Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Chris Amirault

Decorative Breads

Recommended Posts

Over in my foodblog, several members asked questions about this bread sculpture:

gallery_19804_437_21857.jpg

I'm wowed by that bread with the wine bottle included - anything else you can say about that?

I too would like to know more about that wine bottle bread. Way back upthread, Mitch (a.k.a. boulak) offered to tell more about the baking school ovens and answer other questions about the process. Since the blog will be closing soon, here's my request to him to please start a thread telling more about the school and the gear! Let's start with: how do they bake that bread with the wine bottle, without overheating the bottle and/or scorching the label? And how do the decorative bread doughs differ from regular doughs?

I thought I'd get this started. What tips, ideas, and recipes do people have?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for starting this, Chris. I'm so impressed with decorative breads. One hotel restaurant I've visited a few times used to have fantastic bread animal sculptures - fish, birds, lizards, with appropriate scales and feathers snipped into the dough. We assumed they were for show only, of course, but they looked as though they could be eaten. Although I doubt I'll ever be at the decorative-bread-making stage (I'm still working on keeping a starter healthy) I'd love to know more about how this sort of art is done, how the dough is different, and how long it can last.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A discussion of decorative breads is a great idea. This discipline has evolved radically and exponentially in the past five to six years. The fact that the Coupe du Monde de Boulangerie and the National Bread and Pastry Championship include bread centerpieces cannot be overlooked. There are several sub sets to consider: traditional breads that have unique shapes, celebration breads (with or without religious connotations), decorative breads, and artistic breads. The first three are made with yeasted (live) doughs and are often eaten in addition to being displayed. There are some versions that have almost become almost a cliche such as the cornucopia, wreath, etc. However, when these are executed with taste and good judgement, they remain classical.

Artistic breads are made with dead doughs (no yeast) and are used for decoration only, typically as centerpieces. I have the pleasure of working daily with Ciril Hitz, whom I consider to be the world leader in this particular discipline. The wine bottle bread upthread was his demo for a class project at Johnson & Wales. The dough is a live dough with bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and buckwheat flour as well as water, salt, yeast, etc. This dough has many applications, left only to the baker's imagination. This project is part of the course requirements for the advanced bread class. In addition, they will fabricate other decorative pieces and then design and complete an original artistic bread centerpiece. The good news is that the information needed to understand this medium is available on DVD. The website for the information on the DVDs is www.breadhitz.com Ciril's schedule includes teaching a class at King Arthur Flour in VT in December, The Institute of Culinary Education in NYC in March, and a demo at COPIA in California in March. He is also scheduled to present at the World Pastry Forum in Phoenix again next July. There is also the possibility of a class next spring at the Notter School in Orlando.

To answer the questions about the wine bottle. The bottle of unopened wine is place into the piece after baking. We use an empty wine bottle of the same size wrapped in baking parchment and baked into place. When the bread is barely warm, we remove the empty one and replace it with the unopened bottle. It is critical to let the dough cool on a rack and allow for full circulation when displayed. Otherwise, mold and other deterioration will occur. With the proper environment and care, the pieces can last for a month or more. This dough differs from others in that we use a dough conditioner to enable the shaping of the pieces immediately after mixing to facilitate shaping. In a dough without conditioners, there is a buildup of carbon dioxide that can make shaping difficult and compromise the clarity and definition of the final product.

If anyone is interested, I would attempt (with help, Chris) to post photos of the different disciplines. If you have any other questions on bread or the program at the school, it would be my pleasure to address them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Boulak, for describing the process of making the wine bottle bread in such clear detail.

Indeed, I would appreciate very much if you could, perhaps, share with us a basic recipe for 1) artistic dead dough bread and 2) live dough with bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and buckwheat flour as well as water, salt, yeast, etc.

For artistic breads, if it is to be glazed, would you recommend an egg white glaze or (since it's not to be eaten) a non=edible glaze?

TIA!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...... If you buy the Bakery Book(s) from the Richemont school in Lucerne Switzerland (Sorry all you Francophiles...the best bakery school in the world ..bar none) you will find all the techniques you need...Oh.. and the idea with the bottle was created by the ex-head baker there( Herr Restori-now retired at the school in the late 70s). : :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tepee,

First, let me say that I clicked on your site and enjoyed it very much. Your desserts are most intruiging to my Western sensibilities. I also appreciate your use of whole grains.

To glaze the artistic pieces, we use a food grade spray shellac after the pieces have been baked and cooled.

