Food: Baking bread, what I thought I knew

Today, I took another class at Sur La Table. It was an “Italian Bread Workshop.” I LOVED it! I’ve made my own pizza dough, focaccia and other hand shape artisan breads for years. But today, I learned so much and I think and hope it will vastly improve what I was doing.

Now, I am a lazy bread maker. I use my bread machine because I love it. And because I don’t really know how to knead. I may throw the machine out after today! We shall see. 🙂 I always use the machine to mix the dough and after it’s ready, I do my hand shaping.

I learned so much about dough consistency, wetness, fermentation and yes kneading and shaping today. Our instructor advised us, that dough needs to be wet. This dough was wetter than any I’ve ever touched, yet it wasn’t too sticky. We used flour on the table surface and sprinkled the dough, but using the extra tools, made everything so much easier to work with.

I bought the 2 items below.

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The white plastic one is a very flexible, scraper and mixer. I used this to mix the dough we made and it was so much better than using a spoon! Next the metal scraper, is used to cut into pieces if needed or to move the dough around on your floured surface. Maybe at some point I can take a video of this technique. Basically the instructor dumped this huge tub of wet dough onto the floured surface. She then used this tool to move the dough around, gently folding and kneading as she went. The wet dough became this pliable, workable blob. It was a really neat transition.

Our instructor also gave us a recipe for a really great basic Italian dough. Today we used it to make Pizza, Focaccia and grissini. We also used a separate dough to make our own Ciabatta loaves.

While I was a little disappointed about the lack of hands on in yesterday’s class, today, MORE than made up for it. I brought home all kinds of nice treats to eat and I can’t wait to try more breads with the new techniques I learned! Below is what I made in class today. Delicious!

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