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Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Chad Roberson's Tartine Bakery doesn't do chocolate sourdough (if they do, I haven't had the fortune of tasting it).  We did Pane Cioccolata (chocolate bread) at Artisan III, SFBI, and it was very good.  Everybody loved it but at the time I was thinking to myself if I were to make it at home I would make some changes for the following reasons: 


First of all, I feel really uneasy about "double hydration" method, which is supposed to be good whenever you have any "add-ins" for your dough, be it dried fruits, nuts, seeds or soakers, or in this case, chocolate chips.  The procedure is: you mix your dough with only 80 - 85%% of the recipe water in the first and 2nd speed as usual until a slightly stronger than normal gluten development has achieved, then turn the mixer back to first speed, slowly incorporate the reserved water and finish off on 2nd speed, then, add the seeds and nuts (or whatever add-ins you have) in the first speed initially for incorporation, and finish off, again, in 2nd speed.  The reasoning for this method is it is easier to develop dough strength with a stiffer dough than a wet dough and so the purpose is to build up the strength before you incorporate any add-ins.  Because of the longer mixing time, the temperature of water you use with this method is lower than for other doughs. 


I remember we mixed the dough for nearly 20 minutes in the spiral mixer.  I am not confident that I could do such a long mixing time with the mixer I have at home.  I always feel "traumatized," looking at the dried fruits or nuts being beaten up and chopped up while they try to be mixed in to the dough after the latter's gluten structure has already been formed; it really takes time to break the gluten bond.


Secondly, after the dough was bulk fermented, it was scored then proofed. One other type of bread where we scored first then proofed was rye bread.  It was said that because of the delicate gluten structure in both of these cases, if you were to score after the dough is proofed, you may destroy the gases that were produced.  While this makes sense to me, I don't care for the look when it's baked.


Thirdly, the Pane Cioccolata formula we used at Artisan III has only 20% levain (in baker's percentages) and therefore it also has a small percentage of dry instant yeast (DIY).  If I increase levain to 100% I wouldn't have to have DIY!  Also, chocolate chips used were only 12% of total flour, I know my son would just LOVE more chocolate chips. 


So here is my Chocolate Sourdough inspired by Chad Robertson's method all by hand (timeline as described in Daniel Wing and Alan Scott's The Bread Builder) in my previous post.


                


 


                              


 


                   


 


Formula for My Chocolate Sourdough 


Two nights before bake day - first stage of levain build-up



  • 61 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 121 g bread flour (i.e. two times starter amount for me; I do not know what ratio Chad Robertson uses.)

  • 91 g water


Mix and ferment for 6 - 8 hours at 18C / 65 F (depending on your room temperature, you may need shorter or longer fermentation time for your starter to mature)


The morning before bake day - second (and final) stage of levain expansion



  • 273 g starter @ 75% hydration (all from above)

  • 273 g bread flour (I use one time starter amount in flour but I do not know what amount Chad Robertson uses)

  • 204 g water


Mix and ferment for two hours only


Formula for final dough



  • 750 g starter (all from above)

  • 650 g bread flour

  • 100 g cocoa powder (8.5% of total flours*verses 5% in SFBI recipe)

  • 86 g honey (7% of total flours verses 15% in SFBI recipe)

  • 250 g chocolate chips (21% of total flour verses 12.6% in SBFI recipe)

  • 433 g water (note: with every 12 g extra water, your total dough hydration will increase by 1%. If you wish, you can increase up to 5% more hydration. See step 10 below.)

  • 1 to 2 vanilla pods (optional but really worth it)

  • 20 g salt


Total dough weight 2.3 kg and total dough hydration 73%


*Total flour calculation takes into account the flour in starter. 



  1. In a big bowl, first put in water then put in the starter.  Break up the starter thoroughly in the water with your hands.

  2. Then put in honey; scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods and put it in, and stir to combine

  3. Put in all the remaining ingredients except choc. chips

  4. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine for 1 - 2 minutes. (Take down the time when this is done, this will be your start time.  Starting from this time, your dough is fermenting.  From this start time to the time when the dough is divided and shaped, it will be 4 hours; i.e., bulk fermentation is 4 hours.  The preferred room temperature is 18 - 21C / 65 - 70F.  You may need to adjust your dough temperature by using cooler or warmer water.)

