Whiling away a Saturday morning in Waterstone’s I picked up a book on bread making called ‘Dough’ by a guy I had never heard of – Richard Bertinet. Richard is a Breton-born breadmaker who now runs a baking and cookery school in Bath. I liked the book immediately and so put it on my Birthday wish list. The girls duly obliged (but couldn’t find a copy of Lizzie David’s ‘An Omelette & a Glass of Wine…) and I can honestly say this has changed my approach to making bead forever.
Richard’s style is – naturally – of the French school. There are several key differences in technique. Unlike the British approach to kneading and stretching (tiring – hence the appeal of the breadmaker!) the French style involves working with a much wetter dough to start with and a shorter kneading time. Critically, the bread is flipped and folded to incorporate as much air into the dough as possible – with NO additional flouring of the dough (or work surface) as you work it. To understand the technique either buy his book which comes with a great DVD where Richard demonstrates the making of baguettes or Google video demos on YouTube. (I haven’t seen Richard on YouTube but there are other French bakers demonstrating their craft.)
Do not be put off by the initial sloppiness of the dough as you start – once you get the knack of the lift – flip – smack and repeat the dough comes together into a lovely pliable silky finish in about 5 minutes. I’ve been experimenting for the last 2 weeks and it genuinely works. The bread is superb!
PS for an even simpler approach try the ‘no-knead bread’ technique shown here from Foodwishes.com