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Archive for January, 2011

At the bakery…

Today I arrived at the bakery around 6:40, which is a little early compared to my usual time. When I came in, everyone seemed really busy and intense. I felt kind of out of place stepping into this situation, and I didn’t want to interrupt. I watched Joe and another baker make bread doughs in the mixers.

Joe told me that since the snow on Thursday, the flour shipments were a day late. He said that they had no flour until about 6:30AM this morning. The demand for bread does not stop, even if the delivery trucks stop. Luckily, the bakery has proofed dough retarding in the fridge, so they still had a bread supply.

He cut out the croissant triangles while I rolled them. Since it was a rather hectic morning, his cutting would be more efficient than mine since still need him to watch over me. After I finished forming croissants, he showed me how to make the butter packages for tomorrow’s croissant dough. I took a pound of butter, rolled it in flour, and smashed it with my rolling pin. I either need to grow taller or get stronger! Joe can flatten the butter into a square in moments, while for me, it took many hits. My arm is exhausted!

Next, Joe made the sourdough dough by combining three flours: bread, rye, and whole wheat. To this he added salt, and his sourdough starter. The starter that he uses is really stiff, not like the pourable one my brother made. Joe said that it uses all rye flour because it has more flavor. He also made olive oil, whole wheat, and croissant dough in quick succession.

After mixing all the doughs, we scaled them into the correct sizes for the different styles of bread. To scale it properly (and easily), we used the scaling machine. I’ve gotten much better at this, but still, I become apprehensive when using these unfamiliar machines. By placing a 5KG piece of dough, the machine cuts it into ten 500g pieces). We shaped all of the doughs into boules for the first rise. By stretching the surface of the dough it creates tension and support for the gluten. We shaped rosemary, mushroom, olive, sundried tomato whole wheat, sourdough, and olive oil doughs into balls.

Joe made pugliese, which is a very wet dough. Since it is so wet, it lacks structure. To combat this, he showed me how to stretch the dough. He folded it thirds from left to right, and then again in thirds from top to bottom.  We shaped these by flattening the dough, folding in the sides, and then sealed it shut by brining the top and bottom together. The pugliese is a very rustic looking loaf, and it doesn’t need to be perfect.

After shaping all of the dough into boules and letting them rest for a while, it was time for the final shaping. We made many boules, which are round loaves. The sourdough boule is made into 3KG pieces, which make HUGE loaves of bread. Next, with the flavored doughs, we rolled them into batards. With the mushroom bread, we flattened it, laid on two pieces of bacon, and proceeded to shape them like batards.

We made pan-di-mie, sandwich bread, by flattening out the dough. Next, we folded in the short ends, and then rolled the dough from top to bottom. Sandwich bread, unlike all the others, is baked in loaf pans. Also, we placed focaccia dough on half sheet pans slathered with olive oil.

We also made baguettes from the whole wheat and the olive oil dough. To do this, we flatted the dough, and rolled down from top to bottom, in thirds each time. Joe showed me that the ends had to be very tapered, and the center remained rather thick.

When Terrance came, we began working on pastry. We made chocolate brioches again, as well as golden raisin/pastry crème brioches. On the other side of the workbench, Joe rolled out pie dough which we placed in 4-inch pie tins. While I was filling the tins, Joe was making the apple filling. Everything is so organized in order to produce the most in the least amount of time.

Terrance made flourless chocolate cakes, which were in the walk-in fridge. To remove them from the pans, we used a butane torch, which heated the cake up and let it slip out of the pan. He handed the torch to me-it was very scary to use. However, once I understood how to hold the torch, it became much more manageable.

We placed the cakes on a cooling rack so we could glaze them with chocolate. With warm, tempered chocolate, we ladled it over the cakes, letting the chocolate incase the cake. To get a smooth coat, I picked up the end and let the chocolate run off. Since there were a few bubbles, Terrance ran the torch over the chocolate, which smoothed the surface.

Terrance and I shaped brioche dough for brioche-a-tete, and when we finished, we began making tarts. We rolled the dough very thin on the roller, and placed them in tart pans. The first week I went, I ripped the dough getting it into the pan. However, this time I was much more delicate and they looked really good!

