The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sheeter Love

proth5's picture
proth5

Sheeter Love

Proth5 – returning from the void! Well, hardly. But I thought my recent activities might resonate with the “old timers” – those who were posting when I was a regular on this site – and I had to break my blog silence just this once. For the new folks, beware. My time away has only brought out the curmudgeon in me.

From time to time we all see the news stories where a couple met in high school and fell in love, but something in life intervened, they were separated and went on with their lives. Then they meet in a nursing home, recognize their old love and get married.

Thus has gone my “sheeter love”. Ciril Hitz was the person who first taught me how to use a sheeter. He noticed the “Where have you been all my life?” look in my eye. Yes, a tool that efficiently rolled out dough. Much faster and more evenly than a rolling pin. I was no rookie with a rolling pin (I’ve baked for a very long time) but this was so much better.

Sheeters are expensive pieces of equipment. The least expensive that I found was a hand turned version from Machines Caplain that cost $3K, took up a fair amount of space, and had to be shipped from France. I went on with my life, I did lamination (real lamination, where fat is enclosed in dough to make layers that will puff when baked, not whatever it has come to mean on this site) by hand and was pretty successful with it. But deep in my heart, I always knew. It would be so much less effort with a sheeter. Every time I picked up my rolling pin, I thought “I wish I had a sheeter.” But I had resigned myself it was not to be.

I was reading “Food and Wine” magazine (I don’t just complain. I read. I learn.), when they reported that a small bakery did their lamination (real lamination – but I digress) using a slab roller. This is not a tool of the baking trade, but of ceramics, but had an action similar to a sheeter. A flat surface moves across a bottom roller while the top roller rolls out the slab. It wasn’t cheap (in the $5-600 range) but I hadn’t gone anywhere or done anything travel related this year (I wonder why…), nor was I going to. It seemed like I should treat myself. It was just a web order (and my pictures are enough advertising so you much search for an on line ceramics supply shop yourself) and some dark looks from the UPS guy (for the big, heavy box) away.

So, I set it up and tried it to make pains au chocolat. I even took pictures.

Here is the slab roller itself.

Here is a folded and rested paton ready to be sheeted. Notice that the paton is placed between two pieces of canvas. I found this disconcerting when I started, but it worked rather well. I thought of using two silpats, but mine are only half sheet size and were not large enough for what I was doing.

Here is a paton rolled and ready to be folded. See how pretty!

Of course, when a girl gets a new toy, she is tempted to push it to the limit and although I was trying to sheet to 0.125 inch, I thought  ”What if I went just a bit lower” and created a disaster. I had a slab of shredded dough and a roller covered in dough. It cleaned up well, but I did have a really substandard batch of pains au chocolat. The second batch went much better.

Here is the “honeycomb” shot from the batch that I ruined:

Not bad considering what I had done to the dough. I didn’t cut up the nice ones because I had some folks waiting to take them home, but here’s a shot of the ones that I didn’t ruin.

So, I have been united with my long-lost love and will certainly be using it a lot in the future.

I hear the echoes of a very old discussion about “artisan” when I look at my little slab roller. Let me be clear – this is not a “lamination machine”. As the baker, I must bring all the knowledge and skill that lamination requires. I chose the flour, I mix the dough, I form the butter block (although I did use the slab roller to finish it),I even tempered and  piped the chocolate batons. The tool neither creates nor negates the artisan.  It is just is a more efficient way to roll out the dough. And it is great!

 OK, I must confess that I have attempted to post this thing three times and found it agonizing. I hope this one works. I can't believe I used to do this on a regular basis. Must have been before I got heavily into pastry and chocolate work!

Bye now.

 Pat

Comments

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Hey Pat!  Great to see you back :)

Agree 100% on "lamination." (It's just wrong.)

proth5's picture
proth5

I try to avoid posting here because, well, you know. But the old timers spent a lot of time hearing about my love affair with the sheeter. And now I finally have one. Had to let them know! (And it really did operate well and I am pretty happy with my slab roller.)