A basic dead rye dough to start playing with is 3 Kg of medium rye flour and 2 Kg of simple syrup (cool). Mix with a dough hook until incorporated. Keep covered or wrap tighly when not in use.

A basic live dough is 2 Kg. low protein bread flour, 100g medium rye flour, 1.3 Kg water, 40g fresh yeast, and 30g salt. You can play with that and begin to exchange flours and grains within that framework. Depending on the flour available to you, you might need to add a small percentage of shortening to gain extensibility and to make the dough a little more pliable; the amount of shortening used is quite small. Also remember, with different flours in different parts of the world, water is variable. Mix on low speed with a hook to incorporate. Mix for about 4 minutes on second speed. Primary fermentation of one hour. Divide, preshape, rest dough, shape, and proof covered for approximately one hour (we put the larger pieces inside a large plastic bag and moisten with a spray bottle. Bake at 450 degrees F with light steam in the beginning. Vent at the end of the bake. For more strength, you could preferment up to 25% of the flour. If you look at the wine bottle piece, you will notice that it is generously dusted with medium rye. The amount of dusting varies from project to project and whether the object is to highlight or accent. Us a very fine sieve.

An economical way to find out what Ciril is doing and explore this medium is to buy the home maker's DVD. It is about $40 US and is available at his website www.breadhitz.com It contains all of the recipes, but fewer of the projects. The more advanced projects are in the full professional set. There were some posts on the WPF thread last summer from individuals who purchased the full set and were quite excited with the content. Another good source for information on decorative pieces is the wonderful book by Jeffry Hamelman: Bread: A Bakers Book of Recipes and Techniques, published by Wiley.

I hope this is helpful and is enough information to get you going. Your website suggests to me that you will do a great job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks, boulak, for your very kind words about my humble site. I only hope I'll be able to do justice to your excellent information.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

wow that's beautiful.. I hope I can .. go to a bread school some time.. more than anything else, i love baking bread... it'd be fantastic if I get a chance to formally learn how to do it. Up to this point I've just learned on my own- minus some bread seminars that I've joined...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that typically this is done only for decor, but could you make a good crusty artisan bread wth this type of display? I am in an Advanced Yeast Class and would like to work on this type of project next week, any ideas? We have free range for this class and are encouraged to work on any new and challenging areas. Formulas are welcome, pictures even more! Thanks for bringing this topic up! Baking and Pastry Student- Shawn <><

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I understand that typically this is done only for decor, but could you make a good crusty artisan bread wth this type of display?  I am in an Advanced Yeast Class and would like to work on this type of project next week, any ideas?  We have free range for this class and are encouraged to work on any new and challenging areas.  Formulas are welcome, pictures even more!  Thanks for bringing this topic up!  Baking and Pastry Student- Shawn <><

You can make pieces from bread dough that is suitable for service. Doughs with more hydration are more difficult to shape and therefore are less likely to maintain crisp definition. Try shaping deorative breads using a dough hydrated at 60%. 90% bread flour, 10% whole wheat flour, 2% salt, and 2% yeast. Desired dough temperature is 75 to 78 degrees Farenheit. Bulk fermentation of 1 hour. Bake with steam, and bake to color. Shaping is only limited by your imagination.


Edited by boulak (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

gallery_22157_1962_30043.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_18998.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_38881.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_39417.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_36294.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_12194.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_41651.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_26868.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_12333.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_50248.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_32231.jpg

gallery_22157_1962_15017.jpg

I hope that you will take the time to click on the links of some photos of a table that I did with Ciril Hitz at the 2005 World Pastry Forum. The rooster, platter, and wine bottle were part of Ciril's class. The rooster is made of dead dough; the wine bottle and platter are made from the same live decorating dough mentioned upthread. The rest of the pieces were demonstrated by me during an evening session, and are made from the dough described in my previous post. I think that the two styles merge and complement each other very well

edited to add: I have tried many times to post photos and this is the closest I have gotten -- it's really a huge step for me. Before any grumpy 'bears' go off on me about whether or not I have read the instructions, let me say that I have and it's still difficult. If the photos prove interesting to the membership, I will work diligently to post photos next time, and not links.


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the great pics, they are very informative and inspiring. I understand what you are saying about the wet doughs, and will try to use your percentages for a dough to work with. Your time is appreciated, hopefully my prof/chef will have some experience with this type of work. I'll try to remember to bring a digital camera to class, just in case! Thanks again, Shawn <><

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats, boulak...you've made the first step to posting pix! And, what inspiring pictures they are! :wub:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great stuff, Mitch! Is that challah I spy? Standard dough or are you doing something different here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great stuff, Mitch! Is that challah I spy? Standard dough or are you doing something different here?

