Dear Panarians all,
How times and fashions change. This newsletter is about PANARY keeping in step with the changes, and informs you about new courses, altered programmes.
Two or three years ago it would not have been foreseen that there would be a resurgence of British baking as a topic or a course theme. But nowadays, with bread on telly, my British course has become popular. As more people have become interested in crafted bread there has been a corresponding turning away from the 2-day course format, and an increase of bookings on the one-day format. I wonder if this is also a post-recession problem, seeing as there was a prolonged scare about “triple-dip” recession. Anyway, whatever the cause, I am pleased to announce new one-day courses – Baking for Breakfast [This course has expired. If you like it, ask me to schedule a new one], and a one-day Continental. The breakfast theme involves a detailed approach to croissants, including refrigeration, and a brand new sweet bread called by me “Viennese poppyseed rods” which feature a rich poppyseed filling. The one-day Continental features two types of poolish sponge, both fast and slow, the large puffy Italian loaf pugliese,and a special way of working with spelt that involves scalding some of the flour to gelatinise the starch.
The two-day Basic and British have been replaced by two one-day courses entitled Basic II and British II. Both these new courses are based on the programmes and themes of the second day of the composite courses, allowing students to reach higher levels in those fields. In both there is considerable use of the English sponge. As always, the website includes the full programmes for every course, so you can see exactly what you are going to tackle and learn.
Flatbreads has been re-introduced as a one-day course, and it makes particular use of the wood-fired oven. A newcomer bread to the course is a thin, crackly Turkish bread that I have named “Turkish parchment”.
The removal of two-day Basic and British courses means that the only remaining two-day courses are Continental with Sourdough, and French with Sourdough. As the titles indicate both feature a major treatment of sourdough, and the Continental weaves in some Italian breads.
WHICH COURSE TO SELECT is now a section of the website. I have included it to help people who simply do not know where to begin, or wonder whether they can pitch onto any course without having previously taken a basic or beginner’s level. The short answer is – of course they can. There is nothing rigid about PANARY courses and training. My twenty years of teaching artisan bread has certainly made me unphased by the challenge of coping with a roomful of people with entirely different levels of knowledge of fermentation and skill on the bench. The section also endeavours to help PANARIANS make a journey through different levels of courses related to a particular theme. After all, I do want you to come back!
Regarding my book (aiming to have it out in 2014) and my pleasure in baking, lately I have been pushing the limits of water in dough, performing like the French. Tied up with my experiments is also the use of Continental flours, and weaker (meaning less protein = feeble gluten compared with flours designated as “bread” strength) English flours to match them. It has been exciting fun, and conclusions are coming thick and fast. One is that you simply cannot beat the flavour of French flour; another is that if you push the Water Absorption right up to 75% for a strong flour you must support the final proof in basket, couche cloth, or tin. Basically it is brave to push the limits of water because you have to handle it differently on the bench compared with the skills learned to handle the more solid English approach to dough.
On that note, Panarians, I wish you good baking! Paul