Saturday, November 13, 2010

Focaccia, Baguettes, Lavosh Bread

Chef's Bread Basket

I have a long list of lists, not tear-jacking bucket lists to be crossed out before the end of time, just random things I'd like the chance to do someday: Places to see (eating my way across Italy is tops), superstars I'd like to meet and whose chests I'll tattoo my name across (Linkin Park, Alton Brown & the late Keith Floyd) and foods I would like make and master (namely cheese, beer and bread).

With cheese and beer, I can survive anywhere and be content. Bread I just find it astounding that a little flour and water can be transformed into the myriad of shapes and forms they come in, that every civilization, religion and faction of life have at least a half dozen to their name.

24 Hour Monster Dough

Sadly, we had no luxury of time for the dough rest and ferment naturally (long, slow fermentation = sweeter, more complex flavors in the bread) so Chef Gert made some dough the day before, left to ferment overnight, for a better result.

He then rolled the dough into logs, left them to rest and prove further before slashing the tops to decorate and for the dough to expand more freely in the oven. The leafy ones you see are Epi's, shaped to resemble a stalk of wheat that is the building block of bread. It is also my favorite to have with slices of foie gras, decadent and delightful.

Epi & Traditional Baguettes

Pesto Roll

We made 2 versions of focaccia: the traditional flat bread and a pesto roll. For the roll, fresh basil, olives and olive oil are blended into a slimy black-green pulp, which may not look particularly appetizing but once baked, the rich oils soaks through to make what may easily be the best savory bread you'll ever have.

Just as we did for the Chelsea buns, we spread a layer of the pulp onto the focaccia dough, rolled it up into a big, fat cigar and made decorative cuts on top before baking. Flour may be sprinkled on for that increasingly popular rustic appeal.


I *heart* focaccia, from making them (the key is to add extra olive oil into the dough for a moist bread and drizzle extra extra olive oil on top so it will sizzle nicely in the oven) to eating them (the key is to drench each slice in extra extra extra olive oil to take the rich bread to the next level). Do you see where I'm heading with this?

Yummy Little Gift Box

Lavosh In The Making

Lavosh is an unleavened Armenian bread, similar to a big cracker, rolled out to a mere 1mm thick, brushed with water and sprinkled with a rain of poppy and sesame seeds before baking. 

As luck would have it, my neighbors are Armenian, and they tell me lavosh is traditionally eaten plain, without toppings, without fuss. There you go, learning something new each day.

My Mightily Fine Bread Basket

I made a me some fine breads today, and my baguette was probable one of the best in class! Which pleased me to no end, as I've never made baguette sbefore. Mine came over pretty French too: thin with a good, hard crust. Délicieux!

The pesto roll didn't fare as well. Once again, I went crazy with the pesto and poured on so much the dough nearly tore from all that weight. And tore it did in the oven, exploded in fact, like a pus-filled pimple that started bleeding slime. The carnage has been intentionally kept out of view in the photo above, and I make no apologies for it, coz ugly as it was, it tasted AMAZING! Hell-Yeh!

Too much of a good thing can only be better.

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