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Pumpkin Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

Wild Yeast Blog - November 23, 2014 - 6:30pm

This post was originally published on November 19, 2009. May I recommend these for Thanksgiving breakfast?

I like these pumpkin cinnamon rolls a lot.

In case it seems like I’m damning them with faint praise, consider that I’ve spent the past two weeks in class redefining my relationship with butter. Brioche à tête. Brioche sucrée. More brioche à tête. Cinnamon rolls. Sticky buns. Brioche tarts. Brioche tartlets. Brioche coffee cake. Strawberry brioche. Gibassier. Stollen. Panettone. Pan d’oro. And let’s not forget croissants 521 ways.

They’re delicious, they’re beautiful, they’re fun to make, every one of them. So I truly mean no disrespect when I say Stop! I’m supersaturated! Quick, someone give me a lima bean (and if you know me, you’ll recognize a truly desperate plea here.)

But back to the rolls. I made them at home, the weekend before we started this descent into the sweet, rich, yeasty madness known as the Viennoiserie unit. I guess I thought… well, clearly I was unencumbered by the thought process, as Click and Clack would say.

But I can I still say like these rolls, and right now, that’s saying a lot. Maybe you’ll like them too.

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© Wild Yeast, 2014. | Permalink | 32 comments

Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

YeastSpotting 11.22.14

Wild Yeast Blog - November 22, 2014 - 5:24pm

Be inspired, bake, share, repeat.

Loaves and Rolls, First Batch Loaves and Rolls, Second Batch Flat Breads, Sweet Breads, and More YeastSpotting is a periodic collective showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient. For more bread inspiration, and information on how to submit your bread, please visit the YeastSpotting archive.

© Wild Yeast, 2014. | Permalink | No comment

Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Meet the Baker: Frédéric Pichard

Farine - November 21, 2014 - 2:03pm
I am filing this post under the Meet the Baker label but in fact the two hours of this time Frédéric Pichard so generously gave me on a recent Saturday morning were less about him than about his all-consuming passion, le pain français. Pain français means "French bread" of course but I won't use the translation in this post because Monsieur Pichard would have a fit if he could see what comes up when one googles "French bread," definitely not the kind of bread he is devoting his professional life to. He has no website and zero interest in the Internet, so hopefully he won't see these pictures but, out of respect, I'll stick to the original French. I first met Frédéric Pichard in a chapter of Sam Fromartz' excellent book, In Search of the Perfect Loaf, a Home Baker's Odyssey. Despite the fact that Pichard had won best croissant in Paris in 2011 and that his baguette had placed in the top ten in the 2009 Grand Prix de la Baguette, I hadn't really paid much attention before but when I read what Sam had to say about his methods, I knew I had to go see him. And even though I am not sure Monsieur Pichard knows what a blog is,  he was most welcoming when I called. And at the appointed time, we sat under a tree at a long table in the quiet courtyard behind the boulangerie. Madame Pichard came to say hello and brought me coffee and a croissant.
 I thought of Sam who described Pichard's baguette as almost floating in his hand as he held it. Well, that croissant was so crisp and light it practically levitated. Definitely worth crossing a continent AND an ocean but hard to eat elegantly: as it dwindled, it kept showering my open notebook with golden flakes which I tried to brush away with my right hand while still writing a mile a minute... Not an easy feat. Fortunately Monsieur Pichard paused long enough to let me catch up.

Croissant dough (made with milk levain) As you will see if you read on, what Frédéric Pichard gave me that morning was a treatise on pain français, complete with practical information and historical references, and because he was so intensely involved in his subject, listening to him was an unexpectedly moving experience. Monsieur Pichard knows full well that he is un oiseau rare (literally a rare bird) among French bakers. When I told him that he reminded me of Don Quixote, he laughed and he shrugged. Like all of us, he can only do his best, right?
If an eighteenth-century French baker time-traveled to Maison Pichard, 88 rue Cambronne in the fifteenth arrondissement of Paris, he or she (were there women bakers then?) would feel at home almost immediately. The technology and equipment have evolved but the process has remained almost identical. They would find the flour and its sometimes erratic behavior eerily familiar as well. They used farines-mères, a flour whose only ingredient was wheat. Frédéric Pichard does too: no additive is ever allowed into his flour, not even malt. The grain is grown and milled to his specifications in his native Beauce, a region so fertile that, from time immemorial, its vast plains have been considered France's breadbasket. One of his grandfathers was a farmer and he used to say: "France is divided in two parts: one half is to the north of the Loire River, the other half to the south. Pain français comes from the northern part of France where wheat grows best." Today Mr. Pichard makes his baguettes with the very same high-protein wheat varieties that this grandfather used to grow: Capelle, Capitole, Hardi. Why high-protein? To prevent gluten degradation during fermentation.
Pichard bakes his baguettes in a wood-fired oven because falling heat makes for better development. The bread gets a bit chewier and therefore tastier. The cost of wood isn't an issue: "Because I use my own flour and don't pay a premium to a miller for putting in additives and test-developing recipes, I can afford wood and still sell my baguette at a very competitive price."

What follows is a synopsis of what Frédéric Pichard told me, based on a translation of my notes.

