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44 Pastry & Baking
North America
I
Artisan Baker
Publisher’s Note:
Ciril Hitz is the Department Chair for
the International Baking and Pastry Institute at Johnson &
Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. He has been
recognized both nationally and internationally with numerous
awards and accomplishments. More information on Ciril and
his work can be viewed on his web site: www.breadhitz.com.
by
t’s a fact; the classic French baguette is the
standard by which all artisan bakers are judged.
“Why?”, you ask. What makes this bread so
challenging? After all, a baguette is made only from flour,
water, salt, and yeast, so it can’t be the ingredients…or
can it?
Actually, the fact that the ingredients are so simple is
precisely what makes the baguette so difficult. As much
as I enjoy the added flavor and texture of nuts or fruits in
many breads, the baguette doesn’t extend the luxury of
hiding behind any inclusions. The skill of the baker is
exposed, for every step has to be spot on to create that
perfect baguette. Mixing, fermentation, shaping, scoring,
and baking…all are equally important and a baker must
balance them all successfully. A baguette is to the baker
as a soufflé is to a pastry chef – so many little nuances are
perfectly aligned to create a beautiful end product.
Here is where I should question my own sanity. Who,
in their right mind, would “go public” with their personal
baguette formula for the entire baking community to see?
With so many different opinions and theories among
professionals, won’t I just be opening myself up to
criticism? I suppose the short answer is YES! But the
complete answer is that by showing my hand and putting
all my cards on the table for all to see, I am remaining
true to my mission of education. As a teacher, I want to
ensure that all I have learned and experienced as a baker
can be passed on to the next and future generations of
aspiring bakers. Hopefully this information will help them
learn and grow as bakers, and the craft of bread baking
will continually improve.
Full disclosure – This formula has the option of adding
some wheat germ and malt... just leave them out if you
strive to be a baguette purist.
Baker’s
Baguette