Brasserie Bread Extravaganza Part I

CCU was happy with her new arrangement. Putting the ‘review’ banner was enough – if she kept typing out CCU Undercover as the title for all her posts, she was sure she would explode!

Now that having been said, CCU bit into the fresh and delicious focaccia bread beside her, flexing her fingers and letting them hover them above her keyboard. After the experiences she just had this past weekend, she simply had to do a fantastic write up…

Not. Optional.

CCU reminisced, despite it only being a week later, about the smells of the bakery, the ambience, and most importantly, the various breads she had tried, their crumbs proudly littered all over her laptop. And her bed. And her kitchen. Ok fine, she had eaten bread all around the house (except the bathrooms!).

She had no regrets. It was just that good 🙂

review title


Warning: Have a piece of toast handy. Or a loaf. Because by the end of this post, you will be craving bread as if you were a drowning man craving air.

I promise, no holds barred.

Oh my god, what am I, ancient? Who even uses that idiom anymore… ugh… I gotta stop doing this whole Benjamin-Button shiz. Aaah, I feel better already 😉

But TANGENTS aside, last weekend, I got invited to attend a Gluten Free Baking Class at Brasserie Bread‘s Sydney store, exactly, in Banksmeadow. Now, I am not going to lie. My university mid-sems are coming up, I had my whole statistics kerfuffle  (which you guys were the best for, thanks for all your support!!!) and I was busy.

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Meh.

I would not have missed this experience for the world. So that is how I found myself after 2 hours of travelling, in an unfamiliar suburb on the outskirts of the city, counting down the bus stops so I wouldn’t miss it.

My hair was tangled and wet from the incessant rain Sydney seems to be ‘enjoying’, but as I walked into the large, almost factory like grey building, the smell of fresh, warm bread and the incessant chatter of lots of lunching-brunching customers made me forget all about it!

IMG_7799I actually walked past the building completely at first, and only stopped when in my peripheral, I spied a glass display of giant sourdough breads adorning the shop. Definitely a good choice of decoration, and I will show you how big a little later on 😉

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At 1:30 on the dot, after I was happily photographing all around the unassuming cafe, we were ushered into a large kitchen area. Bowls lined the tables, the ovens were heated, and from the back door, I could smell wafts of bread baking. Certainly not a bad place to work 🙂

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We were all given name tags (though since I am classic, I lost mine after about 5 minutes – thankfully it didn’t end up in the bread!) As we were waiting, I happened to meet another fabulous food blogger – Vanny @Nessy Eater, who I have been following religiously for a while, which was awesome 😀

We went all food blogger while waiting for the others, snapping shots of around the work area!

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Can I just say, this giant mixer is ON my list. It is like a giant sized Kitchen-Aid of pure, baking pleasure. *SWOON*

Finally, when everyone had arrived and had their aprons on, ready to go, our lovely chef instructor for the day, Jo, introduced herself and welcomed us to the class. Jo has been baking for years, and has had a special interest in Gluten Free baking specifically since, like many parents, it was initially thought her children had an intolerance.

GO JO!

GO JO!

Jo explained to us all that we would be making around 3 types of Gluten Free breads today, and received a recipe booklet with around 5 or 6 recipes to try, including a friand recipe that has me itching to bake soon!

I also was about to learn not only about the intricacies and history of GF baking, but how to use both my good camera, and my phone camera while balancing sticky dough fingers and the attempts to not spill anything on the table. It was quite the experience 😛

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Now, to make this easier for you lovely people, I am going to split this into ‘per recipe’ sections. Though it can be difficult because of overlap at times so please, beautiful, wonderful people (too thick? :P), stay with me here – you will not regret, sans doute! 😀

The first recipe we started to make was the simple Gluten Free Bread Loaf.

The end product!

The end product!

It was during this first recipe, Jo introduced us all to the world of Gluten Free baking, explaining to us the hows and whys and obstacles to overcome with intolerance or Celiac disease.

RECIPE SHEET

RECIPE SHEET

According to Jo, GF bread initially started becoming popular in Italy! She explained that due to the enormous amounts of bread consumed due to their wheat-laden cuisine, that is where this trend of stomach issues and intestinal pains began to be seen in large quantities.

