Day 5: Aloo Paratha, Provincial Pizza, French Baguette

The spread.

Since it was a Monday and there was no “day before” to do pre-ferments, today’s breads were active dry yeast days. Not so much artisan but tasty nonetheless.

We had flatbreads on our bread wishlist (along with 39 other breads), so our Chef took liberties with our desire to do Naan and made us make pizza. Not that there’s anything wrong with pizza, but I’d rather be working on different shaping techniques than rolling dough to a flat shape and adding toppings. But my ignorance of Provincial style pizza didn’t help the day along. Provincial pizza dough is like a french bread and it’s about a medium thickness. No sauce, no cheese. We sweated onions and garlic for about a half hour and that was our base on the pizza. The recipe also called for anchovies. Lucky for me, one of my classmates doesn’t like anchovies so nix that ingredient! We topped the pizzas with roasted peppers and fresh thyme. It was good but the crust was a little too much like baguettes. I’ll stick to my thick, dense Sicialian dough or the thin crust brick oven baked dough. But I tried something new. Not as new as the Aloo.

Forming Aloo.

Aloo parartha is a type of Indian flatbread that conists of whole wheat flour, water and salt. No yeast! The filling contained a myriad of ingredients including potatoes, cilantro, mustard seeds, cumin, ginger, and jalapenos. The dough was straightforward and easy to make and without yeast, there was no proofing time. The filling took awhile to make but it’s complex rich flavor was worth it. We rolled out the dough as thin as we could get it and placed some filling on one side. We wet the edges with water and folded the dough over and sealed it. Then we rolled the dough/filling out again until it was about 7″. We oiled both sides, sprinkled the top with Szechan pepper and black sesame seeds and baked it until done. I hate how recipes say to “cook” something when they should specify sweat, saute, simmer, etc or to say bake until done. Everyone has a different definition of done. For example, our chef likes to bake his breads to a medium-dark brown. I like a golden brown crust on my breads and marshmallows.

Shaping baguettes to 21″

Anyhoo…back to the bread. We baked the aloo until it was a medium-brown. The recipe suggested to pan-fry it in ghee and I agree that some sort of fat needed to be added to the cooking. Baking it made it a little dry, but not dry enough to consider it inferior. We ate them up and enjoyed every bite of them.

We made baguettes again this week. They were a basic French bread with active dry yeast. I think I prefer using the levain starter for a more complex flavor…and I like the idea of using wild yeast over commercial yeast. But I won’t complain, I got to improve my shaping methods for shaping and scoring baguettes, which is an important skill to develop. Everybody likes baguettes, at least everyone I know.

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