It was already about 11:30 when I cleaned up-I was exhausted. My arm is throbbing from the rolling pin! Both Joe and Terrance think that I’m a hard worker, but that I just need to stand and speak up more. I always feel like I’m in the way of someone, or making a fatal mistake. I really need more confidence, especially in the bakery because it would make me feel much less stressed.

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There are two Hebrew words for bread:  lichem is an everyday bread and challah is the bread eaten on Sabbath, the day of rest.  Challah is an enriched bread with oil, sugar and eggs, while Lichem is a basic lean dough. Before the bread is baked, the baker sacrifices a piece of the dough to God. At any event, two challahs are two challahs must be blessed to prevent the breads from being shamed. To do so, the bread is placed under a challah Cover while the wine is being blessed. At Sabbath dinner, before the bread can be broken, the family must say in Hebrew, “Blessed are you, Lord Our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”

Traditionally, challah is braided into a long loaf and lacquered with egg wash on the Sabbath. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, challah is circularly shaped to represent the coming year and long life. Sometimes it is shaped like a ladder, to symbolize the ascent to God after death.  In comparison to the regular Sabbath Challah, the holiday bread is sometimes enriched with raisins or saffron, which were considered prized ingredients.

In comparison to his other recipes, Reinhart does not use a preferment in his challah recipe. Since it’s an enriched bread, most of the flavor and texture comes from the eggs and sugar.

I began by mixing together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In another bowl, I mixed together eggs, egg yolks, water and oil. Using my new dough whisk, I stirred the wet into the dry until it made a shaggy dough. I added more flour so the dough was not sticky, and kneaded it for about 6 minutes, until it passed the windowpane test.

I let the dough rise for the first time for about an hour. At this point, Reinhart suggests to punch down the dough and knead for a few moments. Then, I let the dough rise for another two hours, until it doubled in size. Then, divided the dough in six equal pieces (making two loaves), shaped them into balls, and let the gluten relax for about 20 minutes.

With a dough ball in hand, I pressed the dough against the counter, slightly elongating it. Next, with two hands, I pushed the dough outwards in order to make it into a long strand. When I thought I reached my desired length, the dough shrank back slightly. So, I let the dough relax for a few minutes, and then stretched each section into a foot and a half length strand.

Next, I  began braiding the strands. I opted to make two 3-strand braids so I wouldn’t have one gigantic loaf that we’d never  be able to finish. Beginning at the midpoint of the strands, I laid the three strands next to each other, and placed the right strand over the middle strand. Then, I placed the left strand over the middle strand, and continued braiding like I would hair. When I reached the end, I turned the loaf around 180 degrees, and braded the other side. Then, I rolled the ends together by pushing the dough against the counter with the heel of my hands. I tucked the ends underneath the loaf so it would have a finished look.

When I looked at the time,  I realized it would be past midnight by the time the challahs proofed and baked. I was silly and didn’t think ahead, and egg-washed the dough before refrigerating it (it was late!). I let the dough proof in the fridge until the next afternoon. After resting on the counter for about 2 hours so it warmed up, I baked the bread loaves in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes. As it was cooling, I realized that I forgot the second egg wash. This resulted with the loaf having an uneven, semi-shiny, semi-crackly surface. The braids looked nice, but it didn’t have the lacquered crust.

When I ate a piece, I remembered how much I love challah. I love the tender, almost cake-like texture of the crumb, and the soft crust. Like the brioche, challah with raspberry jam made breakfast (and dessert!) delicious.  I brought a loaf to my mentor, Mr. Esteban.  I explained to him that I was disappointed in the crust, but I don’t think he minded all that much. It’s still bread, right? I also brought a half loaf to my Jewish grandparents. We always have challah on Rosh Hashanah, and it reminded me of the holidays.  Nothing beats a good loaf of challah bread.

This post can be seen on this really awesome website devoted to bread baking. Check it out!

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/

Olver, Lynne. “Breads.” Food Timeline (2011): n. pag. Web. 26 Jan 2011. <http://www.foodtimeline.org&gt;.

Reinhart, Peter. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. 1st ed. . New York, New York: Ten Speed Press, 2001. 83, 133-134. Print.

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Last week, Mr. Granarolo told me to come in earlier, at 7AM, to watch the dough being made. I had to leave my house at 6AM to get to the bakery in time. It was truly bizarre feeling when I walked in downtown Princeton without another person on the streets.