I had no idea! And I guess it makes sense, though I made a mental (and now literal) note to try GF pizza someday soon 🙂

The range of breads available - they are not GF due to amount of gluten product in the store currently.

The range of breads available – they are not GF due to amount of gluten product in the store currently.

She went on to tell us about how difficult it was to find GF goods before, something neither Vanny nor I would have been that familiar with considering that we have always grown up with health food sections and special stores catering to specific needs! Apparently, gluten is not only in wheat, but also in something as common as oats as well as spelt flour.

Now, for the majority, no, actually, ALL the recipes we baked during the class, our starter ingredients were basically the same. As you can see, we have a lot of different flours, with the most predominant being the Gluten Free Flour, and the least being Xanthum Gum (the white powder on top of the yellow besan).

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NB: Xanthum Gum is basically an ingredient where carbohydrate has been subjected to bacteria to thicken it and help emulsify the bread together. Fun Fact: it is also used in ice cream in stores to keep it from developing ice crystals! 🙂

In the Gluten Free Flour, there is a mix of 75% organic brown rice flour, 12.5% buckwheat, 12.5% millet flour! Not only do a mix of these flours tastes better than just one or the other, there is also Xanthum Gum added to create a gelatinous structure in the bread.

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To see more flour blends, check out this site, and check out the works by Bette Hagman (the pioneer, gourmet GF chef)  as recommended by Jo!

We also used, in the base for all three recipes, fresh yeast (which, while better, can apparently also be very difficult to buy in small quantities unfortunately!), and here is another handy tip: If you are using fresh yeast instead of dried in a recipe, ALWAYS use half the quantity of dried yeast 😀

Sitting with the sugar and river salt!

Sitting with the sugar and river salt!

But now, enough facts (for now!)! Onto the bread no? This bread had a simple method of mix ingredients together, prove and bake. I don’t think I have ever seen an easier recipe if I be absolutely honest. It was like Jo could read my mind, or at least the surprise must have shown in all our eyes, because she explained to us why GF bread is so much faster and easier to make.

There is no need to knead.

See what I did there? 😉

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But yes! Apparently, to gain the elasticity and binding, kind of like stimulating the gluten, that is where kneading comes in – so absolutely no use for our bread dough. It is a simple case of mixing, letting it rise in the proving area, and then baking away! Truly awesome no? So now I have a recipe for bread making when the going gets a little tight for time 😛

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This bread, I found once baked, had an exceptionally fluffy texture, similar to the remaining bread we would be making. It was so soft, and not chewy, yet not crumbly. A soft melt-in-the-mouth flavour. In its simplicity, I could easily see myself eating a piece slathered in jam!

As for the sesame seeds, it does truly depend on whether you are a fan of their flavour or not. I certainly was so I was more than happy to douse my tin with sesame seeds as per recipe 😉

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It was also while baking this delicious, soft bread, that we learnt another very handy technique about baking bread – ALWAYS remember that in GF baking, the dough does not simply fall into place during the baking process. It is your responsibility beforehand, to smooth the top and sides, make sure it is perfect looking before actually entering the oven, otherwise you could be in a touch of a hard place afterwards!

So glad Jo told us about that because I am more than used to spooning in the batter and being on my merry way as the oven does its job 😛

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Phew. So while we allowed Jo to wheel these breads off into the Proving area (though she said if it is cold, the best thing to do is to let the dough rise in an oven which has been turned on, then off and allow the recessive heat to aid the process), Jo agreed to give us all a tour of the actual production area!

Due to company policy, we were not allowed to take photos inside, but damn, if Vanny and I were not psyched about this! Look at us all decked out fancy in our headgear. We can look normal too though 😛

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Inside the giant production area, it was a like a scene from one of those movies where you see coal miners slaving away, shovelling coal into giant crates hissing out sparks and flames. Except in this case, the ‘miners’ were happily baking massive bread loaves, and leaving croissants and danishes out to prove 😀

There was also the cutest little vacuum cleaner sucking up all that flour on the ground (which I almost slipped on twice because my middle name is klutz :P) – seeing the industrial sized ovens, twisting the trays for even baking, and seeing the bakers just casually lifting still hot breads from the oven so effortlessly, truly it was art!

