The Bread Feed
Customer education begins in the window:
(All our ingredients are fresh and seasonal and our products are "home-made"). "People need to learn to live within the Earth's finite resources, they need to pay attention to the weather, to the climate. Once a crop is all in, that's it for the year. In the fall, we use apples and pears in our tarts and cakes, in the winter, lemon, chocolate, caramel and apples (they keep well); in March, we work with dried fruit. Then spring arrives, bringing back first strawberries, then apricots. When someone asks for a fraisier (a fresh strawberry cake) in December, we explain why it can't be done. Our sandwiches and other snack food follow the seasons as well. We offer thick vegetable pies in the fall when varietal diversity is at its peak. As soon as tomato season is over in France, grated raw root vegetables (carrots, beets) or céleri rémoulade (grated celeriac in a mustardy mayo dressing) replace tomato slices in our sandwiches. New customers are baffled. We explain. That's when consumer education happens. Some will never learn, they go elsewhere. Most stay. We have lots of students, many families, elderly people who are the pillars of our community. Some come three or four times a day: for croissants in the morning, for a salad or a quiche at lunch, for bread at any time." Listening to Guillaume (who, while talking to me non-stop in the bakery's kitchen, is also hand-mixing mayonnaise and chopping and grating vegetables for salads and sandwiches), I feel a sudden longing for a life where I too might be able to stop four times a day by my neighborhood bakery...
The bakery gets its flour from Moulin Trottin, a mill whose owner largely shares Guillaume's outlook on territoriality and the environment: the flours Guillaume buys from him are all French and all organic. He shuns such exotic grains as kamut and quinoa: "They come from too far away. Using these flours makes no sense economically-, biologically- or environmentally-speaking. So we do without. Besides wheat, the flour we use the most is petit-épeautre, also called engrain (emmer). Grown in central France (the one from Provence is too expensive) and rich in minerals, it is redolent of our terroir français. Since it is low in gluten and absorbs a lot of water, we have developed a special formula and technique to make the best possible use of its characteristics and to showcase its unique flavor. It is quite popular with our customers."
"We use no grand-épeautre (spelt) at all. It is too close to wheat, especially in gluten-content, to be of much nutritional interest." Guillaume stops chopping for a minute. "Gluten intolerance is a modern ailment, a direct result of wheat selection which has consistently favored high-gluten varieties: today wheat can contain up to forty-three percent gluten. Twenty years ago, the percentage was twenty-five percent. There is naturally much less gluten in ancient wheat varieties, such as the ones that are currently being reintroduced in some parts of southern France." His face takes on a slightly mournful expression: "I guess gluten-free baking has a future in this country, sort of." Chopping resumes at a faster rythm.
The loudspeakers are going full blast in the shop and kitchen; Guillaume and Suat, his sale associate, are moving briskly. It is mid-morning. Their shift has started early but not as early as Luc's, who is nevertheless still busy downstairs in the bread lab. The phone rings, the greengrocer is on the line. Guillaume, who is dexterously filling mini-tubs with the salad he just made, wedges the phone between cheek and shoulder and places an order from a list seemingly embedded whole in his memory: "Flat parsley, Reine de Reinettes and Golden apples, leaf celery, eggs, etc." He goes on and on. The seller is a cooperative of producers and everything is organic.
I ask about dried fruit and nuts. "We buy organic French walnuts. I'd love to buy French hazelnuts as well but we just don't produce enough. The best hazelnuts come from Italy. Unfortunately ninety percent of Italian hazelnuts are gobbled up by a huge industrial confectioner. " He shakes his head: "And that's how the best hazelnuts in the world end up in the worst candy in the world. " He looks dejected for a minute but he soon brightens up: "Right now I am looking for a producer of AOC chestnut flour in Corsica but this year's crop isn't completely in yet. I have to wait. Meanwhile I use the Markal brand. My rule is to go as close to home as possible to buy the best I can find: almonds from Spain, hazelnuts, figs and apricots from Turkey."
