Field Guide To Breads

For the past two weeks, I’ve worked with breads during my pastry school classes.  I learned how to feed the dough, care for the dough, and coax it into fluffy existence… I’ve realized that making bread is kind of like taking care of a pet!  Often, my chef would pat the dough as if it were the flank of a horse that successfully followed his command.  Through observation and one-on-one handling, I learned that breads have personality!

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We started with simple shapes like the boule (a ball), and worked our way up to batards (somewhere between a boule and a baguette) and finally baguettes.  We also learned how to score the surface of the bread so that it wouldn’t lose volume during the proofing and baking process.

I felt a connection with the bread that I didn’t feel with other pastries that we’ve produced thus far.  Coming out of the oven, some of the loaves looked like little dinosaurs with their spiky crusts and oblong shapes.  I have a soft spot for food with a  mind of its own!  Each bread took much longer to make than the cakes and petits fours we made earlier this year, so I felt more of a connection with each loaf.

Here are a couple breads that are regional specialty breads in France.  I made them using a recipe for country bread.  After shaping the loaves, it was important to let them proof upside down so that their designs didn’t thicken or become altered.

This little guy reminds me of a clam peeping out of its shell.  It is the Auvergnat style.  It originates from France’s Auvergne province located in the center of the country.

clam bread

This very similar loaf reminds me of a lily pad (see the Pokemon “Lotad“).  Instead of a flap of dough folded over the top, a disk rests on the surface.  Its edges curl up during baking.  It is called Tabatiere.


This is beer bread.  We painted on a mixture of flour and beer on top of the loaf after shaping the dough.  It baked in a crackled pattern that reminds me of leopard spots.

beer bread 2

beer bread 1

And this sourdough loaf looks like it might crawl right off of the table!  I wonder where it would wander to…

slug sourdough bread

slug bread

Here’s some pull-apart monkey bread.  Is it called monkey bread because the individual pieces of dough stick to each other like plastic monkeys in a barrel?  We used left-over puff pastry dough and some cinnamon sugar to construct this loaf.

monkey bread 3

And finally, this flower design won the World Pastry Cup in the past!  This is a multi-grain bread with decorative poppy seeds in the center.  It was definitely my favorite bread to shape, and its design was perfect for springtime!

flower 3

flower trio


flower stack

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