  5. Autolyse 20 - 30 minutes

  6. Sprinkle half of the choc. chips on a work surface (spreading about 30 cm by 30 cm) and stretch or pad the sticky dough thinly to cover the choc. chips.  Then sprinkle the other half of choc. chips over it; press the choc. chips into the dough so they stick.

  7. Gather the dough from the edges to the centre and place the choc. chip dough back into the mixing bowl.

  8. Start the first set of stretch and folds in the bowl by pinching the edges of the dough and fold onto itself to the centre (10 - 20 times).  Rotate the bowl as you go.  As the dough is quite stiff, you may need both hands for the folding.  The hand folding serves as mixing.  I used my left hand to press down the centre, so my right hand can pinch an edge of the dough and fold it to the centre.  As you stretch and fold, try not to tear the dough; only stretch as far as it can go.

  9. After 45 minutes, do a second set of stretch and folds.  At the end of this stage, the dough will already feel silky and smooth.  As the dough is quite stiff, its strength develops very fast.  Be mindful that the bottom of the dough is the right side of the dough; and the right side of the dough always remain at the bottom in the bowl.

  10. After another 45 minutes, do a final set of stretch and folds.  As the dough feels quite strong, no more folding is necessary (unless you choose to increase total dough hydration, in which case, you may need one more set of stretch and folds).

  11. At the end of the 4 hour bulk fermentation, divide the dough to 3 - 4 pieces as you wish.  Be mindful that the bottom of the dough is the right side; sprinkle some flour on your work bench, and place the pieces right side down.

  12. Shape the pieces - gather the edges to the centre, flip it over (so the right side is now up) and shape it to a tight ball with both hands.  (As I find the dough is quite strong, I did not think pre-shaping is necessary.)

  13. Place the shaped boules in dusted baskets or couche, right side down and seam side up to encourage volume expansion.  Cover.

  14. Proof for 2 hours in room temperature of 18 - 21C / 65 - 70F.

  15. Into the refrigerator for retardation at the end of the 2 hour proofing (minimum 8 hours; I did 18 hours).


                                                                    


Bake Day



  1. Bake the boules cold for best result (ie, straight out of refrigerator).  Just before baking, sift flour on the dough and score it.  Bake at 190C / 380F (not higher due to honey) for 40 minutes.  Once the dough is loaded onto the baking stone, steam the oven with no more than 1 cup of boiling hot water.

  2. Note: I find better result when baked cold.  One boule was left at room temp while others were being baked, and it became quite puffy so when I scored, it deflated quite a lot and there was no noticeable oven spring with this bake.          


                


 


I sliced one of the boules and went down to the back yard to water the plants.  When I came back up, my son said to me, Mum, the chocolate sourdough was epic.  How I love his choice of words.  Well, you know how to please a growing boy - make a chocolate sourdough!


This is the first time that I made a chocolate sourdough - it is not sour at all because of the chocolate and honey, but it is very chewy.  And the crust!  Very crispy.  The crumb?  Very more-ish.


I don't imagine you find chocolate sourdough made this way in the shops - they would go bankrupt if they do - too much work (but absolutely worth the trouble for home bakers)!


Shiao-Ping

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Over the years, many people have said to me that I have all the luck:  loving husband, respectful, bright children, fulfilling career in a fun-filled industry, health and a relatively comfortable life.  So when I took a voluntary separation package at the end of last year, it  might have seemed that my luck had stalled.  I never for a second believed that: I had been feeling so burned out at my last workplace that I felt more than half a year of paid vacation was exactly what I needed at this point in my life.


With my retraining allowance, I signed up for short breadmaking and pastry courses at SFBI.  I jetted back and forth from the Midwest to the West Coast to spend long stretches of quality bonding time with my parents, siblings and children.  I travelled to my childhood hometown in Asia and spent a month there visiting relatives and friends, feeling for the first time in a long time like the carefree child that I was when I lived there.  Back at home, I went on a bread and pastry self-enrichment extravaganza- with occasional detours in chocolate and ice cream, tackling recipes that I didn't have the time and confidence to make before.  I am proud to say that I have come out this last 10 months happier, wiser, richer in non-material things.


