Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Our final bake off...

The School of Artisan 2011
Completes first year of Diploma

Now that the excitement and dust has settled I thought I would complete the end of the journey with my final week at The School of Artisan Food. I can’t quite believe my Diploma is finished.

For our baking practical assessment we were tasked with baking a variety of breads in an 8 hour time slot. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep the night before and had wild dreams about forgetting a vital ingredient, rushing home to get it and then waiting hours for the bus back to school that never turned up. I was devastated. Then I woke up!

So the day before the exam we were allocated one hour to prepare all our pre-ferments. My chosen free style was to be focaccia bread with a pre ferment biga (http://tartntoast.blogspot.com/2011/07/artisan-speciality-breads-for.html). I also prepared the ciabatta overnight dough and poolish for the baguettes. The day of the exam I pinned up my production schedule that I had designed in order that I could keep a track on the best critical path to follow during each of the baking phases: mixing, bulk ferment, scale, rest, mould, shape, prove, slash, bake. I had prioritised the Levain de Campagne as this would take the longest to prove. 

We individually baked Levain de Campagne, Ciabatta rolls, Ciabatta loaves, Petit Pain, 55cm long baguettes, Malthouse, White, Focaccia (Rosemary & Rock Salt / Olive & Feta). In total we baked over 100 loaves each. We were tested on dough rheology, bulk fermentation, DDT (desired dough temperature), post baked weight control, organisational skills, moulding, shaping, blade, oven & baking skills, hygiene, decoration, crust, crumb, taste, aroma and final presentation.
In the end, we were all so proud of what we had achieved. Everyone did brilliantly. I did think David's freestyle Tsoureki loaf was particularly ambitious but he absolutely pulled it off and as always it tasted superb.
David's Tsoureki  (Greek Easter) bread
For me, the only major hiccup was catching the wooden peel on the way out of the oven causing my beautifully moulded baguettes to perform a Mexican wave and land in a heap at the back – a few expletives later and I was able to get over it and get on.

Expert bakers Emmanuel Hadjiandreou and Wayne Caddy from the British Baking Team judged our final work. Our final results are not through yet but needless to say there were big smiles all round:-)