IBIE - Wednesday
8:30 AM - a full hall to listen to Ciril Hitz talk about laminated pastries and brioche.
Even the professional's heads were reeling with the amount of information Mr. Hitz can pack into a lecture. We were given a CD with links to Youtube instead of the traditional paper sheets. There was just that much material...
There were, however, some points that were both useful to home bakers and quite memorable. Mr. Hitz spent some time talking about mixers for making bread dough in general and sweet doughs in particular. He is a big proponent of the professional needing both a spiral and a planetary mixer. He described the action of the spiral mixer as a trip to the massage parlor (it's Las Vegas...) - your back is rubbed with long strokes and eventually feels just right - the muscles have been worked. A planetary mixer, he opined, was more like a bar brawl. One person throws the other against a wall and eventually the muscles are worked, but in a much more violent way. I've never quite heard it put that way before. It will take some time for me to get that image out of my head.
Continuing on he said that the most important thing to evaluate when choosing a planetary mixer is the tolerance between the dough hook and the bowl. If it is tight, the dough will pick up well and mix cleanly. If it is loose, the dough will ball on the hook and make trouble. This is certainly something I have seen with my faithful KitchenAid (which will soon be supplemented with a spiral) where the hook clears the bowl by several inches. But the spiral really is a "one trick pony" - it exists to mix dough. It does not cream or whip, so for someone working pastries, the planetary mixer will still be required. For home baking, Mr. Hitz likes the Viking (now, don't everyone rush out to buy it - although independently I have heard good reviews on this mixer) he feels that with it he can develop dough 25% faster than with a KitchenAid.
He also weighed in on the great fresh vs. instant yeast debate For all of his baking, especially at Johnson and Wales, he has transitioned all of his formulas to instant yeast. He claims that he can find no degradation in the finished product. He uses a conversion factor of .4 for fresh to instant rather than the more traditional .33 (and I am still too sensitive on the subject to report what he said about yeast and salt during mixing.) Please, let's not open that debate, I just thought it would be interesting to report this, because he is a picky man with strong opinions.
He also describes osmotolerant yeast as "the way to go" for any sweet doughs. He feels it lasts up to six months in the refrigerator (hardly "forever") once the package is opened.
As he was showing us pictures of over fermented pre ferments, someone asked about making use of those. The distinguished bakers who gave us the lectures on pre ferments had indicated that they could be used - with some product degradation - at a lesser percentage of the total flour. Mr Hitz expressed agreement, (especially about the product degradation) but told us that when his students allow the pre ferment to get over ripe, he makes them use all of it because next time they will pay better attention to what they are doing.
I write 'em like I hear 'em.
A class with Mr. Hitz is not really a logical linear progression. It is a kind of Mr. Toad's Wld Ride - high energy with bits of learning on the way. So we are now reduced to some great quips and quotes.
On proper gluten development: "There is nothing that beats time and controlling dough temperature in a proper development."
On butter: "I cannot emphasize enough that the butter used in lamination must be at least 83% fat content." Any other butter must have a drying agent (flour) added to avoid it cracking apart in the lamination process.
And my favorite: "My theory is, if you don't have a sheeter - don't laminate." (Ok, no throwing of hard objects - he was talking to a group of primarily professional bakers - and for professional bakers he has a point. Did I mention he is opinionated?)
He also passed on a tip he had gotten from Peter Yuen (if you don't know who he is, type the name into your favorite search engine) which was to drill a 1/8inch or so hole in the bottom of brioche tins so that the steam could dissipate and the bottoms bake evenly and flat.
And so much more.
Mr. Hitz is currently in the thrall of blast chillers (for some good reasons) and the question and answer period had spun itself out to a discussion of the best way to use these marvels. So I had a more important destination - the competition area for the LeSaffre Cup.
I neglected to mention the teams that competed yesterday. Once again, very beautiful breads. Peru had a fabulous decorative piece of a working pendulum held aloft on framework of bread. Very nice.
The ceremony to declare the teams who would compete at La Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie had a familiar air. Folks went on and on in three languages (too bad for Brazil, eh?) thanking everyone who was even remotely connected with the competition. There was of course the City of Las Vegas, the Bread Baker's Guild of America, many individuals, the artisan baking community in general...Oh, you want the results?
Teams would be chosen for South America and for North/Central America. There would be a challenger team and the team that would actually compete in Paris.
For South America:
Challenger Team - Brazil (thought they might regret that bland decorative piece)
Winner - Peru (and the crowd goes nuts!)
For North/Central America
Challenger Team - Costa Rica