomalies such as Little Salkeld Watermill's stoneground, biodynamic, wholewheat flour being beaten by Bertinet's sourdough. Given that this is an outstanding flour it's a shame there is not a separate 'flour' class, as the Watermill is surely also worthy of this type of recognition. 


Daisy_A

ananda's picture
ananda

..with you Daisy_A,


Flour is a a primary part of any food manufacturing process.


The bread made from that flour should be treated as a separate category, reflecting secondary processes.


This should apply for beer/whisky and all forms of food and beverage preparation.


BW


Andy