Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Baking baguettes - epi, fougasse, fleur de lis

I have had an amazing few days in the bakehouse making baguettes with white and levain poolish pre-ferment. We learnt to slash the bread like the French by tilting the razor blade 45 degrees and cleanly slashing cuts into the top of the dough. These then open up during baking giving a really stylish and crusty finish. Having recently flown back from France and involved in a European baking competition, Emmanuel, our master baker, taught us how to achieve these beautiful shapes using simple blade technique - fougasse, epi and fleur de lis.
fougasse - cut & gently pull apart

epi - snipped at an angle with sharp scissors
fougasse with plaited ends

Baking bread is really not that difficult. And not all bakers are up until the early hours baking. I am leaning towards the way Chad manages his baking at Tartine in San Francisco, where they bake pastries for the morning and bake bread for sale in the evening. He makes the levain the night before and it rises through the night (while he sleeps!) and then they bake it off the next afternoon. Surely it makes sense that customers can pick up fresh bread for their evening meal to have it again for toast the next morning? 

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