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  • Writer's pictureMike Fishpen

The Art of Baking from a Private Chef


baking with a private chef

When working as a private chef, most of our work is focused around creating amazing three and six course menus, to amaze family and friends. But our favourite private chef – Mike Fishpen, is a big fan of baking and can share some of his favourite tips with you. So, when you are booking a private chef to come and cook in your home, why not ask if you can have some home baked goods added to your menu?


Baking with Yeast

Baking bread with yeast is one of Mike’s favourite culinary past times and here are a few of his top tips.


A lot of cooking, when done by experienced chefs can be done by the eye, but baking is a very exact science so having everything weighed out exactly will make a huge difference. Using a digital scale is recommended.


Where possible, try and bake with fresh yeast. Dried yeast is fine, but bread baked with fresh yeast does taste amazing, rises better and is nicer to work with. When activating your fresh yeast, make sure that you use lukewarm water or lightly warmed milk. Using boiling water on yeast will kill it and your bread won’t rise.


If you are using dried yeast, make sure you check the recipe requirements, as there are different types of yeast. If you have instant yeast, but need active dry yeast, simply multiply the amount of yeast by 1.33. If you have active dry yeast but need instant, multiply by 0.75. Also checking expiry dates is key, as out of date yeast just won’t rise.


Everyone loves bread makers and they are a great way to make bread in your home. If you don't have one and don’t fancy all the kneading, did you know that your mixer probably has a dough hook that you can use? You will find it in the back of your cupboard will all the other strange attachments! If you don’t have one, investing in a Kitchen Aid mixer will last you a lifetime and create you some amazing dough.


Seasoning is key, so don’t feel afraid to season well. Also, the quality of the salt is important so a good sea salt such as Maldon will make the bread taste much better than using table salt.


Always allow your dough to prove in a warm, dark environment, but also don’t over prove either. Over proved bread won’t rise as well. The best way to test that it is ready is before you put your loaf in the oven, give it a soft poke with your fingertip, it should leave a slight indentation and slowly spring back.


Sourdough

This is the number one favourite request of all Mike’s private chef guests. So, you’ll be glad to know that Mike has his own sourdough starter ready and waiting for all of his bookings. If you request sourdough when booking a private chef, you will know that it is fresh and home baked, plus the perfect accompaniment to any of Mike’s menus.


If you have your own sourdough starter, here are some of Mike’s top tips for creating a delicious sourdough loaf.


Once you have your sourdough starter ready, you can keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Mike’s top tip is to make sure that you take it out of the fridge the night before you need it. You will need to get it active again so feed it with some flour. You will know when it is back in action when it has doubled in size, this should take about four hours, but this depends on many factors such as flour type, age of starter and room temperature.


The traditional sourdough loaf is made with white flour, but to add a healthy/tastier edge to it, why not experiment with different flour types such as rye, spelt or granary?


Another advantage of sourdough is that it can be cold proved, so if you don’t have a warm area in your home then this could be the bread for you.


Soda Bread

If you haven’t allowed yourself time to make sourdough, or don’t have a starter set up yet, have you considered making a soda bread? It doesn’t need yeast, it only takes 10 mins to make and tastes delicious.


This recipe does contain a less available ingredient - buttermilk, so if you don’t have that in the fridge, you can supplement it with half plain yoghurt and half milk, or you can add lemon juice to milk and allow it to stand for 10 minutes to sour.


Storage

When you have created your lovely loaf, make sure you store it properly to ensure it lasts as long as it can. Although Mike’s bread is so tasty it never stays around for long. Never store bread in the fridge as the air is too dry. If you don’t think you can eat it all in time, you can freeze it. The best thing to store bread in to keep it fresh is a plastic bag. But, please don’t forget to re-use it for your next home bake.


Whatever your favourite bake why not talk to us about how you can incorporate this into your private chef booking with Mike Fishpen.

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