My lazy, hazy days are coming to a close.  I have a solid offer and another one in the works, both back in the big, cosmopolitan city that was home to me for the greater part of my life.... Maybe that's why lately I have been baking more frenzily than usual.  Yesterday's bake yielded the below.


sept bake


The banetton-risen bread is from Janedo's recipe of Pane de Genzano;  the loaf is cinnamon-raisin using the sourdough challah recipe I found on this site.


Below is my attempt at the Pearl Bakery's (Maggie Gleazer, Artisan Baking) fig-anise panini.  It has a definite tang from the starter, and the bread is hearty with a dense crumb and hard crust.  The anise gives it a heady aroma and the figs some sweetness but the bread itself is not sweet.


fig anise SD


I prefer Columbia's Sweet Perrin, also from Artisan Baking.


sweet perrin


The bread contains plenty of firm pears (mine came from a friend's tree), figs, and Brazilian nut instead of hazelnuts.  The crumb and crust are soft just as I like them.  The fruit and nut combination makes this bread a  delightful snacking treat. 


sweet perrin crumb


Maybe I'll make panetonne today.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I finally got around to making some of my favorite bread, oatmeal.  I tweaked J.H. Oatmeal bread formula by using KA Organic Whole White Wheat and KA Baker's Special Dry Milk/water instead of regular milk.  The loaves turned out delicious and tender with a lovely flavor.  I will definately be making this bread again and again! 




Sylvia


 

wally's picture
wally

This past June marked the 42nd anniversary of the release of the Beatles seminal "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," and with it, one of my favorite songs of the album, "Getting Better."


Today marked my umpteenth attempt at successfully scoring poolish baguettes, and to my utter joy a success at last!  So now I'm humming the tune in my head....over and over.



I did two bakings actually: My first mix this morning was for the baguettes with poolish, and I followed that up with another poolish-based rustic bread: Hamelman's Pain Rustique by way of James MacGuire and Raymond Calvel.  I love the fact that this no-knead, no-shape bread is ready to bake in just over two hours (not counting the overnight fermentation of the poolish).  What other bread can be created in such a short time with the distinctive nuttiness of the poolish-based dough?



As for the baguettes, I think I'm getting closer to the secret of getting my gringes to open consistently.  The biggest factor, I believe, has been the transition to a couche for final proofing.  And in particular, allowing the baguettes to rise seam-side up, as we did at King Arthur Flour.  Although I've repeatedly heard and read that allowing the dough to develop a "skin" will defeat successful scoring, my experience since using a couche has been that the up-side of the dough gains more surface tension, and it's been obvious to me in that my cuts are no longer dragging the dough, but (for the most part), cleanly cleaving it.



The second factor, I think, is a quick misting of the loaves just after scoring and before loading.  Finally, I've started consistently throwing 3-4 ice cubes into my cast iron skillet in the bottom of the stove about 1 minute before loading.  That's followed by a cup of boiling water onto the skillet once the bread is just in.  And then at 2 minute intervals I'm again misting the loaves very quickly - just twice.  So when I set the timer for 24 minutes, which with my gas stove is a full bake at about 460°, I'll mist at 22 minutes and then at 20.  After that I leave well enough alone.


Tomorrow I'm off to pick up a bag of lava rocks at David Synder's suggestion to see if I can successfully generate steam that lasts longer - as opposed to one scorching burst.


Anyhow, as the Beatles put it so well those many years ago: "Getting so much better all the time."


Larry


 


 

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Have you ever seen a photo of very stiff starter wrapped up tightly in cloth then tied up in string (as if making absolutely sure that the little beasties have no way of escaping)?  I never understood the purpose of the tight string until the other day when I was writing about Chad Robertson.   A Day in the Life at the Bay Village Bakery in The Bread Builders says Chad "uses a brief two-hour final stage of leaven expansion before he mixes up his dough" (page 221).  In both of these two cases maximum natural yeast population is achieved without them further fermenting (because there will be plenty of fermentation once final dough is mixed).