One thing is for sure: no truck ever lumbers up to Le Pain par nature to delivers frozen pastries and viennoiseries; no order is ever placed for strawberries from Spain, Africa or South America or from anywhere but France, for that matter; mangoes, pineapples, sesame seeds and pistachios never darken the door. Ninety-two percent of the fruit and vegetables used at the bakery is grown in France and organic. Milk and eggs are organic too. But, Guillaume explains, "Organic is becoming a business, and nowadays the only organic butter available in France comes from Holland. It makes no sense to use Dutch butter when we ourselves make the best possible butter for our croissants!" So he buys Montaigu, a conventional AOC butter from Charentes-Poitou.
Suat Adiyaman, Luc Poggio and Guillaume Viard Among the breads, the best-seller is the Tradi-bio (a naturally leavened baguette with a crunchy crust, a fine crumb and a good shelf-life) closely followed by the Bioguette (a yeasted baguette with a shorter fermentation time). Bio (short for biologique), means "organic."
Among the special breads on offer on this particular morning, I spy the Cambrousse, a country bread...
...the Pain des champs...
... and a few glorious miches...
I also spy also viennoiseries such as the airy chausson aux pommes below (filled with homemade applesauce)...
...the friand maison (a house pâté made with ground meat -veal, beef and chicken- and fresh herbs)...
...or crumbly pains au chocolat aux amandes (twice-baked chocolate almond croissants)...
Despite using all organic ingredients (save for butter, oil and vinegar), Guillaume and Luc keep their prices reasonably competitive. The Bioguette goes for one euro (a non-organic regular baguette costs an average of € 0.85 in Paris, € 0.95 in the neighborhood) and the Tradi-Bio for € 1.20 (against an average of € 1.10 for a conventional baguette tradition in Paris, € 1.15 in the neighborhood). Sandwiches and salads are a bit more pricey than elsewhere, reflecting the added cost of the ingredients but they still fly off the shelves. "People come for the taste. They may grumble about the price but they come back." Guillaume hands a stack of covered salad containers to Suat who takes them into the shop. Noon is fast approaching, the lunch crowd will soon arrive, re-stocking is in-order.
Full trays of just baked snacks are waiting to be displayed...
Roullos made with rolled out tradibio dough smothered with organic ham and cheese,
sometimes made instead with julienned veggies or shredded chicken and cheese "Our customers understand that everything we sell is made in-house. But it took a while for that to sink in. Take the croissants! After years of eating frozen industrial croissants (the bakery's previous owners didn't make their own), they were a bit put out by the fact that the shape of ours varied slightly from one batch to the next. We had to explain that our croissants were hand-made by Luc, an artisan, not by a machine! Now they know and they no longer notice." Guillaume met Luc at La Boulangerie par Véronique Mauclerc, an organic bakery which, sadly, is no longer in existence (I remember visiting it a few years ago and being awed by the diversity and flavor of the offerings). (For a picture of Guillaume in front of Mauclerc's woodfire oven, one of only three still in existence in Paris, click here). There is pride in his voice when he adds: "I trained him myself. Now he runs our bread lab."
As for Guillaume, he started as an apprentice in a bakery in his native Central France. Sadly the boss never let him touch anything but a broom and a mop and he spent his days cleaning the floor. So he joined Les Compagnons du Devoir, became a baker, did the customary Tour de France, and after trying his hand at pastry, cooking, and other trades went back to bread when hired by Veronique Mauclerc. "Not only did I learn a lot from her about organic baking but she also taught me self-reliance. At one point though we found ourselves disagreeing about some fundamental choices and we parted ways. I went down South to get my driver's license and started thinking about the bakery I was dreaming of opening one day. I worked a bit for Eric Kayser, a fellow Compagnon and my then-idol (I learned a great deal from his three textbooks). Then Luc and I decided to become partners. It took us more than two years to put the project together: a year and a half to write the business plan, six months to find financing then a year to locate the bakery we wanted. We found our current premises (where a bakery has been continuously in operation since 1904) through word-of-mouth. There were many other interested buyers but the owners liked us from the get-go. So they sold to us. We opened on November 5, 2012 and did well right away: sales volume increased by 50 to 60% the first year compared to the sellers' turnover of the year before (to be fair, they weren't getting any younger and didn't have their heart in it anymore). Most of their customers stayed with us. Le Pain par nature is a neighborhood bakery and we love it that way."
