Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some tips on baking

An Italian sweet bread with extruded nib sugarImage via Wikipedia
Sometimes an expert baker would tend to look at the basic things about baking with quick glance then say, "I know that already," or simply, just look past.

I just came from a basic communication class, and the facilitator confirmed once again that by changing roles, as a coach and as a coachee, you both have a feel and understanding of both sides of the coin.

And one thing made clear, is that the expert can't simply say "beat the egg till it forms peaks", and expect the new learner to understand that.

It should actually be like zero knowledge assumption every time. Makes sense to me: many, many years, another teacher said that when doing public speaking, assume an uninformed, but intelligent audience. Same base, and you can take it from there.

The secrets to baking good bread
There's nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread - and nothing more satisfying than baking it yourself

SOMETIMES the rewards of an Atkins diet just can't compare to the handful of heaven that is a gorgeous freshly baked loaf of bread.

Ditch the generic white and rediscover the delights of artisan styles from crusty ryes and sourdoughs to olive breads and brioche. There is nothing more welcoming than the smell of freshly baked bread - and it is even more satisfying when you have made it yourself.

To unlock the secrets to great bread-making, we turn to Sally Clarke, who has trained in London, at Paris Cordon Bleu, and then learnt about "real bread", artisan-style, in California. Her bakery hand-shapes and bakes over 2,000 loaves and pastries per night and supplies leading restaurants, hotels and shops in London.

Clarke's top tip for baking bread is patience. "This is the main thing you need. I have never met a nasty baker."

Alright then, put on a happy face and think sandwich. THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Sally Clarke's tips:

- Always preheat the oven to just below the baking temperature. Once the bread is in the oven, turn it up to the correct temperature - this will give the dough an added "lift" as it rises in the heat.

- Bottom-baked loaves look most authentic and hand-shaped loaves always look more beautiful than machine shaped, as each has its own individual style. For best bottom-baked results, use a clean terracotta roof tile, pre-heat in the oven, then place the shaped loaf on top.

- As water is one of your core ingredients, it's worth having the best. Use purified water - it makes for fresher tasting loaves. An average domestic water filter works fine.

- Use organic flour. The difference in flavour is noticeable, and you can feel the difference in quality from the mixing stage.

- Use sea salt instead of everyday table salt. Sprinkle on top of a rosemary bread before it goes into the oven for added crunch and flavour.

- Always use good quality ingredients. The finished article is only as good as the ingredients put into it. Cheap walnuts, for example, can have a nasty texture and rancid taste.

- When the bread is ready to bake, brush the dough with egg or milk before it goes into the oven.

- You'll need essential tools: A Stanley knife or a very sharp razor blade to score the bread just before it is placed in the oven. This will increase crustiness and enhance the look of the loaf.

From TODAY, Food - Saturday, 02-Oct-2010
The secrets to baking good bread

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