I picked up Richard Bertinet’s Dough not long ago and got some very good ideas on kneading and shaping bread dough. His kneading process is different: you slap the dough on the counter, fold it over, pick it up, and slap it down again. Over and over. This puts air into the dough and helps it get the big holes you want in the simpler, lean breads (a lean bread is one that doesn’t have sugar, fat, or eggs to enrich the dough).
|The epi is on the right. It’s supposed to look like a wheat sheaf|
Having done breads only with my trusty KitchenAid for the last several years, I was skeptical, but willing to experiment. My experience working with wet doughs was helpful: I knew that the soggy mess I was flopping around would eventually come together, and it did.
|Great oven spring. The epi is a bit lumpy|
One tool that I’d disdained as unnecessary has turned out to be vital in the process: a plastic dough scraper. If you want to keep air in your dough and get that light, airy crumb, you need one. It cuts without letting air out, and helps with both mixing and shaping.
|I got the big holes in a baguette!|
Across the board, I’m happy with the results. The mini-baguettes, while not perfect, have great holes in the crumb, the best I’ve gotten with baguettes. And while the fougasses may be a little clunky, they were also airy and nice to eat, and with practice, I’ll get better at them.
|These fougasses are not fugazi|
The breads pictured here were my own recipe: a 75%-80% hydration lean dough to ensure lightness in the crumb. I highly recommend Dough as an excellent bread primer with plenty of good techniques, ideas, and recipes.