What is pain français?
  • "Le pain, ce n'est que de la fermentation;" (Bread is nothing but fermentation)
  • Pain français is bread made of pure T55 flour sublimated through the fermentation process (according to this article, the ash content for T55 flour is 0.50-0.62 and the extraction rate 75-78). The flour must contain no additives of any  kind: a baker who uses additives is alienating his or her profession. To use a wine-making metaphor,  it is like adding raspberries to Romanée-Conti
  • Pain français must taste lactic and its flavors be subtile; using a higher extraction flour would make for a stronger taste and the resulting bread wouldn't be pain français; 
  • There is no prescribed recipe for pain français; the baker must adjust to the flour: wheat has its vintages as does wine. Moreover, "les blés bougent à chaque écrasement" (wheat changes with each milling);
  • Pain français is all about the baker's savoir-faire (know-how);
  • When properly made, the baguette is the ultimate pain français.
In the eighteenth century, bakers of pain français:
  • Used farines-mères (literally "mother-flours", flours that were one-hundred percent wheat) with no additive;
  • Always worked en masses importantes (in large batches). The size of the batch was proportional to the oven capacity;
  • Used as much water as they possibly could and mixed until the dough started to look homogenous and the gluten network to develop; didn't work from a recipe (there was none);
  • Let the dough ferment for a while (sometimes up to ten hours) then added fresh flour and water to prevent pourriture (decay), i.e. the formation of undesirable acetic bacteria. These additions were called rafraîchis. Their object was to "launder out" the unwanted bacteria which routinely appeared because the bakers used wooden troughs (where germs tended to proliferate) and worked in labs that were not immaculate;
  • Let the dough ferment again and added the salt at the end of the mixing; then did the last rafraîchi, called tous points;
  • Worked in the room where the oven was, which means that there could be tremendous variations in ambient temperature. Typically the oven wasn't lit yet when the mixing began. The lab went from really cold at the beginning to really hot towards the end of the process. Such variations in temperature were detrimental to the yeast micro-organisms.
To make pain français today, Frédéric Pichard: 
  • Applies the CELFEL (Culture Endogène Longue/Fermentation Exogène Lente) method that he has developed over the  years (lengthy endogenous culture/slow exogenous fermentation);
  • Mixes flour, salt and water in stainless steel cuves (see picture below: the word is normally used for wine and means "vats") which are scrubbed and bleached between each batch and allows the mixture to rest for as long as needed to get the endogenous fermentation he is looking for. This fermentation differs from autolyse (whose function is to relax the gluten.) Here there is no prescribed duration: the process can take twenty hours, it can take more than thirty. The key is to add as much water as the flour can take. The more water, the more active the fermentation; no recipe can help the baker determine how much water to use. If a baker applying the CELFEL method underestimates the amount of water that the flour can absorb, then the baking goes south: there is less fermentation which means the development won't be optimal and the bouquet aromatique will be less complex;

Fermented baguette dough ready for the addition of yeast and for mixing
  • Adds a minute amount of fresh yeast (0.2 to 0.4% of flour weight, sometimes even less than 0.1%) at the time of the final mixing "pour imprimer au pain une poussée gazeuse" (to facilitate a gaseous thrust which, combined with the bulles sauvages or wild bubbles created during the long endogenous fermentation, will help give the crumb its honeycomb structure);
  • Mixes only as long as necessary to develop the dough;
  • Allows the dough to ferment again for four to seven hours after mixing; 
  • Doesn't proof his baguettes: once shaped, they are ready for the oven after one single long slash with a lame;
  • Uses a wood-fired oven in which he burns hornbeam wood (the young tree growing in his courtyard is a hornbeam which he planted to honor the wood that helps make his pain français);
  • Bakes his baguettes for 20 to 22 minutes or so;
  • Never uses his retarder for pain français, only for bulk viennoiserie and specialty doughs. 
A bit of history
  • Le pain français first appeared at the time of the First French EmpireTalleyrand, France's most important diplomat under several kings and one emperor, was a gastronome; his chef Antoine Carême made it his mission in life to refine French cuisine as a whole, bread-baking included. He had flour sifted so that only the white endosperm was retained. No longer able to rely on the strong taste of grain, French bakers learned to use fermentation to create flavorful and airy breads: they invented pain français;
  • Pain français became famous because it was the bread of the rich and powerful (lower classes ate miches which generated no interest). Almost every country in the world has a bread tradition, yet twenty years ago nobody talked about Italian breads or pita bread; multigrain loaves started appearing thirty-five years ago in Paris; Parisian bakers began using dried fruit in bread twenty years ago or so. These breads are tasty because they contain ingredients suitable for pastry. They are not to be confused with pain français.
Further remarks
  • One gram of flour contains thirty to forty yeast micro-organisms, one gram of baker's yeast contains one hundred billions. Most bakers use way too much baker's yeast with the result that no characteristic aroma is produced; that's why they use flour to which malt has been added;
  • The Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF) bakers have considerably evolved over the years in terms of shaping and presentation. But bread must be judged based on both its esthetic and its organoleptic qualities and unfortunately only esthetics seem to matter today. The French no longer know how to taste their bread. If they did, they would know it isn't good. Aromas are what make bread interesting, the reason we get it day after day and never get tired. Combining aromas is an art, l'art du boulanger, the baker's art;
  • When the wheat varieties that Pichard uses were developed, there was no seed lobby, no studies. Only know-how. Money wasn't the only factor then: work ethics and honor were important values. Today two criteria enter into play when creating new seeds: resistance to disease and productivity. In the old days, organoleptic qualities were taken into account as well. Pain français was at his best from 1900 to 1960 because that's when wheat was at its best.
  • Nowadays, more often than not, pain français is an imposture. The fault lies with the millers who strive to normalize flour. In France, four milling companies produce 68% of the flour used by the bakers. They eliminate all possible variations, come up with a recipe and standardize the bread when there should be as many baguettes as there are bakers;
  • Learning how to make pain français takes ten years. Everything else (pastry, viennoiserie, specialty breads) can be learned in six months; 
  • The baguette is key to the survival of individual bakeries in France. In Germany where manufacturing plants are humongous, stores sell for more money a bread that costs less to make and bakeries are disappearing. The beauty of the baguette is that it must be eaten fresh, so that customers have to come in everyday. If all bakers made only miches, there would soon be no more bakeries in France;
  • Maison Pichard makes three to four thousand baguettes a day.

Brioche dough

Maison Pichard's laminated brioche Before leaving, I asked Monsieur Pichard what recommendations he would have for a serious home baker who wanted to make good baguettes. He sighed. He knew I live in the United States where access to a local bakery is more problematic than in France and I could see he was trying to come up with an encouraging answer. After a minute, he said: "Use nothing but pure wheat flour, water and salt and rely on fermentation alone to develop aromas. That should give you a good wheat bread." He didn't say pain français.
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Paris: Pâtisserie Boulangerie Liberté-Ménilmontant