When I got there, immediately Mr. Granarolo handed me an apron. Mr. Granarolo is in charge of the bakery- He’s running around, doing what needs to be done (croissants, breads, cashier, etc.)  at the moment. He told me that I would be working with the bread baker, Joe (I worked with him last week, but couldn’t remember his name). Joe began by showing me how to make their classic bread doughs: country, multigrain, sourdough, and olive oil.

Mr. Granarolo makes the recipes every morning on a computer-program which scales the recipe with the correct baker’s percentages. Joe began by measuring the water by typing in the amount into an automatic dispenser. The water filled the bowl of a huge mixer. He added a whole sack of flour, I think was about 50 KG. Next, he showed me how to measure out ingredients, like yeast, salt, and olive oil. On the scale, he poured on each ingredient. For example, the yeast registered .40 KG, which is 400grams. I didn’t realize it was in KG, and poured too much salt- but Joe corrected me and showed me how to do it properly. It’s weird working with industrial equipment and huge recipes-measurements and the tools change with the increased quantity.

When we added the salt, olive oil, and yeast to the flour and water mixture, he turned on the mixer. He told me since it was not an enriched bread, or it was not mixed with other flours, it takes about 8 minutes to knead. While waiting for the dough to finish, we mixed the ingredients for the sourdough, multigrain and country breads. This clearly shows how organized Joe is-rather than having down time, he makes the most of every minute.

After the olive oil dough was almost finished, he added some pate fermente, which is yesterday’s dough. He told me this not only adds more depth of flavor but also, uses up old scraps of dough. Since the dough is already made, it does not affect the hydration levels in the bread which we currently were making.

When kneading was done, he divided the dough into 4 pieces. He kneaded in olives, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and rosemary into each section, to make a different kind of bread. With each section of dough, we scaled it in this machine which spreads the dough out evenly, and divides it into ten-500 KG or twenty-250KG segments. After dividing the dough, we shaped them into boules for the first proofing. The purpose of shaping is to create tension on the outside of the dough, which provides structure for the gluten.

Next, we shaped batards, which is like a shorter and fatter baguette. We took the portion of dough, and spread it out into a flat shape. Then, we folded the top third to the center. Next, the sides were folded into the middle. Now, the top was folded again, in thirds, and lastly, the dough formed a cylinder-like shape. Starting in the center, I pushed the dough against the surface, elongating the dough, and tapering the ends. We placed all of the shaped breads on wooden boards lined with couches, fabric which prevents the breads from sticking together.  We did this with all the bread dough we made.  However, with the multigrain bread, we mixed in soaked oats and seeds, and pressed the tops of the dough into seeds and grains.

After proofing for a while, we put these breads in the refrigerator, so they would retard overnight for a better flavor. Also, this makes it easier on the bakers, so they only have to bake in the morning rather than mix, proof, and wait. Joe told me that a baker wants the dough to wait for him, not that the baker waits for the dough.

Since I practiced making croissant last time, Mr. Granarolo and Joe trusted me to use the rolling machine on my own. I rolled the dough until it reached size 5 on the machine, which is about 1/8 of an inch thick. I cut out the croissants using the cutter- Joe showed me how to place the cutter to make the most out of the dough. At the end of making croissants, I noticed that my formation and technique improved tremendously since last time.

Around 10AM, Terrance, the pastry chef arrived and worked with Joe and I. Terrance is hilarious and really knowledgeable.  I rolled out more croissant dough into a 15 foot long piece, and then added pastry crème. Terrance showed me how to spread the crème-he told me that I should push it, rather than spread the crème on the dough. He spread it with chocolate chips, and folded the dough in thirds. He told me I should use the rolling pin with only one hand, pushing in the center, while the other hand guides the dough.

Although not technically bread, Joe and I made apple gallettes with puff pastry. Since last week, I improved using the apple peeler/corer/cutter device. We layered the apples around a circle of frangipane, a spread made of almond paste, eggs, and sugar. He brushed them with apricot glaze, and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar.

Joe next rolled out olive-oil dough to make pizza. He showed me how he loaded the dough on the peel, and covered it lightly with tomato sauce. Next, he added shredded mozzarella, and then added gently torn fresh mozzarella. It came out of the oven beautifully, and about 5 feet long.

