The Bread Academy (Academia do Pão)

 

This recent hiatus, on my part, from writing blog posts does not reflect any lack or lessening of interest on my part in the art of baking. In fact it has been more due to a number of events that have left little time for writing about baking although, as we shall see, my baking experiences have escalated.

One of the ancillary reasons for not having time to write is that our time spent living in Brazil is coming to an end, and within a few months we will be resident in some Garden State (New Jersey) municipality. The planning and organization of a move away from somewhere we have lived for the last 17 years will be a trial.

In October of 2016 I was introduced to Jamal Cotait (please see above), a Brazilian of significant initiative and imagination. Jamal, like me, is an ex-banker by profession who has retired, but is young enough to continue working to pursue new found dreams. Jamal had taken a number of bread baking courses and has developed the idea of starting an artisanal bakery.  His achievements to date include the development of the formulas, and the operational capabilities to produce the bread including three ovens, a cold storage, refridgerators and freezers and a selling space.

The bread producing market in Brazil is dominated by traditions and practices that emanate largely from Portugal and Italy. Bread is usually of good or better quality but suffers somewhat by being limited in terms of variety. The staple in Brazil, regulated by government price controls, is the paozinho / pao frances, or white bread roll which sells for roughly US$3.50 per kilo. Bakeries sell these throughout the day and they provide a bread of limited life and taste. A development in recent years has been the provision of whole wheat and or multigrain rolls which are not price controlled.

Since 2000 Brazilians have had the opportunity to travel more, and experience the world as never before. This has resulted in an incipient demand for different products that have not previously been available. In the bakery area there is a movement towards a more diversified group of breads owing their origin more to France than anywhere else.

The Academia do Pao (The Bread Academy) is open for sales on two or three days per week from 16.30 to 19.30. The Bakery produces the following breads made with levain:

Banette simples

Banette with olives

Walnut and Raisin

Multigrain

Ciabatta

Rye

Pain de Campagna

Fougasse

 Fougasse and Banettes

Those breads made with dry yeast are:

Brioche

Calabresa

Focaccia

Corn

Semi-Whole Wheat

Cheese Bread

Whole Wheat and Calabresa Sausage Breads

Corn, Whole Wheat and Calabresa Sausage Breads

Also in this category are the Flaky or Puff pastry Croissants and Pain Chocolat.

The Academy also produces cakes and cookies in limited quantities.

A selection of the bread made each day.

Learning Experiences

The time spent at the Artesenal Bread course at the ICC was marvelous, but short. Without further reinforcement of good practices one tends, without perceiving it, to adopt less-good practices. Thus, I think my experience at the Bread Academy has taught me the purpose and necessity for good practices and how to make and bake multiple breads within a limited period of time.

In terms of acquiring good practices the ability to form breads into various pre-shapes such as baton, boule or log while maintaining the dough taut, and from there to the various final shapes. The manipulation of the dough that is being prepared for croissants or sausage bread, for example, so that it is not pulled or distorted in any way.  In fact, I learned or relearned so many practices that it’s difficult to remember them all.

In terms of the production of 16 types of bread and viennoise, (not counting cakes and cookies) each day, this clearly provided a rather steep learning curve for me.

  • Preparing the levain to be used for the following day (we use imported T65 French flour.)
  • A process of Mis en place (organizing all of the ingredients for each bread to be made that day, prior to the initial/ improved mix).
  • Scheduling each bread mix, including additional ingredients such as olives, walnuts, raisins, lavender, multigrain’s etc.
  • Mixing the bread formulas.
  • Pre-shaping the dough.
  • Final shaping of the dough.
  • Allowing dough made with levain to rise in chilled temperatures.
  • Allowing dough made with dry yeast to rise at room temperature.
  • Scheduling the baking of the breads.

Me in my ICC uniform at the Bread Academy

In terms of timetable we usually have most of the mis en place organized the day before, we then mix and pre-form all of the breads in the morning, and bake in the early afternoon to be ready for the 16.30 opening. This year plans are afoot to open in the mornings too, with baguettes, whole wheat and multi-grain rolls and cheese breads as the staples.