I love working with dough. This is probably one of the main reasons why I decided to start baking professionally. I like watching the dough rise – the results of labor of millions living microorganisms working
hard to make the future bread more flavorful, more delicious. And I like to get my hands into dough, crumple and rumple it, and give it any form I wish.
I hear sometimes that while cooking is an art, baking is a science. This means that if you follow a recipe precisely as written, you will always get the same result. This might be true for cookies and pastries, but it is definitely not the case when you are baking bread. The quality of the dough depends on so many conditions, which you can’t control –temperature in the kitchen, humidity, movements of the air, voices of people. And believe it or not, but I clearly noticed that it also depends on my mood. If am I am trying to bake distraught or distressed, the dough refuses to rise. Therefore, I never bake when I am in bad mood, but it is rarely a problem because most of the times, just being in the kitchen and mixing the dough makes me forget whatever problems troubled me in the outside world and lifts my mood.
A well baked bread is a piece of art, and constitutes an important element of my panini pies. Indeed, unlike traditional pies made of the pastry dough, the crust of panini pies is made of bread. And many customers told me that how much they loved the crust of the pies, and kept asking me about they kind of bread it is made of. So, let’s talk about bread.
Bread has been a staple food in many cultures for thousands of years. The history of breadmaking can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where bread was often used as currency and considered a sacred food. Over time, bread has taken on many different forms and flavors, with each culture putting its own spin on the basic recipe. For instance, French baguette is a long, thin loaf with a crisp crust and soft interior, while Italian focaccia is a flatbread with a chewy texture and savory toppings. The crust used in Italian pizza is made with olive oil as one of the ingredients and is stretched and flattened before it is covered with various toppings. Brioche, which is popular in France, and Austria is a rich, buttery bread often served as a sweet treat. Challah, bread eaten on Jewish Shabbat and other holidays is a yet another kind of bread with eggs and sugar added to the dough.
Despite the differences in appearance and taste, all breads share a common set of ingredients and techniques. Flour, water, yeast, and salt are the basic building blocks of any bread, and each ingredient must be carefully measured and mixed in the right proportions. But achieving the perfect bread is no easy task. It took me three months of intensive course at the International Culinary Institute and six moths of experimentation to find the dough, which would create a perfect crust for my panini pies. It serves as the foundation upon which the filling is built, and it is what holds everything together. The dough, which I use for my pies is unlike the dough of any of the breads mentioned in the post, but if one presses me to give a comparison, I would probably say that the dough I use for non-vegan pies is closer to challah, albeit with much smaller (and I mean much-much smaller) amount of sugar. The vegan dough does not contain eggs, which makes it more similar to the pizza dough.
I am very proud of the crust of my Panini Pies. At the end of my baking shift, I always have some leftover dough, which I use to bake little buns. Usually, I give those away to whoever else is present at the kitchen at the time (I work at a shared kitchen facility), and these buns have become incredibly popular – people are waiting for me to finish baking to take some of my buns home. I wonder, maybe I shall offer these buns (which also can be frozen) to my customers as a gift to complement their orders? Would you like me to do it? Let me know.