Farine - November 11, 2014 - 6:53pm
As you can probably tell from the above photo, Pâtisserie Boulangerie Liberté isn't your typical Parisian bakery. You guess as much as you walk up rue de Ménilmontant in the twentieth arrondissement of Paris and get your first glimpse of the black-framed wall of glass that reflects the buildings across the street.
Here, no window display of shiny éclairs, airy meringues, elegant Opéra cakes, skinny tartlets or evanescent mille-feuilles, no romantic frontispiece picturing golden harvests, bakers loading hungry ovens or apprentices shouldering paunchy bags of flour down basement steps. No, at Liberté, what you see is what you get and it doesn't leave much to the imagination because you practically see everything including, before you even walk through the door, pillow-shaped loaves of Pain du coin, their signature bread (and in case you are wondering, yes, there is a stunning display of pastries but it is inside the store, in front of the bread, not in the window).
More than the lovely pastries - and Benoît Castel, the owner, being a star in the Paris pâtisserie firmament, the pastries are indeed spectacular (sorry, I was so mesmerized by the bread I forgot to photograph them but if you google the place, you should be able to see some pictures),  even more than the bread in fact, what attracted me to Liberté was the open lab concept I had heard about and the notion of the boulangerie as a neighborhood hub.
I was there at 9:30 morning (the only time Benoît Castel could see me). The flow of early birds seeking baguettes and croissants was slowly ebbing. The shop was hushed but, behind the stack of firewood, Didier Marchand, the baker, could be seen hard at work on gigantic granola loaves.
In the open kitchen, two assistants were getting ready to assemble sandwiches. Chef Castel emerged from the back (or the basement, I couldn't tell) and watched them for a minute or so. Then he moved trays around and re-arranged boxes. "You need to get organized. It makes no sense to walk across the lab every two minutes to fetch the same ingredient. Do your mise en place properly and your work will be much easier." There was a tired note to Castel's voice. I had the distinct feeling he had made the speech before. Utensils clattered. The young women resumed their work, looking sheepish and, was it only my imagination? a tad sulky.
Castel came out of the lab towards me (we had made an appointment the night before) and extended his hand for a firm handshake. He didn't have much time as he was expected in central Paris within the hour and had to stop at one of his other bakeries on the way. So we talked fast. I had looked him up a bit beforehand. I knew he had learned his trade in his native Brittany, gotten his brevet de maîtrise Pâtissier at a young age and, for years, only ever worked with and for the best: Jean-Claude VergneJean-Luc ValentinHélène DarrozeChristophe Felder. I knew that in the fall of 2012, he had opened Joséphine Bakery, a small pâtisserie boulangerie at 46 rue Jacob in the affluent sixth arrondissement of Paris. I had had a sandwich made with fougasse aux olives from his Liberté-Lafayette bakery (opened in September 2014 as part of the new and jaw-dropping Lafayette Maison et Gourmet)...
 ...and last but not last, I had bought a baguette Tradition, a chunk of Pain du coin and a couple of pastries, including a marvelous tarte au citron at his first Liberté pâtisserie boulangerie (opened in late 2013), 39 rue des Vinaigriers in the très bobo Canal St-Martin neighborhood. So, even though the sampling had been limited, I had some familiarity with Liberté's offerings.
From what I understand, the main difference between Liberté Vinaigriers and Liberté Ménilmontant lies in the size of the premises and in the magnificent Llopis wood-fired oven. Other than that, the idea is the same: there are no walls, the customer can see the product in the making, check out the ingredients, observe the techniques, even watch the dishes being washed. The name of the boulangerie is well chosen: for the baker and pastry chef, liberty to innovate, invent and be playful with his or her creation - the bobo-au-rhum (I love the name) is a case in point; for the customer, liberty to sit down and enjoy tea, bread, cookies, pastries or sandwiches right on the premises, breathing in the fragrances and taking in the life of the neighborhood.
"Liberté et partage (freedom and sharing), that's what this is all about," says Benoît Castel who remembers vividly how lovely it had felt to be greeted like an old friend  by his Josephine Bakery customers when he came back from his first summer vacation as the owner of a commerce de proximité (a local shop). The feeling of belonging triggered a reflexion on the role of the boulangerie-pâtisserie as an essential hub in the life of a neighborhood: after all, most Parisians get fresh bread everyday of their lives, sometimes two or three times a day, and often buy pastries as well.
Castel found he wanted to open other and more spacious pâtisseries boulangeries where people would feel welcome to stay a while and maybe chat with other customers. Rue des Vinaigriers came first: the premises had housed a bakery before. The first floor had featured both the shop and living space for the owner; as is often the case in Paris, the basement had held the lab. Castel knocked down walls and opened up the whole first floor; he installed a huge marble counter, visible from everywhere; he renovated the painted glass ceilings, re-used existing materials whenever possible, had shelves installed all around, including against some of the windows. Past and present were artfully knit together and the effect was strikingly effective, more Brooklyn or Soho than Paris. The social media went beserk.
Ménilmontant was even more of a find: the premises had housed the famous boulangerie Ganachaud. It was larger and it came complete with a 1974 wood-fired oven. "Les fours à bois, c'est très compliqué à Paris!" Wood-fired ovens are very complicated in Paris.You can't just install a new one whenever and wherever you want.
First and foremost a pastry chef (as evidenced by the fact that Liberté is a pâtisserie boulangerie, not a boulangerie pâtisserie as is customary), Benoît Castel doesn't pretend to be a bread baker: "Je suis très sensible à la maîtrise des techniques mais je ne suis pas sensible au niveau pâte (Mastering the techniques is hugely important to me but I don't have a feel for bread dough)," and he favors bakers who are also pastry chefs: "Their approach is different. They are more technique-oriented." But the place of bread in the urban fabric fascinates him and on a personal level, he is on a never-ending quest for new tastes and flavors. The story of pain du coin is a good example. The name of the bread is a pun: in colloquial French to be du coin means to be a local but a coing (pronounced exactly the same way as coin because the final g is mute) is a quince. As it happens, the levain used to leaven this bread was originally quince-based. The double-entendre remains even though, as Benoît Castel readily admits, nowadays one would be hard-put to distinguish the aroma of quince. Castel sent me home with a chunk, saying "I know you already tasted it but try this one, it was baked in our wood-fired oven and you'll see, the flavor will be very different." Actually both the flavor and the texture were. Truth be told, I can wax as romantic as the next bread head about the poetry of wood-fired ovens but if you had asked me before this Paris trip if I could truly taste the difference between a bread baked in a wood-fired oven and a bread baked in a regular oven, in all honesty, I would have had to say that I couldn't. Well, now I can. Pain du coin Ménilmontant is definitely a better bread than pain du Coin Vinaigriers (I haven't tried the Joséphine Bakery's or Liberté Lafayette's versions. That could be on the agenda for another trip.)
The fact is that crust was tastier and the crumb lighter. Were it not for the slightly smoky taste, it was the very bread I like to imagine my ancestors eating a hundred years ago...
 I asked Castel about the smokiness (which I had detected in the chunk previously bought at Vinaigriers) and he said that he had been looking for a way to decrease the percentage of salt (in line with the European Union recommendations that salt be kept at 18 g per kilo of flour by the end of this year) without compromising flavor. Through a friend who owns an épicerie fine (gourmet grocery store), he had discovered Salish salt, an alderwood-smoked salt from Washington State and fallen in love with it. Castel explained it took him and his bakers eight months to develop the recipe to the point where he felt comfortable going to production with it: besides Salish salt, the bread calls for regular salt, levain, rye flour, stone-ground wheat flour and miel des forêts (forest honey).
Since I hadn't been entirely persuaded by the chunk of pain du coin bought at Vinaigriers, I wasn't expecting an epiphany this time around either. But in fact the thick and crunchy crust added a whole new level of subtlety to the crumb and to my utter astonishment, not only was the bread better but it improved as days went by. The hint of smokiness progressively disappeared and all that was left was a glorious, old-fashioned tasting loaf. Definitely rustic, definitely traditional despite the imported salt. A time-travel bread. One that pairs magnificently with a thick layer of good salted butter. It became our breakfast fare for as long as the big chunk lasted. Not a crumb went to waste.
Liberté has another cult bread that I was curious about: la Tradition chocolat. Based on the same dough as the bakery's airy baguette Tradition...
...it becomes a completely different bread with the addition of dark cocoa powder (64% cocoa) and drops of white and dark chocolate. There is no shaping: after dividing and scaling, the pâtons (chunks of dough) are left to proof undisturbed. They are egg-washed before going into the oven and washed again with a syrup when they come out. I have heard grown men choke up at the mere mention of this bread.
The way Castel sees it, creativity is the rule of the game. "This job is so much fun. I love it." And of course timing is everything. In France as in the United States, everyone seems to be obsessed with food, cooking shows have never been more popular, cookbooks fly off the shelves. He can smell the breeze coming from across the Ocean and he finds deeply invigorating: "I am more and more interested in what's being done in the United States: I love bagels for instance. I love working with a code and changing things around. I visit New York regularly and each time my dream of opening a pâtisserie boulangerie in the city becomes a little more vivid. It might yet happen!" I hope it does. I'd love to see what Benoît Castel could do on an American theme and with American ingredients other than Salish salt.
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Pumpkin Anise Sourdough Bagels

