Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Boulangerie I: Days 3 and 4

Continuing on with my latest culinary adventure, here’s Days 3 and 4.

Day 3

Day 3 was to be quite the adventure. We were about to make another 3 loaves but also play with “dead dough” for decorative purposes. Those of us with little artistic skills were going to have a hard time. But I was at least game, even if the outcome might be who knows what.

First up was fougasse provencale. Fougasse is well known to bread lovers. The open holes, the various toppings and fillings. Fougasse is one of those lovely breads that look hard to make but turn out to be quite easy in the end. To add to the joy of fougasse is that it makes an amazing pizza dough!

Although mixing and making the dough was similar to the other doughs the difference was that the forming required rolling the dough out fairly thin, about 1cm. The next step was to place the rolled dough onto a sheet pan and then cut slits with the bench scraper and then pull those open (the results can be seen in the photos). We had enough dough to make 2 large fougasses. Mine was filled with olives and topped with olive oil and sea salt. Superb, in my opinion — as well as the dinner guests we had that evening who helped finish off both.

Next up was pain au fromage marin tigre, or mottled cheese bread.


I really didn’t know what to expect here. I don’t really like cheese breads. But then, all I’ve ever eaten is the store bought variety. But I was willing to try and see how it’d turn out. The most interesting part of the bread is that no salt is used. Because you use Parmesan you have plenty of salt. And even though Parmesan is a strong cheese it so mellows in the baking that you’re left with a sublime loaf. It is probably one of the best sandwich loaves I’ve ever experienced. I made a loaf and a swirled boule, which can be seen alongside the fougasse.



Now we were encouraged to play with the dead dough and make a creation. Dead dough is nothing more than dough without any yeast. That way it will not rise — or shouldn’t. Typically rye is added into the mix to make a darker colour so that the dead dough stands out from the typical breads done, such as white loafs, etc. You’re not supposed to eat these decorative pieces, but we were told all too often people do. Chef had showed us what he’s done in the past and what can be done, and we were told to just experiment, let our own abilities do what we felt best doing. My creation can be seen in the accompanying photo. I opted for a simple layout highlighted by an orchid top, centre since that is my wife’s favourite type of flower. I think it actually turned out quite well, if I must say so myself.

Next we were to remake the baguette recipe from the first day, but make a multi-grain version. Unlike what I’ve typically done you don’t replace any of the flour to make room for the multi grains. Instead, you dump in about a cup to a cup and a half of multi-grains after the mixing is done and then add a bit of water if necessary to ensure the consistency of the loaf is right. You do it in this order so you can be sure the dough is correct before adding flavour or other ingredients. Chef said you always do it this way since it makes sure your dough is good and can rise correctly. It’s difficult to check for a gluten window if you add the flavours, etc. early. Plus, with some flavours they will dye the dough an unpleasant colour or imbue too much flavour, something you simply do not typically want.

Chef showed us how to make crowns, which I always wanted to know how to make. The recipe made enough for two crowns and a batard. A lot of bread. And of all the breads we made this week this was my favourite! I’ll be making this again, to be sure.

Finally, we prepared our brioche dough for Day 4 and went home, again with many kilos of bread. For me, I had dinner guests so we had someone to help us eat all the production of the day, which can be seen in the accompanying photo.




Day 3 Production



Day 4

Day 4 would see us complete the course and also make a slew of brioches.

Again, we did the back and forth watching Chef show us various doughs and presentations and forms and us trying to replicate his feats.


Chocolate Brioche and Brioche Mice

First up, pain de mie, or another form of white bread. This is more akin to a sandwich loaf, or at least what the French envision as a sandwich loaf since no self-respecting Frenchman would be caught dead eating what we call a sandwich loaf over here! And unlike our prior breads, we were encouraged to experiment with fillings. I tried sun dried tomatoes and discovered that you cannot roll out a do
ugh with sun dried tomatoes in it for the recipes Chef showed us. Live and learn. I improvised, and that was obviously the right thing to do as the loaves came out quite well as can be seen from the box of goodies from Day 4 — along side the brioche I made (note the cute little mice).




Day 4 Production

Day 4 was an odd day. It seemed to go by quickly and slowly. In no time it was 3pm and we felt like we’d done little. Then it crawled to 4.30 and then suddenly it was time to go. We didn’t even get a chance to bake our pain brie, brie bread (which has nothing to do with the cheese but instead is a fantastic dough with a sponge starter that has a good amount of butter and makes a wonderfully soft crumb and yet a nice firm crust. I’ll definitely be making this bread again!

Being that it was our last day the Chef had a bit of a surprise. He had made a bit of a buffet and arranged all his production so we could see how much we actually made during the 4 days. It was rather surprising. See for yourself.

As one can guess, I truly enjoyed the course and hope to do more courses in the future. I highly recommend Le Cordon Bleu here in Ottawa to anyone who is even remotely interested in cooking or baking.

The staff and Chefs are amazing and the students are always happy. I saw nothing but smiles each time I’ve taken a course there.

I want to thank Chef Chabert and his students and the staff. Here are some photos for those who remain curious.

The left and right side of the kitchen, with my classmates busily baking, forming away.

Me and my baking buddy, Alberto! And, yes, the bread was hot — it was just out of the oven.

And here I am with Chef and his students (left to right: Paula, Abdullah, Chef Chabert, me, Susan). With proof of completion.

And finally, the entire class standing behind Chef’s production!

Note, if any of the pictures are of poor quality blame me. I took them with my iPhone. If any are decent, they’re courtesy of Alberto and his proper camera. Guess which one of us came prepared to take pictures! It wasn’t me.

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April 2011
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