Yes, that is Challah on the table. The starfish, a five braid, and a six braid are visible. I prefer Challah with a sweeter profile, so I use osmotolerant yeast to compennsate for the amount of sugar/honey used. Other than that, the dough is quite standard. I double egg wash; once before the proof, and again just prior to the bake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I use osmotolerant yeast to compennsate for the amount of sugar/honey used. 

I've never heard of this before. Would you mind explaining what osmotolerant yeast is, and where one can buy it? .....and how does it compensate for the amount of sugar/honey used?

P.S. Those are incredible looking breads!!!!!!!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, shoot, this takes my breath away. I'm in love with the roses, then there's the red ones whoo hooo hooo. Just beyond amazing beautiful. Not to slightly mention that you are sharing how to's as well. Where's the 'I'm fainting' smilie face?? :rolleyes::laugh:

Thank you so much, Mitch, for sharing this wonderful wonderful inspiring stuff. Wow I can totally smell it through the monitor. :raz:


Edited by K8memphis (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I use osmotolerant yeast to compennsate for the amount of sugar/honey used. 

I've never heard of this before. Would you mind explaining what osmotolerant yeast is, and where one can buy it? .....and how does it compensate for the amount of sugar/honey used?

P.S. Those are incredible looking breads!!!!!!!!!!!

When the level of sugar(s) in a yeasted dough exceeds 5% of the weight of the flour, fermentation can become sluggish. When the sugar content surpasses 10% - 12% of the weight of the flour, fermentation is markedly slowed due to osmotic pressure, which, simply put, is the competition of the sugar and yeast for moisture. Technically speaking, osmosis is defined as "the tendency of a solvent to pass through the wall of a living cell, into a solution of igher concentration, so as the equalize concentrations on both sides of the membrane." Yeast cells are living cells with a thin membrane. When the moisture is diverted to the sugar( a hygroscopic ingredient), the resulting condition is known as osmotic pressure.The moisture normally permits food (sugars) to penetrate the cell walls of the yeast. Previously, bakers would increase the amount of yeast in a formulation and/or use a sponge to compensate for the osmotic pressure on the yeast cells. Now, it is more common in the industry to see osmotolerant yeast in use. This sensitivity to sugars varies from strain to strain of yeast. The yeast with most tolearance of a high sugar content is known as osmotolerant due to the fact that it is tolerant of osmotic pressure.

If the preceding paragraph appears a bit pedantic and exceeds the socially acceptable use of the word osmotolerant in a paragraph, I apologize, but I wanted to provide some background. SAF (LeSaffre) sells a product known as "gold label." It is vacuum packed, osmotolerant, instant active yeast. Unopened, it is guaranteed fresh for one year. Open and stored wrapped in the refrigerator it remains viable for weeks (I believe their recommendation is 7 to 10 days). Many food distributors and especially bakery distributors carry the product or have access to it. LeSaffre has a history of being gracious with samples to bakers. A segment of the industry has shifted away from fresh yeast to instant active (osmotolerant and regular "red label") due to the shelf life of the product and the resulting consistency in baked goods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to this inspiring thread and, especially, Mitch.......here's my first attempt at making a wreath. This measures only 14-inches in diameter. Poinsettia at 11 o'clock and christmas roses, holly and mistletoe at the bottom. It tooked forever to dry, so I increased the oven temperature. :sad: Big mistake...cracks started to appear. I'd like to try making a full-sized one (20-inch plus?)...if only I can find a box big enough to fit the big mama. :wink:

gallery_12248_2105_76564.jpg


Edited by Tepee (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's really cool Tepee. I'm always impressed and inspired by your efforts and results. I'm in Paris for the day using a Euro keyboard in a cyber cafe, so I'll keep this very short. I wish you continued success and pleasure working with decorative doughs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, this year I decided to play with a couple of decorative breads from Jeffrey Hamelman's book. Fun!

6ptstarborder.jpg

hungarianknot2copy.jpg


Edited by Tepee (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Artistic breads are made with dead doughs (no yeast) and are used for decoration only, typically as centerpieces. I have the pleasure of working daily with Ciril Hitz, whom I consider to be the world leader in this particular discipline. The wine bottle bread upthread was his demo for a class project at Johnson & Wales. The dough is a live dough with bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and buckwheat flour as well as water, salt, yeast, etc. This dough has many applications, left only to the baker's imagination
Tepee,

First, let me say that I clicked on your site and enjoyed it very much.  Your desserts are most intruiging to my Western sensibilities.  I also appreciate your use of whole grains.