Wild Yeast Blog - November 6, 2014 - 11:22am

Here’s a nod to pumpkin season, but not the ubiquitous “pumpkin spice.” The large proportion of pumpkin yields a bagel that is compact and chewy, but not hard or dry. If you’re not an anise fan, or prefer something more savory, caraway or cumin seeds could be interesting.

I think most people believe bagels are difficult to make, but they’re not. They do require a lot of mixing to achieve a high degree of gluten development, though, so a stand mixer is helpful. That’s even more true with these particular bagels, because the pumpkin should be evenly incorporated in the dough, and that will be challenging if you’re mixing by hand. But it’s not impossible; just plan to spend at least 30 minutes giving your arms a workout!

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Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

YeastSpotting 11.4.14

Wild Yeast Blog - November 4, 2014 - 11:18pm
Loaves and Rolls, First Batch Loaves and Rolls, Second Batch Flat Breads, Sweet Breads, and More YeastSpotting is a periodic collective showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient. For more bread inspiration, and information on how to submit your bread, please visit the YeastSpotting archive.

© Wild Yeast, 2014. | Permalink | No comment

Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Paris: Boulangerie Solques

Farine - October 29, 2014 - 2:05am
A friend who lives nearby told me I had to come and check out Boulangerie Solques at 243 rue Saint-Jacques in the 5th arrondissement of Paris: it was unique, he said, and he had bought there a marvelous savory tart (I think he said a leek-turnip one). So we arranged to meet one morning and we went together. Crossing the door was like stepping into another world, a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Granted, I saw no Cheshire Cat or White Rabbit but a humongous pig head ogles the customer from up high on a wall and a dejected clay cow rests its poor face on the wooden counter. There seems to be bread everywhere but a closer look reveals that the ones on the walls are made out of pâte morte (literally dead dough) and not edible. Some loaves are gorgeous, straight out of a seventeenth-century Dutch still life, some seem to have been hammered together by sheer force of will.
A man steps in from the back. Slim and curly-haired, he smiles broadly: "Bonjour, what can I do for you?" We introduced ourselves, my friend is trained as a baker and I have a bread blog. We talk.
Bruno Solques' boulangerie is a one-man show: he does absolutely everything himself. No employee, no help. He has been doing it that way for thirteen years and he is happy. Now 50, he started baking at age 15, got his CAP de boulanger (certificate of professional ability) at 17 and has been a boulanger ever since. He worked at Poilâne and Ganachaud, then had his own bakeries, two of them, big ones with lots of employees. He sold them. "Never again!"
Now Solques is his own employee and his own boss and he does pretty much what he wants. Which may mean "guesstimating" weights, not using traditional shaping techniques and creating new breads, pastries or savories on a whim, everyday if he wants. On weekends, when the bakery is closed, he paints and sculpts in the vaulted cellar under the shop. "I am always shaping something. Dough, clay, pâte morte."
All Bruno's flours (wheat, kamut, spelt, rye, etc.) are organic and he works exclusively with pâte fermentée (which, like many French bakers, he calls levain): when he is done mixing, he sets a chunk of dough aside to leaven the following batch. When he goes on vacation, he puts some pâte fermentée in the freezer to use when he comes back. Bread is a bit dense the first week, he says, but everything is soon back to normal.
We didn't stay long as he was obviously very busy but in the ten minutes we spent at the shop we saw several regulars and a few tourists. We bought chocolate pastries and an almond-pear chausson (literally slipper). They were both very good (but we ate them before I remembered to take a picture!). I can't report on the bread since I didn't taste it but the regulars seem hooked. They order it by weight.
It was rather early in the day when we visited and I made a note to come back closer to lunch hour next time. I want to see the lunch offerings, especially the tarts! Do go if you are in Paris, Boulangerie Solques is definitely not your regular Parisian bakery (you won't get a baguette there) but it is well worth a trip.
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Paris: Boulangerie Chambelland

