I have always been fascinated with the techniques of making bread, to say nothing of the beautiful warm comforting smell of yeast that fills the house when you bake bread. In all fairness my bread making while adequate has never reached the professional levels that one aspires to. So today I attended a lecture by Craig Ponsford who is the Chairman of the Artisan Bakers of America and who was the coach of the US team that won the The Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (the world cup or Olympics of baking) in the Baguette ad Speciality Breads section of the competition.
I was disappointed by the fact that there was no live demo though he did show how to mix flour quickly. He has promised to return in a few months and conduct an actual class. However his 'theory' lecture was quite fascinating and exploded some cherished myths. For example:
- Kneading and punching in the dough is absolutely not needed
- There is no need to mix yeast in water to activate it anymore -- it can be used directly.
- The best temperature for the dough to rise is 20-25 degrees not more. It's not a case of warmer the better.
- Pre-fermenting is absolutely essential to get that texture and consistency.
Never having given up the nerdish habit of taking diligent notes, I copied all his instructions down and they are available at my recipes site (search for Bread). Some more stuff on bread making is available at Craig Ponsford's site.