Next, Joe and I made brioche dough. Unlike the brioche I made at home, Joe’s brioche has only about 40% butter-to-flour ratio. He told me this was pretty high for a bakery, for cost effectiveness, taste, and versatility. We mixed in about 125 (!) eggs, to the flour, salt, yeast, and just a bit of water. He then added softened butter. Joe told me that we would not add the sugar now, because sugar inhibits gluten development.  He also added pieces of yesterday’s brioche dough to use it up and add flavor.

When we mixed all the dough, we scaled it into portions, and rolled them into roll sized balls. Terrance showed me the brioche-a-tete molds, and explained to me how to make the proper shape. With the ball of dough in hand, I divided it visually into fourths, and rocked the side of my hand to make a small knob at the top of the dough. I pushed the larger ball into the pan, and twisted the small ball so it stayed on top like a crown.

Then, Joe rolled out more dough and cut it with a fluted cutter into 4 inch rounds. We placed rounds of baby-brie cheese on every other round. He then brushed the other half with egg wash, and we pressed the top over the brie, to make a package.

Joe also showed me another bread he made-a sourdough with added pieces of meats and cheeses. In order to be most cost effective, the bakery used extra bread dough and extra sandwich fillings to make a new style of bread. I realized that in any restaurant, not only must the food taste and look good, it must be cost effective and resourceful.

I really liked baking with Joe and Terrance-however, breads were mostly done. I stayed and worked with Terrance, who was making cannolies. We made a filling of fresh, strained ricotta, powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest and extract. After the filling was well whipped, I folded in softened mascarpone cheese. Terrance added the filling to a pastry bag, and showed me how to properly fill each shell. Using my left hand, I twisted the top of the bag, and squirted it into the cannoli shell I held with my right. I then dipped each end into chocolate chips, and placed them in papers for display.

It was already about 12:15 when I realized I need to get going home. I cleaned up my station and put away my apron, and drove home. I was so exhausted; I had to take a nap. I’m not used to waking up at 5AM on a weekend! After just two weeks, I feel like I’ve improved at shaping different breads.

Since Mr. Granarolo is busy doing a ton of things, I think I’m going to be spending more time with Joe and Terrance than him. However, I really need to gain more confidence in the kitchen- I feel so timid around Terrance and Joe. They’re both amazing and experienced bakers- I feel really immature and unskilled around them.  They told me not to worry though, because they could see improvement and said by the end of my internship, I’ll have more confidence.

 

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Casatiello

Casatiello, a Neapolitan Easter bread, is also known as Tortano in other parts of Italy. The word casatiello is derived from the Neapolitan word for “cheese.”

Casatiello is enriched bread, much like brioche, with the addition of cured meat and cheeses. Traditionally, Italians add salami and pecorino-romano and/or provolone cheeses.

Like many other breads, casatiello has religious significance. The rising dough represents the resurrection of Christ on Easter. The traditional circular shape represents Christ’s crown, and the eggs on top signify His rebirth.

To incorporate the meat and cheese, Reinhart kneads in these additions. However, while researching other recipes, they call for the dough to be rolled out flat, sprinkled with meat and cheese, and rolled up like a sandwich loaf. The traditional casatiello is topped with raw eggs, covered with dough crosses. When baked, the eggs atop the casatiello are similar to hard-boiled eggs. Reinhart bakes his bread in tall mold, like a coffee can, lined with a paper bag. However, many traditional recipes call for the dough being shaped in ring and baked in a tube pan.

In comparison to many of Reinhart’s recipes, this bread can be made in one day, rather than retarding overnight. However, he does use a sponge to add more flavor to his bread. I began by mixing flour and yeast, which I added warm milk to. I let this ferment for about an hour, until it collapsed when tapped the bowl.

Meanwhile, I shredded some provolone cheese, and diced some salami. I sautéed the salami for a few minutes, and it rendered some fat and became slightly crispy.

Next, I mixed flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid. Next, I added eggs and the sponge to the flour mixture, and mixed until it became a ball. After resting a few minutes, (known as autolyse), I added ¾ cup of room temperature butter in 4 additions. The dough was sticky and soft, and I kneaded it for about 5 minutes until it became slightly tacky and smooth.