Farine - October 21, 2014 - 11:43pm
Having been in Paris for over a week now, I can safely say that we have walked past a huge number of bakeries, taking in each time with unmitigated pleasure the sight of golden baguettes, flaky viennoiseries and elaborate pastries. Why, the place we are staying at is sandwiched between two of them, conventional on one side, bio (organic) on the other, and we are awakened every night by the buttery scent of freshly baked brioches. Let me tell you, there are worse alarm clocks! I already know I am going to miss it when we leave.
But one thing I hadn't seen yet was a gluten-free bakery. So when a baker friend suggested I go take a look at Boulangerie Chambelland,  14 rue Ternaux in the eleventh arrondissement, and said he would call ahead to let them know I would drop by, I put on my walking shoes and took to the streets again.
I certainly wasn't expecting basketfuls of baguettes but otherwise I can't say I had a specific image in my mind of what the bakery would look like and I was wholly unprepared for how stylish and welcoming it would be. Zen is the word that comes to mind. Certainly a place to linger over coffee and pastry at one of the colorful tables either inside or out on the terrasse... It had the feel of an old-fashioned village bakery or, rather, an old-fashioned bakery as pictured in a movie about the good old days back in the village.
I introduced myself and was charmed by the welcome. Carles Roige, the baker, and Isabelle Larignon, the pastry-chef, showcased two of Chambelland's signature breads for me: pain du village (village bread) and pain aux cinq grains (five-grain bread). Isabelle told me her favorite was pain des athlètes (athletes' bread) which contains seeds, apricots, raisins, figs and hazelnuts. I forgot to take a picture but it sure looked inviting.
Carles had to get back to the lab downstairs but Isabelle - who was working on lunch pastries - talked to me for a while from behind the glass partition protecting the food prep counter. She sounded surprised when I asked her if she and Carles -both conventionally trained- had found it hard to adjust to gluten-free baking. She said it had been a simple matter of following recipes that had been rigorously tested over and over. No big deal...
Most of the bread is leavened with a rice levain, The focaccia is the only yeasted one. The bakery uses rice flour almost exclusively (buckwheat sometimes too). I asked about binding agents (back home gums or algae routinely make it into gluten-free products, which I find a real turn-off). Chambelland uses none. The bakery relies on its rice flour. The founders -Thomas Teffri-Chambelland (who created l'École internationale de boulangerie) and Nathaniel Doboin- source the grain in the Camargue region in the south of France (they apparently tested many varieties, both in the Camargue and in the valley of the Po river in Italy before finding the one with the required baking properties) and built their own mill (at Sisteron in Provence) to eliminate as many variables as possible and guarantee a steady and uninterrupted supply. Talk about dedication and determination! The results are impressive.
 I didn't get to taste the bread. It was mid-morning and I wasn't hungry. But I bought a chocolate chambelline and a pain de sucre which we sampled later in the day.
I am not going to lie and say we became instant converts. The Man, never a huge fan of rice, thought the pastries tasted too much like rice pudding. I thought they were good. But then I love rice in all its shapes and forms and were I gluten-intolerant, I would greatly appreciate having a gluten-free bakery such as Chambelland in my neighborhood. At least I wouldn't have to worry about cross-contamination (a risk in conventional bakeries offering a gluten-free line.)
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

YeastSpotting 10.21.14

Wild Yeast Blog - October 21, 2014 - 11:01am
Loaves and Rolls, First Batch Loaves and Rolls, Second Batch Flat Breads, Sweet Breads, and More YeastSpotting is a periodic collective showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient. For more bread inspiration, and information on how to submit your bread, please visit the YeastSpotting archive.

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Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Whidbey Bread: Whole Grains for the Home Baker, a Bread Lab workshop

Farine - October 20, 2014 - 1:18am
Organized jointly by Washington State University (WSU) Extension-Island CountyWSU Mt Vernon Research and Extension Center and the Grain Gathering, Whidbey Bread took place over a day and a half in early September on the bucolic grounds of the Pacific Rim Institute in Coupeville, Washington, drawing participants from thirty-five cities, four States and British Columbia. If you have never been to Whidbey Island, then it's time to go. Come with me and not only will you get a glimpse of a lovely corner of our beautiful Earth but you will get some tips from The Bread Lab on how to bake with local flours.
From Clinton where the Mukilteo ferry lands (Mukilteo is about one hour north of Seattle) to Coupeville where we are headed, the island is a blur of water, forests, prairies, small lakes, fields and farms, not to mention sleepy homes and minuscule villages. On good days, mountain views are everywhere. The occasional deer stares as you drive by then goes back to methodically eating a gardener's tastiest flowers, ferries and other boats glide in and out of the landscape, the air is rich with the smell of the sea.

