This week’s theme is Fermentation. We practiced to make lean dough and rich dough. Although they both need yeast to ferment, their characteristics are so different. So do the mixing methods and oven temperature. For lean dough, it has less or none butter, sugar and eggs. For rich dough, it’s better for it to mix by modified method. This method can ensure even distribution of the fat and sugar. Speaking of the oven temperature, lean dough needs high heat to let products jump, on the other side, rich dough needs low temperature for the high content of sugar and butter. Lean dough and rich dough are so different. When we handle these two kinds of dough, we should be aware of this difference.
I have to say this first day was very hard for me. On Monday, our instructor taught us to make eight kinds of products.
Furthermore, I was the leader of group two. In such short time, I couldn’t catch all of the information. I had to organize our group’s task. My feeling was so bad. I was worried to make too many mistakes. At Monday’s night, I reviewed what I had learned and prepared for the next day. In the following days, the situation was getting better. I think the reason that I felt better is I have plans for the next day. In other words, I prepare or organize for the next day. Our group discussed what we were going to make and delegate the task. When I have clear thoughts for my own job, I can do very well. That’s the significance for us to have the course of Professionalism and Organization.
Sometimes, I feel we don’t just learn to use our hands. We also use our other senses. For example, our sights can judge the color of products. For certain items, the color should be brown. If the items are too dark, it means they are burned. If the items are too light, it means they are under baked. We still can use our ears to decide bread is ready or not. If the bread is done, when we thump the bottom of the bread, it sounds hollow. We also taste the loaves we made. Our instructor hopes us can feel the difference of lean dough items and rich dough items. For this reason, at the end of each day, he let us taste some goods and explain the details. Good baker should have good taste. The most interesting thing I want to talk is the smell. On Tuesday, we made Cheese & Onion Buns. I thought there were only cheese and green onion in the dough, but our instructor surprised all of us. He put those spices in the dough. These spices have very strong smell.
After the first batch of Cheese and Onion Buns were taken out of the oven, we wanted to taste them immediately. The smell was so attractive. Finally, everyone ate a bun. All of us like it. However, the strong spices are not suitable for everyone. I brought one bag of Cheese and Onion Buns home, but my mom felt not good after eating one. In the future, I will be more careful to use spices, or let my customers know what is in my goods.
This week, we learned a lot of theory and operations. I want to talk about three things. The first one is about the use of steam. In the past, we didn’t use steam during baking. The past four months, we learned to make quick breads, cookies, white or whole-wheat bread and pies. They don’t need steam. So I couldn’t understand why we use steam when we bake the lean dough products. Hard-crusted breads are made from lean dough, and they are baked in high temperature. However, there is a problem. In high heat, the dough expands quickly while the outside crust set firmly. In this case, the crust will be broken by the expanding. If we use the steam to keep the crust soft, the crust will hold its shape. And we use the steam during the first stage of baking. Normally, we set ten minutes for this stage. How to operate the steam correctly is a challenge for me. Like when is the right time to close or open the bumper? Or while we push the button for steam, we should push the door of deck oven very hard. There are some different actions when we use the rack oven. I need more chance to practice.
The second one is about the use of perforated tray. I never thought the types of tray can affect the result of proofing. For lean dough, they are short of sugar and fat. If we want to let lean dough proof quickly, we should let more heat go through the dough. The function of perforated tray is letting more heat reach the dough. That’s why we use it. On the other hand, rich dough has high content of sugar and fat. It’s easy for yeast to ferment. So we can put rich dough on solid trays.
The last one is about the right place to put the trays when we proof the dough or bake the products. We always put trays near the proofer’s door, because it’s convenient for us to take them out. The same things happen when we put trays in the oven. However, both of these actions are not good for products. In the future, I will push my trays as far as possible in the proofer or oven.
I also want to discuss the mistakes I have made or some classmates have made. It’s good for me to learn from failure. Once I use the third speed to mix my rich dough. Fortunately, our instructor noticed it in time. He stopped my mixer and told me that I was ruining the dough. Yes, he is right. The third speed is too strong for the gluten. I wanted to develop the gluten quickly, but I didn’t think the fast speed can break the structure of gluten. If I mix the dough for a longer time at the third speed, finally, my dough can’t hold its shape or I can’t mold it into the desired shape.
Another problem is the listening skill. Sometimes I really heard the instructor’s directions, but I didn’t think it over. For instance, when we were learning to make the fancy buns, our instructor said we had to show him the first four single strand braids then we could make other styles. I didn’t follow his directions. After finishing the single strand braids, I just continued to make other styles. I was wrong. Imagine that I worked in a bakery, and I didn’t follow my manager’s order. What would happen? So, I have to improve my understanding skill. Don’t ignore the order or directions from instructors.
Another mistake I want to talk is the demonstration. Sometimes, we like to assume. For example, the cuts for Long French bread and Baguetts are totally different. If we use the same style cutting to cut them, our products won’t be accepted by our customers. Baguette should look like Baguette.
If I were a customer, I wouldn’t buy one Baguette among them 🙂
Safety is another thing I want to say. It’s very important for us. No one wants to be hurt in his or her workplace. So, don’t underestimate it. I almost made a mistake. While our instructor was demonstrating how to use the peel to put Home made bread in the oven, I stood behind him and he wasn’t aware of it. I didn’t recognize the peel would hit me if our instructor pulled the peel further. It was so close. Also there was another accident happened in our kitchen lab. One classmate used a small size mixer to mix too much ingredient, and she was away when the mixer fell down to the floor. No one was hurt, but we should learn from this accident. Don’t leave your mixer alone, especially for small mixers. They might move to the edge of the bench gradually.
I am happy about something I did well. For example, the first time I used the divider to divide fancy funs dough. Those small pieces didn’t look uniform. Some were very big, and some were very small. Our group fixed the problem by our hands. But after two times practices, I did better and better. Let me show you what I divided today. These small doughs look very even.
Next week, we are going to learn how to make new products, such as Gugelhopf, Stollen, Coffee Cake, and so on. We are supposed to gain more knowledge about fermentation. I’m really curious about the sourdough. Today, we were showed one bucket of sour. It smells very strong. I want to know how to feed it and how to use it to make Artisan Breads.