Lok at all the flours they use! *heaven*

Lok at all the flours they use! *heaven*

We also got a peak into their famous croissants room, where Jo pointed out to us the massive machine used to fold the pastry and butter layers, and told us about how crucial it is to keep the temperature at a cold level so the butter doesn’t get all melted 🙂

Now, shall I move on with the next recipe we got to make (and loved) – considering it was getting near lunch time, we decided to quickly make and bake a Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry (please ignore my recipe notes :P) and fill them with a range of classy ingredients to devour altogether 🙂

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The pastry itself was pre-made for us, since it required refrigeration, but the recipe was quite similar to the breads in its flour base. Since these were mini tarts, Jo cut a solid piece from the log of pastry dough, and proceeded to show us the best technique to make a round, solid pastry which won’t be cracked or ridiculously thin etc. – it is called Ridging.

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Basically, ridging involves gently tapping the middle down of the dough, so that the edges are all even and not super thin. After you have done that so the dough is a little flat, just gently roll out from the edges until it is the desired few cm thick.

RECIPE SHEET

RECIPE SHEET

I’m sure if my mum was like Jess’s mum from Bend It Like Beckham, I would be getting berated right now for not having it perfectly round. I mean which Indian girl will get married if she can’t make a round roti! 😉 😛 (disclaimer: that was totally a stereotype! What an overly politically correct world we live in)

At our pre-baking ingredients station, it ranged from the delicious likes of caramelised onions (oh my god, my knees get weak at the very thought!), some salty Danish feta, beautifully vibrant pieces of smoked trout and bright green pesto! And some extra parmesan cheese for the lover in us all 😛

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The smell of when they came out of the oven, both after being blind baked but especially after having the filling added, it just made my mouth water! We all hurriedly got lots of salad on the side, consisting of delicious greens drizzled in balsamic vinegar and some roasted tomatoes and were so ready for lunch.

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Since by this time, the cafe was closing down, a lovely long table had been arranged for us, with some delicious drinks. I would like to call it ‘Adult Cordial’, not because it had alcohol, but because it was a very fancy version of flavour-concentrate-meets-water!

That's Yvonne! She was a massive cooking class enthusiast and super sweet!

That’s Yvonne! She was a massive cooking class enthusiast and super sweet!

Of course, I had to take the customary pouring shot, it wouldn’t be the same without it no?

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Our tarts were delicious. The filling was cheesy (at least mine) and did not make the crust soggy. The pastry itself had an earthy flavour and texture, and was not too hard or crunchy, which was appreciated 🙂

Now, for the final recipe we made in this class, it was the Gluten Free Focaccia. Probably my favourite actually!

For this recipe, Jo actually introduced us to Lupin. Lupin (not the professor) is actually a flour which has many health benefits, such as having a high content of dietary fibre and being Low GI, as it is made out of legumes, not maize. On Jo’s suggestion, she only uses the brand of Irwin Valley Milling from Western Australia, but I suppose it is whatever suits you best.

The rest of the flours are from Kialla Pure Foods 🙂

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I was a complete naive little girl 😛

While I am on it, you may have noticed that in all the recipes, there is something called a ‘Biga’. Common in Sourdough breads (but to a much higher level and with different processing), it is actually a fermented dough starter, which is taken out of a batter and used to add more flavour in a new batch of dough.

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So, since my explanation is confusing, from our GF sesame bread loaf, we all took out 250g so it could be used the next day in a fresh batch of dough you make for that, or other GF bread. Besides the additional flavour benefits, it is necessary to remember that it is at its peak when used after a night’s worth of fermentation.

Anymore and DUN DUN DUNNNNN. It becomes a little strong!

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So yes, Biga was present in all the breads we made today, and a common technique used! This focaccia, similarly to the sesame bread, had almost exactly the same mix and prove basis. But it was more fun to make because we went all free-form on its baking (since it has little spread!)

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Out came Vanny’s Franklinstein and my ‘Bride of’ Franklinstein. Are they not the perfect couple? 😛

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The bread was golden and reminiscent in texture to cornbread. We had also rubbed with (not the bucketful) but a couple of tbs of oil, made some classic dimple indents, and garnished it with roasted tomatoes and rosemary.

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The focaccia in itself, I felt maybe a little bland, but I think I didn’t put enough rock salt on top. Plus, with a filling and after being grilled, it would have enhanced in flavour any how!