Once you reach the Institute though, all traces of the ocean vanish and, looking at the tiny test fields, all you can think of is how landscape evolves as men come and go.
First on the land were the Salish Indians who had established permanent homes on Whidbey as early as in the early fourteenth century, living off natural resources such as fish,  shellfish, game, fowl, roots, hazelnuts and berries. Tragically they were decimated in the late eighteenth century by the smallpox and syphilis Euro-American explorers, sailors, hunters and missionaries brought with them when they arrived on the island. Entire villages were wiped out. Tensions were high. There were acts of violence. Many of the Salish survivors moved (were moved?) to a reservation off island in nearby La Conner. (For more on the history of Whidbey Island, you may want to check out this document,  my source for the above info).
  White settlers farmed the land, rejoicing in the fertility of the prairie. In 1919, a farmer in nearby Ebey's Prairie set a world record by producing one hundred and seventeen bushels of wheat per acre, using horse-powered machinery. To give you an idea of the magnitude of such yield, according to Dr. Stephen Jones, wheat breeder, professor and Director of WSU extension in Mt Vernon (Steve Jones also runs The Bread Lab), the average yield today in heavily mechanized Kansas is thirty-four bushels. And yet, yet, wheat steadily migrated to the Midwest and although it is trickling back East and West thanks to the efforts of  breeders such as Dr. Jones, of farmers anxious to get more value out of their rotation crops, of bakers working with millers and growers to bring back forgotten local flavors, of consumers choosing to eschew industrial bread, of the sixty millions acres of wheat grown in this country today, only two and a half millions are grown in Washington (all the figures are from Dr. Jones) and Ebey's Landing is now part of the National Historical Reserve for the State of Washington.
One hundred years ago, one hundred thousand acres of wheat were grown across the Sound in nearby Skagit Valley. "That knowledge is gone, the area has lost its grain culture," Dr. Jones says (more on this here). But the Research Center in Mt Vernon is testing more than forty thousand varieties of wheat and The Bread Lab is doing its part to reverse the trend by helping farmers identify varieties that do well under local conditions and whose flavor and functional properties are appealing to bakers.
Steve Lyon, Senior Scientific Assistant at WSU-Research Center in Mt Vernon, took us on a tour of the test plots, demonstrating combine-harvesting...
...and discussing wheat breeding as well as the differences from one variety from another. It was strangely moving to be reminded that the flavor we love and nutrition we crave originates with the humble seed.
  As Steve Lyon explained though, all grain isn't created equal and working with local wheats can be a challenge, one that Dr. Jones is happy to take on: "The way we breed wheat now in this country is that we breed for white endosperm and throw the germ away." He has banned white flour - which he calls "dead flour" - from The Bread Lab and advocates using whole-grain across the board, from bread to pastry. "The average plastic bag bread contains twenty to twenty-five ingredients (and almost always vital gluten). Twenty-one of these ingredients are not needed. All you need to make bread is freshly milled flour, salt, water and a starter of some sort." The Bread Lab attracts bakers from all over the country anxious to hone their baking skills on sometimes unpredictable flours that deliver unique flavors and plenty of nutrition. The goal of the workshop is to help home bakers use these flours as well, both in bread and in pastries.
The bread section of the workshop was taught by Jonathan Bethony-McDowell, baker-in-residence at The Bread Lab...
...the pastry section by Wendy Scherer, head baker for Tom Douglas' restaurants in Seattle. Since I am not really a pastry baker, this post covers only bread. Hopefully another blogger will post about Wendy's excellent demo. Wendy was using whole-grain flour from a Washington State hard spring white wheat called Edison.
I didn't get to taste Wendy's pastries or even to see all of them as we left a bit early on Saturday afternoon but just to look at the cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven, I am pretty sure they were a big hit.

Wendy Scherer's whole-grain cinnamon rolls Jonathan starts off his talk by paying tribute to the home bakers who, according to him, often show more enthusiasm and thirst for deep knowledge than professional ones. Indeed, he says, it was Dave Miller, whom he calls "the ultimate home baker," who introduced him to whole grains. The "hidden master" who bakes from his house in the golden hills near Chico, California, was his first big inspiration. Very open, hospitable and knowledgeable, Dave freely shared his method and techniques. His doughs are highly hydrated and the single most important piece of information the young baker took home from his visit is that when baking with whole grain you need to use ten to fifteen percent more water because of the higher fiber content. It is impossible to say with precision how much water a baker is going to need for a specific formula: no two whole-wheat flours are identical. Each has its own flavors and functional properties, depending not only on the variety but also on how the wheat was grown, in what type of soil, etc. The baker has to roll with the challenges. "Watch the dough and adjust for hydration: this is where the journey begins," says Jonathan.

Jonathan likes to mix everything by hand. For the purpose of the workshop, he is making two identical doughs using different whole wheat flours: commercial flour bought in a bag from Camas Country Mills in Oregon and flour that is being milled as he speaks (from Renan wheat - a French cultivar - grown in nearby Skagit Valley.) He will bake both boules and pan bread.

