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Baking Pandesal, Once Again on Proofing

I finished my one one one last August, fortunately my student arrived and made it on time before i left or went back to New York. Originally, she was asking for a September 23 to 27 date and since my flight was September 7, i had to decline her request.

I was surprised to hear from her a couple of days later when she changed her mind and decided to go home so she can catch up with me. Paid her deposit and we set the date. 3 days later, she sent me a photo of one of her cook, badly burned and all bandaged up from the hospital. Class postpone. I prayed for her that she gets well so my student can still make it. I was thinking, she would have to wait till December and well, December being a busy month, i have a feeling we will not make it and i have to return her deposit.

Praise G-d, she made it and we had a really really fun session. Her goal was to bake Pandesal and Ensaimada. She has a restaurant in Taiwan and she caters to Pinoys there selling Chicken Inasal which judging from her stories is an all time hit.

Her business idea, sell the best Pandesal and other Pinoy breads since nobody else sells it there. When we did our first session on breads, she gave away most of the breads to friends and family. But when we got to the Cinnamon Rolls, she kept them all reserved for her husband, saying" this is exactly what my husband wants", ito na nga yun, palaging matigas ang ginagawa kong cinnamon roll kasi. I have a feeling her husband will buy her that mixer she wanted once he gets a bite of it. They always do.

Anyway, the challenge of the session is how to please her when it comes to the texture of the Pandesal. I always explain this to my students, and for a beginner, maybe it will sound a little too foreign since a week or two of baking will not fully make a baker out of you. NOT just yet. That is the misconception of would be bakers out there. I want to bake bread and open a bakery and i will open one after i take a class in baking.

Nah. Doesn't work that way. I told her that if you want to have a dense crumb structure, you would have to proof less. How long depends on what you put in the dough, the humidity, the temperature, etc., etc., There never will be just one factor. Everything has to play together like a perfect symphony. If you bake your Pandesal without egg one day, and add two yolks another day, that will change the proofing time.

If you add honey to your dough today and molasses the next day, that will also change the proofing time. What may be a perfect crumb for me, may be too soft for you. The constant and ever present story in my class and i think i should record this and just play it to my students is this story. You may want a dense Pandesal, but if i serve that dense, siksik Pandesal to my family, nobody will eat it. Period. Put it on the table and the next day, when you pass by the kitchen table, there will be a Gardenia. Somebody will buy bread from somewhere rather than eat the siksik and less alsado na Pandesal. So i learned my lesson.

Some students do not understand this. They thought it has to be something special or that you need to do something as drastic as heart surgery. But no. Same recipe, nothing altered, but just reduce the proofing and you will have a dense type of bread. Give it more proofing, double in height if you want, and your bread will be fluffier with more open structure.

But all this talk is nothing if you don't actually see it and eat it. The beauty of proofing is that you can still eat even if you overproof or underproof the dough. Not the same case when you under develop the gluten or over develop it, or miss the salt, or leave out the yeast and worst, burn the whole batch.

I hope the breads she brought with her to Taiwan, almost all of the breads from out last day session got there in safe condition. Meaning, and my students know this, not mooshed up and wrinkled like somebody sat on them by mistake.

Reservations for December to May 2016 is now open. Pleas email me for questions at sherqv17@gmail.com. Discover the fun and challenges in baking breads. You might surprise yourself and find out there is a baker in you after all these years. For those who have been putting this off for quite sometime, make THE TIME.

Take a leave off work, get a nanny to take care of the baby, set this special date as a gift for yourself and just learn something new. Learning how to bake does not only serve you, it serves your soul, your mind, your well being and the people around you.

You will open your inbox one day and see how many people have sent you more messages after learning that you know how to bake good breads. Believe me. It works.

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