How to Make Mini Baguettes at Home

About a month ago, it was Megan’s birthday. Because of the current need for social distancing, we had to make the best of it by celebrating at home. Instead of getting takeout or delivery, we decided on homemade versions of some of her favourite treats. She requested baked wings and potato wedges for dinner (an ode to St. Louis), and Vietnamese subs (banh mi) for lunch. I didn’t have a recipe for the traditional sub buns, so I opted to make mini baguettes instead. I messed up the recipe the first time because of a miscalculation (believe it or not, I’m a certified Math teacher), so of course I had to make baguettes again… and again. I ended up making multiple versions of the recipe: first correcting my mistake, then adjusting and experimenting. This was kind of a win-win: I learned a lot and we got to eat a lot of pretty decent baguettes in the process.

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Growing your own sourdough starter (levain)

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Our sourdough starter, Chad, fast asleep in the fridge.

The idea of growing your own sourdough starter from just flour and water is something that many people shy away from. Maybe the idea of fermenting something at home is intimidating or unappealing; maybe it seems too risky or complicated. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame because the process itself is actually quite easy, and the starter can be used to yield wonderful results in the kitchen! In any case, the point of this short post is to dispel those nasty rumours and let you know that with a little patience, you can make your very own sourdough baby completely from scratch!

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Pain de mie

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As part of our nutrition club at school, the students often come for a snack whenever they are hungry. The simplest thing for them to do is to grab a bagel, toast it and put some spreadable cream cheese on it, (trust me they tell me when it’s not the spreadable kind). We haven’t managed to get a proper bagel recipe yet, that’s probably our next project. But in the meantime, we have managed to standardize a pain de mie recipe  that’s easy to make in our 74 minute time frame. It takes an extra day or two, but that’s OK. For Ms. Brignull’s class, they even used this recipe for a fundraiser where the students made the bread into grilled cheese sandwiches to sell with soup and one-of-a-kind bowls produced by Ms. Levay’s class.

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Desired Dough Temperature (DDT): The Basics

In many bread recipes, a target temperature, or DDT (Desired Dough Temperature) is often specified for the dough for the end of the mixing process. Is it important? Mixing the dough in a specific temperature range encourages proper gas production during fermentation, resulting in the ideal loaf volume for the final product. The DDT may be influenced by factors beyond the ambient temperature. For example, if the water is too cold, it might take longer for the bread to properly rise. On the other hand, if the water is too warm, it will accelerate the fermentation process. By taking DDT into consideration, we can eliminate some of these variables and will achieve more consistency in fermentation, final dough and timing.

What is Desired Dough Temperature (DDT)?
Desired dough temperature is the temperature that the dough should reach at the end of the mixing stage just before bulk fermentation. Read More

Preferments

Poolish, levain, biga, pâte fermentée – is there a difference? And what’s the point in preparing a part of the dough separately? In this post, I’ll try to clarify the terminology and the science behind the wonderful world of preferments.

What is a pre-ferment?
A preferment is a portion of dough that is mixed in advance of preparing the final dough. Its main purpose is to increase flavour, strength, and shelf life. Because it is mixed ahead of time, bulk fermentation as well as mixing time is reduced. Preferments can be stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight, those that are stored in the fridge often assume more of an acidic flavour profile while room temperature preferments have a lactic flavour. Read More