The inspiring author, Regina Brett, once said: If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love, and no more evident was that, than when I attended Dean Brettschneider‘s baking class at Nosh yesterday.
As already indicated through my blogs and recipes, I tend to use a dough hook for kneading my bread. Inherently, in my heart, I know this is cheating, however, what Dean imparted was that I was actually really missing out on the true moment of joy with the dough. So, naturally this morning, I made it my mission to give his bread a try and to see how it goes.
This is not the first time I have made dough by hand, mind you. Infact, many years ago I went and did a bread making course, in the depths of a Monastry’s bakery kitchen in the heart of New Norcia, in Western Australia. But, the problem is, baking bread, whilst relatively simple (well to a degree, says Dean) is kind of like learning a language. I believe you need to live it and breath it constantly to get into the rhythm. Not simply, do a class and forget the techniques for 20 years and hope to pick up where you left off.
Having watched Dean on TV I was so super excited to attend his class, and indeed to meet him at the end. There were others at the class who were chuffed to meet me too – I still find that a little strange! – but I was fairly star struck with Dean. What an amazing personality, with a wonderful sense of humour and an extraordinary knowledge. And, how I love people who are willing to share their stories and tips so freely.
So, back to my bread. It took me just a moment to combine the ingredients and have them cleanly pull away from the bowl – a great start and I felt quietly chuffed (even though in the back of my mind I remembered Dean’s reality check that our bread will never be as good as his!) Then I went on to the kneading, and the new method shown to us, where I lightly pulled at the elastic and plopped it gently back on to itself. It was a meditative experience and for 15 minutes I quietly gave way to the dough and to my own thoughts and forgot about the rest of my to-do list!
Then into the bowl, and I should have, naturally, put on the timer, but figured I would be so excited to get back to it that I wouldn’t forget! Well, with some accounts to take care of, some vegetables to water in the garden, and some recipes to send through to Nosh for my upcoming Kids’ Class, I clean forgot I was making bread – Dean’s bread!!! So the dough had overtaken the bowl somewhat, by the time I got back to it, but I was relieved to see it still wobble it’s way free on to the lightly floured board, with some promise.
I always thought, knock back, was a slamming into the dough, but today I used super light fingers to fold that dough over onto itself 4 times, gently pressing out the air. Then I upturned the bowl onto the top of it as instructed and let it rest for 20 minutes more whilst I considered what I wanted to create with my pillowy, hand crafted bread dough!
I decided to divide the dough into 4 pieces – and let these two rest under a bowl out of the draught from my open window, whilst I popped the others into an oiled bag and into the fridge for tomorrow’s fresh bread! Yes – really!
Then I got cracking on a delicious roll for the kids afternoon tea (and a fougasse for me!!)
I opted for some peach chutney, cream cheese and pastrami for the kids – scrumptious flavours, kid friendly and it will fill them up (well that is my aim!)
The fougasse is fab. I would have pulled it a little more to get those holes really defined but as it is my selfish lunchtime treat I figure I am happy as it is. (Dean the self confessed perfectionist may have a few words to say about this – but I am not selling it – just eating it!)
The rolls are in the oven and I am smelling their delicious aroma –
and whilst I have had a lovely time – and the fougasse is seriously good and I think the boys after school are going to be chuffed, I really am not going to have the time to do this daily. However, when I do bake at home – I am definitely going to use my hands and enjoy the process – even if the product is not quite to the pedigree of Dean’s!! And one day, so I heard a whisper, we will be able to cheat and buy his bread locally (and for this I am insanely happy as it seems unfair that my sister, who lives in Singapore, has access to a Global Bakery and we don’t!!)