Having failed to attain ideal uniformity in a recent batch of croissants, I searched for guidance via YouTube, finding help from a Breton baker who shares the name of a 20th century cowboy novelist. Louis Lamour is a French baker who shares his own terrific stories, albeit of a different genre, drama and tension. Namely tales of baking bread. And Louis is not just wise, he's generous, offering great video coaching and email advice.
According to Louis, I had handicapped my efforts by using a 50/50 mix of white and white whole wheat flour. He suggested sticking with the basic white flour, along with taking more care with timing and temperature. So I did. The results? Spectacular. Merci, Louis, merci!
Here's a recent interview that featured Stir the Pots. More specifically, it was an interview with me (versus by me) on a West Coast radio show that runs Monday through Friday at noon and 9 p.m.
Thanks to my brother, now living in California, who introduced us to the host David Wilson. Called "A Quick Bite," the show is 13 minutes long, and is produced on 92.5 FM, a station broadcasting to one of America's most beautiful regions, the country between northern Santa Barbara and southern Monterey.
After some clients asked for fresh-baked croissants, I made a small batch. While the layering looked promising, the final product was disappointing. Trying again, I got a crumb that was more cakey then open.
So I put the unused dough in my freezer for a few days. Then putting them in my proofer, the results were great. It may have been due to freezing the dough, but my bet is that croissant success (like much baking) is all about proper fermentation. More testing ahead.
This loaf below is called "Pain Juif," which translates not surprisingly to Jewish-style bread. Think of it as a challah minus sugar or honey. It does demands eggs and oil, but is made exclusively with durum flour. That said, I made a batch using wheat-based levain. And I'm sure it's okay to go 100-percent durum.
Pane Francese is an Italian nod to French baguettes. Below is my micro-bakery attempt, which led to a somewhat wobbly (almost unmanageable) loaf, even after mixing, autolyse and folds. My dough was a quick proof that I tried shaping like a baguette. I ended up with simple folds and no scarification, and it came out more like a ciabatta, which wasn't a bad thing.
Hankering for pound cake, I made a batch using chocolate chips provided by spice shop master, Lior Lev Sercarz. More specifically, I incorporated his #39 Reims spiced-chocolate. Normally reserved for hot cocoa, below are photos of the quatres quarts au chocolat that came out. Thank you, Lior, and thank you chocolate. I love you both.