Happy new year to all.
I often think it would be pleasant to give some Newsletter space to current and ex-students of PANARY, and this time I have done it.
The picture here features the handsome “Agincourt” loaves of John Townshend who came before Xmas to a course followed by several “apprentice” days on my commercial Thursday. Now he has started his micro bakery, Kennington Bakery, where he lives in London.
PANARY course in PUTNEY in March
I have been invited to teach at The Avenue Cookery School in Putney. The course offered will be Continental Breads on March 10th.
Visit http://www.theavenuecookeryschool.com to check it out and to make a booking. The course is listed in the section called “Day Courses/Evenings”.
Remember also that my other London venue, Sticky Mitts Kitchen in Wallington, has a weekend coming up soon: both Sourdough and The Yeast Trio, occurring on June 20 & 21 as two separate courses. To read about this, and book, go to:
PANARY in PROVENCE
We have lost some bookers from the October course this year, thus creating some new space. The spring course for 2016 is also on the site, ready for bookings.
To view the website on PANARY in PROVENCE, go to:
BREAD ANGELS and Vienna Bread
Recently I spent a really rewarding day doing a demo at PANARY for the Bread Angels group. They are a network of micro bakers who sell bread in their local community and teach bread classes to students of all levels. To view their website go to www.breadangels.com
Many Angels were squashed into PANARY’s small classroom, and it was a lively day. My teaching style had to be more “demo” than the usual “hands on” for all participants. Three breads were tackled, and one of them, a roll dough for Devonshire Splits provided afternoon fare as they were pulled apart to be consumed with jam and clotted cream. The high point of the day, involving our baking history and heritage, was an exploration of Vienna Bread that was very popular in Britain some hundred years ago, and remained popular until the 1950’s. This can be the Bakers’ Topic for this newsletter.
Vienna bread was light and decadent, always involving the use of very refined white flour, milk, and sometimes fat such as butter or lard. There was a time when the finest Hungarian bread flour imported into Britain was called Vienna flour. This delicate bread is virtually unknown today, and often only lives on in the description of a shape of a pointy loaf.
Its legacy is remarkable, and vienna bread gradually brought new skills to our craft bakers. First there was working with a poolish that we know emanated from Vienna even though its exact origin is cloudy. Getting the best fermentation and crust led to the use of added malt which is rich in maltose (the sugar yeast readily assimilates) as well as the useful enzyme diastase (known today as alpha-amylase) which breaks starch cells down into maltose. With its richly glazed crust Vienna bread hastened the application of steam injection into large bakers’ ovens, and this was already common between the wars, and is here to stay. The crusty Parisian baguette was a style that flowed out of vienna bread. Finally, it led British bakers to master the wet style of Continental dough. Then, by the 1960’s it was dropped – along with nearly every other aspect of craft baking.
I salute it for its legacy, and while it may not have been the most healthy product with all that refined flour, it certainly raised the artistry of the craftsmen bakers who produced it.
The cold that we experience at this time of year is certainly trying for bakers who are not tucked up in snug centrally heated kitchens, but are instead in sheds and out-buildings. PANARY’s classroom bakery in the mill yard at Cann Mills is a cold place, falling to temperatures as low as 10-12 degrees between my baking days.
By using costly radiators I can keep it around 15 degrees. On the very cold mornings before starting I pour a measured amount of very hot water into the bowls of the mixing machines, and soon this warming water will have taken the chill off the stainless steel bowls and will have itself cooled down to 35-odd degrees, a satisfactory temperature for starting off the first yeasted doughs. (Remember that it is to be a measured amount, in case the first dough in that particular machine is a small one, and you need to take some water out). Having warmed all that cold metal, the dough will finish at 20-22 degrees. A little more yeast too is standard practice in wintry conditions.