You have noticed, when you buy bread, a baguette for example, there are openings on the top of the bread, the "grignes". They are there because at the moment of putting the dough in the oven, the baker "blades" or "nibbles
" the top, with a very sharp blade, so that when the bread is cooked it opens up well, and has that elegant and appetizing aspect, typical of French breads.
How does it work? It's very simple, the blade stroke on the dough creates a weakness on the surface, and when the bread swells in the heat of the oven, it will spread in the direction of this weakness, and thus accentuate the opening given by the initial blade stroke.
If the baker doesn't blade, the bread will burst during the baking, or rather it will split in an anarchic way, but this can also be desired for a "rustic" style, like here:
Anyway, all that to say that if you don't blade your dough, the bread is less beautiful, but that's not the whole point of this post
In fact, and this is not obvious, but it also applies to cakes like cake or 4/4. During the baking process, the same phenomenon happens as with breads, except that steam is pushing the cake, so the top of the cake will open more or less well. Now, we all want to have beautiful cakes well opened on the top, how to do?
Well, almost like the bakers, we're going to sift the cake, but since we're not dealing with a firm dough, but with a very soft one, we have to be a bit tricky.
Here's the idea:
- You make your cake normally, you pour the dough into a mould
- Just before putting it in the oven, you dip a maryse, or a spatula, or a simple knife, in a little neutral oil (peanut for example)
- You draw a line in the middle of the dough with the oiled spatula (note that the furrow remains thanks to the oil)
- Put the dough in the oven and bake it normally
And this is the kind of result you will get.
Some pastry chefs do things a little differently: they use a very thin piping bag to place a thin line of butter on top of the pastry.
You will have understood, it is always the same principle, it is enough to create a weakness in the paste, weakness which will be transformed into nibble under the action of gases of cooking, CO2 for the bread, and vapor for the cakes.To sum up
: If you want a nice cake, well opened on top, like this one
, you have to "split" the top with a lightly oiled marysee.
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