Guillaume is very proud of the fact that he won tenth place earlier this year for his tarte aux pommes (apple tart) in a Paris-wide competition. "I was raised in rural France and we grew most of our food. All organic of course. We knew no other way. I still do everything the way we used to. For instance, I make my crème pâtissière (pastry cream) from a recipe given to me by a great-aunt. I don't change a thing." When he was a child, he baked cakes every Sunday, so when he joined the Compagnons, he was hoping to become a boulanger-pâtissier (bread baker/pastry chef) but admission was based on competitive exams and "I could only apply to one. I picked 'boulanger' because the trades were listed in alphabetical order and it was the first to come up. I have no regrets: pastry is a very rigorous and technical craft. That's not who I am. I work on instinct, on feeling. But I still like pastry. Although maybe I like cooking even more."
Le Pain par nature is a different kind of business: "We chose to make it a cooperative, which means that the focus is on the business itself, not on the capital. We are required by law to keep it growing as opposed to getting the most money out of it and, again by law, we cannot be anything but salaried employees. Right now the bakery officially has two employees, Luc and myself. Suat - who is a landscape artist by trade - came on board at a later stage, when the company he worked for went out of business. He is expected to soon become a partner."
"We all share the same ideas. Luc was born in Paris but he is keenly aware that organic is the way of the future. Our dream is actually to one day open an école de boulange (a baking school), maybe in my childhood home if we can swing it as it is fairly large and comes with a fruit and vegetable garden. We would just need to build a classroom. We would adopt a holistic approach and teach all aspects of the trade: working with organic ingredients only, we would make sure the apprentices know where everything comes from. They would grow the produce they would use. We would build a mill to help them understand flour. They need to see by themselves that wheat requires time, technique and terroir to grow, that the land has its own nature, origin and history, that life has meaning and that bread is alive. We'd seek accreditation but if we couldn't get it, we would remain a private trade school: our graduates would just have to sit for the public exam to obtain their official diplomas. Whether or not we ever open our dream school one day, we already live and work by our principles and I like to think that our bakery is twenty years ahead of our times."
I close my notebook and Guillaume selects a well-baked Tradi-bio among those which have just come out of the oven. He hands it to me. It makes a lovely crackling sound: "Taste it later when it has cooled down a bit". I already know that it will taste just the way it looks, as an honest to goodness baguette, ready to play second fiddle to whatever tasty food will be put on the table but whose crust and crumb make it ideal for that most cherished goûter (afternoon snack) of my childhood: bread with a bar of chocolate inside. The torch is passing to a new generation. It is a lovely thing to see.
To find out more, you might want to check BreadStorm's FAQ page.
Back when I was a kid, we called Chanukah the Festival of Light, in commemoration of the eight days that the candelabra (hanukkiya) in the Temple burned on one day’s supply of oil.
As I got older, however, I began to think of it more as the Festival of Frying, since oil plays such a central role in the holiday. We eat latkes (potato pancakes), fried chicken and/or fish, french fries (a non-traditional favorite), and anything else one can imagine that’s both kosher and deep-fried.
Jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot in Hebrew), were never part of my grandparents’ Chanukah traditions (we ate latkes), but for many Jews are an integral part of the holiday. So herewith, Norm Berg’s recipe for sufganiyot, straight out of Inside the Jewish Bakery .
Makes: about three dozen
Baker’s Percentage½ cup Shortening
11%2/3 cup Granulated sugar
14%2¾ tsp Table salt
2%½ cup Nonfat dry milk (optional)
7%2 Large eggs, beaten
11%2¼ cups Water
58%1¼ tsp Vanilla extract
2%Zest of 1 lemon
1%6 2/3 cups Bread flour, unsifted
100%2 tbs + 2¼ tsp Instant yeast
- Put the shortening, sugar, salt and dry milk into a mixing bowl and blend until smooth, about 8-10 minutes, if by hand and about 4-5 minutes using the flat (paddle) beater at medium (KA 4) speed if by machine.
- Beat the egg lightly and incorporate into the shortening mixture and continue blending until smooth, 2-3 minutes, then add the water and flavorings, mixing to form a slurry.
