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  1. The argument is simple and rational. Overheated dough and high proofing temperatures result in decreased fermentation times. This over oxidizes the dough, reduces the development of organic acid compounds, and reduces conservation. Bread with no flavor, no texture, that stales quickly is a poor product. Intensive mixing and short fermentation is the realm of industrial mass production, the results speak for themselves. What is the rational for making industrial bread at home? Professional bakers have a greater need to save time than the home hobbyist and yet none of the great bakeries of the world have adopted these wonderful techniques. Why? Bakers who are concerned with quality are happy to use technologies and techniques so long as they don't sabotage the final product. Unfortunately breads don't benefit from being made in 90 minutes or less. If only it were so, bakers could instantly increase production and make more money, or sleep 7 more hours a day, or go to a movie, or spend that saved time with their families. My problem is that you don't have even a basic understanding of the bread making process and you are encouraging people to adopt a methodology that produces compromised results. In short you are promoting eating less well and less critically. This is especially troubling when there are other bread baking methods that take less active time, less equipment and produce a vastly superior product. None of these products can be made very well using this technique. You need to taste a properly made bread in a side by side comparison and you should be able to understand this. In my admittedly limited experience of doing demonstrations to baking amateurs, all of them can identify rapidly made bread as vastly inferior. If your point of comparison is industrially made bread these techniques may produce favorable results by virtue of it being fresher, hotter, softer, but if you compare it to the same product made with sound techniques they will always fall short.
  2. No flavor, no crust, no mouthfeel, in what way is this good bread? Is there a single classic bread of any tradition, French, Italian, German, etc. that can be made competently using this technique? As a professional baker I've had to make breads as fast as possible on occasion, but I don't delude myself into thinking this makes a respectable product. So why promote it? It's one thing to say if your really screwed and need to make bread in 90 minutes here is what you can do, but after you do it you should hope it never happens again. (At times like this you're thankful that most people aren't that attentive and won't realize the difference, but secretly you know you've committed a small crime.) It's truly getting a bit depressing seeing all these "incredible breakthrough" bread books that are essentially bread for dummies with no time and no taste. I saw the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes authors claiming "their" technique can be used to make Panettone, of course it all works perfectly providing you have no idea what an even mediocre Panettone tastes like. "Oh but it's warm and sweet!" I made scones at home with my son the other day, in all the process can be done in 45 minutes. So in half the time it takes you to make marginal crap a 3 year old can make a legitimate product without any specialized equipment or spending money on a fad cookbook. Please god kill me if I have to learn to program a microwave to make bread. That is just wrong.
  3. The pretzel at Almondine is more or less the same at the The French Laundry, except bigger and without the black pepper. Call Almondine and find out when they come out of the oven, they're really good when they are fresh. Roger
  4. Mitch: The price controls for baguettes were eliminated in 1987, I believe. Nevertheless as a result of the long standing controls people became accustomed to paying a low price for bread. This is why so many, of even the really good bakeries still offer an inferior baguette ordinaire for the sizable clientel who will never pay more than one euro for a baguette. As far as the "racing stripes" I think it's both that bakers are trying to squeeze out as much bread as possible and that most people want really light baguettes. Bear in mind also that in Paris space is at a premium and most bakeries are going to be relatively small, have a smaller oven and as a result the decks are nearly always overcrowded. Of course not all bakeries do this. As far as straight dough vs. poolish: my preference is for straight dough baguettes, as much for the simplicity of production as anything else. Roger
  5. Boulak: It's a shame you weren't able to find meunier's bakery, it's worth a visit for his signature baguette, his rye bread and vienoisserie. I have two street maps for paris and neither one has his street on it. I stage'd there several years ago and the precision and skill with thich he works is mind blowing. It was also the best organized place I've ever worked in. A few thoughts on your trip: I think it's very difficult to evaluate baguettes without either direct comparisons or repeated visits over time. Lord knows in the last three months I've made baguettes that would rival the good ones I've had in France and a few sad days where if you had the misfortune to visit you would think I was barely competent. On my last trip to Paris I stopped by Gosselin and was somewhat dissapointed, so much so, that I returned a few days later and got a really excellent baguette. When I worked in Paris a few years ago I found that I favored the straight dough baguettes, so I was surprised that on my most recent visits the two baguettes I liked the most were hybrid's, made with some levain. I imagine on my next trip I'll find that a bakery that was a previous let-down, will be my new favorite. It really makes me hesitate to draw any conclusions from such small sample sizes. The biggest problem I noticed on my last visit is that most of the bakeries seem to be baking lighter and lighter. This is particularly a problem with the retrodor's which I find without some color taste like raw flour. I was really surprised that even though it was raining I visited good bakery after bakery where I couldn't find any well cooked baguettes. Roger
  6. Jackal, The reason purists object to the perforated pans is not the little bumps so much as they indicate that the baguettes weren't baked on a hearth. The rack oven will invariably result in a less open interior crumb as well as a less attractive baguette. Jeffrey Hamelman has a series of photographs that illustrate this perfectly in his fine new book, "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes". Roger
  7. Try this: 1400 gr water 2000 gr flour 18 gr yeast 40 gr salt combine flour and water and mix until the dough comes together. Let this rest for 20-40 minutes. Add the yeast and salt and mix another 3-4 minutes. Put the dough in the hotel pan and let ferment at 23-25 degrees C for 2.5-3 hours, give it a fold every 45-60 minutes (2 total). Divide and pre-shape. Rest 15-30 minutes. Shape and proof at 23-25C for 45-60 minutes. Good luck, Roger