Words have power and meaning. I've come to appreciate that more and more.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Glad the sheeter love story has a happy ending  :)

Surprised I didn't see you in the laminated brioche class in KC last year.

proth5's picture
proth5

thought about it, but I think the timing was bad or I just didn't feel like getting on a plane. After 20 years constantly being on planes, I sometimes just can't make myself face them.

I was really jazzed (literally and figuratively), though, to head to New Orleans for Craig Ponsford's class, but 2020...

pmccool's picture
pmccool

and sometimes you get a sheeter.  Or something like that. 

I remember some talk years back about using a slab roller as a sheeter but I think that you may be the first I’ve heard of to actually follow through, Pat.  Thanks for the post and for confirming that the tool can be used effectively for lamination purposes.  I’d invite myself out to Colorado for an in-person demonstration but...Covid.  We won’t see our Colorado kids for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, so no way for me to arrange a detour from the Springs up to your place. 

The only downside of having a sheeter or slab roller is that I would want to use it.  And then eat the product.  I’d probably wind up resembling a croissant—all puffed out in the middle.  

Give your inner curmudgeon a kick in the pants every now and again.  It's good to hear from you.  

Paul

proth5's picture
proth5

I have a group of folks that I feed so I limit my own consumption. But I think that laminated goods are going to be on the menu more often.

Yeah, 2020, Huh? When this is all over (and it will be) you are welcome to swing by - I'll have the dough ready!

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Hey, Paul, I was one of those who posted about using the slab roller; see http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/354851#comment-354851 .

Not being much of a pastries baker, I appreciate and use a tool that makes an operation possible for me that I do way too seldom to acquire the requisite skills.

gary

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Wondering what all the talk of lamination authenticity is about.  Aside from that, this looks like a ton of fun.  Congrats on the purchase ! 

proth5's picture
proth5

you have not seen the very prominent posts that inexplicably (and deliberately) misuse this term, I do not feel the need to point them out to you. Suffice it to say, they have been noticed by others.

Anyway, the toy is fun to use and I should be getting better with practice...

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

I'd think $3k wouldn't put off a Diamant afficianado.  But from one who likes nothing more than to re-purpose a cheaper alternative to solve any consumer/engineering/building problem, I salute this one.  Proof is in the lamination and voila, c'est magnifique.

Pat, you're such a strict constructionist.  OK, then what's a less offensive term for stretching one's dough out flat and thin and folding it up on the counter?  Layeration?  Veneering?  Tortillation?  Streeeeetch & Fold?

Happy Laminating,

Tom
(Toad.de.b back in the day)

proth5's picture
proth5

You may not recall (from approximately a million years ago) that I got my Diamant from eBay for $400 right before the retail price skyrocketed. I'm fully able to spend money, but then can turn into a cheapskate in a minute. Thanks for the kind words on the lamination. It could be better...

Terms, huh? Man, I was really trying to let this go. But now you have poked the bear.

Casting about in the world of popular food writing, I recently encountered the term "Pincer Method" as a way of mixing dough. I read a couple of second hand accounts of what this was, but found their descriptions to be somewhat bizarre. Then I realized that I had accidentally purchased a pizza book by the author who was laying claim to the pincer method. When I read the description and looked at the accompanying pictures, something niggled in the back of my brain that I had seen the picture before. I had. I had seen it in the 1950 edition of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. The resemblance was uncanny. It was simply described as "hand mix the dough". The technique is probably as old as time (and on the rare occasions when I am confronted with a bowl of ingredients and only my hand, I use it intuitively) , but now it was "branded"! Instead of the humble hand mixing of the dough, practitioners could say "I use the Pincer Method! (Aren't I special!)". Sigh.

So what is wrong with saying "Shape the dough by stretching it out on the bench, folding it and rolling it"? Or, "At 1 hour and 2 hours into the bulk fermentation, fold the dough by stretching it out on the bench and folding it"? Does there need to be a "brand"? Do we need to make sure the technique has a name to call out when we participate in this activity? Use the words. It won't have a brand but at least it will have integrity.