- Reduce the speed to low (KA 2) and slowly incorporate the flours and instant yeast, forming a smooth dough.
- Switch to the dough hook and knead for another 8-10 minutes, until the dough forms a ball around the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured board until it’s no longer sticky, then form it into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and ferment until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a moderately floured board, flour the top surface lightly but evenly to prevent sticking and punch down. scale the dough to 1.0-2.0oz/30-55g pieces, roll into balls and flatten to ¼”-3/8”/0.6-1.0cm thick.
- Preheat your frying oil to 350°-375°F/175°-190°C.
- Place the dough pieces on a frying screen (I use 10″ pizza screens, available at kitchen supply vendors). Proof until slightly less than doubled in size and a finger gently pressed into the dough leaves an indentation that doesn’t spring back, 45 – 60 minutes. Be very careful when you handle the doughnuts, as too much touching will result in a collapsed product. Don’t under any circumstances transfer the doughnuts to the oil by hand.
- Lower the frying screen with the doughnuts into the oil and fry until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the doughnuts using the handle of a wooden spoon or a pair of bamboo chopsticks and fry for another minute.
- Lift the frying screen and the doughnuts out of the oil, let any excess oil run off and transfer to paper towels to drain. When they’re cool, use a pastry bag and plain tip to inject them with jelly, custard, pudding or other smooth filling. Finish the with honey glaze, simple icing or powdered sugar.
Now the twins' seventh birthday is upon us again and, as you can imagine, it will be a difficult one for everyone, most especially Noah's twin sister, his parents and his three older siblings. The month of December is bound to bring even more pain.
But no fresh outpouring of longing and sorrow will bring Noah back. Ever. And, after eleven months, having him back in his parents' arms is still all I am ready to settle for. Conjuring him up in words no longer helps.
Because there is nothing to add to what I have already written over the months, I want this blog to be silent on the anniversary of his death and, barring a change of heart or mind (mourning is a tortuous process), on all the fourteenths of the month that will follow.
So Farine will revert to being mostly a bread blog. I hope you'll still stop by and visit from time to time and maybe pick up bread-making as a hobby, as a passion or even as a career. If only because making and sharing real bread is an affirmation of all that's good around us.
I wish to thank all of you for the extraordinary love and support you have shown us. I am more grateful that I can ever say. I know you will continue to think of and pray for our family and more importantly, that you will remember Noah and never allow him to become a footnote or a statistics.
Please join me in respecting silence by not commenting on this post. Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Larry and Gerry invited him to come back and spend a week with them at the bakery. For various reasons, that didn't happen until early December when Christmas baking was in full swing. Gerry was making kringles and I went over to observe him and to meet their guest. Cheerful and easy going, I liked him instantly and we soon found ourselves chatting away like a pair of old friends.
When he went back to France to resume flying around the world, we remained in touch via Facebook, which is how I found out, a few months later, that he was contemplating a career switch: he had applied to the baking program at Ferrandi, possibly France's most prestigious trade school, and had been accepted (one of ten successful candidates out of a hundred). My head spinning from this turn of events (I knew he loved his job as a flight attendant), I asked Loïc what had brought it about. He replied immediately: "My chance encounter with the Whidbey bakers on that flight from Paris" (a flight which, incidentally, was the last direct Air France flight on that route). As to the timing of his decision, he attributes it to two tragedies that struck too close for comfort: the crash of Air France flight 447 out of Rio in June 2009 (which killed passengers and crew) and the Newtown shooting of last December in which I lost my grandson Noah. Loïc had only met me one week earlier. The message was clear: life was too unpredictable to postpone one's dreams.
When I arrived in Paris last month, Loïc was nearing the mid-point of a sixteen-week training program at the end of which he would obtain his CAP boulanger (certificate of professional competence as a bread baker). To say that he is happy with his training would be a serious understatement. He loves the fact that the group is small (ten apprentices), that he is constantly learning new doughs and techniques and that the instructor, Christophe Moussu, is the kindest and most patient of teachers ("la gentillesse et la patience incarnées"), always ready with a helping hand. With twenty-five years of experience in bread and pastry, Mr. Moussu is both a master baker and a pastry chef. He's passionate about teaching: "I want the apprentices to develop a real feel for the dough," but he knows that right now they are just playing at being bakers. No amount of schooling will replace work in an actual bakery where they will have to contend with a rigorous production schedule and where nobody will be holding their hands.