MC-The Bread Lab's Whole Wheat Loaf What follows are the notes and photos I took during the demo.
Levain
  • Jonathan uses a 100% hydration, 100% whole-wheat starter fed with freshly milled flour and refreshed two or three hours before mixing in order to get a milder taste (as yeast populates before bacteria). 
  • He feeds his starter everyday, sometimes three or four times a day (but you don't have to): "The more regular you are, the more your starter will adjust to you (it is a question of survival for the organisms that live in it)."
  • A white starter goes a lot slower than a whole-grain one, so it is good at slowing things down.
  • All you need to start a starter is flour and water on a one-to-one ratio. Freshly milled whole-grain flour provides more food for the starter than white flour. You can also use whole rye flour (that’s what goes the fastest).
  • A pH between 3.8 and 4.5 is where your levain will be (neutral pH = 7.) The lower the number, the more acidic the starter. Once the pH is below 4.5, yeast and bacteria start to work it out.
Autolyse
Refers to a period of rest after the initial mixing of flour and water (no salt). Gives gluten a chance to develop on its own, cutting down on mixing time, which means the dough heats up less and doesn't oxidize as much.
  • Very important with whole gains because of the bran. The bran needs to get supple and for that, it needs water and time. "But then the best breads need time."
  • When mixing, you need a certain amount of friction to develop strength, so don’t add water all at once. Assess the dough as the flour hydrates, add some of the held back water, let it rest, go back, assess again, etc. 
  • Once water and flour are incorporated, let the dough rest.
  • You can autolyse for a day if you like: more sugars become available, there is more enzymatic activity. The dough will be slacker though. Experiment and see what you like best.
  • Flour out of the bag is really dry and soaks up the water. Moisture contents varies considerably though. Each flour has its own hydration. There is a big difference between fresh flour and stone-milled commercial flour in terms of water absorption: bagged flour takes way more water to yield same consistency as the Renan. In this case,  Jonathan had to up the hydration on the Camas bagged flour dough to close to 100%.
  • Putting levain in the autolyse is optional. It helps with the breakdown even more but the drawback is that you are then on a time frame because fermentation starts.
Mixing
  • When done with the autolyse, add levain and salt.
  • Jonathan keeps his hands wet when mixing. "Do not add flour. If your hands get sticky, rinse them off."
  • There is no one way to mix. Squeezing works. "It is important to evenly squeeze and make bonds happen."
  • With wetter doughs, more squeezing. "At the beginning, you can also use old school kneading to develop strength."
  • Keep folding dough over on itself before starting to add water.
  • Let it rest for a while, then go back to it. It will have changed.
  • When a dough is very wet, roll and push, then rotate.
  • "You don’t want to be rough with the dough. "Think of it as giving it a massage."
  • Freshly milled dough is way coarser, yielding heartier bread. Finer flour yields a more open crumb.
Fermenting
  • The idea behind folding is to strengthen the dough while it is fermenting. The number of folds depends on the dough.
  • Do not use flour on the table.
  • Do a letter-fold.
  • If folding in bowl, watch out for tearing. Use flat hands, not claws. Make sure the tension remains even over the four sides.
  • If not retarding in the fridge, do a three-hour bulk fermentation at room temperature, followed by a ninety-minute to two-hour proofing. 
  • A short bulk fermentation at room temperature, then a long proof at room temperature make for a tighter crumb.
  • You will get a more irregular crumb by doing a long bulk fermentation followed by a short proof.
  • Sourdough likes 78 to 80 degrees for fermentation (favors both yeast and bacteria equally),
  • If room temperature is colder, use warmer water when mixing or give fermentation more time. Using warm water gives fermentation a little boost.
Pre-shaping and shaping
  • Pre-shaping gives you another chance to tighten a slack dough. By contrast, if the dough is strong, be very gentle and help it relax.
  • If the dough is not very gassy, let it rest in the pre-shape longer whereas if it looks very active, move on to shaping quicker.
  • To shape wet dough, fold it four ways as you do when strengthening it (see Fermenting), then roll it.
  • Once you are done, just drag the loaf slighlty with your pinkies underneath. Do not wind it on the table (it makes for a denser crumb).
  • Let it rest a moment on the table before putting it in a basket.
  • Dredge it in flour.
  • Use a scraper to pick up the shaped dough.
  • For really wet dough, best to use a linen-lined wicker basket. Dust the basket with flour (Jonathan sticks to whole wheat flour). Try not to get too much flour at bottom of basket, mostly flour the sides. At this stage it is better to err on the side of too much flour than not enough. Also dredge the loaf in flour before putting it in basket.
  • If using a pan, spray it with oil. If using semolina to dust baskets, mix it with fifty-percent whole wheat flour.
  • When putting your loaf in the pan, don’t fill the pan till the ends. A wet dough will expand. (Different from drier dough).
  • Pay attention to details. The more you pay attention, the more you learn. Bread baking eaches patience and handling skills. "It is a holistic system: it teaches you how to handle those whom you care about."
  Scoring
  • For a boule, make a parcel, flip it over so that the weak spot is at the bottom and there will be no need to score.
  • For a pan bread, dust the shaped pullman with a little flour, then score.
  • As it is easier to cut when the dough is tauter, you can do more ornate cuts when you score after shaping and before proofing. 
  • You want a deep cut (¼ to ⅓ of an inch)
  • Another good technique is to take scissors and go down the middle (after proofing)
  • If you want an ear to form, score at a 45° angle to get a flap. If you cut straight in, the scoring will open wide.
  • Wet dough: use the fridge to chill it just before you bake it (after proofing it almost all the way for about 30 min at room temperature or cold overnight): it makes it easier to score and easier to get out of the basket.
Baking
  • A good technique for home bakers is to use a Dutch oven.
  • Or use steam: Bob Bryan, a serious home baker who lives on Whidbey and is Jonathan's assistant for the workshop, uses a steam machine, covering the glass in the door of the oven with a towel when he sprays the water into a restaurant pan holding lava stones.
  • Use whatever steaming technique works for you.
  • For whole-grain bread, bake 20 min at 500°F  (white bread at 75% hydration should be baked at 460°F).
  • Remove the top of the Dutch oven after the first twenty minutes. Bake another thirty minutes. Check for doneness by tapping the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles. It should make a hollow sound. If it doesn't, put it back in the oven for another few minutes.
The bread came out beautiful. The taste of the grain shone through. I wish I had written down the difference in flavor (if any) between the bagged flour from Oregon and the freshly milled one because to save my live, I can't remember if one bread was tastier than the other. What I do remember clearly however is thinking that no matter how interesting the workshop and demos were, in practical terms, they weren't much help to the home baker if access to local wheat was an issue. And for most of us, it is.
In Washington State, I lived close to a chain of natural food stores that carried local flours and within easy driving distance from a mill and farms selling flours milled from the grains they grew. Where I am now in California, my options are pretty much limited to supermarket flours unless I order online or travel to a big city where more choices are available, albeit at a price that makes home baking an expensive proposition. Even on Whidbey Island, close to grain-growing Skagit Valley, a show of hands makes it clear that access to most of the wheats Jonathan is talking about remains very limited. The closest most of us can get to a local wheat is by ordering online from Camas Country Mills. So I would say the first order of business is to get local flours out to the home baker! One possibility for us home bakers across the country could be to follow the example of the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, to get organized geographically and to bulk-order from farmers or millers in our state or region. Meetup anyone? Let's start the ball rolling! Until then, to quote Steve Jones, we might be be stuck to baking with roller-milled "soul-less, nameless wheat."
I couldn't possibly close the post without mentioning that, on the second day of the workshop, Gerry Betz and Larry Lowary, my friends from Tree-Top Baking down in South Whidbey, brought in an amazing array of whole-grain breakfast treats. These pastries were a most persuasive introduction to Wendy's demo if it needed one!
Tree-Top Baking's Spelt-Apricot Scones (100% whole-grain)
Tree-Top Baking's Cardamom Rolls (50% whole-grain) Even though I do not have much of a sweet tooth, I fell really hard for the spelt-apricot scones and Larry kindly gave me permission to post the formula. Thanks, Larry!

MC-Larry's Spelt Apricot Oat Jam Scone
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Meet the Baker: Mel Derbyshire