Because the brand "lamination" is taken. Someone else got there first. The steps and techniques to enclose fat in dough to make a flaky product have been well documented and exactly zero of these steps and techniques are contained in the method described above. Co-opting the term "lamination" just to sound extra special is, well, sad, really.

What the whole method puts me in mind of is strudel making. The dough is stretched out on the bench, ingredients are put on top of it, and it is folded and rolled to make an end product. The brand "Strudel Method" is pretty crappy. The sound of the name itself is comical and it evokes sturdy German bakers rather than the ethereal croissant. But it does describe what is being done. Better to stick with just the words that describe the actions.

So, there is my answer. You might wish to find the Greek or Latin roots to the word "Strudel" and jazz up the brand a little.

But stop using "lamination" - it's confusing and inaccurate.

And I must really let this go. I have chocolates to make.

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

I'm guessing that was Ken Forkish.  His use was the first I'd heard of 'pincing' dough.  In his defense, I'd mixed a lot of dough by hand before I grokked his "squeeze between thumb and forefinger until wad of dough breaks off" (my words, not his) specific procedure -- breaking the dough into separated clumps rather than stretch and rolling it back on itself the way mixers do.

I confess to being a loose constructionist in most things grammatical.  Probably because I'm an evolutionary biologist and I see language evolving along with species and cultures, even on micro timescales like years and decades.  Lamina are just layers, be they geological or flour+water. Whether they have butter between them or not seems a trivial distinction.  YMMV.

Always good to hear from you Pat.  Laminate on!

Tom

proth5's picture
proth5

I have to say that in each profession there are terms that have specific meanings. While you can generalize that Lamina are just layers (and I knew that would come into play somewhere in the discussion), there is a term within your profession that  - when used incorrectly - just hits a nerve. And if I created dough lamina, folded them and re-rolled them three times, sheeted them out to 0.125 inches, cut them into triangles, rolled them up, proofed them, egg washed them and baked them, I would guess that you would find -if you ate them - the lack of butter between the layers would not be trivial. If you went to a bakery that claimed to sell "laminated vienoiseries" and all you found were breads that had been constructed by folding sheets of dough, the misuse of the term would not be trivial. When you generalize based on your own profession you make the baker trivial. Baking is the art of doing small things perfectly. It is not trivial to take a standardized term within a discipline and use it to mean something else.

Language evolves, but just like plants that cross and produce seeds that grow into plants that are not successful in the environment, sometimes the changes deserve not to survive.

I started baking bread before the heavy duty mixers that would actually mix bread were available to the home baker, so I've never even considered using any action other than squeezing dough between my thumb and fingers if I mix dough only with my hand. Women have been doing that for a long, long time. Suddenly it's the "Pincer Method". Again, sigh.

But you never gave my "Strudel Method" a fair shot. That seems harsh. :>)

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Uncle.

My direct (1970's(!)) participation in professional baking was more wholewheat hippie (read: Tassajara) than anything laminated.  So I'll happily bow to your greater pro experience on this one.  It sounds as though calling anything but a true strudel style manipulation "lamination" would be akin to suddenly claiming that a car's distributor is the circuit that sends your audio behind the back seat.  Or that a foul ball in baseball is one that smells of the pitcher's sweat. (must be my Y chromosome talking -- car and sport metaphors.  Funny, I don't give a s*** about cars or sports).

I never assumed Ken Forkish coined "pincer".  He uses it like it was around before him.

"Strudel Method" might work if that pastry and its structure were more widely familiar.  Many wouldn't know it's laminated because  supermarket and holiday mailorder strudels often appear as (and may actually be little more than) sugary yellow cakes - no apparent lamination.  Croissants are probably the most universally recognized laminated pastries.  Or maybe Danishes.

t

proth5's picture
proth5

Because it is rare on these pages for anyone to admit that I am anything but an old, uh, crank, so I should be gracious. Thank you for at least seeing my point about baking terms.

However you miss my point about the "Strudel Method." Strudel is not laminated. There is no butter in those layers. It is simply dough that has been stretched on the bench, filled with ingredients and folded and rolled to make a product.