Chad Robertson's rustic sourdoughs from Tartine Bakery were my most favourite during my recent stay in San Francisco.  I wanted to see if it was possible to reproduce his style of sourdough at home.  I was told that a bread cookbook is coming out soon (in addition to their existing pastry cookbook), but no date is given.  Alain Ducasse's Harvesting Excellence quotes Elizabeth Prueitt as saying that Chad's breads were hand-made from the very beginning to the very end, and that "it is one person's expression" (page 19).


By the time The Bread Builders wrote about him, Chad Robertson had acquired a mixer from Europe which helped him in meeting the growing demands for his breads.  A brief description of timeline for a typical load of breads that he baked at his (then) one-man bakery at Point Reyes, Califorina (before he and Elizabeth moved to San Francisco and opened Tartine) is as follows (according to The Bread Builders): 



  1. At 8 am, he mixes his final intermediate levain and let it sit in room temperature for two hours (note: I assume the levain is fully mature before the two-hour final expansion);

  2. At 10 am, he mixes the final dough by first putting all the ingredients or all except the levain into the mixer and running it for 2 - 3 minutes at 45 - 50 revolutions a minute;

  3. Autolyse 15 - 30 minutes

  4. Adds the levain if necessary, then mixes it for 4 - 5 minutes

  5. Bulk fermentation 4 hours (counting from 10 am to 2 pm), during which time several stretch and folds in the tub are done;

  6. At 2 pm, divide the dough and pre-shape them, then rest for 15 minutes

  7. Shape the dough and place them on the bannetons or couche dusted with a mixture of bread and rice flours;

  8. Proof in room temperature for 2 hours before going into proofing boxes (at 55F) to retard for 8 - 10 hours (Harvesting Excellence says up to 12 hours); and

  9. The next day, start baking between 4:30 - 5 am.


Based on this timeline, my formula for Chad's sourdough follows:


My formula for Chad's Sourdough


Two nights before bake day - first stage of levain build-up



  • 82 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 164 g bread flour (i.e. two times starter amount for me)

  • 124 g water


Mix and ferment for 6 - 8 hours at 18C / 65 F (depending on your room temperature, you may need more than 2 times bread flour, or shorter or longer fermentation time for your starter to mature)


The morning before bake day - second (and final) stage of levain expansion



  • 370 g starter @ 75% hydration (all from above)

  • 370 g bread flour (I figure one time starter amount in flour is enough)

  • 277 g water


Mix and ferment for two hours only


Formula for final dough



  • 1,017 g starter (all from above)

  • 1,017 g bread flour (Australian Laucke's Wallaby bakers flour, protein 11.9%)

  • 651 g water

  • 30 g salt


Total dough weight 2.7 kg (divided into three pieces) and total dough hydration 68%



  1. I followed the timeline above but I did everything by hand.  I fully intended to fold as many times as necessary to build up dough strength but as my dough was not very wet the gluten developed very fast and by the end of first set of stretch & folds, the dough already felt silky and smooth.  I did only two sets of stretch & folds in the bowl.

  2. After the dough was divided into three pieces, I pre-shaped them to tight balls, rested them 20 minutes, then shaped them into batards and placed them on bread & rice flours dusted couche.

  3. The shaped loaves proofed for 2 hours in room temperature then went into my refrigerator to retard overnight (for 12 hours).


Bake day



  1. I baked the loaves cold (straight from the refrigerator).  I pre-heated the oven to 250C / 480F.  Once the loaves were loaded, I poured 2/3 cups of boiling hot water onto lava rocks (enormous steam was generated), and turned the oven temperature down to 230C / 450F.  They were baked for 20 minutes, then another 15 minutes at 210C / 410F, and rested for 5 minutes in turnoff-off oven.  (You can bake them for 10 minutes more if you like darker crust.)

