Bread baking is one of those things I do around the holidays, usually trying a new dinner roll recipe here and there but never quite finding the “right ” recipe. I think it was more my technique than the recipe. I learned several things in this class that have already helped. Since class last night I have already practiced at home and made a huge batch of roll dough. I wanted to use the new information while it was fresh in my mind. Making yeast bread turn out right is not that simple. There are so many variables including room temperature, humidity, temperature of the flour, yeast freshness, etc. We were given demonstrations on how much to knead dough and it was then I realized that I’ve probably been under kneading dough all along. We learned a method called the “windowpane” which is a simple way to test the dough. When I tried it today it worked well. We have different equipment at school which makes it easier than home. The warming oven is great for “fermenting” (rising) of the dough because we can set it at an exact temperature whereas at home it’s not always easy to find the right spot. Chef Kurima suggested using my oven with just the light turned on. She was right–that worked fine.

The mixers at school are also very heavy duty and made to knead dough. My home Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer is not up to the task of kneading bread dough. We were shown how to make bread crusty bread by using a steam oven. We turned a regular oven into a steam oven by placing a pan of water in the bottom, using a baking stone on the rack, and spraying the sides of the oven with water during the first 10 minutes. We contrasted rolls and bread made with or without steam and saw the difference. The steam oven rolls had a crisper outside and browner color.We were given the opportunity to make several types of rolls and bread. We made soft roll dough, an enriched dough as well as whole wheat bread, French bread and brioche.With the soft dough roll we made various shapes of rolls and bread, including round, braids, knots, and stuffed breads. The brioche dough took forever to knead and was a very sweet and tasty finished product. Imagine using 12 eggs and 1 1/2 pounds of butter in aroud 2 1/2 pounds of flour and you get an idea of what a rich dough it is. Not something I plan to eat much of unless I want to look like a fermenting roll. I made one stuffed bread with French bread dough and chunks of cheddar cheese and roasted poblano peppers. It was wonderful. I also made some mini cinnamon rolls with frosting and they were very tasty. The rolls I made today at home turned out better than ones I’ve made in past years. I believe my more thorough kneading and using the oven to ferment the dough helped. I also learned to check doneness by using a themometer. This is really effective and easy resulting in perfectly done rolls and bread. Too bad I couldn’t eat more than a taste–but that taste was very good.