In my last post, I’ve mentioned the voucher to attend one of the Demonstration classes during Asia Pastry Forum 2012, held at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia, as a prize for the Nutriplus Pastry Competition. There were quite a few choices: French Pastries, Entremet, Plated Desserts, Chocolate and Praline, Wedding Cakes and Breads. I wish I could attend all of them. It was between French Pastries and Breads for me. Tough decision but breads won.
The class started at 9am in the morning, and I actually woke up early for that (quite an achievement I must say). Unfortunately it was virtually impossible to get a taxi in this city between 8-10am. When I made my way up to Academy of Pastry Arts in Petaling Jaya, just after 10 to join a group of Pastry Arts students, I was still feeling slightly disorientated.
The Bread demonstration class featured Chef Franck Heuzé, Master French Baker who has baked around Europe and is now running his own Artisan Bakery in Singapore (with plans to expand to Malaysia… can’t wait!). He’s also a mentor chef and trainer for numerous big chains and bakeries, and conducts regular workshops and classes in South East Asia. A man with a rather dark humour, his passion for breads is easy to see. There was much to learn from him.
Timing is everything, he said. Different breads require different proofing time. Some of them even require overnight chilling. Therefore, discipline is at the utmost importance when it comes to running a bakery. It takes hours to produce a bakery full of breads, that’s why you see them starting work at wee hours in the morning. That’s dedication!
He demonstrated 10 types of bread through the day. What I found most useful was getting to know the texture of the different doughs, as well as the unique ways of shaping them.
Under his skillful hands, different types of breads began to take shape. I was most amazed at the fast yet delicate movements, almost like a dance. Soon, everything was sent to the oven and the most torturous wait began.
While waiting for the oven to work its magic, Chef Franck Heuzé gave us very detailed instructions on sourdough starter (which I’ll attempt soon). At this point, it was hard to ignore the fantastic smell emitting from the oven room. Of course, most of us would agree that the smell of fresh bread is said to be the most universally loved smell on the planet. Part of the reason I prefer to bake my own too.
The breads are coming out of the oven in batches, I loved watching them being stacked up on the trolley. This must be the best part of a baker’s day. By the way, to check if the bread’s done, tap on the bottom and it should sound hollow. That’s when you know you’ve got perfect crust. If you listen carefully, you might even hear the bread ‘sing’. No joke!
At 5pm, finally we were ready to display all the products. And of course, we were all eager to taste!
Among all the breads he’s made (each of them amazing, of course), my favourite would have been the Foccacia Mediterranean and I believe most of the student felt the same. The brilliant colours and fantastic aroma are the main selling point. Another benefit is that it’s rather easy to make despite being super time consuming. I knew that Frank would love this so I made one at home for a treat.
Adapted from Franck Heuze’s recipe (Original recipe makes 10 of them!)
255g Bread Flour
1 teaspoon Yeast
280g Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 each of Green, Yellow and Red Capsicums
1 Red Onion
Half a garlic
Salt to taste
Juice of Half Lemon
Put Flour, Warm water (about 40C), Yeast and Polenta in the bowl and mix by hand. Knead for 5-10 minutes (if you have a stand mixer, set it to slow for 5-7 minutes), Cling film the bowl and allow to rest of 90 minutes
Add the salt and start mixing in slow speed (I use a wooden spoon to emulate the mixing motion, it’s hardwork lol), add the olive oil slowly while mixing. This should take about 5 minutes.
Set the dough aside and leave it to rest for 1 hour. Give it a fold and allow the dough to rest for another 45 minutes, then place it in the fridge until the next day.
Roast all the vegetables whole in oven with gentle splash of olive oil. Cover with an aluminium foil and cook in 170C oven until soft (about 20-30 minutes). Set aside until needed (few hours to overnight). Just before using, season with lemon and salt.
The next day, remove dough from fridge carefully. Pour some olive oil on a tray and place the dough on top, allow to relax for 20-30 minutes.
Cut the vegetables, capsicums into stripes, onion and garlic coarsely. Place half of them on the dough and fold the corners over the vegetables, carefully not to overwork the dough.
Allow to rise for 30-40 minutes. Scatter the rest of the vegetables on top, arranging nicely.
Bake at 235C oven for 25 minutes, you might need to cover the top in the last 5 minutes. Use the leftover juice from roasting the vegetables to brush on the top. Once cooked, allow to cooldown on the wire to retain the crispy crust.
Throughout the day, the aroma permeating our apartment was just heavenly.
I tried a slice when it was still warm (more than warm, actually, couldn’t wait that long). Crispy crust, inside was soft enough, with a bite. The delicate and sweet taste of the roast capsicums and the fragrance of the olive oil completely blew me away. This is a meal on its own; you don’t even have to add additional spread.
Imagine my surprise when I received a comment from Chef Franck himself!
He also suggested using Kimchi and Tofu as toppings. Sounds interesting? I know that I will be using this recipe over and over again!