Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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The 5-Day Bread Diet: Days 4 & 5 (Contemporary Breads)

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Today, our class became a panaderia, making the pandesal and pan de coco we all grew up with.

The 5-Day Bread Diet: Days 1 & 2
The 5-Day Bread Diet: Day 3
The 5-Day Bread Diet: Day 4
The 5-Day Bread Diet: Day 5

We used 12.5 kilos of bread flour to make pandesal today and 6 kilos of bread flour to make the dough for Spanish bread, pan de coco, chocolate roll, and meat roll. All in all, we made about 800 of these little breads, a number that boggled our minds. But to take one look around the baking lab, we were – quite literally – awash in bread.

Here are the enormous balls of pandesal dough. The yield was so large that we had to mix the dough in the spiral mixer. See link above for Day 3.
Shaping pandesal and rolling them in bread crumbs. A wooden scraper is best for cutting the individual rolls because it doesn’t “press down” on the dough. Notice the characteristic “side slits” of the pandesal.
Rolling Spanish bread in bread crumbs. “Filipino breads are very rustic and need not be perfect,” our chef-instructor tells us. This is a relief to hear after the exactness demanded to make yesterday’s European breads.
Spanish bread proofing near the window. We didn’t even have to scale (weigh) each roll, thus the unevenness in size.
Fresh from the oven pandesal and Spanish bread. It was such a joy to be able to eat these breads hot. Our chef-instructor says that bread must cool down before it can be eaten so that it sets properly. But really, nothing beats bread made with our own hands and eaten hot.
Pan de queso made from the Spanish bread dough but with a grated cheese filling, and the round rolls are pan de coco. Though smaller breads are more time consuming to prepare, they’re great for sharing and taking on the road. I especially like the fact that I finally know how to make these breads that I’ve been buying from the corner panaderia all these years. I now have greater respect for my panadero.
A rather dramatic shot of the Spanish bread caught in the rays of the late afternoon sun hitting the baking lab.

My proudest moment today was making a challah (pronounced HAH-lah), an enriched bread with a tender, golden crumb. This braided bread is a traditional Jewish ceremonial bread and it’s wonderful eaten plain or made into French toast. I’ve read about challah but have never had the guts to make one. Today, I did (see below) and I was quite successful at braiding it too. This is a 3-strand braid but challahs can have as few as 2 braids or as many as 8!

Here’s my baked challah. It’s extra brown and shiny because I brushed it with an egg wash before it went into the oven. Unfortunately, I let it proof a little too long so the braids aren’t too discernible. Still, I’m very proud of this loaf of mine.

Day 5: “Bread Talk” Breads

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