Thursday, July 24, 2014

The great Portuguese bake off

I've tried and tried to make bread, it always comes out wrong. It can been too wet, too dense or rock hard and impossible to eat.   I bought Paul Hollywood's Bread book, I watched the Mary Berry masterclass and bitten my lip in jealousy as friends serve up their perfectly baked bread.

My friend Jackie from Casa Azul makes a great Focaccia which she always tells me is easy to do.  So I asked for a masterclass from her when she visited me recently.   Jackie favours the ready made bread flour recipe with easy bake yeast.  I want to go 'old school' with strong white bread flour and bakers yeast.

 Using the Paul Hollywood Focaccia  recipe we started the challenge.  Now I may favour the old school method, but kneading for 20 mins is not for me.  Not when I have a fancy new machine with fully functioning dough hook.

Yeh, it's silver too!

In the bowl both the mixtures needed longer than we though.   The old school method produced more elasticity, so much so that it reminded me of our building project (when will it ever end).  Can you spot the difference?

 Leaving the mixture for the first proving they looked the same - identical.

But when it came to taking off the cling film, we had two very different results.
Old school, full of bubbles, new school, smoother finish, had risen much more than the old school version.
The real difference was in the touch, you have to poke holes in the bread surface to pour over olive oil.  New school, while sticky, created nice holes and neatly held the olive oil.
Old school, looked like a dogs dinner.  The dough was so sticky you couldn't make indentations in it, in fact if made more bubbles come to the surface.  It didn't look good for the old school version!

You know that weird thing they do in the bake off, you know, they sit infront of the over watching it cook their showstopper.  Well we did that, then we got bored.  We forgot the oven was fan assisted, yeh, we overcooked  the new school ones a bit!  (new school on the left and old school on the right).


Cutting through the old school had a firmer crust.  The old school had a more traditional texture, more holes running throughout the bread.  The new school suffered from being on the top shelf of the oven and cooking too quickly and was more cakey in texture.

Now the taste school - cakey texture, slightly sweet (on fishing the packet out the bin we read that the ready mix bread has sugar in it).  It was light, salty, sweet and tasty.
Old school - much denser, a strong bready texture and you could smell the yeast coming through.  

So which is best...?   Not sure....the old school has a better texture, the new school has a good flavour. 

Both tasty, both salty, both smothered in olive oil....need I say more!

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