Farine - October 11, 2014 - 8:15pm
Were I allowed one word and one word only to describe Mel Darbyshire, head baker at The Grand Central Baking Company in Seattle, I would pick "excellence" and still I wouldn't be doing her justice. What about the determination which, back in 1997, propelled  the young UK-born chef to join Grand Central in Portland, Oregon, as a dishwasher because "a friend worked there"? What about the willpower that had her washing dishes during working hours then doing prep and maintenance? What about the passion that kept her watching the bakers all the time? What about the love of learning that made her apply for a basic pastry position when a spot opened up unexpectedly? What about the energy that drove her to work fast so that she could help the bakers with the baguettes after she was done with her own tasks? I could go on and on but from talking to Mel and watching her work, another word comes to mind: "integrity." Here is a baker who won't settle for half-way measures: she clearly feels her job is to get both doughs and bakers to be the best they can be. If I owned a bakery, and Mel was my head-baker, I know I would sleep sur mes deux oreilles, literally "on both my ears" (French for soundly) at night.
Within a year of securing the entry-level pastry position at Grand Central, Mel was promoted to Jeff Smalley's assistant (Smalley was the head baker). When Jeff himself moved to a higher position, Mel was recruited to replace him. But she "had no science" (her words), a problem when you are expected to lead a team of old timers. So Grand Central sent her to the National Baking Center in Minneapolis where she took a weeklong class with Didier Rosada. She came back with knowledge and it gave her authority. Still she was a woman replacing a man, the team was mostly male. It was a rough learning curve but she pulled it off.
Two years later, she moved to Seattle and got a job with Leslie Mackie at Macrina Bakery. She was head baker there for a year and a half. Mel recalls these eighteen months as a most formative experience: she was called upon to apply all that she had learned to new products and a new environment. "Everything was different. At Grand Central, we relied on long fermentations, mostly cold and in bulk. Leslie's doughs were a little wetter and they were warm. I had to learn to shape them. New processes, new recipes... But Leslie is a great instructor, very talented and 'old school'. She played a pivotal role in my development as a baker."
Mel moved back to Portland, took some time off and was recruited again by Grand Central, this time as an on-call baker for it organic line: high hydration doughs, lots of different flavors. On her free time, she played rugby, soccer, went snowboarding. Then a full-time position as night-crew manager opened up at the bakery and she took the job. She wasn't happy about working nights but it was an opportunity. She soon found out that the nightshift attracted a different type of people, many of them hard-core rockers and musicians. It was a definitely a culture shock compared to her other experiences. She held the job for two years, learning valuable lessons about managing along the way. Then as Grand Central grew, the head baker moved on and Mel was made co-head baker with Tom Clark. When he in turn moved on in 2003-2004 (he is now at Blackbird Baking Company  in Lakewood, Ohio), she become head-baker herself (wholesale and retail). In 2007, it was decided that, for the sake of consistency, all the bread should be produced under one roof. Mel's greatest source of pride is that she moved production across town in one single night with no hitch. She remembers loaves proofing in the back of trucks and making it to the ovens on the nick of time but she didn't lose a single one...
 
Meanwhile the bread scene was evolving back in Seattle: Macrina, Essential, Larsen's, Columbia City, all were competing for retail and wholesale and Grand Central was plateau-ing. In the spring of 2011, management asked Mel if she would be interested in moving back to the Emerald City to give the bakery more spark and help put it back on the map. Mel took the job for six months on a trial basis and realized it was a really big and challenging one. But she had old friends in the city, she loved living there, her partner agreed to the move and, let's be frank, Mel has yet to resist a big project or a challenge! She’s now been there for over three years.
The way Mel sees it, today Grand Central is very much back where it wants to be in Seattle. The challenge is no longer the competition but consistency and quality at volume: making not only ten but a thousand beautiful baguettes. That requires high standards of training, education and accountability. Mel's team is truly multinational -Ukraine, Cambodia, Vietnam, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, United States- a situation that requires a delicate touch and a high level of cultural empathy. Before Mel took over, the focus was on getting things done. Her first priority was to retrain the bakers and impress upon them that what they made was important. They needed to be proud of their work and product. It took a while. The first six months were rough: some people left because they couldn't embrace the change. Mel needed the bakers to buy into her and her passion. She spent a lot of time on the floor, eating the bread so that people would get the message that theirs wasn't just a job, that they were making something precious. She gave a lot of positive feedback: every beautiful loaf was shown back to the crew.


If in Mel's words, "bread is like a canvas," then the lame or knife is the baker's brush. When scoring the Como bread, the baker tries to keep the girth of the loaf very consistent, so that the slices are all similar and well suited to sandwich-making.
The crew is a mix of men and women. When Mel started, only one woman on the crew had been trained to mix or bake, all the others were shapers.  Mel endeavored to train everyone to mix, shape and bake. She picked the tiniest woman - who was very talented and hard working - and started with her. It took a year to get everyone cross-trained but to Mel's way of thinking, if a baker doesn't do all this, if he or she doesn't understand about fermentation and proofing and how it impacts the final bake, then the job becomes a mindless task. "Now we bake when the dough is ready. That's what improved quality and consistency: the crew is making decisions based on dough and not schedule and order: if a dough has been mixed warmer, you shape that batch first for instance." What Mel considers her biggest achievement is training the shift managers to do more: learning to work on the computer and use spreadsheets while running the crew and keeping up the quality. 

From left to right, Marina Lopez and Guadalupe Gracias-Segovia
The team consists of thirty-five bakers in two shifts and the bakery runs twenty-one hours a day. Communication between crews is very important. Mel likes to recruit from within (other departments at Grand Central) or to hire friends or family of team members. She sees it as essential to create a good structure so that everybody is well supported from the dishwasher to the head baker. She loves to see how things have evolved in three years, with people now lifting dough and smelling it and a more open floor plan. "There was no light in the facility before: the walk-ins covered the windows. Redesigning the place was a priority: we built new walk-ins, took down the old ones. People were happier and stood taller with natural light. We redesigned the mixing space, making it more efficient: mix, ferment, shape, proof, retard, bake, now the flow makes sense. We also put in inside windows: now you can see and hear each other. Everyone is part of the bakery."

Flor Mendez, production manager Work in a large production bakery is exciting. "Volume plays such a role: it is a dance. I love the multitasking, my internal time goes off, and I thrive on that energy." A bigger part of Mel's role over the past four or five years has been to do research and development. Grand Central is now doing more seasonal items. Seattle and Portland take turns coming up with new products, which leaves some room for creativity. Mel meets regularly and often (in person every couple of months and via video conference weekly) with the production management team which includes Piper Davis, daughter of Grand Central founder and the driving force behind the bakery's commitment to work with local ingredients and responsible producers, and Brian Denning, head baker in Portland, to discuss issues relating to production quality, consistency and goals.
Such an issue was what to do with Grand Central's signature potato buns. They were tasty and popular but the recipe wasn't designed for volume: it called for buttermilk and sour starter, so the fermentation went fast (lots of enzymes) and it was a challenge to maintain consistency in size and weight. The bakers had a sixty-minute window when they needed two hours. What wouldn't have been a problem for two hundred buns was another story for one thousand.What to do to add stability to the formula without compromising flavor and quality?

Once a solution was found though, Seattle couldn't just move forward and adopt it. Portland had to be on board. To maintain consistency and insure quality would not be an issue in Portland if they modified the formula, the buns could not be too different from the existing ones. In other words Mel had to find a way to get the result she was looking for within the challenges of working in a large company with two locations. I suspect that the constraints can be frustrating at times but that the challenge carries its own reward and that Mel is exactly the right person to take it on.

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