  2. There was an impressive oven spring with this bake.


              


                 


                                                 


I am quite pleased with the result, although without rye and whole meal flours, I probably cannot call this country sourdough.  Also, Chad's country sourdough has a very rustic look (quite dark) as if from a wood fired oven. 


As I was drafting this post and looking at the black and white picture of Chad's bread in Harvesting Excellence, my daughter came by, I said to her he is the reason why I bought this book; she asked, is he "hot"?  I never understand teenagers' lingo - why "hot" and "cool" mean the same thing.


                   


                                         


                                           


The crumb is really tender and moist.  It has a very supple texture and open crumb that I did not believe I would have been able to achieve with low hydration dough.  I really don't know what hydration level is Chad Robertson's sourdoughs; I did 68% here because I wanted to have good volume and, possibly, good grigne.  Well, it worked. 


I like the flavor very much, more so than my Sourdough 50/50.


Shiao-Ping

SumisuYoshi's picture
SumisuYoshi

Brotform shaped Panmarino


I've been a longtime reader (lurker) of the The Fresh Loaf and haven't really had the chance to bake for a while, oven use when it was hot out just wasn't working, I was really busy with work, etc. But I recently jump started myself back into it with the BBA Challenge, and the realization that my girlfriend didn't care about me using the oven at her house!

Since then I've been practically a whirlwind of baking. That Panmarino up at the top, from BBA, was the first in the whirlwind! Except for the last 2 weeks, helping her move up to Fairbanks, Alaska from Los Angeles, CA for a PhD program. Now that we're done with the drive, and up here and a bit more settled I finally have the chance to sit down and type up this post. I've been just itching to bake, but I don't really have the facilities up here.

Well, since I haven't been able to bake for a bit I'll just give a few of the 'greatest hits' from recently.

I made these right before I left on the trip, two loaves of pugliese from Bread Baker's Apprentice. I deviated from the recipe a little bit and made them sourdough with 100% semolina flour.

Baked Pugliese

Also a pannetone made with golden raisins, triple cherry blend, and blueberries.

Baked Pannetone

A week or so before I left for the trip I made the BBA Miche using a blend of whole wheat, white, spelt and rye flour. It was a little tricky handling a loaf that big but it turned out beautifully! Really awesome mix of grain and sourdough flavor in that one.

Miche Loaf

And lastly, cinnamon rolls from BBA, these were a huge hit with my friends and at work!

Cinnamon Rolls

So again, hello to everyone and may all your baking go well!

alabubba's picture
alabubba

I love Ciabatta bread. One of my goals has always been to be able to bake it myself and have it turn out as good or better than the stuff from my local bakery.


I found "Jason's Quick Ciabatta" recipe and decided to give it a go.


Attempt #1 was delicious! It had the right crust and crumb and while I have some experience when it comes to slack dough I was not prepared for just how wet this recipe was. The forming left A LOT of room for improvement.


Attempt#2 I decided that the answer was to knead the crap out of it and add flour to help give it some structure. This helped with the form but took away from the chewiness of the crust.


Attempt#3 I stayed up late last night and watched several videos on youtube of ciabatta makers at work.

Several lights went off in my brain. After my initial mix and knead I portioned the dough out into separate bowls. Covered with plastic wrap and let them to rise. When they were ready I poured them onto a heavily floured table and quickly rough formed them. Not working the flour into the bread but using it to keep everything lubricated. Then let them rest for 20 min. and then transferred them onto plastic wrap that had been floured and dusted with cornmeal. Once on the plastic I could move them around and shape them with ease. I then used the plastic to flip them onto my peel and into my oven.



 



Thats what I am talking about!!!



This makes me smile...

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

On our way back from The Back Home Bakery, we made a quick stop at the Wheat Montana bakery/deli pictured here:



It is located in Three Forks, Montana and is just off I-90.  The place is big; I only captured part of it in this photo.  And yes, those are grain silos at the back corner of the facility.  I believe that they grind all of the flour on-site that is then bagged and sold, or used in their baked goods.  There is also a gas station out of the frame, about 100 feet to the right of my position as I took this photo.


