BAKER’S TOPIC, “table skills”
By the expression “table skills” the old craftsman bakers who taught me to bake in the 1970’s were referring to all manner of hand skills to do with dough handling.
I shall do a series on this, and today we shall begin by looking at the simple task of rolling up a piece of dough towards you.
Hand skills, Part 1: making a cylinder
Below is the photo that was placed at the top of this newsletter, where you see the final roll-up of a tinned loaf. It is tight and neat. Firm pressure is put on the dough, but hand pressure should never be so tight as to tear the dough. Remember – torn gluten strands cannot mend themselves, so tears remain as blemishes.
You see that the flattened dough piece has had each side folded inwards, one side placed on the other (like a pastry fold, in thirds). Now the baker proceeds to roll it up firmly creating a cylinder with a straight seam. The main action is done by the forward thrust of the flat thumbs, which keeps it tight and neat. Thumb pressure is released, and a little roll towards you follows, done with the gathered fingers behind the loaf that can lightly draw its bulk towards you. Then resume pressure from the flat thumbs and another little increment of the task is performed. It is a jerky action, as thumb push is followed by finger roll. When I roll up a loaf like this, there will be four or five of these jerky motions.
Next, moving away from moulding a shape for a tin, look at the formation of the cylinder that proceeds the making of a baguette.
First step is to take the floppy rested piece and fold up its bottom, fold down its top as follows:
Then proceed to make a gently formed cylinder (see next pic) which will enjoy a short rest before being rolled into the long baguette by an entirely different action (which can be covered in a newsletter of the future).
This photo (above) shows the action from the opposite side.
Making a cylinder is also a valuable skill for kneading inside a tub, or systematically working oil and water into dough (focaccia, olive bread, etc.) See below for inside the tub. The same roll-up action is used when you want to make a large sprawling heap of dough into a neat and compact bulk for putting it in a container or simply moving it to another place.
Well Panarians, there will be more of these table hand skills sessions. After all, instruction on “making a cylinder” was only Part 1.
Good baking, Paul