(photo kindly provided by BBGA)At the end of the day, the instructors evaluated the products and provided a critique. They based their final decision on the technique, work habits, attitude and creativity of each candidate but also of course on the quality and taste of the final product. Now that JT is on Team USA 2010, he needs to practice, practice, practice. As it is not always easy for the candidates to find time to train during the workday, training sessions are organized, which all candidates are required to attend. The first one, Baguette Practice, took place on the last weekend of February in San Francisco. Already back East by then, I sent JT an email to find out how it went. His reply left me gasping for air: "It was sink or swim. I had never done anything like this before. Mike & Roger were calm and relaxed, I felt good. Planning & timing became key components immediately. No time to waste , no time to spare, everything fluid & precise, 200Kg batches of dough are more forgiving than 5kg. My first dough was too wet, make a decision, move on. Second dough better, elastic, good temp. Next step. Never panic & never give up. 8 ½ hours later, the first practice was done..." Wow! Did he stop to breathe when he wrote that, not to mention during the whole practice session? JT told me that bread was constantly on his mind: "Everything is mental, you know. I practice in my head a lot. I think about what I did, where I placed my hands. Did it make a difference? Did I do this or that because every one else was doing it or because the dough needed it? It is essential to learn how to read the bread and the dough. So, in my head, I run a virtual practice session all the time." Gérard. For both, the only bread that matters is the one leavened with levain. Both are at the same time totally committed and totally zen in their relationship with the dough. Both believe that less is more, that the dough must be handled as little as possible. Both are bakers, first and foremost. Eveything else in their lives gravitates around that. As JT believes that his 85x3 (click on the link to see the formula) helped win him a spot on Team USA 2010, he decided to bake it for Farine readers and have me taste it. At first bite, I loved the crust and crumb textures but I wasn't sure I could taste all the aromas. But then I let it rest overnight and boy, had it improved! At 8:00 AM the following day, it was delicious. At 11:00, it was truly fantastic, in the same league as Gérard's bâtard or Vatinet's baguette. Same thing happened when I tried the formula at home: it was excellent the first day and it kept getting even better as the hours passed. JT was kind enough to allow me to shoot videoclips as he worked. So if you are curious to see a champ at work, by all means take a look!
Related post: JT's 85x3