On a cloudy Parisian morning, Mr. Moussu fitted me with a white jacket and snuck me inside his lab for a quick peek at what the trainees were doing.
Under this particular program, the apprentices study at the school from September to December (their training is mostly hands-on but also include a full day of theory per week plus weekly classes in hygiene, security, risk prevention and business law), complete a fourteen-to-sixteen-week internship in a bakery from January to April, come back to the school in May for two weeks of review and take the final exam in June. Having opted for an additional three-week of pastry training, Loïc should be done with school by the end of July 2014.
There is no risk and no cost involved for him in this exploration of a possible new career path: Air France is picking up the tab of his training under FONGECIF (a fund to which companies are required to contribute to finance time-off for training purposes) and he is still being paid his salary. When done with school, he will go back to Air France where his job is being kept open for him. He won't have to leave the company unless he wants to.
When we met for lunch after school, I asked Loïc: "Why bread?" He replied: "Initially, it wasn't so much bread per se. What drove me was the keen desire to feed others. But my faith is important to me and I am aware of strong religious connotations (Christ broke a bread open and handed pieces of it to his disciples and said: "This is my body"). Also, bread is part and parcel of the French cultural identity and I feel deeply French." He added: "Passion isn't in my nature, so I can't say I am passionate about bread. It'd be more accurate to say that I am fascinated. When I watched Larry and Gerry at work in their bakery, I had no idea why they were doing what they were doing. But I liked what they had me do. I remember their printing formulas for me. I had no clue how to use them. Now it is all coming together. That's a great feeling."
Loïc thought some more and amended what he had just said: "In fact I do have a passion and that's for learning through experience. I loved my job at Air France. But I have done it now for fifteen years and time has come to discover something new. What I truly appreciate about the bakers I have met so far is that they care deeply about sharing their knowledge and expertise. They are bonnes pâtes." (A bonne pâte, literally a "good dough", is an affectionate expression designating a good person.) "They have instilled in me love and respect for le travail du pain (dough handling) and I have found out at school that I greatly enjoy shaping and creating beautiful breads. Also, when I helped Larry and Gerry sell at the market, I witnessed the strength of the bonds they have forged with the community over the years. I want that. I want to settle down somewhere, feed people and get to know them. Some bakers say that you need to be passionate about bread to work the required long hours and exhausting shifts. I don't see it that way. I am a people person. My hard work will go towards building the customer base that will be my reward. To answer your initial question, bread may be what will carry the day for me but if it turns out to be something else entirely, so be it."
(Above photos reproduced with Loïc's kind permission) After I left, as I was walking towards the métro, I got a call from Loïc on my cell phone asking me to come back to the fournil (the lab). He sounded mysterious, I headed back and he came out into the courtyard to meet me, holding a gigantic bag of croissant-dough bats (Halloween was coming up) that he had forgotten to give me. He had made them himself.
He warned me not to eat them all by myself. So, in the spirit of sharing and because I was headed next to meet a friend who works for the Paris Opéra ballet company, I re-gifted most of the bats to dancers and ballerinas. When I later told Loïc, he said it was a great idea because ballet dancers were in a perfect position to work these buttery bats off. I did save one for each of us. They were sinful and since I am not a ballerina, I am indeed glad I ate only one. But they were delicious. Merci, Loïc !
Pan de muerto is the traditional Mexican sweet bread eaten during Día de los Muertos, observed November 1 and 2 to honor loved ones who have died and celebrate the eternal cycle of life. The signatures of this soft, sweet, orange- or anise-scented bread are the “skull” and “bones” and that decorate its top and sides.
This pan de muerto recipe is richer in butter than one I have made in the past, and zestier with the use of sourdough starter. I present it in honor of mis muertos, who made my life richer and zestier in countless ways:
My father: Charles W. Tenney, Jr., a brilliant mind and playful wit, who encouraged me to dream first and ask questions later.
