Monday, July 23, 2012

Fougasse: Sometimes you can't win...

To make my failures a little more joyful, I have included a little bit of joy to begin your week. What could do that better than The Band Live in 1976.

Richard Manuel in Tears of Rage is just pristine and beautiful, Robertson and Levon on are on the money all night, and Garth is adding his masterful tasteful corona of sound, and Danko's vocals could not be more moving. Recently, our guest poster likened me to Danko for my personality, a true compliment for a fan as big as myself. Levon's voice also tends to provide a layer of antiquity and Americana to an otherwise canadian band. 

People and bread have a lot in common. Allow me to explain. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to neglect this bread for about 5 hours during the fermentation process. It did not appreciate the gesture and as a result, gave me quite a bit of trouble. I think we have to remember than bread is a living thing too, and we must take care of it accordingly. I would also like to rehash one of my favorite life lessons (least favorite depending on which end you happen to be on) "failing to prepare, is preparing to fail".

This is a bread that I have made a couple of times before, with much success. This was not the case this time. I prepared the preferment correctly and even remembered to take a picture of it. However, the trouble began during the mixing phase, and did not quite end ....ever! I was scaling out the ingredients for the final mix, and as I was scaling the bread flour, I realised that I did not have enough. I typically use King Arthur Bread Flour, I know its another brand name, but I have never been let down by their products, and Jeffrey Hamelman is involved with the company. I think that says a lot about quality and bread in general. All that I had on hand was some Gold Medal "Better for Bread" Flour. It may say that it is Better for Bread, but it did not work that way for me. You always need more than what is called for and I do not means just a little bit, I mean a lot of bit. It was inexpensive so I bought it, $2.00 wasted.

The pate fermente prior to fermentation
I continued mixing and added the olives and mixed for another minute or so. I finally got the bread out of the bowl and It fermented about an hour. I gave the bread a semi-strong fold. The dough then ferments about 15 minutes longer. At this point, I got a telephone call from Cooking Matters. Cooking Matters is a program which is run by Local Matters and it consists of a 6-week cooking class for adults or children. The material changes to adapt to the age group. Cooking Matters neded a nutrition instructor for a 1:00 PM class which was in 15 minutes. I could not say no to them. I had to choose between baking my bread and helping others (particularly 10 year olds) how to cook. The latter option won.  As much as I love bread and baking bread,  Getting kids to eat healthier is much more important. So, I had no choice but to put the dough in the oven. I think that the bread would have been except that after the class with these 10 year olds, I attended my friend and mentor's doctoral dissertation defense. So the almost completely fermented dough had to sit in my cooler for over 4 hours. I think that if I found out about the class right after the dough came out of the mixing bowl, it would have been okay, but the bread had reached the point of no return.

So I ran home and took the bread out of the cooler and blasted the oven, and went to slide the first fougasse into the oven. Immediately, I had two problems that I had to deal with. The first was that I had made pizza with my friend Eddie the night before at his house. This meant that the stone was not in the oven, so I had to put the stone in the oven. This might cause it to break (its already in four pieces) Whats the difference between 4 pieces or 8 pieces so I put it in anyways. The second problem was that the dough would not come off the board. I had put down plenty of semolina flour but it was no use. Luckily, I was on the phone with my dad so I had somebody to scream at or with.  Poor Dad! A few seconds later we both broke out laughing at the true weight of the situation.. I mean who really cares. It's only a bread.

The Truth is that I baked this bread for some special people, and it was not quality work. I was not very proud of it. They had not tried my bread before, so I was sorry they had to try this one first. I am sure that the next one will be awesome in comparison. However, that is not saying much.

When you learn, you must not foget the lesson. So in the end I learned a little bit about bread and a lot about love. We really have to take care of each       other and be there for each other all the time, not only when it is to our benefit. Be true to yourself, your friends, your neighbors and your enemies and of course your dough!

I owe it to you to see a picture of my misfortune 
The lighter fougasses in result of a stone that was not heated to its total capacity, the second looks quite a bit better but it was still not great. 

I do have some good news. The picnic that I brought my bread to was awesome and I am baking 40% sourdough rye with caraway and pissaldier this evening with my best friend's Eddie and Caryn!

"All we knead is love" 

Bake On

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