Baking and Breaking Bread

Let’s talk about dough; not money, but bread dough.

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Have you ever had the opportunity to each a fresh piece of baked bread while it’s still warm? If you haven’t, then let me tell you, it is one of most deliciously fulfilling things you will ever eat.

Your first contact with bread is by smell: warm and comforting. The second contact is by sight: golden brown beauty.  Then your next contact is by feel: a warm and crusty texture with a minute amount of give.  Finally, you have the best form of contact: taste. The crunch of first contact, then the melting softness of the warm interior. Just pure heaven.  Add a pat of butter, compound butter or dip it in herb-infused oil and you will have a jamboree in your mouth.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to partake in freshly baked in restaurants and brought from supermarkets like Fairway and Whole Foods.  I was always curiously and slightly afraid about what it took to bake fresh bread at home.  Would I need a bread baker? Can I bake bread in my oven? How does yeast work? Is yeast really necessary?

So many alarming questions kept me from even trying to undertake breaking bread. That’s why, when I saw a Breaking Bread 101 class at Sur la Table, I jumped on the chance to take the class.

In this 3-hour class, I learned about the tools necessary, the ingredients needed, and the steps that should be taken to bake good bread.

This class included baking 3 kinds of bread: the classic French baguette, rustic ciabatta, and focaccia bread. We also made two kinds of compound butter: cinnamon butter and herbed butter. We were also shown how to make an herbed-infused oil for dipping the bread.

 

To break bread, it all starts with your poolish or biga, which is usually a mixture of yeast, water, and flour. From there, it is a matter of adding flour, letting the dough rest, forming the bread, letting the dough rest and then baking the bread.

The most encouraging thing I learned from this class was that I should not fear the steps necessary to bake bread. After all, I really enjoyed the act of breaking and eating the bread while they were still fresh out the oven (the little piece of bread on top of the ciabatta is what is left of my baguette).

Enjoy,

 Winter

Comments

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