Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Filling a knead

Bread making is one of the first things that students learn when they get into the kitchen – a skill they use time and again from Cook Basic through their final weeks of Chef de Cuisine. It is a fundamental in most households around the world, but one that has been nearly forgotten in our current fast-food culture.

Some students get hooked on the flavour and freshness that can’t be matched by a store-bought bread; others find the process rewarding. Even those who are experienced cooks are often surprised how simple it is to turn out a great loaf once they’ve grasped the basics.

Working with variations on the flour, sugar, water and yeast combination, they learn about scaling (weighing ingredients), blooming the yeast (activating it with sugar in warm water), developing gluten (kneading), proofing (letting dough rise) and finally, baking. Bread making starts out as a lesson on its own, but is quickly incorporated as part of an overall meal preparation. Focaccia, potato bread, ciabatta, French bread, challah, English muffins; by the time graduation rolls around, the question is not “Should we make bread?”, but “What kind of bread should we make?”

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