Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Decorative Platter

It has been quite a while since I posted anything to this blog, but I'm still not finished with Hamelman. The Mellow Bakers Challenge has come to an end and has been reborn. But I'm following my own course rather than baking with them.

The challenge stopped short of chapter 10 so I decided to go it alone. My first project met with mixed success. I began with the decorative platter (color plate #24). For this, it was necessary to scale back the recipe since it was designed for an oven that holds a full sheet pan, something my home oven doesn't do. Overall, the project went well as can be seen from the picture. There were two rather obvious initial problems with the platter. First, along the lower left border, the braid is way too loose. While easily corrected before baking, unfortunately I didn't notice this until after the platter came out of the oven. The second problem is the large gap between the two ends of the border at the top of the picture. This braid shrunk as the platter baked. This was something I hoped to cover with some of the decorations later in the chapter (a flower or two "glued" into place over the gap using Hamelman recipe for cooked sugar glue), but a third problem developed.

As can be seen in the second image, several large cracks developed in the platter. Once the platter developed the cracks, there was no point in going back and trying to deal with the gap. I put out an appeal on the Bread Baker's Guild of America's mailing list to see if anyone had any suggestions as to what might have caused the problem. Jeffrey Hamelman was kind enough to reply suggesting that it may have been over baked. This seems quite likely.

Despite the problems I encountered, I thought the platter looked spectacular and will definitely try again. I'm hoping to gain access to a kitchen with a larger oven this summer so I can attempt a full size platter and the cornucopia. I also plan to make a plaque or two attempting some of the decorative details described in chapter 10. I'll follow up with postings as I attempt this project.

As to other future postings, I certainly want to go back and retry some of the recipes in the book. As readers will note, rye bread have been a problem for me. Accordingly, I have enrolled in a two day course next fall taught by Hamelman on rye breads. I'll be retrying some of his recipes this summer in preparation for that course so expect future postings on my experiments and the course next fall.