Culinary School Here I Come (45) Beginning Baking Week 2, Rich Doughs & Lean Doughs


A wise duck once said, “Why does flour, water, eggs, butter and a bit of yeast have to taste so good? I believe it’s the coming of Satan, in pastry form. A nibble here, a nibble there can lead to one large spare tire.”

This summer session has been flying by at warp speed. As a result, we have a lot of production to do. This week we started working on rich doughs, the first of which is a laminated dough.

When I think laminate, I think of a Pergo floor. You can say that a laminated dough is kinda like a Pergo floor in the way the floor is multiple layers of a composite. A laminated dough is a rich dough (we did a yeast version) with chilled butter folded into it, rolled out, tri folded, rolled out, tri folded again and rolled out a final time.

The dough needs a chilled rest in between folding so it’s easier to handle. The butter content is so high that it would be a mess if it were not chilled. This laminated dough was used to make some amazing plain croissants and some even more amazing ham and Swiss cheese croissants.

We also made a sweet yeast dough that was not laminated but equally as luscious. It was simply rolled out and made into amazing little morsels of heaven.

Pecan Caramel Sticky Rolls were but one of the treats made with this dough.

Pin wheels, bear claws, croissants and pain au chocolate get proofed.

Bear claws, Cream Cheese and Apple Danish, Pain au Chocolate, Clover leafs, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Danish, Ham & Cheese Croissant. We used both a laminated dough and a sweet dough. I could jump onto this pastry cloud!

Wednesday brought us to the making of Challah, Brioche and Milk Bread. Challah & Brioche are breads made with butter and eggs. Brioche is the richer of the two. Challah can be braided into loaves or shaped in pans.

The anatomy of braided Challah: The dough gets portioned out and rolled into balls, the balls get stretched out to make the strands needed for braiding. We use a couche to keep the dough from drying out and forming a crust. Braiding can be with 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 strands. The bread gets proofed, egg washed, baked, cooled and stored…unless it gets eaten first.

We made pan loaves of Brioche. We also made a milk bread which was simpler to make.

Brioche proofing

Brioche (left), Milk Bread (right) cooling

We also made some pizza dough and had pizza for lunch. Some of the perks!

Thursday brought us to the beginning of our lean dough section. Lean doughs have no eggs or butter. They are what we are more familiar with; french, baguettes, etc. It was a real learning experience to find out that there are starters, or pre-ferments, as they are know in the trade other than sour dough. The pre-ferments that we used were biga, poolish and autolyse. A pre-ferment is a fermented dough used to provide leavening for a larger batch of dough. The difference is in the water to flour ratios. A biga has a 60% water to 100% flour ratio, which makes it a stiff dough. A poolish has a 100% water to 100% flour ratio which makes this a very wet dough that is somewhat difficult to work with. An autolyse is kind of a pre ferment, however, an autolyse is a completed batch of dough whereas the biga and poolish is added as a base to more flour, yeast, water and salt. The autolyse has a long, refrigerated resting period in which the flour fully absorbs the water. If you are a lay person; 1. you are probably at bread overload, 2. this doesn’t make sense, 3. you could care less. Anyhoo, a baguette is a shape, not a type of bread, therefore, you can have a biga baguette, autolyse baguette or a poolish baguette. These types of baguettes will be more flavorful than a regular french baguette where the dough is mixed up with just yeast and baked soon thereafter. You can now demand better bread from your bakery!

The baguettes get rolled out and placed on a couche for final proofing before baking.

Aw nuts, we forgot to tell Sylvia that the poolish dough was really sticky. I’m sad to say I don’t have any photos of the baked product. I will have some next week when we work on more lean doughs, including sour dough.

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About tinfoilduck

I had this wacky idea to go to culinary school, while maintaining another full time career. I will be blogging about the program and how it affects me as I try to manage my daily life and how I try to keep everything together.
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2 Responses to Culinary School Here I Come (45) Beginning Baking Week 2, Rich Doughs & Lean Doughs

  1. zosanalma says:

    They all look so delicious. Those Pecan Caramel Sticky Rolls is truly mouth watering. I can almost taste it. SWEET.

    • tinfoilduck says:

      @zosanalma, thanks for reading my blog. Yes, they were wonderful. I was dreading the baking section because of all the good treats we get to sample. Lots of willpower is needed.

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