By Lana D.
The first time I saw it
it was wriggling from side to side
like a fish moth,
quite out of character,
snuggling under my glass bread board
going about its business
watching over it,
my soft bare feet growing wings
as white as the tiles
on the kitchen floor.
In the following mornings
I felt that cockroach’s
beady black eyes
from the shadows
of my toaster,
its new shiny chrome home –
there’d be no more
marmalade on toast
Imagine my surprise
to find that cockroach
investigating what I was making for dinner tonight,
come to visit,
my favourite pet,
sauntering along the edge of the stove
as if it was
my honoured guest.
Brave, yet oblivious
of that age-old law:
To be a curious cockroach
is a fatal flaw
Ohhhhhh, baguettes… a reminder of the simple life… with the best French wine and cheese, of course! If you’re new to baking bread, please do refer to my comprehensive explanation (step by step with photos) here.
- 500 g white bread four
- 10 g yeast (use 25% less for dried yeast)
- 10 g salt
- 350 g warm water
HOW TO PREPARE THE BAGUETTE DOUGH – STEP BY STEP:
- First measure out your ingredients else you’ll have dough all over the show
- Sift flour and mix in yeast (if live then break the yeast into small pieces and rub into the flour with your fingertips)
- Add the warm water and mix (I always use my hands – VERY scrumptious but VERY messy, so use a spoon if you prefer)
- Add the salt (once the flour, yeast and water have combined)
- Knead the dough (by pulling it away and up towards you and then SLAPPING it down again onto the surface …until such time as it becomes less sticky and gains a silky texture)… be patient… carry on working it… it WILL change from sticky to smooth!
- HOT TIP: Trap as much air as you can as you fold the dough over and back into itself
- Once the dough is smooth, pat the dough into a ball-shape and place it in a bowl in a warm place (cover with a cloth or plastic but be sure to allow space for the rising of the dough) until it doubles in size
HOW TO SHAPE THE BAGUETTE DOUGH – STEP BY STEP
- Once the dough has doubled in size, it’s ready to be shaped!
- Help the dough drop out of the bowl by scraping from its underside (be gentle)
- Roll the dough into itself (feed the outside into the inside) to make it TIGHTER and stronger
- Roll it into a tight sausage roll shape
- Slice the roll into two pieces (or whatever size you wish but if dividing then weigh out same-size pieces – so as to allow for even baking) and roll each piece into a tight sausage roll shape
- Work & roll the ends of each ‘sausage roll’ under your palms so that they become thinner – leave the centre section so that it remains wider
- Slash the top of the bread with a blade or a knife & dust with flour (the slashes allow the bread to release tension as it bakes)
- Place in the oven to prove (rise again) on 50 degrees celsius with a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven OR simply cover the bread and place in a warm, sheltered place… until it has expanded in size (30 to 45 minutes)
- Preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees celsius (I prefer to go HOT so that I get a good crust) and spray with water before adding the baguettes… keep an eye on them… they will be ready as soon as they are brown… test for readiness by tapping on the underside.. . if there is a hollow sound, they are ready
PS. This bread is also great with nothing more than butter and honey. In which case forget the wine and have a cup of tea!
Saturday morning had me packing a delightful selection of petits fours into boxes at The French Oven (I spent the day there to get a feel for what it’s like – will write a post about that soon!). The boxes were then delivered to Patrick Moreau’s patisserie, Casis, together with an assortment of other treats. Who could have known that my teacher, Tim Woodford, would be looking at those very petits fours a few hours later at Casis in Cape Town?
One thing’s for sure though, he was inspired by what he saw. He showed us how to make petits fours today, the way he used to make them in Switzerland.
For the sweet pastry/frangipane petits fours:
- Small petits four moulds (grease with clarified butter)
- Sweet pastry (use as the base in the moulds)
- Frangipane (pipe onto the sweet pastry cases and then bake at 180 degrees celsius until golden brown)
- Butter cream (to be flavoured with rum, kirsch, coffee etc and piped onto the baked sweet pastry/frangipane bases which are left in the fridge to set – make sure they are COLD else the fondant won’t attach in the next step)
- Fondant (heat to a luke warm ‘blood’ temperature and colour with food colouring… then DIP the cold petit fours into the fondant and leave to set )
- Chocolate (warm and place into a wax paper piping bag – pipe patterns onto the fondant)
- Plastic icing (colour and cut into various shapes eg. leaves and flowers)
We also made bite sized profiteroles (filled with Saint Hanore cream), swiss roll (filled with flavoured butter cream) and chocolate coated ganache (on a sweet pastry biscuit base).
A colourful day!
Mille-feuilles are pastries consisting of layers of puff pastry and custard. You could use whipped cream and fruit as an alternative to custard.
Prepare your puff pastry (see how to make puff pastry) – cut out 3 circles of the same size (or rectangle shapes)
Dock them (or pierce gently all over with a fork) to allow for even rising. Allow to rest for a short period before baking.
Prepare creme patisserie or custard (see how to make pastry cream. In this case, don’t allow the custard to cool down – you’re going to spread it onto the puff pastry while it is still hot)
Once the puff pastry is baked, layer two puff pastry circles with pastry cream/custard and the third piece with apricot jam
Layer one custard covered puff pastry circle on top of the other
Prepare for the final top piece as follows:
- Warm fondant to blood temperature
- Melt chocolate and place into a small holed piping bag
- Brush fondant over apricot jam
- Make a swirl of chocolate over the fondant
- Run the back of a knife across the topping first one way and then the other to create the pattern below (work quickly while the fondant and chocolate are still warm!)
Clean the edges with a spatula.
Optional: layer the outside with finely crushed loose puff pastry.