My maternal grandparents: Mary Strawson, who taught me to make things with my hands, and Stanton Strawson, who thought hammering together wooden vessels to float in the tide pool was a perfectly wonderful pursuit for little girls.
My paternal grandparents: Mildred Tenney, who loved nothing more than sitting down at the piano to play a lively tune, and Charles W. Tenney, Sr., who gave me stamps that inspired me to learn how to use an atlas and discover more about the big world out there.
And now YeastSpotting is up to date! Again, many thanks to all who continued to submit during the hibernation.
Bake on!Loaves and Rolls, First Batch Loaves and Rolls, Second Batch Flat Breads, Sweet Breads, and More YeastSpotting is a weekly collective showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient. For more bread inspiration, and information on how to submit your bread, please visit the YeastSpotting archive.
Hello Yeastspotters and spottees!
I know it’s been a while since the last edition of YeastSpotting. Thanks to all who continue to send your wonderful breads. If you don’t see your submission in this edition, look for it in the next one, which I promise will be published in the next few days.
Happy baking, everyone!Loaves and Rolls, First Batch Loaves and Rolls, Second Batch Flat Breads, Sweet Breads, and More YeastSpotting is a weekly collective showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient. For more bread inspiration, and information on how to submit your bread, please visit the YeastSpotting archive.
On this day which marks the ten-month anniversary of one of my adopted country's darkest moments, a horrific event which claimed the lives of twenty first-graders, including my grandson Noah, and of six of the grown-ups working at their school, I want to share some of the light of this other America. I don't remember whether or not Noah liked beets (probably not), but he loved bread (with no butter on it), garlic, pumpkins and butterflies, and he loved color. He also greatly enjoyed walking the drift logs when he visited the beach in West Seattle. These images are for him.
We were in Kingston, Ontario, for the day (across from the U.S. side of the St-Lawrence River, where we used to spend our summer vacations when we lived in the Northeast) and he was dragging his feet walking back to the car. In fact all three little ones were. The only thing that kept them moving forward -albeit slowly- was the prospect of an ice-cream at White Mountain, always a treat, even for the grown-ups, even for this grown-up who doesn't really like ice-cream (gasp!) but happens to harbor a serious weakness for White Mountain's raspberry frozen yogurt in a waffle cone.
Anyway we had stopped along the way by the old church staircase and I took a picture of the five siblings in descending order with the twins on the bottom step, then eveyone got ready to move on except Noah who showed no inclination to follow suit despite the promised treat and actually climbed all the way up to the church door. Sitting by himself on the steps in his oversized shorts, he looked like a little rebel. I snapped his picture and held out my hand. After a while he put his in it and came down. We started along the street again.
Just as we were passing an old-fashioned limestone tavern, a recessed door opened and a woman shuffled out, pushing a walker. She looked frail and her face bore deep lines. Noah glanced at her and pronounced matter-of-factly in his naturally booming voice: "This woman is very, very old." I was turning to offer an apology when the woman burst out laughing. She asked Noah how old he was and when he replied "three", she said they all looked like great kids and she hoped they were having a wonderful day. To me, she said she had recently been very sick and understood how she might appear ancient to a three-year old. By that time, the twins were pulling forward, excitedly debating ice-cream flavors. I wished the woman the best and we smiled good-bye.
Little memories that pop up unannounced bring back the past so vividly that the world seems to have been put right again. Then reality floods back in and for a minute you find yourself both smiling because of what once was and crying because of what no longer is. The truth is that contrary to all appearances, there is nothing ordinary about ordinary life, certainly nothing that should be taken for granted. When you walk down a street holding hands with some of your favorite little people, you better cherish the moment and engrave it in your memory: there is no guarantee it will come by again. Ten months after the shooting, it still defies comprehension that six years is all the life Noah ever had.
