Today, we probably made some of the most delicious bread I have ever had! I woke up significantly more tired than I have ever been since I moved to Pasadena. I blame the late night workout and meal. Ha! I had barely enough time to chomp down the pancakes and fresh fruit Yolanda had prepared for breakfast. Somehow, I managed to get ready, briskly walk to school, and slip my way into Lab 2 before the start of class. Chef demonstrated three different types of bread for the first 45 minutes of class—Whole Wheat, Ciabatta, and Focaccia. I always find her methods so intriguing. She works so quickly, it’s almost too fast for my note-taking. At the same time, I love paying attention to every little thing she does so during production, I can try to mimic her technique—including speed.After demo, each of us started on our whole wheat dough. After placing them in a large bowl to ferment, Becky and I divided our ciabatta/focaccia dough that we made the day before. I took my half and divided it again, placing half of the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment and doused in olive oil (focaccia) and the other half on the back of another baking sheet heavily sprinkled with flour (ciabatta). For the focaccia bread, we periodically spread the rounded dough with the tips of our fingers until it reached our desired thickness—dimpling the dough as we worked. The ciabatta was cut into two strips and stretched thin before proofing. At some point during the production of these two breads, I managed to scale my whole wheat bread and round them. After they proofed, I washed them with an egg wash and then used some oats for garnish. I asked chef to show me different cuts one could use for small rolls. She showed me a few and then allowed me to be creative and make up my own. I baked the rolls in the convection oven and they were perfectly brown in no time. While they were baking I focused on garnishing my focaccia, which had proofed quite nicely. I garnished the focaccia with pesto, fresh parmesan, and basil; and after waiting another 20 minutes or so for it to refill with CO2, I placed it in the oven surrounded by a pool of olive oil.
I removed my rolls and placed them on a rack at my station. After the focaccia was fully cooked and rustic brown I removed it from the oven and placed next to my rolls. We were running out of time, but I wanted to finish my ciabatta so I quickly threw it on the oven stone after sprinkling more flour on top. While we waited for the ciabatta, we surrounded Chef’s table as she critiqued her own bread. All of a sudden, Chef Guillard walked in and wandered over to the table. After Chef Lora finished her critique, both chefs meandered to the corner of the lab and seemed to strike a heated conversation. We later found out that Chef Guillard was criticizing the recipe Chef Lora used (since Chef Lora’s ciabatta didn’t turn out as well as she hoped—something was wrong with the oven). Five minutes before the end of class, I took my ciabatta from the oven and Chef Lora called out at me.
“Are those yours? Those look great!”
She took a knife and cut the bread revealing the porous inside she was hoping to find.
“Hey, hey, everyone come here! We found the one, we found the winner.”
She explained the correct quality of the texture inside and then asked me to run over to Lab 1—where Guillard teaches—and tell him that the recipe does in fact work. HA! Chef Guillard didn’t realize that I made the bread until he came back in the class afterwards to continue the playful chef drama. Chef Lora told him.
When I got home I quickly photographed the food with Yolanda’s help. We tasted some of the focaccia and Paulo snaked on a little bit of the ciabatta (only because he thought the flour was actually sugar on top—ha). I played with Paulo for an hour or so and then crash napped on the couch. When I awoke, Yolanda had prepared an Italian meatball soup for us to pair with the focaccia. It was delicious! The soup too, but I’m focusing on the bread—ahem. The focaccia was soft and intensely flavorful such that your taste buds scream for more. The crust is not tough like a baguette or the ciabatta, it’s soft as well. Since the dough is baked in a pool of olive oil, the bottom of the loaf has this crispy texture that is somewhat reminiscent of a Pizza Hut pan pizza crust (back in the day when they were actually delicious). Oh my goodness, I’m craving more just as I type this.
The neat thing about this module is that we are learning to make and manipulate recipes that are so delicious! They don’t require a lot of ingredients, my friends. They require the know-how and meticulous hands. Oh, what a great day in the kitchen. I took care of my finances and organized myself for the weekend with the remaining time of the evening. I did yoga before finally going to bed.
Whole Wheat Rolls