Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baking Course with Marco Ropke

Compliments of my beautiful "wife" I received a wee bread-making course for my birthday. It was quite a bit to take in, 4 hours on two consecutive nights, so 8 hours of full-on bread-making. Fortunately a lot of the techniques with yeast breads are similar so they kind of reinforce each other. And there's always the recipes he printed out to refer to although I wish I had a video camera to record the lot!

Anyway first night we made a brown toasting bread and some dinner rolls.The wholewheat bread is pretty tasty, the rolls were really crunchy when i brought them home and then next day they were WAY softer. I preferred them softer. The one that looks like a hand was called a mano, it may be tricky for me to actually remember how to do that one.
I was the only one in the class not taking notes! Feck it.

Also on the first night we made starters for making bread the second night, one for the baguette we're going to make and one for a cuban sandwich bread we're trying.These starters are known by several different names depending on what country you come from. Sponge, biga and poolish are some of them. You make them up about 16 hours before you're going to make the bread, probably takes about a minute and half to make them. They're really wet mixtures of flour and water and a bit of yeast, they ferment like bastards and then they get added to the bread dough ingredients.
I think one of the things that surprised me the most is how wet doughs seem to me. Maybe it's because I only ever made soda bread before but my tendency to add flour to dough until it looks right is now going to be eradicated cos I know what looked 'right' to me was in fact completely wrong!

Second night we made shedloads of bread... really. The course ran on a half hour later than it should have and the last loaf of bread didn't even get baked fully! This is the first time this course has ran so Marco is still feeling out how many breads he can fit in in a night and obviously was a bit ambitious, one of the breads will be cut for the next beginners course.

This is the motherload that resulted! Bagels, which were made the night before and left the fridge to develop flavour overnight, a variation on a baguette in the front and another one hiding in the middle, a brown bread on the right front which has carrots and carmelised onions added to it, a flat bread with parmesan, pumpkin seeds and rosemary baked on to it and an oatmeal loaf hanging out at rear left there which is undercooked and has been frozen.
I'll be able to take the oatmeal one out of the freezer and throw it in the oven for 10 mins to finish it off and it'll be like fresh!

I must get to work now, I have a fair idea what I'm eating for lunch.

Oh I nearly forgot, NO KitchenAids were used in the making of these breads, Marco is not a fan, likes to get hands on which I can understand, his website is

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