Baking Day 3: Basic Dough for Batard (2nd attempt)

Using the same recipe for the basic dough for Batards, I made a second attempt and thought that the bread actually turned out better this time.

Fermenting-Shaping-Proofing: It was so difficult for me to try and time the fermenting of the dough so that the hour that it needed coincided with my hour appointment beginning at 1:15pm. I ended up starting to make the bread too early so the fermentation process went a little longer than usual. I tried to pre-shape the dough but failed again. While trying to divide the dough in 2 I got caught in the sticky mess yet again and had a difficult time trying to get equal weights. After 15 minutes of letting the dough rest, I tried to shape the dough to no avail on a wooden cutting board. One of the loaves I just gave up and decided to focus on the 2nd one which I shaped on the kitchen counter directly which seemed to work a lot better. Turned more into a demi-baguette shape but this time I actually remembered to score the dough so we’ll see how that affects the shape.

Baking: I put it in the oven but had a difficult time trying to pour the ice in at the same time and ended up leaving the oven open for a little longer than I should have. I’m wondering how this will affect the crust? Seems like there wasn’t as much steam as last time…

Results: I put the bread in the oven for about 28 minutes and I feel like it could’ve been baked for a few more minutes. The shape and look of the baguettes looked better than my first attempt. The taste and smell were both amazing. Texture was again, mocchiri (chewy?). The crust turned out great since I let it cool and finish cooking unlike last time where I put the two baguettes into a paper bag right after baking. As you can see in the photo below, the bread on the right looks more like a demi baguette while the one on the left is…not quite sure what shape you’d call that lol. Overall, as before, I think the taste and texture are nice but I still really need to work on the shaping and the scoring of the bread.

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Baking Day 1: Basic Dough for Bâtard

One of the first recipes I’d like to master is the basic dough for batards which I thought would be a great place to start. As a disclaimer, my posts will not include recipes to the bread as they can be viewed in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook.

Initial thoughts: I began making the “Poolish” at 12pm two days ago thinking that I could work on the bread after it was ready. I then realized it takes 12-15 hours for the Poolish to be “complete” so to speak so I wouldn’t be able to make the bread that same day unless I wanted to be up until 6am. I researched online that you can keep a Poolish in the refrigerator for a day or two and then use it when ready, which is what I did this time so we’ll see how the final product turns out.

I made sure to read through the entire recipe after my first mishap to make sure I was ready for the next steps. The fermentation process takes 3 hours and right now I am in hour 2. The dough is sticky to the touch. The recipe in and of itself is very basic and easy but I fear the most difficult part will be actually shaping the dough and then figuring out how I’m going to bake it without a baking stone.

Fermenting-Shaping-Proofing: What. A. disaster. I think I didn’t stretch the dough enough during fermentation so what I ended up with was a blob of dough that would just not take shape after 3 hours of fermentation. When I was pre-shaping it, the dough kept sticking to everything and my board and made a huge mess. Shaping it was a bit better than the pre-shape since I had added a little more flour but I couldn’t get the batard shape that I had seen both in Bouchon Bakery and on King Arthur’s youtube videos. I let it proof for about 55 minutes (since I’m running out of time- I started at around 2pm and it is now 7pm) and then stuck it in the oven.

Baking- Finished Product: I don’t have a baking stone so instead I used a sheet pan that had been heating up in the oven. Right when I put the batards in the oven I added a cup of ice to the deeper pan I had kept on the bottom rack. I read that this is a simpler way to release steam vs the method in Bouchon Bakery cookbook which calls for a halfsheet pan, river stones, a 10 ft metal chain (da fuq) and a super soaker. Ain’t nobody got time for that. p.s. I forgot to score the dough

Results: Oh wow!! Took the two loaves over to my cousin Lesley’s to try it out and we were both impressed by how good it was!! The crust could have been a little bit more “crusty” but the texture of the bread itself was super mocchiri and dense and the aroma and flavor of the bread was spot on. So freaking good. I’m amazed at how well it turned out! The shape and look of the bread was way off but the flavor and texture was great (for what I like and prefer). May not be the authentic baguette people are looking for, but focusing on Japanese breads, this would be a big hit I think. Between the two loaves, I kneaded the thinner one twice and the fat one once. The thinner one had more holes in the end product but I preferred the denseness of the fatter loaf.

The photo of the loaves is EMBARRASSING but  I figured, I need to be honest with how baking goes for first timers right?? lol.

