Now anyone who knows me well enough will know that I shy away from baking bread. All attempts of bringing forth a glorious loaf of bread or a soft buttery croissant have always yielded the opposite result. The kneading is another killer exercise that my arms do not want to do. So why would I bother going to a baking class? The dishonest answer would be ‘to learn how to bake a good loaf of bread’. The honest answer would be ‘to massage my ego’. I just wanted to witness the making of a loaf myself, so that I could find some secret ingredient that the baker added into the dough. Then I could console myself that a failed loaf at home was a result of the omission of that ‘secret ingredient’! Was this too harebrained a scheme to work? Well last Sunday I learnt a few lessons!
The baking class was to be held at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts in Domlur. A couple of food bloggers were invited for the bread baking class, but only three of us turned up. I don’t blame the rest – Sunday evening is after all a time to be lazy or take a nap! We were taken up to the demo area and were
pleasantly surprised to see that we had our own little workstations set up. I was in a quandary – do I knead the dough or do I click pictures?! Chef Avin urged me to do a bit of both. (Damn, I thought I could escape the kneading!)
Chef Avin is one of the three founders of Lavonne and by the way he spoke about Bread and it’s history, it was clear that the man had found his calling. He got us started on making the dough. Once we mixed the ingredients (always add salt in the end), we had to knead. I pushed the dough around till it looked like a nice ball and started dusting my hands on the apron. The chef walked by and looked at me quizzically. ‘Keep kneading till it is soft and elastic’ he said, ‘We should be able to stretch the dough so thin, that it should look transluscent, but should not break. This is called the window test’. So I started kneading again and almost cried in joy when he came to help me out 10 minutes later. (Kneading takes serious muscle power!).
The first three breads on the agenda all used the same dough mixture but were to be shaped and styled differently – Dinner rolls, Zopf and Foccacia. Dinner rolls were a complicated maneuver of weigh, roll, measure, twist, turn, loop and tug. By the end of the maneuver the dinner roll looked like a baby cobra raising its hood out of the coils. Cute J
Zopf is a bread that is popular in Switzerland and looks like a braid. Apparently it’s looks have a lot to do with its history. Widowed women in Switzerland used to cut off their braids and bury them along with their deceased husbands. (Don’t ask why!). In time, the Zopf came to replace the actual braid. (Thank God for the sensible woman who thought up the substitution!)
The Foccaia has always been a favourite bread of mine. We decided to make our’s a sun dried tomato, olive and rosemany foccacia. Normally the dough needs to be given a couple of hours to rise and double in size, before it is baked. However this job was done in a special bread prover with the right temperature and humidity that activates the yeast and makes the bread rise faster. (I’m counting that as secret number 1, :P). So after the dough became plump and soft (like a baby’s bottom) we dressed it with an eggwash and sesame seeds and sent it away to bake. Ah the glorious smell – this is what lures me into happy oblivion!
Hard Breads were next on the agenda and again we were making three. (That seemed to be the lucky number for the day!). The dough for these is different, in that we don’t use butter. (gasp!). There is also an addition of semolina for a grainier texture. We were on to making Hard rolls, L’epi and Fougasse.
The hard rolls were the easiest. Shape them like a little spindle, slice through the top with a knife, dust with flour, pipe with butter, and bake.
The L’epi was a little more difficult. Shaped like a ear of wheat, it is symbolic of the harvest festival. After making a long roll and quickly rolling it out in a grain mixture, we used a scissor to split the dough strategically. This is then separated ever so slightly, to give it the shape of a ear of wheat. Quite inventive, really.
The Fougasse had the funniest story. When he started rolling the dough out into a flat bread and started making holes in it, I was sniggering. It looked like the bad guys mask, from the movie Scream! Chef Alvin told us that the truth is not far off. This bread was made and hung outside homes in Rome to scare away ghosts, ghouls and evil spirits!
It was super hot that evening and after toiling away in the kitchen kneading dough – the cool ice tea was a welcome break. We sipped contentedly and waited while the breads baked in the oven.
The fruits (breads) of our labour came out looking all tanned and burnished. We helped ourselves to freshly baked loaves with a generous helping of butter. (They even packed some for us to take home.) Ah Bliss!
#151, 2nd Cross,
Domlur, 2nd Stage,
Website : www.lavonne.in
Courses Available: City and Guilds (UK), Certificate courses, Weekend Courses, Special courses, Chef Joonie’s Courses
Parking: On the road