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Do the Opposite

George in Seinfeld, doing the opposite

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George did the opposite of what he normally did and everything worked out well for him? That's a lot like the Whole Grain course at SFBI. We're getting the chance to learn from Didier Rosada, who is an exceptional baker and instructor. He's a very effective teacher and is helping me learn about a very complex topic. I'm also picking up many tricks of the trade which will help me for years to come. But, many of his techniques are "the opposite" of what we learned in Artisan 1 and 2. Some examples:

  • You think we shouldn't add more water on Speed 2? Ha! Just slosh some more in there till it feels right! Really soft, that is. (It's called double hydration and makes for a very extensible, airy dough.)

  • 2 minutes on speed 2? No way, baby! Use colder water and mix like hell. At least this way I can pull a window. Heck, my dog could pull a window with this dough! (We're taking up to 8 minutes on speed 2 to develop the gluten and it's developed a lot more than Artisan 1, but we haven't over mixed one yet!)

  • Why put a little flour on the table when you can make it a solid mass of white? Go for it! (this highly hydrated, soft dough can get super sticky, so it needs a lot more flour for shaping and proofing)

  • Proof baguettes seam down? Surely you jest! Seam up is the way to go. Then you can flip once on the peel and slide it onto the loader. All my baguettes were 'S' shaped but it's a new technique so give it a try! (I got a tiny bit better on Day 2, but it's still a challenge)

  • 3 fingers between loaves? No Way! 3mm works too.

  • don't move the loaf once it's scored? har har! Some of my loaves got moved at least three times. I'm surprised they didn't get moved to another oven. (in fairness, we're baking a lot of bread so we're really trying to be efficient with loader space)

If you're a 'follow the directions' type of guy this week is not for you. But if you want to see a different way which works very, very well, then seeing these new techniques is a real treat. I'm having a ball so far -- it's already opened my eyes to new ways of doing things and new ways to view what we're doing when we're working with the dough.

And I sure can't argue with the results!

wheat germ baguette

wheat germ baguette

This is a wheat germ baguette -- all the best parts of a baguette with better nutrition and a nice wheaty taste.

buckwheat pear

buckwheat pear

This is a buckwheat pear bread. The buckwheat adds colour and the pears and walnuts add a LOT of flavour!

semolina batard

semolina batard

This is a semolina batard with fennel and raisins. Very similar to what I make at home but with a much more delicate crust and crumb.

Three outstanding loaves on the first day. Gotta love it!