Traditional Breadbaking at Le Cordon Bleu Paris: Day 2


The second day at Le Cordon Bleu was, sadly, not nearly as much fun as the first. I think they did a bunch of interesting, hands-on stuff the first day to get us hooked (not that it makes much difference, we all paid months ago). The biggest issue was that rather than getting to mix up the dough by hand and do all the kneading and shaping ourselves, we spent the vast majority of our time watching our (admittedly talented) instructor do all of the work. And while I can understand having him mix up a big batch of dough rather than have us each do individual batches, there was no reason we couldn’t have shaped our own individual loaves before they went into the oven. Instead, we watched him shape 14 perfect baguettes, which took quite a while (probably just as long as it would’ve taken for us to do one each), and which was frankly pretty boring after the first few times. The baguettes did turn out well, of course, but I didn’t feel any sense of ownership in my baguette. IMG_0644 We did get to shape our loaves of sandwich bread– one tomato-basil and one spinach. The dough was extremely soft and sticky, but fun to work with and a fabulous color. The spinach bread was particularly bright– the color came from 1.5 kilos of raw whole spinach leaves, which were just chucked in the mixer along with the dough– the kneading process broke up the leaves into the tiny bits you see below. IMG_0633 IMG_0636 We also did some very basic shaping and cutting on some small loaves of “milk bread,” which was slightly sweet and was used as the base for two breads– one plain and one with white chocolate and lime zest. Once they were egg-washed and baked they had a great shine. IMG_0646 All in all we had seven kinds of bread– baguettes, tomato-basil bread, spinach bread, plain milk bread, chocolate-lime milk bread, sailor’s bread (a dense, fine-crumbed white bread), and a whole-wheat yeast bread.

Also, I’m realizing that I could never do this for a living– I can’t stay on my feet all day without aching from the knees down! I don’t know how people manage it, especially while lugging around heavy pans and bowls and giant bags of flour. The chef and his assistants have my utmost respect…

Oh, and here’s what we made for dinner tonight: grilled cheese sandwiches with emmenthaler and tomato, on the tomato-basil and spinach breads. Delicious!

tomato grilled cheese

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