Bread class continued with good spirits and much laughter, as we embarked on focaccia, ciabatta and a new method of making sourdough.
First up, some brave souls brought in their starters for Abby to evaluate. We learned that a starter is ready to use if a small bit floats when immersed in water. Sadly, most of our efforts sank like a stone. (Cue “My heart will go on”.)
To make both focaccia and ciabatta, you begin with a “poolish”, which is pronounced poo-leash rather than rhyming with “foolish” which is how we felt about our sinking non-starters. This is essentially another type of starter that is ready much faster and keeps the dough nice and airy.
Abby kept us on a strict schedule so we could bake these during class. Unfortunately, my benchmate and I made the crucial mistake of flouring the tops of our ciabattas, not realizing they’d be flipped over. (Or possibly not paying attention?) And I opted not to cut the dough into rolls, ending up with a pale loaf bearing more than a passing resemblance to a manatee.
Our focaccias weren’t much prettier, being pancake-flat. But despite their wonky appearance, both breads were pretty tasty.
The big excitement of the evening came when we learned a new technique that brought out our inner dominatrix. Abby had e-mailed us a video to get us “in the mood”. It’s called the slap and fold method, or, as my friend S dubbed it, Food Porn: You slap your dough on the counter, stretch it up and slap it down again. After about 5 minutes the dough is ready to rest, and so are you.
Who knew that bread making had a racy side? Or that my wardrobe needs a black leather apron?!
(Above, clockwise: focaccia at home – I added rosemary -, ciabatta, sourdough.)
I can only imagine what’s in store for us this week. Stay tuned, dear friends.