Since I needed to take off a couple of days off from working out this week after Sundays marathon I had to figure out a few creative things to do to keep myself active. Tuesday night I took a bread baking class from Le Pain Quotidien. There are only two shops in the US where they offer a variety of baking classes. Fortunately for me one is located right down the street from where I live! Look at the big kitchen:)
The class cost $75 and lasted three hours. I had a blast and learned so much about bread making. I had no idea so much time went into making basic bread. We covered basic white and wheat bread recipes for baguettes, rolls stuffed with cheese or chocolate and whole wheat raisin and walnut mini loafs. There were so many topics we covered its hard to remember everything, but here are a few basics.
- use a scale when measuring ingredients to get the best accurate mix
- allow for proper “proofing” time (I will get to this later)
- you must pre-shape to get beautiful loaves
- de-gasing the bread is a MUST
- make sure to score the bread before baking
- a quick steam of the bread will prolong baking time, making the inside light and fluffy and it will save the crust from burning
I have never tried baking any bread but quick sweet breads or pretzel breads so the class helped me understand the process behind proofing (or rising) and a few tips to perhaps enhance my own vegan bread making skills.
I prefered the whole wheat recipe so that’s what I’ll share with you. Unfortunately one of the things I learned is that it is much more complex to make 100% whole wheat bread so most whole wheat bread we buy is mixed with white bread flour. We were told that it changes proofing times and most bread bakers steer clear of 100% whole wheat because in general people don’t like the bitter taste. So for now I’ll provide you with their “whole wheat recipe” and hopefully I can work on a great tasting 100% whole wheat recipe in the future. I love mixed grain bread with that grainy bitter taste!
All Purpose Whole Wheat Bread Dough Recipe by Le Pain Qoutidien
250 Grams Bread Flour, Unbleached
250 Grams Whole Wheat Flour
370 Grams Water
10 Grams salt
3 Grams Instant Dry Yeast
1) Combine all ingredients and mix the dough throughly. Dough should reach about 75 degrees when you are done. This will help activate the yeast. Use cooler water in warmer months and warmer water in colder months. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
2) Leave at room temperature for 45 minutes then mix the dough again slightly by hand. Leave for a half hour more and give it another toss. After the second mix leave the dough at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Or put in the fridge 8-12 hours if you’re not baking immediately.
3) At this point you can divide your dough depending upon what you are going to make. This recipe above makes 4 personal pizzas, 18 dinner rolls, 8 sandwich rolls, 4 baguettes or 1.5 pan loafs.
3) Pre-shape your dough into the basic form of you are baking. Here is a very good video on pre-shapping. This is the stage where you will begin de-gasing your bread. If you don’t get the air out shaping your bread the shapping will be extremely challenging. Let your pre-shaped bread rest with the seams down for 15-20 minutes.
4) Heat your oven to 475 degrees.
5) Give your bread its final shape. Here is another King Arthur Flour Video.
6) Let your bread rest for the final proofing step. Baguettes take 30-40 minutes, rolls and loafs take at least 60 minutes. To tell if it’s the bread is done proofing, poke your finger in the bread. If the poke leaves an indent and slowly the mark fades it’s ready. If you poke your bread and it doesn’t leave a mark then it needs more time.
7) Score the bread before putting it in the oven or it will explode! You can get creative in many ways. Another video about scoring.
Bake bread 20-24 minutes, loafs will need a couple of extra minutes. Allow the bread to cool fully before enjoying!
A long process I know. I really was shocked there were so many stages. I’d imagine you could get away without the pre-shapping but you will risk your breads unfolding and expanding in all sorts of ways in the oven!
The stuffed cheese rolls and whole wheat mini loafs with walnuts were my favorite. I’m really looking forward to taking the bread basics 2 class to learn some more complex breads.