I sprinkled the meat over the dough, and tried to knead it in the mixer. However, the salami just whizzed around the bowl, so I decided to knead by hand. After the meat was incorporated, I added the cheese, which mixed in much easier than the meat. I let the mixed dough rest for about an hour and a half, for the first rise.

Since I didn’t have coffee tins, and I didn’t want to stray from Reinhart’s recipe, I chose to bake the casatiello in two loaf pans. I shaped it like I would sandwich bread- I flattened it into a rectangle and rolled it into a tight cylinder. Remembering my mishap while shaping the brioche, I made sure to seal these loaves extra tight. After being shaped, I let the dough rise for the final time for about 90 minutes.

The loaves baked in a 350 degree oven until they were golden brown, and the insides reached about 190 degrees. Unlike the brioche, they were not glazed, but the top was speckled with dark bits of cheese.

When I cut into the loaf, I could see the bits of melted cheese, which made this cool, web-like structure in the bread. Maybe because I’m not a fan of cured meats is the reason that I didn’t really find this bread to my liking. Although I liked the rich and soft texture of the bread, I didn’t like the bits of salami. I probably should have cubed the meat finer, so it was more evenly distributed. I made this bread with my mentor, Mr. Esteban, in mind. He does not like sweet breads and casatiello is the epitome of the savory kind he would enjoy.

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Today, we know brioche as a rich bread, enriched with enormous amounts of butter and eggs.  The name brioche is derived from the Norman verb, “to pound.” The Norman region of France was well known for the butter which they produced, and excessive kneading was required to incorporate all the butter into the dough.

Brioche came to Paris in the 1600s as a much heavier and far less rich bread than the one we know today. Supposedly brioche became well known with Marie Antoinette’s famous quote, “qu’ils manget de al brioche” during the 1700s, which translates to “let them eat cake.” This referred to the peasants who rioted because there was a lack of bread.  The different butter contents of bread were baked for different classes-even the food reflected the social-class divides in 18th century France.

In the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart provides three different recipes which vary in the butter content. Rich Man’s Brioche has about 88% butter to flour ratio, Middle-Class Brioche has about 50%, and Poor Man’s Brioche has about 20%. Since I had never made brioche, I splurged and made Rich Man’s-why not? The recipe makes three loaves- In my head, the idea of three loaves somehow justified the pound (?!) of butter in the bread.

Traditionally, brioche is baked in molds as brioche a tete, which are formed with two balls of dough. Brioche can be shaped using the three-braid technique, which is called brioche vendenne. Brioche nanterre is shaped by forming the dough into six balls, and placing them 2×3 in a baking pan. Served with jam, brioche makes a perfect breakfast, and topped with meats and cheese, it can be served for lunch or dinner, thus making brioche a truly versatile bread.

I began the brioche with a sponge of flour, yeast, and milk. After the sponge rose and collapsed, I added five eggs. Next, incorporated the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and sugar), and mixed until the flour was hydrated.

After a few minutes, I mixed in a stick of butter at a time, making sure they were fully incorporated before the next addition. The dough looked smooth, and almost icing-like, because of the butter. I had never worked with such a fluffy, light bread dough, so I felt kind of intimidated in new waters.

After all the butter was added, I mixed for a few more minutes until the dough was soft, and tacky, but not sticky. I spread the dough onto a cookie sheet and put it in the refrigerator to firm up and retard overnight.

Since I don’t have brioche molds, I used three loaf pans. I cut the dough into three even pieces, and with a rolling pin, I formed a rectangle. Like sandwich bread, I rolled the dough up, and placed them seam-down in the pan, and let it rise for about two hours. After it had risen for the second time, I brushed it an egg wash, to form a shiny crust.

In a 350 degree oven, I baked the bread until it was golden brown, and the internal temperature reached 190 degrees. However, when I tried to take the bread out of the pan, it kind of stuck to my not-nonstick pans, which I didn’t grease. With some slight prying, I got the bread out, but slightly crushed and deflated a loaf. Also, when forming the loaves, I didn’t seal the seam well, and when baked, it split on the sides.

Once cooled, I cut the bread, which flaked like a croissant, and tasted so rich and delicious. Since there is so much butter, one slice is more than enough, but every bite was so delicate and smooth. I’m glad I splurged for Rich Man’s brioche, but I’m not sure how often I’ll make it because of it’s richness. With raspberry jam, it honestly made the best breakfast.

