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Loafing Around

Focaccia Bread Whoever was present at the first baking class by Chef Gerwin at Courtyard by Marriott City Centre, Pune last month (or whoever read the blog posts on the recipes) knows that they were a hit. Thanks to Chef Gerwin many of us now know the tricks and trade of baking the perfect cheesecake, the soft and spongy tea cakes, the crumbly buttery cookies, and so much more. So when I received an invitation to attend the second masterclass, there was NO way I was saying no.


Saturday afternoon saw around 60 of us at Executive Lounge at Courtyard by Marriott City Centre Pune, patiently seated with our recipes and note-pads,wondering what Chef Gerwin had in store for us this afternoon. The energy of the room quickly changed the moment Gerwin walked up on to the stage (it is a little difficult to ignore a high level of enthusiasm you know)


Okay I’ll be honest with you here- I blanch at the thought of baking breads. Give me cookies, cakes, anything, ANYTHING but breads. And then Gerwin said something about making mistakes, and learning from experience…and that’s when I knew this class was DEFINITELY going to be a fabulous one. It’s extremely important to make your students feel at ease. Gerwin did a good job :)


The aim of a bread baker is to convert a whole lot of tasteless flour into a sweet, mutli-layered flavor. And what is important is how the baker manipulates time and temperature to get the perfect bread. Baking bread is an art and a science….it’s difficult, but it’s beautiful!

Here are a few basic points to be kept in mind while baking breads-

 

1. Salt is important. It controls the yeast from rising. So unlike cakes, it’s important to use salt while baking breads.

 

2. Sugar controls the density of the bread. More sugar, softer the bread. Don’t worry about the bread becoming sweet- for 1kg of flour used, it’s absolutely okay to use 100gm-150gm of sugar.

 

3. Use cold water to knead the bread dough.

 

4. To facilitate proofing, cover the dough with a damp cloth dipped in luke warm water.

 

5. Fill the dough upto 1/4th for proofing- once it’s risen to 3/4th of the container put it in for baking.

 

6. If you’re kneading the dough by hand, put in the melted butter towards the end.

 

7. If you’re kneading by hand, create a small depression in the middle of the flour to add in the yeast.

 

8. Gluten and Bread Improver are optional.

 

9. If the butter is salted, use 15gm of salt instead of 20gm.

 

 


So if any of you are inspired to bake bread, I’ll help you with a beginner’s guide to some DELICIOUS bread.Here’s how Chef Gerwin converted a variety of basic ingredients into a flavorful and fragrant loaf of bread-

FOCACCIA

Ingredients
1 kg Refined Flour
20 gm Salt
100 gm Sugar
30 gm Yeast
100 gm Butter
50 ml Olive Oil
600 ml (approx.) Water
20 gm Gluten
20 gm Bread Improver

 
Method
-Preheat the oven to 250 C.
-Mix all the ingredients together to form smooth soft dough.
-With oiled hands, roll small portions of dough and place on a greased baking tray.
-Make dimples in the dough and put toppings and finish with grated cheese.
-Prove focaccias for approximately one hour and then bake at 250 C for 8-10 minutes or till you get a nice golden brown color.
-Brush with olive oil as soon as the focaccias are out of the oven.

 

FRENCH BAGUETTE

Ingredients
1 kg Refined Flour
20 gm Salt
30 gm Yeast
600 ml (approx.) Water
20 gm Gluten
30 gm Bread Improver

 

Method
-Preheat the oven to 230 C.
-Mix all the ingredients together to form medium soft dough.
-Place the dough on a greased counter and cover with a damp cloth and rest for 15-20 minutes.
-Cut and scale dough into approx. 300 gm pieces and keep aside covered with a damp cloth for another rest period of 15-20 minutes.
-Finally knock back the individual pieces of dough and roll into long loaves and place on a flour dusted baguette tray or baking tray.
-Prove for 30 minutes. Now just before baking, spray the baguettes with water, sieve the flour and cut slits with a blade or serrated knife.
-Bake in the oven at 230 C for 15 minutes at first, then reduce temperature to 200 C and continue baking for another 15 minutes.

 

MULTIGRAIN BREAD

Ingredients
800 gm Refined Flour
200 gm Multigrain Flour
20 gm Salt
20 gm Sugar
30 gm Yeast
600 ml (approx.) Water
20 gm Gluten
30 gm Bread Improver

 

Method
-Preheat the oven to 230 C.
-Mix all the ingredients together to form medium soft dough.
-Cut and scale dough into approx. 350 gm pieces and keep aside covered with a damp cloth for a rest period of 15-20 minutes.
-Knock back the individual pieces of dough and moulds into desired shape. Spray with water and garnish with multigrain seeds.
-Place loaf on flour dusted tray and prove for 30 minutes. Now just before baking, spray the loaves with water, sieve flour and cut slits with a blade or serrated knife.
-Bake in the oven at 230 C for 15 minutes at first, then reduce temperature to 200 C and continue baking for another 15 minutes.

 

 
CIABATTA

Ingredients
1 kg Refined Flour
20 gm Salt
25 gm Sugar
25 gm Yeast
750 ml (approx.) Water
40 gm Gluten
10 gm Bread Improver

 

Method
-Preheat oven to 230 C.
-Mix all ingredients together to form loose dough.
-Place the dough in a greased rectangle container and press down till completely flat.
-Let it prove till it doubles in volume for about an hour and then fold from all sides and press down again. Repeat this folding again after an hour of resting.
-Now dust some flour on your work table and invert the ciabatta container to drop the dough into the table. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well.
-Now with a chopper of big knife cut the dough into suitable pieces. -Carefully pick up the cut loaves and place onto a flour dusted baking tray and immediately bake in the oven at 230 C for 15 minutes at first, then reduce temperature to 200 C and continue baking for another 15 minutes.

 
Recipes courtesy Chef Gerwin. Courtyard by Marriott City Center, Pune.

So if you haven’t experienced the joys of baking bread (the smell of the flour and yeast dough is beautiful!), and gobbling it up straight out of the oven (adding in a dollop of butter doesn’t hurt!) you have missed out on a lot. Trust me on this one.

P.S.-One of the reasons you absolutely MUST attend Chef Gerwin’s classes is to see how calmly he sails through intimidating moments and difficult questions. A clever mix of wit, humor and talent, attend a class for him if nothing else. Ladies, he’s only 24 ;) :D

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