I have just completed week 8 of my bread class. I remember when signing up for this class how unexcited I was about taking it. I thought it would be hard to grasp and a lot of work, a lot of time waiting around and watching dough. To some extent, it is a bit boring. You can only watch dough grow for a small percentage of time before you feel like taking a nap. But I have to admit now, 8 weeks in with only 2 more to go, that I am actually having fun in this class. I am starting to understand what the deal is with making bread and I just get it. It really is not hard to make bread. So, seriously, if you are contemplating getting a bread maker, DON’T. Save your money to buy some good flour and fresh yeast and make it at home with your own two hands. So worth it and so gratifying.
I was unusually excited for this week’s class. My table mates were laughing at my clapping dance that I would bust out randomly while I worked my way through my 5 hours. The fun started the other day when I was shopping for my ingredients to use in class. This week we made Focaccia and Italian bread. Essentially the same dough, with only a difference of one ingredient.
Again, per the norm, we started with a yeast slurry, added the flour and the rest of the ingredients, mixed until the dough was in clean up stage and we could form a window with some dough. Then the dough was left it to proof. Punched down, proofed again. Divided. Then shaped.
Focaccia first. I forgot to grab some “before the oven” pictures, because I had to get them in the steam oven in a hurry. So below are my attempts at focaccia, fresh out of the oven. I have two that are made with my olive oil infusion, rosemary, black olives and herbed goat cheese.
On my next two, I layered roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes, marinated mushrooms and some more goat cheese. The steam oven made the dough nice and crispy. This could also be considered a pizza. In fact, the dough makes for a great traditional pizza dough.
Next I played around with the dough for the Italian bread. Taking the dough, I used the rolling pin to flatten out the dough into a semi rectangular shape. At this point, I still had enough focaccia toppings to use up, so I did. It all went onto the flattened dough. And then I rolled them up, almost like a stromboli. But, I then cut them into 6 pieces, closed off one end on those with openings on both, sat upright on a baking sheet with so the toppings are now fillings. For a softer bread, into the normal ovens these went.
My last piece of dough was formed in a more traditional way. It started out like a big bagel, and ended up a nice round loaf. That’s cornmeal on the bottom, which is a common trait of Italian bread.
The day started out with a free Starbucks coffee and ended with a whole bag load of fantastic looking and tasty bread. The herbs were fragrant and the toppings savoury. I am obsessed with roasted garlic. Just eating it alone smeared on some bread is amazing. I could eat it all the time. I learned some new recipes and some tips about how to use onions and make a tomato sauce. It was quite a jam-packed afternoon. *Clapping Dance, Clapping Dance* =)