  8. James: Unfortunately I see the sytematic misuse of ascorbic acid on a regular basis. Where I work it's done both after the baguettes are divided and the pieces are left to rest (actually proof) for up to 1.5 hours and again in the final proofing. The result it seems, and perhaps you can confirm this, is a tighter more regular interior, and a whiter crumb. But the loaves are huge. With regard to your response to the yeast question, if one were to make the basic french bread (ex 10-9 from the Taste of Bread) one batch with the ascorbic acid and one without, all other things being exactly the same and assuming a good quality flour: -would the AA dough have a shorter first fermentation and a longer proof? Would the longer proof in any way compensate for the indirect limitation of organic acids as a result of the accelerated maturation? Or is it entirely wrong to reduce the first fermentation with the AA dough? Any advice on a resource to learn how to read and better understand an Alveogram? Thanks for taking time to respond. Roger
  9. I got there at a little after twelve and bought cuepons at 23rd street when there was no line. I was with five other people and we split up, within ten minutes I had tried the snoot and blue smoke's ribs as they had no wait. Without being too aggressive about it by 2 oclock I had gotten a taste of everything except the sausage, which my bastard friends ate all of while I was waiting for pork shoulder. I even scored some bones for my dog from the pitmaster at Big Bob Gibsons. My advice would be the same as Fat Guys: arrive before 12 with friends, buy your cuepons at 23rd, buy some custard and walk to the north end of the park, pick a meeting place while your walking, and then split up and get the food. Maybe for tomorrow they will figure out a better way to organize the lines, but even with all the chaos today, with the nice weather, the music, and some beer the wait was no big deal. Virgil's is no substitute. Good luck, Roger
  10. Mick, They were definitely using that oven, at least when I was there 4 years or so ago. Why do you say the bread you had hadn't been near it? It's not the greatest bread in the world but I found it to be better than the other bakeries in that area. This isn't necessarily saying much. If your familiar with Eric Kayser's bakeries in Paris, Le Fournil Borriglione uses similiar techniques and the breads I mentioned earlier are all very good. It's just a little bit further north than Ave Malaussena, which is a huge market street. Roger
  11. James: What if any are the negative aspects of using ascorbic acid in proper amounts either by the miller or by the baker? Kaplan mentions people denouncing it as a killer of flavor and Phillippe Viron mentions that it penalizes conservation, is there any evidence supporting either of these views? Thanks, Roger
  12. Hello James, First thank you for your work in bringing about an english translation of "Le gout du pain". This is a minor issue, but one I hope you could explain. The majority of baguettes pictured in the english version appear to have been baked with little or no steam, especially in comparison to the bread in the french version. Is this a reflection of how you prefer them to be baked or is there some other story? Thanks, Roger
  13. Mick: Near the cours saleya, there is: Le Four a Bois (Chez Espuno) 35 Rue Droite, as the name implies they have a wood burning oven, which is visible from the boutique (beware I think they're closed during the early afternoon). North of the train station, there is imo better bread, but with a gas deck oven: Le Fournil Borriglione (Boulangerie Jean-Marc Bardonnat) 20 Ave Borriglione (good baguette de tradition, miche and on fridays seigle). Have fun, Roger
  14. Solo: I imagine there are very few bakeries that proof dough on a table top. If they do, they're either not very busy, or have an enormous amount of table space. In the majority of french bakeries the baguette dough never touches a wooden table at all- it goes from the mixing bowl, into plastic buckets, divided by machine, into a balancelle, shaped by machine and then proofed on couche. The flour plays a role, and it is different in france, but bakers in america, japan, canada, etc. have shown that excellent french bread can be made in various climates and with different basic materials. Roger
  15. FWIW the gosselin baguette method does not involve a cold "delayed fermentation". This is an invention of Reinhardt's and if it works so be it, but it shouldn't be attributed to gosselin, who following both steven kaplan and ed behr doesn't do anything like it. As far as the bread in Paris is concerned there is a lot of crap, but I would venture to guess that in almost every neighborhood you are in walking distance of extremely good bread, and in some places you may have the choice of two or three places that produce exceptional products. This is probably not true of any city in the US, certainly not to the same degree. It is definitely not true of New York City where I live. As far as the baguette goes, I have yet to have a baguette here that would be in the top 10 that I've had in Paris. Altho I recognize these comparisons are extremely subjective I feel I can say with confidence that the majority of the NYC baguettes from the better bakeries aren't at the same level of Paris' best. Of course, your taste and idea of what constitutes a good baguette may be different than mine. As a professional baker I have yet to see any clear consensus on whether sourdough or commercial yeast produces better bread. Perhaps this is because bread plays so many roles in cuisine; it is eaten alone, with condiments and as an accompaniment to various types of food. A hearty sourdough that goes well with a rustic dish may not be the best choice for a more refined dish or maybe too sour for certain sweet jams. One could go on and on coming up with favorable and unfavorable combinations for both types of bread. In general I am in agreement with Calvel that a well made commercial yeast bread, with the subtle taste of wheat and fermentation, goes better with a wider range of foods. That said I love a mild sourdough, like at Poilane, as well. One of the enlightening things in Kaplans book, "Le retour du bon pain", is that he details the methods of a handful of his favorite bakers. Their radically different techniques and philosophies make it abundantly clear that blanket statements like "sourdough is better" are insupportable. At the very least before holding to one side or the other you should make an effort to try the best examples of both approaches (when you begin to factor in hybrid methods even this excercise becomes decreasingly worthwhile) and try not to confuse not very well tested preferences (or even well tested preferences) with the mythical consensus of world bread nuts. Roger
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