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I have never been so excited in my life, about anything, I believe.  I walked into the bakery, surround by smells of yeasty breads and sweet, buttery pastries. Loaves of bread covered the walls, sourdough, baguettes, ciabattas-loaves endlessly slide off the baker’s wooden peel.

With my notebook in hand, I walked in with Mr. Granarolo into the back of the bakery, where flour-covered workers were rolling out dough and shaping loaves of bread. I stood awkwardly next to him, and he looked at my clothes and said, “You should have worn white!” He handed me an apron and I immediately knew I wouldn’t be taking notes.

Mr. Granarolo was a great teacher: The first thing we made was a brioche bun filled with golden raisins. I watched him roll out dough on a rolling-machine and through the four foot long dough onto the work bench. With an offset spatula, he spread an almond crème gracefully, the blade gliding over the dough. He tossed on handfuls of golden raisins, and sprinkled clouds of cinnamon over the dough. He showed me how to roll them up, starting a tight coil at the top, and rolling the dough the rest of the way up. He held out three fingers, which represented the proper thickness of the bun. In French, he counted off 24 buns in a matter of seconds, and placed them onto parchment lined sheets.

My turn! I took the dough and placed it on the roller. Nervously, I pulled the lever, and the dough came through so fast, I thought it would fall to the floor. I could never figure remember which way he placed the dough, and I was scared I would ruin the buns with my carelessness. I must have stayed at the machine for five minutes, going back and forth, getting thinner and thinner. I put it through the final time, and tried to catch the dough with my arm, almost dropping it. I awkwardly carried it over to the table, and spread it out so there were no bumps.

Everything movement I made did not have the gracefully confidence of Mr. Granarolo. I apprehensively spread the crème, accidently scraping the top of the brioche dough. He showed me to push the crème, rather than scrape it on. Afterwards, I sprinkled on walnuts, just the right amount. However, he dusted on the cinnamon to ensure that no customer would be stuck with a mouthful of spice when eating a bun.

Marking the width of each dough with three fingers, I cut each roll. I pushed slightly too hard with knife, resulting in slightly flattened rolls. It took me several moments to place them all on the tray. I felt so intimidated by all the baker’s-each move, and every product, perfect.

Next! He pulled out more dough from the refrigerator. Pinwheels! After the croissant dough was rolled out, he cut it with this nifty adjustable-multi-cutter into 24 squares. With a quick hand, he cut each corner of the square on a diagonal. He pulled one diagonal of each corner to the center, and pushed down slightly. Only twenty three more for me to do!

For pain au chocolat, we rolled out croissant dough into a five foot long piece of dough. I folded it horizontally in half for a guide, and  then cut it with a pizza peel. About ¾ an inch from the top, I placed two thin bars of chocolate, distancing each bar about ¼ of an inch from each other. Starting at the top, I rolled the dough over the chocolate bar, and then rolled the west of the way down like one does a cinnamon roll. He told me to feel where the chocolate ended, and to cut there. Although I got most of them, sometimes I misjudged and cut through a bar. To make sure they don’t open up when baking, the seam goes on the bottom, and the dough is slightly flattened when on the tray.

More croissants. We rolled out the dough again, until it was about two feet in length, and still pretty thick. Using a croissant cutter (this nifty triangular rolling cutter), I rolled/pushed it through the dough. I didn’t press as hard as I should have, which resulted into finalizing the cuts with the pizza cutter.

Each piece also had a slit at the wide base of the triangle, which would be the top. Using two hands, I pressed and pulled towards me, in one long motion until the half way point. This made the dough look like a rolled cigar. In a continuous motion, I rolled it the rest of the way, the point ending in the middle of the “cigar.” I took both ends and brought them together, to make the classic croissant shape.

At first, I couldn’t do it in two motions, but instead I rolled, and pushed, and made a mess for about five of them. However, Mr. Granarolo told me not to get discouraged-he’d made thousands of them in his lifetime, and perfect comes with practice. After a while though, I got the hang of it, producing much nicer croissants.

Even more! He showed me how to use his apple peeler (put the stem side on the pokers!) and spin the handle in stable motion to both peel and cut the apple into slices. Using a knife, we cut each cored and sliced apple in half, for half moon shaped apple pieces. He cut the dough like pinwheel dough, into 24 squares.