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My cousin took one look at the loaf on the left and was like, “Wow…looks like one of those…silk worms..or something…” T_T 

A New Start

I’ve decided to revamp and rename my blog since I plan on adding more than just recipes. I will still be writing family recipes, but I will also be adding my bread baking journal as well as restaurant reviews. My instagram handle is foodgasmtky so if you’d like to see more photos, please follow along!

A little bit about me… Born in California, raised in Tokyo (hence the handle, foodgasmtky. Very original right?). I’ve lived in both California and Boston for the last 11 years now and I just recently came back to Southern California after a 3 year stint in Boston. I graduated with my Masters in Gastronomy from Boston University in 2012. During my time at BU I also received my culinary certificate. Since graduating, I’ve found myself at varying jobs including tech, hospitality, and my favorite one being a recipe writer and food stylist for a now-defunct shop that sold recipe kits.

What I learned about myself in the last decade is that I’m happiest in the kitchen. My own kitchen. I love to cook and bake for my family and friends and I also love to share what I do. I also really enjoyed my time working in hospitality and am now 100% sure I am not interested in being a part of the “start-up world”.

Food holds a significant importance in my life and I’ve decided to create my own path to my food-filled future. Since I’m currently not working anywhere (funemployment?) I decided that I’d spend my days teaching myself how to bake bread and pastries. I know that that sounds super general and “bread” can include a lot of things, however, I would like to teach myself and perfect how to bake items that I could potentially sell in my own bakery in the future.

I’ve always wanted to own my own food business, and I just happened to watch a special program on TV in Japan about Chef Tsunetaka Kawakami. Chef Kawakami has spent his last 30 years working as a baker, owning bakeries, and helping others successfully open their own bakeries. He has a 5 day program which teaches his students the ins and outs of what it takes to open their own bakery and he also teaches them his general bread recipe that each of his shops sell. The program on TV went into great detail regarding this 5 day program and I felt very inspired by Chef Kawakami. To learn more about Chef Kawakami, you can go here.

I still plan on writing recipes passed along by my family members as well as family friends, but I also wanted to document my new adventure in learning how to bake bread as well as include some restaurant reviews. Some of the recipes that I use are from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook, which can be purchased at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon here . Please feel free to follow along and leave comments if you have any questions, advice, or just want to say hi 🙂

Mrs. Iwai’s Amazing Lemon Bars

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I am really not a fan of lemon desserts.  Never have been and I don’t think I ever will be.  But these- these are just too good for any lemon-dessert-hater not to just LOOOOOOVE.  These lemon bars were actually my inspiration to start this blog to begin with.  Mrs. Iwai’s lemon bars are elegant, sweet, rich and also evokes feelings of nostalgia.

One of my many aunts, Aunty Amy, always holds 4th of July BBQs and family get-togethers where we get to meet all of her friends and pig out on amazing food.  A lot of it is  Hawaiian or Japanese (including my all time favorite SPAM MUSUBI) and also includes several different types of desserts.  Mrs. Iwai is a dear friend of my Aunt’s who introduced me to the wonderfulness that is her lemon bars.  Mrs. Iwai is one of those women who has a natural talent for cooking food that just makes you feel good because of how awesome it tastes..do you catch my drift?

Ermahgerd.  These are ridiculously delicious.  I dare any lemon-hater to try this and not fall in love.

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Ingredients

Crust:

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter at room temperature

Filling:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 2 large lemons usually)

¼ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking POWDER

Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top of bars

Instructions

Crust:

Combine flour & powdered sugar, then add butter.  Beat with electric mixer until dough forms a ball.  Press into 9X13 baking pan – Bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes (light brown edges).  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Filling:

Beat eggs until they begin to thicken.  Add sugar & lemon juice, then beat until smooth.  Stir in flour & baking POWDER.  Pour filling mixture over baked crust and bake at 350 for additional 25 minutes.  Should be brown on top and filling should be set.

Cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into square.  Mrs. Iwai recommends refrigerating before serving.

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xx

More Posts Coming Soon..

My apologies for not updating my blog for so long!  I’ve been going through several transitions and after rigorous job hunting for 4 months, I’m now settled down at my new job as a Marketing Coordinator at an Internet Company!

I’m not exactly where I thought I’d be at 25 (eek) but am hoping that this new chapter in my life will give me some great experience for my future.

This weekend is one of my good friend’s birthdays and he requested chicken wings.  I suggested Korean style chicken wings (Bon Chon anyone?) so I will be adapting a few “copy cat” recipes and adding some twists of my own.

More to come on Saturday!

xx