Although I already love making bread, making bread with a master French bread-maker is something special. And today Nigel and I embarked on the first of a five day bread-making course with Richard Bertinet, of the Bertinet Cookery School.
The first impression is that of passion. Pure and simple. Very French, very sophisticated, But a deep, deep passion for bread and pastry. After very strong coffee, and a slice of toast for those who wanted it, Richard launches into dispelling the myths of “modern” day bread-making, by bringing it right back to the traditional methods.
Obviously this makes me love him even more, sure food history and I go arm in arm down lifes roads most days. Like Darina, from Ballymaloe, Richard draws on a lifetime of experience with bread. The quality of the ingredients- and importantly for us as we learn- the technique. We looked at Le Pain par Poilâne; I book that I will purchase (if I can find it in English- if not- C’est la Vie!) With a super historic insight into the pre industrialisation of bread making. What interested me was the origin of “knocking back the bread”. Nearly every book, recipe, TV programme talks of this. Pummelling the dough until there is not a breath of life in it, after the first rise. Yes, you want to remove major air products, and yes, you want to ensure even distribution of ingredients, but not to the detriment of the lightness of the loaf.
Knocking Back- The Bertinet Method:
Knocking back referred to punching some holes in the dough, and waiting for the surrounding dough to rise above them- then they know the bread is ready for the ovens. Therefore we need to give the bread the most opportunities to be the lightest and softest of crumb.
As an aside- Bath is SUCH a beautiful city. Come visit, if only to try Richard’s Bread!
So- things I learnt today:
Don’t raise your hand- LOL
Be the boss
Make a spine