Waiting for Schlumberger

Schlumberger CU

So, it’s day two of my roll sequence, and I’m gaining a bit more appreciation for the things. Although they are slightly tedious to make because of their high numbers, they are pretty convenient to eat, and if made properly so that you can break one open and be greeted by muscular striations formed into a lil gift just for you, then they can be quite charming… even if they still have too much chewy crust for me.

Shaping the dough has a huge impact on what the texture will be like. I like rolls that are worked so that they are rolled up, knotted, or somehow have a choreographed “muscle” structure (completely my own term; don’t blame CIA for the visceral analogy). Round rolls with a slash on the top don’t have this, and many of them are languishing in the depths of my freezer… Perhaps becuase I feel that they belong in Siberia. They’re still rolled around like all others rolls to form them, but the muscles are broken into by the slash rather than formed into the slashes, like schlumbergers, knots, and cloverleaves. Of course, larger slashed loaves are just great, but that’s because they form a better crust and crumb than rolls.

Schlumberger rolls are probably my favorite. They’re also tricky to make. The idea is to shape the roll round about halfway in your hand, then dip your fingertip in olive oil, plunge it into the puckered seam on the bottom caused by the rolling, then pull out the rim of the well created by that, finish shaping it in your hand, and put them seam side down on heavily-floured couches to proof. Couches (pronounced kooshes, like that classic funky rubber ball) are linen cloths that bread proofs on; they are often laid on square wooden pallets for support. They are heavily floured in this case to contribute a cake of flour to the top of the finished product–because, after they proof, they will be turned over again onto lined sheet pans and baked. The result of a proper Schlumberger is that they muscles are all twisted about, and end up blossoming open into a rough, ridged circle on the top of the roll. When you break apart a baked Schlumberger roll from the center, you hit the center nerve that all muscles fan out from. Perfect.

Our schlumbergers turned out ok, but many of them were sealed too well (we wanted to avoid having olive oil seep onto the couches), so they didn’t blossom as they should during baking. But some of them cooperated, and we found our special ONE for presentation. And another for me to eat.

The tomato rolls that we made were shaped as schlumbergers, which was particularly apt, since the rolls end up looking like tomatoes by the end, as you can kind of see by the pic above. Spherical ones, they were.. We used roasted tomatoes as our flavoring (along with garlic and basil), but another group was told to add tomato paste to their dough. Ours had a subtle tomato flavor and a tan-ish color, while their rolls were more orange and strongly flavored. I think I preferred the former, because the tomato paste gave it a slightly off flavor and was too strong–like old tomato sauce… or shockingly, like tomato paste. When the next round of students make this bread, they are going to try decreasing the water in the dough by a pound, and increasing the roasted tomatoes by 20 oz. I think it’ll have a nice flavor that won’t be too strong. As rolls, they are meant to accompany a meal, not dominate or mess with its flavor, so it should strike a good balance.

Rolls Tom Chee Rosem

The other two rolls we made were a Chedder Onion Rye and Durum Rosemary. The latter had a nicely balance of the rather pungent rosemary and semolina. It was slightly tougher because semolina is high in protein.

The cheddar onion rye was good, too, but our dough was very wet, which caused us no end of concern; it was almost too gooey to shape without getting swamp hands. So, they turned out very moist and collapsed when baked, and I’m not sure whether baking them longer would have helped things much because of our faulty dough; an ingredient was probably mis-scaled along the way. They had a nicely balanced flavor, though. The chef instructor warned us to dice the cheese small–about 1/4″– or else the rolls would collapse and spread when baked. True, especially for our dough,, and such a shame that I couldn’t duplicate Wild Flour Bread’s huge chunks o’ cheese brilliance. I’ll just find another time to copy it. In this case, what I liked best were the melted cheese feet that came off the bread and crisped into pure salty cheesy goodness… I count at least 4, and possibly 7, of them in the pic below. We totally meant to do that… 🙂
Rolls Cheese Feet

3 Responses to “Waiting for Schlumberger”

  1. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » The Cookie Experience Says:

    […] Things have been pretty quiet on the culinary school front. We finished our four day cookie segment yesterday. They made me think back to making rolls, because cookies, in their infinite numbers, must also be given individual attention. I know that when I settle in to eat delicious cookies, I look for the most pleasantly-shaped ones (and then break off a half or quarter to eat). So, in this way, I was happy that the cookie segment made me more exacting about the placement of each strip of dough laid on top of linzer bars, to each scoop of cookie dough, and to the piping out of each madeleine. […]

  2. Louis Schlumberger Says:

    How funny to see the Schlumberger bread in LA. I am a Schlumberger in Basle/ Switzerland and these breads were introduced about 150 years ago when my grand grand grand father who was a judge fled from Mulhouse in Alsace to Basle in order to escape the attacking German empire… Have a good meal with the breads Schlumberger…

  3. Nina Says:

    Wow! Thank you for your message. It made my day.  I’ve tried to learn more about history of the Schlumberger roll online, but have not had much luck before.   Thank goodness for blogs. 🙂
    You should be happy to know that the Culinary Institute of America is keeping the tradition alive with all of its students and graduates. It’s a wonderful roll!

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