So we're 2 lessons in and everyone seems to be enjoying the experience. I'm going to write a bit down here incase you'd like to know more.
It's a relaxed atmoshphere, where you get to pummel, slap, stretch and fold the doughs until you produce a cracking loaf or two. There's explanation of the whats and whys and questions are always welcome.
We start at 9.30 and all our students have got stuck right in.
We cover direct doughs on this course (no faffing with preferments and such).
First off the bat is a Classic French White dough, which is lean dough (no dairy or egg added). It's dry enough to traditionally knead and we worked up a sweat with some intense stretching, folding and turning and boom thats your first dough proofing.
Next we cover a Pain de Mie, which is a soft white loaf. The dough has some dairy and is a mix with a high hydration. It definitely doesnt look like a dough when you mix it. Its a little scary as you cant imagine this wet looking goop will ever look like a loaf of bread. To work it we use the 'french method' or slap and fold, it is quite literally lift it up and slap it down on the counter to stretch it and then fold the edge you have in your hand over the top to trap air, a bit like cracking a whip. Its noisy, alarming at first and rather satisfying, especially as it becomes a workable dough once it becomes silky its ready to proof.
So with x2 loaves on their bulk rise you get a choice of which of the 3 flavoured breads you want to work with next. Depending on what you choose the dough could be wet or dry.
We have some elevenses which involves fresh baked cake and biscuits and then on to shaping the dough.
First we cover the standard farmhouse loaf tin for the classic French White and discuss the importance of folding, strength of structure through tension and sealing and positioning fold seams for the second rise.
We use a Pullman tin for the Pain de Mie, this type of tin has a lid and some small holes to let out a just a little steam, it creates a really beautiful soft, square loaf. perfect for sandwiches.
Finally we move to the free form loaves. A batard, square boule/miche or a Couronne (which translates as crown, it s a circle) depending on your choice of loaf.
Then more biscuits or cake and topical discussion waiting for the finale.
With the ovens all preheated, and the plainer tinned loaves in and baking, its time for some fancy work. Using a 'lame', pronounced 'lahm' (which is a blade on a stick) right before the loaves go in the oven, our students get to try their hand at scoring. Scoring isn't just decorative, it allows a more controlled expansion of the free-formed dough so it doesn't tear in random places, it can also be an identifier of the type of bread, or the baker.
Once we're all done we pack your bread up for you to take home to show off to your nearest and dearest.
It's a joy to share what we know and how we do what we do with people, keep your eyes peeled for new courses they'll be coming soon.