By weights (for four loaves)
- Using mixer on first speed, combine flours, water and levain until incorporated (reserve about 10% of the water for later adjustments if needed)
- Sprinkle salt and yeast on top
- Give a 15 to 30 minute rest (we didn't have time to do a longer autolyse at the Kneading Conference but a longer one would have been better)
- Turn mixer back on to incorporate yeast and salt
- Check hydration: dough should feel supple. Adjust as necessary
- Mix 2 min on second speed until gluten is fully developed
- Put in anise seeds, soaked grains (don't strain them) and figs
- Mix to combine on first speed: dough will fall apart first, then knit itself together
- DDT: 78°F
- Fermentation: 3 hours with one fold at 45 min
- Scale at 560 g
- Pre-shape as a loose boule (you have to be really gentle with this dough as it contains a lot of whole wheat and could get really dense if manipulated briskly)
- Shape as batards or tear-drops (to mimic shape of fig). If using a tear-drop shape, fold one end of the batard over itself as illustrated below
- Proof seam-up in floured bannetons or on floured couches for 45 min to one hour (use whole-wheat or whole-spelt flour)
- When loading on a peel, give each tear-drop loaf a slight curve to one side
- Bake for 32 to 35 min at 450° F, with steam
- Cool on a rack
For detailed information on various aspects of artisan bread baking, please visit King Arthur's YouTube channel: in this video in particular, from 6:38 min on, Martin Philip demonstrates how to shape a batard (in the first part of the video, master baker Jeffrey Hamelman shows how to shape both boules and baguettes).
For those of you who are using BreadStorm (including the free version), please click on this link to import the formula so that you can scale it up or down as desired.
- Showcase seasonal flavors
- Use grains that are available locally
- Diversify his or her offerings
- Satisfy a customer request (for a specific taste or nutritional benefit)
- Challenge himself/herself by using a new technique or a different type of flour
- Type of pre-ferment (if using)
- Type of leavening
- Bulk fermentation
- Shaping and scoring
- Final proof time
- Bake temperature and duration
- If using a weak (low protein) wheat flour, the baker might choose to pre-ferment all of it (i.e. to hydrate all of the weak flour with some of the water in the formula, adding a bit of yeast and salt, and to let it ferment anywhere from three to twelve hours) in order to make the dough stronger
- If using a strong (high protein) wheat flour, an autolyse is the way to go as it helps boost extensibility. It is highly recommended for baguette dough
- If a niche flour (buckwheat, einkorn, legume, quinoa, grapeseed, sprouted wheat or spelt, durum, sorghum, kamut, mesquite) is to be used, thought needs to be given to ways to get the desired crumb structure
- Hydration is pretty much dictated by the type of flour(s) to be used
- The baker might choose to use either commercial yeast or a starter or maybe both. It all comes down to the kind of flavor s/he is looking for. Baguettes, for instance, have a very different flavor profile when made with liquid levain as opposed to commercial yeast.
- If using a levain, build schedule needs to be a consideration
- Liquid levain and poolish are usually made with white flour but some whole flour can be used as well. A pre-ferment containing whole grain will be more active: it might therefore require the addition of a bit of salt. A white poolish or levain is more predictible.
- An autolyse is an optional step in which all the flour and most of the water in a formula are incorporated in the absence of either yeast of salt until the flour is thoroughly hydrated. This somewhat shaggy dough is allowed to rest for a mininum of twenty minutes before the baker proceeds with the mix proper. The goal is to jumpstart both gluten development and enzymatic activity
- Commercial yeast is never added to the autolyse but when a formula calls for poolish and/or liquid levain, the poolish and levain are added to the flour and water in the autolyse (flour wouldn't hydrate properly otherwise since they contain a large part of the total water in the formula)
- Doing an autolyse is highly recommended if the dough is to be hand-mixed
- But even if using a mixer, an autolyse is an excellent way of developing the gluten without overprocessing the dough and risking loss of flavor
- What type of mix is best for the bread the baker has in mind? Short? Improved? Intensive?
- Generally speaking, today many artisan bakers choose to mix the dough very gently and to rely on folds to develop the strength of the dough during fermentation
- Time: if the dough is machine-mixed, total fermentation time might need to be reduced
- Number of folds (usually based on an evaluation of the dough consistency)
The back and forth was most informative. For ease of reference, Martin's comments are presented in bold and in a different color. Please keep in mind that all percentages are given in relation to the amount of flour, always expressed as 100% (for more on bakers' math, please refer to the post entitled BreadStorm)
- Participant: Could we make a 100% whole wheat bread?
