Recap of the July 2011 "Taste-and-Tell" -- in Pictures

Let the picnic begin! This "Taste-and-Tell" was an outdoor event. Each baker brought a yeasted bread that could be served without need of a cutting board or bread knife.

The tempting ring (bottom left) is T.M.'s garlic-parmesean pull-apart bread. In the middle is my rustic pizzas topped with goat cheese, lemon, grilled zucchini, and a blend of 15 fresh herbs from the garden. The curvaceous, organically shaped flatbreads are husband's fougasse dusted with cornmeal. Hidden from view is K.M.'s garlic flat bread, made with pizza dough.

Wondering what's in the bakery box (top previous photo)? M.R.'s homemade pretzels.

N.D. arrived to the event with three baguettes, straight from the oven. I remembered to snap a photo of the last one, just as it was about to be devoured.

Three things I learned at this "Taste-and-Tell:"

  1. From K.M.: To handle my pizza dough gently when shaping it, and try not to pop the many irregular bubbles in the dough. The bubbles will expand in the oven, creating a light, fluffy pizza that is beautiful to behold, and tasty, to boot.
  2. From N.D.: When shaping high-hydration baguettes, it is especially important to tighten the outermost layer of gluten. This is so the bread expands upwards (rather than outwards) in the oven. Yet this shaping is difficult to achieve because the dough is so sticky. A plastic dough scraper can be helpful: once the dough is in the basic baguette shape, gently but firmly slide the scraper under the dough, all along the side of the baguette. Repeat on the other side of the baguette, if necessary.
  3. From M.R.: Rye flour contains an enzyme that's stabilized when mixed with acidic ingredients (e.g., yogurt or buttermilk). Because of this, rye flour works well in a sourdough culture--which is naturally acidic because of lactic acid-producing bateria--but not so well in a starter (i.e., a poolish or biga). To use rye in a starter, add something acid to the mix, to stabilize the enzyme--otherwise the enzyme will hinder gluten development.

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