We squeezed about a tablespoons worth of a cream cheese filling on each dough. He told me to squeeze perpendicular to the dough, and drag towards me. Three pieces of apple fanned across the dough complete the filling. We folded these in thirds, bring the dough over top of the apples, and sealing it with the other third.

After using all the croissant dough, I went with the pastry chef who was working on miniature baguette, breadsticks. I dipped each dough ball into a bowl of flour, and pushed the heel of my palm in the ball. Pressing and rolling outwards, I formed each ball into a baguette/stick about 8 inches in length.

Using the machine again, we rolled out another piece of dough about 5 feet in length. On this dough, we spread pastry cream on the top 2/3 of the dough. Then, we liberally sprinkled them with miniature chocolate chips, which the chef spread out in a flick of his spatula. We folded the dough over, like a letter again, until they were sealed. Using three fingers as a generous guide, I cut each piece slightly less, into 2 ½ by about 6 inch pieces. After cutting all the pastry, we flipped them over and put them on baking trays. He insured me that by flipping them around, the pastry would bake evenly and not open up while baking.

He showed me the walk-ins in the back of the restaurant. I was in total awe walking in, fresh butter, cream, eggs and other ingredients lined the walls of the walk in. In the back fridge, bread dough retarded in the cold temperature, resulting in more flavorful bread.

Next we would be working on an almond and apricot tart, so he removed his tart crust from the refrigerator. Since this would also go through the rolling machine, it needed to warm up. In order to do so, he took a gigantic rolling pin, and used his body weight to pound it out. He handed me the rolling pin and told me to give it a try. Using to hands, I wielded the pin like a sword, and tried to hit the dough. But my puny hits did nothing in comparison. After a minute of struggling, he took the pin back and finished in a matter of seconds.

This dough was hard to deal with-it was very buttery, and when warm, easily tore. We put it in the roller, and this was much slower than normal. The dough was so thick; it took minutes to thin out. However, by the time I reached the proper size, it had become so long I could not handle it. He showed me a cool technique- while the dough came out, he rolled it around the rolling pin, so he could just unravel it on the bench.

As we began to fit the dough into tart shells (I was making a mess), the bread baker called me over and asked if I wanted to help. I almost slid on the flour covered floors running over to him.

This is from the bakery's facebook

On these pizza peel like sheets (which were lined with fabric), he placed batards, ciabattas, sourdough boules, etc. on the peel. He held his lame in his hand, the curve away from him, and using the corner, pulled it effortlessly through the dough. He made simple cuts, from tip to tip, or more exotic ones like a 4×4 cross hatch pattern. The sourdough boule has a slit around the side of the dough, making it look kind of like a hamburger. I tried though, but my cuts were not deep enough, and I did not go end to end. Also, while making the cross hatch, he told me to cut away from myself, and to use my hand as a guide, but to also take caution.

He slid these into the 4 deck oven, and released steam to help the dough rise to its fullest potential. After we loaded all four decks, it was time to remove the breads. With an 8 foot long pizza peel, he pulled out row upon row of baguette, and placed them on a cooling rack. My turn!? He handed me the peel, and it wobbled awkwardly from my weak arms. Slightly overhead, I pushed the peel in, and once the ciabattas were secured, I pulled out the peel, my arms wobbling even more with the added weight. I did this row after row, until all the bread was removed from the oven.

When I went back to the work bench, the pastry chef already completed his beautiful tarts and was glazing them with apricot. He told me the next thing on his agenda was baking biscotti. We used immense amounts of butter, and copious amounts of sugar, but it’s a cookie, right? I had to crack thirty-six eggs, but I need to use two hands. He tried to convince me to use only one, telling me it was like using chopsticks (but I can’t do those either!) With an egg in each hand, he cracked them seamlessly, not one shell landing in the container. It’s amazing how a professional can become so efficient and so skilled.

I learned to use his baker’s scale, zeroing it out, and changing from metric to US Standard measurements. He told me about the horrors of the old mixer: It doesn’t have a stop mechanism, so if a bowl falls in, it would be bent into a deformed metal blob. Right now, I’m not sure if I trust myself to use it, and I doubt Mr. Granarolo would feel safe with my arm dangling in the mixer.

