Dean Kim, executive baker-owner of OC Baking Company, is the go-to baker for many of the finest restaurants in Orange County.
The splurge-worthy burgers at Noah Blom’s ARC in Costa Mesa are encased in OC Baking Company’s potato-buttermilk buns, cornmeal crusted wonders made to the chef’s specifications. At The Ranch in Anaheim, Kim’s wagon wheels showcase seven different rolls, each one uniquely flavored and bound together in a ring around a central bun. The pull-apart marvel showcases everything from squaw bread to brioche, sourdough to cranberry-walnut.
Kim works in collaboration with chefs to come up with customized breads that guests will relish. But with an ever-growing list of clients, keeping up with the demand hasn’t been easy. Fifty-two employees use a total of about 10,500 pounds of flour per week and baking takes place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
THE VIDEO: It was evident that Kim is a master at teaching the intricacies of bread making. While showing me how to make mini baguettes in my home kitchen while taping a video, nothing was left to chance. HAVE A LOOK.
He detailed every step, making the process seem easy, even though these weren’t plain-old loaves. He used scissors held at a specific angle to cut them into baguettes épis (pain d’épis), baguettes that look like a fancy sheaves of wheat.
Some were adorned with poppy seeds, others covered in sesame seeds or cornmeal. Oh my, he used my clean-but-homey scissors from Costco. Worked fine.
Home-Style Mini Baguettes Épis
Yield: about 6
12 ounces lukewarm water (by weight) or 1 1/2 cups, 80 to 100 degrees, plus more water if needed
2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 pound (about 3 1/2 cups) bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
Semolina (pasta flour) or fine cornmeal for dusting baking sheet
Garnish: poppy seeds, fine cornmeal, sesame seeds
Water in a spray bottle
1. Combine water and yeast in small bowl; allow to rest until yeast starts to activate and bubble. In large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour and salt. With the motor running on medium-low speed, slowly add yeast mixture. Mix for 1 minute. With a rubber spatula, scrape sides and bottom of the bowl. If mixture is stiff and dry, add a little more water with mixer on low speed. As dough comes together it should be very slightly sticky. Continue to mix on medium speed for about 6 more minutes, scraping sides and bottom every 2 minutes.
2. Scrape dough onto lightly floured, dry work surface. Lightly flour dough and hands. Working around the dough, about 7 times, fold the edges into the middle, pressing the edge down firmly into the center of the dough with your fingers after each fold (ending up with smooth ball). Pick up dough using a bowl scraper to loosen it if necessary) and put it seam-side down in medium bowl. Cover bowl with a flat-weave towel (not terrycloth); rest in draft-free spot until roughly doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Line a large (13-by-17-inch) rimmed baking sheet with a flat-weave towel and generously flour entire surface of towel.
3. Using a bowl scraper, scrape dough out of bowl onto lightly floured work surface, smooth top facing down. Fold one side of dough into the middle and press down firmly along length of seam, forming a rectangle. Turn dough over so smooth side is up. With the bowl scraper, cut dough into 5 or 6 equal pieces.
4. Very lightly flour dry work surface. Working with 1 piece at a time, put smooth side down and press into rectangle about 1/3-inch thick. Fold a long edge into the center, pressing firmly with floured fingertips along the seam all the way down to the surface, folding with one hand and pressing with the other, working from one end to the other. Continue to fold and press alternate edges until it is a mini-sized baguette, using 5 to 6 folds. Make a line of flour on work surface. Dredge the smooth side in the flour. Set on floured towel – smooth, floured side up. Make a little fold in the towel to separate it from the next baguette. Repeat with the remaining dough, setting each on the towel with a fold separating them. Cover with a flat-weave towel and let sit until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
5. Arrange oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees (if you have a convection oven, use it). If desired, cut mini baguettes into decorative epis. Holding over a bowl, spritz one lightly on top with water from a spray bottle. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, or poppy seeds or cornmeal (or leave it plain). Place on heavy rimmed baking sheet that has been sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal. Proof at room temperature for 30 minutes covered with a flat-weave towel. Remove towel and using clean scissors, cut at a 35- to 45-degree angle at 1 1/2-inch intervals (holding the scissors almost parallel to the top) – cutting almost but not through the dough. Swing the cut sections out and away from the loaf in alternating directions.
6. Open oven and quickly use spray bottle of water to spritz the oven 5 to 6 times, plus 1 spritz on the bread. (If using convection, reduce oven temperature to 450.) Bake until bread is a nice golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to cooling rack.
Source: Dean Kim, OC Baking Company
….Here’s a quick tip from Melissa’s ….
Candied Nuts – oh how they lend pizzazz to salads and cheese plates.
They are delicious with mixed greens augmented with fruit – grapes or plums or pears are favorites. And a little bit of crumbled cheese with attitude – blue cheese or goat cheese.
Yes, they can be baked in the oven, but it is much quicker to caramelize them on the stove – quicker with crunchier results.
Stove-Top Candied Pecans or Walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 ½ cups pecan halves
1. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt and black pepper. Set a baking sheet or jelly-roll pan next to stove.
2. Heat a wok or Peking pan or large deep skillet on high heat. Add pecans and toss 30 seconds or until pecans start to get warm. Add half of sugar mixture and toss until sugar liquefies.
3. Add remaining sugar mixture and toss until it liquefies. Immediately turn out onto baking sheet and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, snap them apart.
Yield: Makes 1 ½ cups.