Sort of like the process that these people who are using the word "lamination" incorrectly are doing. They are stretching dough on the bench, sometimes putting ingredients on it, and folding and rolling it to make a product.

So, if they must give that process a name, they could call it "strudelation" or "strudeling" or "strudel method".

Ah! Tassajara and hippie whole wheat. It has been a long, strange trip for me since those days. When I ponder the study, work, and practice that I have put in to become "reasonably competent" at not only bread, but vienoiserie, pastry, and chocolate (and, yes, I can actually mold chocolate shells and fill them to make bonbons) it kind of frightens me. A lot of flour on the bench since those hippie days.

And I really am making chocolates today and so must go.

Pat

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

I'll go with strudelation.  Got a nice ring to it.  But good luck with that catching on.

Chocolate.  Maybe in another life.  Basic weekly bread and appley/fruity desserts is as broad a repertoire as I need or have time for.  I've never aspired to making Strudel.  More Mediterranean-oriented than on the strudel/rye axis, truth be told.

Our bakery's Tassajara-based bread was bloody awful by today's enlightened standards.  I shudder to think at what we were shoving at customers back then.  And the business was called the Good Bread Bakery.  Ha!

Happy chocolation,

Tom

Yippee's picture
Yippee

instead of using a machine to knead the dough to windowpane, they stretch it as thin as they can on the bench to achieve the same effect.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

This is exciting! Thanks for sharing!

Yippee

proth5's picture
proth5

Yeah, so cool. I'm making a batch of croissants next week. Won't post here, though. The internet seems to bring out the worst in me.

Just couldn't resist letting the "old timers" know...

Yippee's picture
Yippee

So I know exactly what you were talking about. I'm looking for the orange color model, but so far it's only available from overseas like Japan or New Zealand.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

 



 

ptix's picture
ptix

I see on Etsy a manual sheeter shipping from Georgia (vendor is YouSHOPAJ) that costs about $240 and is 19 inches wide - could anyone who has it give a review here, it looks interesting.  Thanks. 

proth5's picture
proth5

You might want to post that request in the forum so that more people will see it.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Delete

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Nice to see you back posting at TFL! And it's wonderful that you got your sheeter equivalent! The Pains au Chocolat look awfully good!

Re. "lamination:" I just recently figured out what that referred to. I have been calling it "stretch and fold on the board," as opposed to "in the bowl." I agree that it is somewhat infelicitous. Even more recently, I figured out what "Coil Folds" are. I suspect that there is a secret division of the BBGA that hires retired CIA agents to invent cryptic terminology. I don't have high enough security clearance to be able to verify this. Maybe Pat or Debra know.

Re. the "pincer method:" A lot of American home bakers probably did learn about it from Ken Forkish. I believe Forkish learned it from Chad Robertson who probably learned it from one of his French or French-trained mentors. I seem to remember first hearing of this method in connection with Gérard Rubaud. Might be wrong about that.

David

alfanso's picture
alfanso

dabrownman pulled a fast one on that, and had a cadre of folks refer to coil folds as sleeping ferret folds for a while.

When the English speaking world coalesces on mother, chef and starter, give me a jingle.  Aside from the nomenclature in English being all over the board, we can then add in the foreign language versions to throw a Llave Ingles (chiave inglese for youse eye-talian types) into the gear box.  Okay, I get the point that one refers to a different set of words for a thing, the other is to define a procedure.  Fair enough, and I'm really not looking to stir the pot (although I don't mind getting on Tom's nerves once in awhile).  

I understand that lamination in pastries and enriched doughs has a unique meaning.  But I'm not hung up on the use of the term in "thin" doughs as long as it's understood that means the dough is stretched out way way more than just a simple letter fold on the bench.  Much more important to understand the classification of biga vs. poolish, for example.  At least in my meager book.

It is also fair to keep in mind the the vast majority of the folks on TFL are not professionals, and so they are learning as they go.  Much more troubling to me are those who incessantly  ask the same questions that have been answered 100 times before, rather than spending the 5 minutes to research it themselves.

For starters, my mother was a chef...