However, I had already been there for about 4 hours, and this time, my mom drove me to the bakery so I wouldn’t get lost. I folded up my apron and got ready to leave.  I felt bad abandoning him during our biscotti making, but he assured me, the show would go on.

Next week, I’m going to arrive at seven rather than eight, so I can see how the dough is actually made. Everyone was so nice and understanding at Witherspoon Bread Company- I couldn’t have asked for a nicer sponsor. Not only did they show me, they made sure I was applying proper technique and corrected me for the future. Mr. Granarolo’s wife handed me a Witherspoon Bread Company shirt as I was ready to leave. Honesty, I’m so grateful for W.I.S.E. for providing me with this opportunity. I haven’t been this ecstatic or passionate about anything in along time. Every moment working on the dough made me yearn for a future in a bakery.

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Bagels

Originating in Poland in the 1600s, Bagels came along with Jewish immigrants to Ellis Island. Since many people of Jewish descent settled in New York, bagels have since been a tradition in the City.

The word bagel is derived from the German word for “to bend,” symbolizing the round shape of the bread. Bagels were thought to bring good luck to the receiver of the bread. Usually, women who just gave birth received them for good luck as well as a symbol representing the cycle of life due to their circular shape.

The bagel gains its distinct chewiness from being first boiled, and then baked at a rather high temperature. A prolonged, cool second rise contributes to the bagels developed flavor, as well as the “fish eyes” on the crust. “Fish eyes” are raised bumps on the surface of the bread.

The first time I made bagels a few years ago, I was foolish and used whole wheat, no-knead dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Although this dough made fine boules, the bagels dissolved in the boiling water, leaving broken lumps of chewy dough. Nevertheless, I was determined to find the perfect bagel recipe.

My brother, Evan, has been baking his own bagels weekly for about a year now. Out in California, each bagel costs over a buck, and they’re spongy rolls. Out here in New Jersey, we sometimes get good bagels-but mostly, they’re doughy and the size of your face.

Reinhart begins his recipe with a sponge, combining water, yeast, and flour into a thick-pancake like batter. After about two hours, I added more yeast, flour, salt and honey. I tried to mix the ingredients together, but flour flew out everywhere, making a giant mess. I tried to knead the dough in the Kitchen Aid, but the dough was so stiff, I could smell the motor straining.

That’s why we have hands, I guess. For about ten minutes, I kneaded the stiff dough until my arms hurt, and the dough passed the window pane test. I measured out the dough into twelve even pieces (thank goodness for a scale). However, 4.5 ounce bagels were a bit too large for breakfast, and I think making about 16 would be a better portion.

After letting the dough rest for a little bit, I shaped them into bagels. I tried both ways, by sticking my finger through the dough and stretching the hole out, and also by forming them from a coil. I found that by poking my finger through, the shape of the bagel was more consistent, but I’m sure with more practice, I could get better at the coil-method.

I let the bagels rest again for about twenty minutes. Reinhart suggests a test for readiness: I placed one piece of shaped bagel dough in a bowl of water and saw it immediately floated.

After the test, I placed them on baking sheets, covered them with plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge for two nights.

On the second night, I brought a pot of water to a boil with an added tablespoon of baking soda. I didn’t want to crowd my pot, so I only boiled four bagels at a time, for about a minute per each side. Immediately after boiling, I put them on a cooling-rack to drain, and sprinkled over a combination of sesame and poppy seeds, as well as some sea salt.

After boiling all 12 bagels, I baked them in a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes, rotated the pans, and baked them about 7 minutes more at 450, or until they were deep golden brown.

The next morning, I had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. Wow. They beat any one of the partially-cooked ones I get from the bakeries in my town. Since there are only three of us living in my house right now, we froze half of the bagels for future use. I also gave my mentor, Mr. Esteban a handful of bagels to share with his family. I hope he enjoyed them!

Besides my finicky mixer, this recipe was super simple and didn’t require all that much effort (but more utensils than normal to clean). Rather than spending 12 bucks for 12 bagels on Sunday, I can bake these (better) bagels for a fraction of the cost. Next time, I’ll try to find malt barley to make more authentic bagels, but for now, these are awesome!

Olver, Lynne. “Breads.” Food Timeline (2011): n. pag. Web. 14 Jan 2011. <http://www.foodtimeline.org&gt;.

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