Martin Philip: Since we are going to use figs (a heavy ingredient) it would be preferable to use a fair amount of white flour in order to optimize crumb structure. Going 50% white 50% whole wheat would be a good compromise
- Participant: What proportion of figs should we use?
Martin Philip: Since the figs we just bought are moist and don't need to be soaked, we could go anywhere between 25 and 35%. Back home it might be worthwhile to try and make one bucket of dough with 20% figs and another with 30% and then decide which one works best. If opting for another dried fruit, keep in mind that raisins, currants, pears and apples all pull water from the dough unless quick-soaked in boiling water before incorporation
- Participant: Could we leaven the bread entirely with liquid levain?
Martin Philip: Sure! Back at home or at the bakery you can, but because of time constraints during the Kneading Conference (due to limited oven space), we will need to add a bit of yeast. Another reason to add yeast is that figs have a high sugar content. Sugar being hygroscopic, it tends to slow down fermentation by pulling water away from the yeast
Tip: if you are making one single dough with different breads in mind, take out the portion you need to make the fig bread and add a bit of yeast to that, keeping the rest of the dough yeast-free for other purposes
- Participant: How liquid is the levain we are going to use?
Martin Philip: We will be using a levain hydrated at 100% but at the King Arthur Bakery, the liquid levain is kept at 125%-hydration
- Participant: Could we use a firm levain?
Martin Philip: The bright acidity of a firm levain might be a bit assertive for a fruit bread but it might be interesting to mix and match liquid and firm levains or to use a liquid levain and a biga. All elements need to be balanced. Is the levain acidity kept in check by the sweetness of the figs? Experimenting is the way to go
- Participant: Could we add in a bit of rye levain?
Martin Philip: We certainly could but if the levain is going to sit all night before we mix the bread tomorrow morning, it might be best to stick to wheat (rye develops faster and may cause the levain to peak before we are ready for it). Another consideration to bear in mind that a sour rye would add acidity
- Participant: How much levain should we use?
Martin Philip: The percentage of total flour used in the pre-ferment affects both the functionality of the dough and the flavor of the bread. It is one of the most notable feature in any formula. A high proportion of levain tends to make the bread denser. The ideal in this case would be to use about 18% levain although at the Kneading Conference we will have to use 30% because of time constraints
- Participant: Could we make miches?
Martin Philip: Better go for a smaller shape in order to maximize caramelization. A tear-drop shape that would emulate the contour of a fig would be visually pleasant for this bread
- Participant: What hydration should we go for?
Martin Philip: No need to reinvent the wheel. The best way to determine hydration when creating a new formula is to look at existing formulas for similar types of breads and see what percentage of water they use. A good starting point for this particular bread would probably be 74-75%. In any case, the baker needs to monitor dough consistency throughout the mixing, keeping a container of water close at hand
- Participant: Could we use a soaker?
Martin Philip: A soaker would be a great addition. If you opt for soaking grains such as wheat, barley or rye chops for an extended period of time at room temperature, bear in mind that you need to use a bit of salt or the soaker will be off by the time you are ready to mix. For best flavor, toast the grain, then let it cool, crack it in your mill, add water and soak overnight. In this formula, we are going to use wheat because that's what we have available but back home you may want to try other grains and see which one works best for you
- Participant: How much water should we use in the soaker?
Martin Philip: A good ballpark figure for hydrating cracked grain is 120% (meaning a baker needs to use 120 units of water for 100 units of grain). The water used to hydrate the soaker comes out of the total dough water. Same thing for the water used in the levain
- Participant: If using a spice such as anise seed, what percentage should we go for?
Martin Philip: One percent is usually the way to go. Remember to always toast aromatics before incorporating them in a dough. Use a heavy metal object to bust up the anise seeds a bit after roasting
- Participant: How much salt should we use? Two percent?
Martin Philip: Because of the high percentage of figs and cracked wheat, 2% salt might be a bit low
See Fig-Anise 50% Whole-Wheat Bread for the completed formula and more photos.