BTW - you might have noticed that I now also refer to my baguettes as the more accurate long batards, since being pointed in the direction of M. Calvel's designations a few years ago.  I am the old dog who can still learn a few new tricks!

proth5's picture
proth5

levain - that goop full of yeast and lactobacilli is also called a levain. Even in English or even by some Spanish speakers (which I find quite odd).

Believe it or not the BBGA does have standards for that goop, it is a culture until it can be baked with, a starter once it is ready to bake with , and the little amount that you mix with flour and water (and whatever) to make a preferment is called "seed". The formatting standards have gotten a bit loosey goosey these days, but once upon a time... Trouble is, baking is an old profession and you can't just paint ball anyone who uses terms wrong. As much as I wish I could.

But these are old terms coming from long and varied traditions of baking. The use of the term "lamination" to mean stretching out dough on the bench and folding it, seems to have sprung up only recently. I have baking books older than me (old,indeed) and that term is never used to represent stretching and folding of the dough without incorporating fat. I don't know where it started, but it needs to go away. As someone who put in the considerable effort to be able to semi-competently perform real lamination, I find it quite jarring when a baker friend tells me she is doing lamination and explains (after some interrogation on my part because I knew it wasn't her metier) that it is just stretching dough on the bench and folding it. "Where did you learn that term?" I ask. "On TFL - everybody uses it." Yes, people are learning as they go. It would be better if they weren't learning things that confuse rather than enlighten.

I propose "strudelation" as the proper term, because it is what you do with strudel - you stretch it out on the bench and then fold it up. No butter. It does not have the cachet of "lamination", but it is more accurate.

Everybody has their tipping point. Someone who does mostly bread will see the importance of Poolish vs. Biga as paramount (and if I have ever misused those words on this site, let me know). I do not think the distinction is unimportant, but I also think some consideration should be given to others and using terms for their hard work correctly. Every aspect of this craft deserves equal respect.

Yes, beginners can be problematic. They think they are the only people in the world who have ever baked or made formulas into spreadsheets. Amazingly, I have patience with beginners (well, my version of it).  What I have had no patience for is the people who know better and yet lead those beginners astray. If I was tough on David - and I regret not one word, he said some pretty unconscionable things in his post - it is because I know he has had formal training (and I know exactly the training he had because he documented it on this site), and that he knows better, but rather than spread that knowledge he picks up bad habits and spreads them (and then won't take responsibility for them). That helps no one. Even if they use the search feature. This is supposed to be a community of bakers. Bakers should help each other.

"Baguette" has some very strict legal meanings in France. Very few home bakers have ovens wide enough to make a true baguette. You can legally use the term "baguette tradition" in France and get away with some variations.

Yeah, finishing up with this blog and then going away. 2020 has made it hard not to fall into old internet habits, but this one has got to go.

Pat

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Although I don't despise the term Sourdough, I infrequently use it, preferring to stick with levain myself, and it is consistently sprinkled all throughout my posts and references on TFL, virtually never veering off course.  Most of what I post and bake is levain based.  Which I will also refer to as goop on occasion.  I'm on board.

proth5's picture
proth5

to feel that old crankiness that made me walk away from TFL and I'm going to finish out this blog and walk away again.

David, I have read your recent blog where you reference "lamination folds". Why? You should know better.  if you are going to repeatedly use terms incorrectly at least have the courage of your convictions and admit that you do and explain why it is appropriate, if you can. And don't blame the BBGA. The term "lamination folds" is unknown in their standards ("Lamination" is- it refers to enclosing fat in dough and folding it to create a flaky product.). Likewise with "coil folds" - not only have I never read it in any BBGA publication, but never heard it from any of my teachers. Some YouTuber uses it, you start to use it, and a whole bunch of new bakers start to use it.

I don't usually pull this on TFL, but I don't understand how I could have studied with Jeffrey Hamelman, Craig Ponsford (the man who won for breads in the first Coupe du Monde upending the world opinion of American bread baking), Ciril Hitz, and a couple others as prominent, and read the words of Michel Suas (I didn't do bread at SFBI, but I did do pastries, chocolates, and modern mousse cakes) and never, ever hear the words "coil folds" drop from their lips. Everybody's got to feel special and if it isn't because they are the best baker, they can invent a term and push it out on the internet with a slick video. I've seen "coil folds" demonstrated. What it does not do is put proper force into the fold (I learned proper folding from Hamelman - Ponsford liked my folding). When I look at the person's breads I see this.