To glaze the artistic pieces, we use a food grade spray shellac after the pieces have been baked and cooled.

A basic dead rye dough to start playing with is 3 Kg of medium rye flour and 2 Kg of simple syrup (cool).  Mix with a dough hook until incorporated.  Keep covered or wrap tighly when not in use.

A basic live dough is 2 Kg. low protein bread flour, 100g medium rye flour, 1.3 Kg water, 40g fresh yeast, and 30g salt.  You can play with that and begin to exchange flours and grains within that framework.  Depending on the flour available to you, you might need to add a small percentage of shortening to gain extensibility and to make the dough a little more pliable; the amount of shortening used is quite small.  Also remember, with different flours in different parts of the world, water is variable.  Mix on low speed with a hook to incorporate.  Mix for about 4 minutes on second speed.  Primary fermentation of one hour.  Divide, preshape, rest dough, shape, and proof covered for approximately one hour (we put the larger pieces inside a large plastic bag and moisten with a spray bottle.  Bake at 450 degrees F with light steam in the beginning.  Vent at the end of the bake.  For more strength, you could preferment up to 25% of the flour.  If you look at the wine bottle piece, you will notice that it is generously dusted with medium rye.  The amount of dusting varies from project to project and whether the object is to highlight or accent.  Us a very fine sieve....

I have a question. I need to make some little tidbits to eat as part of a larger exhibit. They need to look like wheat stalks, like little braidy looking little wheaty things. Just the illusion of wheat of course. There will be a vase with wheat stalks on the table so something just to further the idea. So I thought about messing around with pretzel dough but then I thought I could do a decorative centerpiece too.

So if the centerpiece with the bottle upthread was made with a yeasted dough, what is the advantage to using an un-yeasted dough for a centerpiece? The recipe listed is with rye flour and simple syrup for the dead dough. Is rye flour better to use than wheat?

If you were making a little tidbit to eat what would you make it out of?? Pretzel-y or bready or what formula if you have one??? How it looks is more important than how it tastes but it needs to be tasty.

Any and all help/ideas welcome.

I would love to get the cd's and stuff but this is for early May so I'm just gonna wing it with y'all's input/help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Doofa
      FYI. On todays Food Programme, BBC Radio 4 which will be podcasted I think tomorrow after its repeat. He outlined the Bread tome, and I found very interesting the economics of bread. It's all a bit beyond me as a Coeliac most of it is out of my reach. One can listen to it on Radio 4 website. Furthermore R4 is my constant companion and the last bastion of civilisation
    • By liuzhou
      These have been mentioned a couple of times recently on different threads and I felt they deserved one of their own. After all, they did keep me alive when I lived in Xi'an.
       
      Rou jia mo (ròu jiá mò; literally "Meat Sandwich") are Chinese sandwiches which originated in Shaanxi Province, but can be found all over China. Away from their point of origin, they tend to be made with long stewed pork belly. However in Xi'an (capital of Shaanxi), there is a large Muslim population so the meat of choice is more usually beef. In nearby Gansu Province, lamb or mutton is more likely.
       
      When I was living in Xi'an in 1996-1997, I lived on these. I was living on campus in North-West University (西北大学) and right outside the school gate was a street lined with cheap food joints, most of which would serve you one. I had one favourite place which I still head to when I visit. First thing I do when I get off the train.
       
      What I eat is Cumin Beef Jia Mo (孜然牛肉夹馍 zī rán niú ròu jiá mò). The beef is stir fried or grilled/BBQd with cumin and mild green peppers. It is also given a bit of a kick with red chill flakes.
       
      Here is a recipe wrested from the owner of my Xi'an favourite. So simple, yet so delicious.
       

      Lean Beef
       
      Fairly lean beef is cut into slivers
       

      Sliced  Beef
       

      Chopped garlic
       
      I use this single clove garlic from Sichuan, but regular garlic does just fine.
       
      The beef and garlic are mixed in a bowl and generously sprinkled with ground cumin. This is then moistened with a little light soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. You don't want to flood it. Set aside for as long as you can.
       

      Mild Green Chilli Pepper
       
      Take one or two mild green peppers and crush with the back of a knife, then slice roughly. You could de-seed if you prefer. I don't bother.
       