General Notes

  • Very good instructor – Jo was informative and fun, and I learnt a lot about GF cooking despite it being her first time teaching this particular class
  • Great fresh ingredients and atmosphere – everyone was friendly, and enjoying themselves
  • Good refreshments
  • Varied recipes to try
  • Well structured class and

I would definitely recommend this baking class to whoever is interested in learning more about Gluten Free Baking. The recipes were fun, and there was so much taught in only 3 hours!

Rating: 9/10

Brasserie Bread on Urbanspoon

Address for Brasserie Bread Sydney:

1737 Botany Road,
Banksmeadow, 2019
NSW

Websites:

Here are a couple of extra recipes for you all, plus an information sheet on the different types of flours involved with Gluten Free Baking 🙂

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Phew! What a post aye? And you want to know a secret? Come on shhhh… if you made it this far, you deserve to know. Now come real close…

I’m not even done yet. Because after the class, we were allowed to take home bags worth of various breads and danishes from a bakery voted as having Sydney’s best sourdough in 2014. But guess that review must be for next time aye? 😉

The breads that remain to be shared with you darlings!

The breads that remain to be shared with you darlings!

Till next time mes cheris!

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Disclaimer: Go Bake Yourself was invited to this GF class courtesy of Sarah from Brasserie Bread. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are her own.

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53 Comments

  1. mjskit says:

    You’re right – I’m craving some bread right now, especially the sesame seed bread because I’m a huge fan of sesame seed! Like you, I did NOT know that the GF craze started in Italy. Interesting. Headed over to read part II.

  2. rika@vm says:

    Stop stop stop. I’m swooning already! You know how much I ❤ breads! And the sacks of flours…man I wish I have a whole collection of them! Love your selfie photos!

  3. Pingback: A Cross Country Culinary Tour « Eliot's Eats

  4. The first photo is absolutely stunning. I want to dive right in there and eat every single loaf. How cool to take a class. I should try that myself. Always fun to get around others who enjoy cooking as much as we all do.

  5. Pingback: Brasserie Bread Extravaganza Part II | Go Bake Yourself

  6. Sugar et al. says:

    I can imagine what an amazing experience this would have been. All those gorgeous breads! I’ve never tried making gluten free bread but your post is certainly the inspiration I needed:-)

  7. Liz says:

    you have the coolest experiences–thanks for sharing 🙂 And lol the pouring shot. You do know how to have a good time! Yum yum all around.

  8. I WANT BREAD! NOW =P
    Oh how much fun, I wish I could have joined you.
    Ok gluten free bread is something new to me, except if you count gluten free indian flat breads, however those are not that common either. Fantastic write up Uru!

  9. Balvinder says:

    This post is a jackpot for me. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see a gluten free short crust pasty and bread recipes here. I do bake my own gluten free bread but there is no harm in trying more with different flours and compare which one tastes better. I will try this recipe although I don’t like the taste of buckwheat flour.

  10. navane64 says:

    I can see what an experience it was especially for someone like you who love to bake. With that, I’m looking forward to more fabulous baked goodies which I’m sure you will share with all of you. Best of luck with stats.

  11. thelady8home says:

    Besan is gluten free?? WOW!! Who knew…..looks like you had the party of the most awesmest kind 🙂 I recently baked a bread. It was OK. I am still learning and this to me looks like rocket science, lol! But I think I am getting the hang of it.

  12. A_Boleyn says:

    I don’t have gluten issues but I love breads of all kinds so your class sounds like a lot of fun. I AM familiar with biga as you have to make one before starting a ciabatta bread, another great type of bread. I’m looking forward to part 2 of your review.

  13. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    I’ve never tried gluten free bread but my next door neighbour and good friend can’t take gluten. I might try one of these and see how she likes it. Looks like you had a great time in class!

  14. Oh my goodness, Uru. I love your Undercover antics, and you’ve definitely whetted my appetite to bake some bread. I do enjoy baking bread, but haven’t yet tried a gluten-free recipe. I have so many friends who watch their gluten intake and would be thrilled with this loaf. I just love the photo of the loaves in the window…very lovely! Fabulously delicious post!

    • Haha thank you so much 😀 Though if I be honest, I wish I had more time to bake sometimes! Aah well, I learn so much – I hope you try and enjoy this as much as I did 😀

      Cheers
      Choc Chip Uru

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