So I can blame Chad Robertson for first publishing the words "pincer method"? Because Forkish doesn't attribute it to him (which is really bad form). My point is, that, first, in a 1950 edition book it is simply called "mix by hand", and second, I have read books (in French) by very accomplished French bakers and they never use the term, and third, with the above list of teachers, all of whom discussed hand mixing the term never came up. I probably shouldn't blame Forkish, because he can't seem to format his formulas correctly (and every word he writes is tainted by this for me) and feels bad, but why not just say "hand mix" and demonstrate the proper way to do it. No. He has to "brand" it. I don't object to the term, but rather that there suddenly is a term.

And, yes, you get my crankiness because I hold you to a higher standard than I hold others on this site. For some reason you seem to be an "influencer". You have studied with reputable teachers at SFBI. You have learned proper formula formatting and yet you don't use it. You have learned proper terminology and yet you abandon it for the newest "Baker come lately" terminology and try to blame the BBGA - which is particularly horrible, by the way. All it takes is a membership and you can have access to the wealth of knowledge that the BBGA tries to maintain with integrity. As Alfanso points out, most of the folks on this site are beginners getting their information from reading posts on the internet and from various and sometimes unreliable popular food writers. When you adopt their bad habits you are putting information out to people who have no way to defend themselves. They just don't know any better.

And that - folks - is why I left TFL and will, again.I thought it might be fun to report that I finally was united with my love. Hasn't really turned out that way.

I have ganache to pipe into chocolate shells. Alfanso - I'll get to you later (and I'll be nicer).

Pat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Pat,

My aim is to communicate, and I have learned that different audiences use different vocabularies. Sometimes I am willing to sacrifice effective communication on the alter of received wisdom. Sometimes I go with the flow. Like politics, all flow is local.

BTW, I have been a member of the BBGA for a number of years. I believe you are to blame for convincing me to join.

Have a nice day, or whatever kind of day you desire.

Happy baking!

David

proth5's picture
proth5

David,

What you are saying is "I can do as I like and need bear no responsibility" and that is fine, you can.

But to accuse the BBGA of having some kind of clandestine agenda when you are a member is beyond the pale. To attribute terms to it when you are a member is beyond the pale.

I was called out by the BBGA board for accurately (and I thought generously) reporting on my experiences giving Paris bakery tours. What you have done and feel entitled to do is much worse.

Have a nice life. I am going to.

Pat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My reference to the BBGA was meant to be a joke. 

David

proth5's picture
proth5

Yes, you were just joking. I am being too sensitive. Heard it one million times before in my life. The sign of a bully  - "Can't you take a joke?"

Then, where do you get these crazy terms? Do you make them up? Because if you do, shame on you. If from others, do you never consider the source? If you don't, shame on you.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Concretely, I "get" the terms I believe you mean on fora like this one and baking-related groups on social media. Note that many of the terms we use every day were at one time regarded as unacceptable, vague or otherwise unsuitable for polite conversation. I do not see using them "shameful." I am a pragmatist. If they communicate something better than the alternative words, that is virtuous. If they muddy the waters and engender confusion rather than enlightenment, they should not be used.

For example, "shame" means distress at having one's hidden faults be made public. If you are suggesting I should be ashamed of writing down "lamination" or "coil fold," I strenuously disagree. I am not advocating that those terms be more widely used or the opposite. We can discuss their merits. But I don't get how using them or not is shameful.

David

proth5's picture
proth5

I can't do this. We disagree and probably always will. No sense in dragging it out.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David 

huda's picture
huda

This is amazing, I was just going to buy one right now , 

Would you recommend it? I was worried about 1" maximum opening...and thought about getting a bigger one (northstar, 2.5"), do you feel its limiting or no effect at all?