      Chopped Green Pepper
       
      Fire up the wok, add oil (I use rice bran oil, but any  vegetable oil except olive oil would be fine) and stir fry the meat mixture until the meat is just done. 
       

      Frying Tonight
       
      Then add the green peppers and fry until they are as you prefer them. I tend to like them still with a bit of crunch, so slightly under-cook them
       

      In with the peppers
       
      You will, of course, have prepared the bread. The sandwiches are made with a type of flat bread known as 白吉饼 (bái jí bǐng; literally "white lucky cake-shape"). The ones here are store bought but I often make them. Recipe below.
       

      Bai Ji Bing
       
      Take one and split it. Test the seasoning of the filling, adding salt if necessary. It may not need it because of the soy sauce. 
       

      Nearly there
       
      Cover to make a sandwich  and enjoy. You will see that I have used a bunch of kitchen paper to hold the sandwich and to soak up any escaping juices. But it should be fairly dry.
       

      The final product.
       
      Note: I usually cook the meat and pepper in batches. Enough for one sandwich per person at a time. If we need another (and we usually do) I start the next batch. 
       
       
      Bread Recipe
       
       
      350g plain flour
      140ml water
      1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

      Mix the yeast with the flour and stir in the water. Continue stirring until a dough forms. Knead until smooth. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise by about one third. (maybe 30-40 minutes).
       
      Knead again to remove any air then roll the dough into a log shape around 5cm in diameter, then cut into six portions. Press these into a circle shape using a rolling pin. You want to end up with 1.5cm thick buns. 
       
      Preheat oven to 190C/370F.
       
      Dry fry the buns in a skillet until they take on some colour about a minute or less on each side, then finish in the oven for ten minutes. Allow to cool before using.
    • By flippant
      I've had the CSO for a number of years now, but have yet to actually bake bread in it.
       
      Reading through the Modernist Bread thread on this forum I see many of you are using the CSO to great effect, which is heartening.
       
      To that end, I would like to know about your experience baking bread in it – what sort of extra equipment you use (pans, cast iron? etc), what breads work the best, any corrections you find yourself making, or anything you feel might be useful to someone else using the CSO.
       
      Thank you!
       
       
    • By trfl
      Dear fellow bakers,
      We have been baking no-knead bread at home for several years and as a family of scientists and engineers, we consistently tried to make it even more easier and convenient. 
      We liked what we ended up with so much that, I decided to start a small company (based in Eindhoven, Netherlands) to make a new bread kit product out of it.
       
      I am seeking your help to know your opinion of the product and how the story is told.
       
      LoafNest is an improvement on no-knead Dutch oven bread making. We took perforated silicone liner designed for professional bread baking and put it into a uniquely designed cast iron casserole. With this improvement, there is no need for shaping or second raising of the bread. You just mix, let the dough raise, pre-heat, pour the dough, bake and done!
       
      So, LoafNest is a no-knead, no-mess, no-cleanup solution for convenient and practical bread making.
       
      The perforated silicone liner is from the same company that makes Silpat mats. Our liner is a more advanced version with perforations that allow radiative, conductive and convective heat to all sides of the bread. It is also rated to a higher temperature (260C/500F)
       
      With less than 5 minutes of active work that can fit into a busy schedule, we hope to reduce the entry barrier for people who are willing to make bread. Our primary targets are people who buy expensive premium bread but want to make their own premium bread at home or people who use bread machines and want to eat better bread.
       
      While it is not a primary target, we also believe this is a nice solution for experienced bakers who want to use a high-humidity, high thermal mass baking environment.
       
      You can find the details and more images on http://trfl.nl/LoafNest  [still a little bit work in progress] and http://trfl.nl/loafnest-gallery 
      What are your impressions of the product? Visually and functionally? What are your thoughts on how the story is told? Any improvement to resonate better with people who are thinking of starting to bake their own bread? Any thoughts on pricing? I would be grateful to your feedback and suggestions.
       
      I am sure, in the end, we all want more people to eat better and healthier bread. So please support me in this endeavor. 
       


    • By Chris Hennes
      Of the many zillions of inclusions they discuss in Modernist Bread, one that I'd honestly never considered was sprouted grains. Apparently I'm out of touch with the "health food" movement! Have any of you made bread with sprouted grains? Can you describe the flavor difference between sprouted versus just soaked? Right now I'm sprouting some rye, but I'm curious about what to expect from the finished product.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×