Tuesday, April 13, 2010

natural cocoa

Interesting end to the week, last week. The first two days after Easter weren't much. But the end of the week was very good. We had that huge order for chocolate brioche and "Beer bread", as we called it. The market went well Saturday, sold out by 11:45. Market was open until 1pm. The theme was cheese. They had six or eight small, artisan cheese makers there, drew quite crowd.

We made this "Beer bread", for the Sheraton hotel. It was pretty nice. We started with the formula that Craig Ponsford used in 1996, for the Coupe, in Paris. He used spent grains,from a brewery, that he ground thru a meat grinder and roasted. We were given some dry, malty, grain blend that was rather sweet. It was obviously hops and malt, blended with some other grains, maybe barley? The bread had better aromas than flavour. They were using the bread for the charcuterie course, so I'm comfortable it worked out fine.

We had two real "Finds" last week. The chocolate brioche is really cool. We made our typical brioche dough, took out part of the butter and added our own "Fudge base", along with semi-sweet chocolate chips. This summer we are gonna bake it for our markets, in a round "Crimp" pan. The end result will be a round slice of brioche. Will make the most bad ass French toast. "Fudge base", is something we make in house, for two reasons. Of course us bakers can buy it, from our suppliers. The problem is, when you read their label, it has everything but chocolate. It has soybean oil, cocoa and lecithin. So, it makes things a nice chocolate colour, but no flavour. There isn't any cocoa butter. You can't capture true chocolate flavour, unless there is cocoa butter present. When we make our chocolate base, we use natural process cocoa, vegetable shortening, melted chocolate liquor and vegetable oil. It's so much better than anything we can purchase, because it has real chocolate in it. The chocolate liquor, bitter chocolate, is a blend of cocoa butter and cocoa, and it has incredible flavour. It is also very expensive. So few bakers use it anymore, that you can't even get it from the local supply houses. We buy all of our everyday chocolate from Blommer chocolate, here in Chicago. By everyday chocolate, I mean chips, cocoa, liquor and pokies(easily mistaken for M&M's). They sell semi sweet slabs, which we use for mousse, but I'm not a fan. I prefer imported chocolate for mousse. The second reason we make this stuff in house, is the cost. In 1970, my dad figured every time we made fudge base, we saved a $100. Forty years ago, $100, can't imagine the difference these days.

The down side is, it's kind of a pain to do. When little Arturo is done, he looks like a coal miner, or like he's been workin' on an oil rig. We make it in large batches, in a 140qt mixer. It's almost like we have to take turns holdin' his ankles when he scrapes to the bottom of the mixing bowl.

But our customers are worth it. Tomorrow I'll tell ya 'bout our second find last week and give ya the poop on "Natural" cocoa.

Oh, we use melted chocolate liquor to chocolatize our brownies. No cocoa powder here. Go ahead mention that to the girl behind the counter of your local grocery store bakery. Our brownie formula is one of four that we haven't changed since my dad bought the bakery in '67.

Stupid us, we even put honey in our brownies. Yeah, real honey.

Another one of those ridiculous Downer beliefs.


Blogger Laminatrix said...

Probably wasn't hops in the grain mix--hops would bitter it. (That's one of the reasons it's difficult to actually cook with beer: as it reduces, like you would do with wine in deglazing a pan, the hops in it, especially in something like an IPA, comes WAY to the front and makes it too bitter.) It was likely roasted barley--that's where malt comes from. If you chew on a roasted barley kernel, you get that sweet malty taste (like breakfast cereal, which uses the same stuff). They could have put some wheat in it, too, but it might well have been just barley.

April 13, 2010 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

this stuff had a strange texture. it had light, less dense, pieces. like it could have been barley bran? it is pretty sweet. smells great. made some nice bread. i haven't heard from them how they liked the bread, probably never will.

April 16, 2010 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Laminatrix said...

If you want to try it again, I know some brewmasters who could maybe set you up with the barley. Different roasts of barley create different beer flavor profiles--dark roasts turn into stout or porter, for example--so you could vary that some, too. I'd love to taste it.

I might be in tomorrow morning for some bread (to go with the cheese and chocolate and champagne that we're using to toast my new home tomorrow).

See if you can get me a good sharp copy of your baker logo: I'd like to try carving a ceramic tile out of it. If I pull it off, I'll make a mold out of it and could make you a bunch of tiles. A photocopy or a printer copy would be fine. Color doesn't matter.

April 16, 2010 at 7:52 PM  

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