The first thing that meets your eyes as you step through the door are stacks of 50-pound bags of flour: Bronze Chief (red whole wheat), Prairie Gold (white whole wheat) and their Naturally White AP.  There are also bags of wheat berries.  Prices are surprisingly low, compared to what I see in local supermarkets.  The berries were priced from $19-21 per 50-pound bag and the flours were priced $20-22 per bag.  If I hadn't been told just before leaving for vacation that I'm going to be spending the next couple of years in South Africa, I'd have purchased a couple of bags and worried later about where to store them.  As it is, I need to burn through my existing flour stocks in the next few weeks.


Further in, there are shelves with Wheat Montana logoed goods; caps, cups and such.  There are also flours in 5- and 10-pound bags, cook books and preserves.  Still other shelves hold various breads.  There is a deli counter where one can purchase various pastries and sandwiches, along with hot and cold beverages.  There are a number of tables to sit at while enjoying your food and drink.  I must confess to having been a bit of a bread snob after a week of seeing what Mark produces.  Any other day I might have thought their stuff looked pretty good, but it just didn't measure up to what we had been making at The Back Home Bakery.  So we stopped long enough to buy a drink and take this picture, then headed back to the road.


Paul

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

The cover of "Bread" and plate 21 "Assorted Rye Breads from Chapter 6" depict a delicious, rustic looking rye bread that's not slashed. I love the look of this dark, "lava rock" with deep fissures running in random lines along the top of the bread. I wanted to bake a loaf with similar cracks on top, so I prepared the dough for my favourite 70% rye. I'm using medium rye flour, and pre-ferment half of the rye in a sourdough. The remaining 30% is AP flour. I do not put any commercial yeast in this one, so it's important that the rye sourdough is ripe before mixing the final dough. I try to keep this one pretty wet, and usually aim for a hydration around 75%. I mix it very gently in the mixer, approx. 3 mins. on 1st speed followed by 1.5 mins. to 2 mins. on 2nd speed. The dough has some strength to it, although it's more like a thick paste than a "proper" dough at this stage.


Without commercial yeast, I've found 1hr. bulk and 2 hr. final proof to work well for this dough. You know your sour best, however, so these times might be too long or too short for your culture. So: Poke before loading :)


To get the fissures on top, I did the final proof with the seam side down in the brotform. Here's the dough just after final shaping:


70 percent rye


And here are two snaps of the final loaf after 60 mins. in the oven - first 15 mins @ 250dC then 45 mins at temperature gradually falling to 205dC.


70 percent rye


I really like the way the loaf turned out. There's some rustic, unique look to it that I love. As I mentioned, this is probably my favourite rye formula as well - a very simple recipe that has a clean taste and a notable sour due to the longer proofing time, and a loaf that keeps very well with the relatively high hydration. It's a bit tricky to work with, but the crumb and flavour make it worth the extra effort.


70 percent rye


Added Sep. 13th:


Craving more, yesterday I baked the sourdough rye with walnuts from "Bread". This is a 50% whole-rye flour recipe with a substantial amount of walnuts - the walnuts weigh in at 25% of the overall flour weight. I had some lovely chevre already in the fridge, so there was really no excuse not to bake the walnut rye. Five minutes prior to mixing, however, I realised that I was just slightly short on walnuts. I added some pine nuts to get the desired 25% weight. The nuts were lightly toasted, and I followed the procedure for the 70% rye loaf above: a) AP flour instead of high-gluten flour, b) made away with the commercial yeast and increased final proof to 2 hrs., and c) increased the overall hydration from 68% to 75%. Initially I thought 68% would be terribly dry for this kind of dough, so I aimed at 72% at first. Even that didn't cut it, so I gradually mixed in more water until I reached 75% hydration and the desired stickiness. Once again, baked seams side up:


Sourdough rye with walnuts


The crumb was nice and tender, and the whole-rye flour provides a more notable rye taste than if medium rye would've been used.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I had the pleasure of spending a week working as a baking intern for Mark Sinclair at his The Back Home Bakery in Kalispell, Montana.  Other than the sleep deprivation, it was a thoroughly enjoyable week of measuring ingredients, washing dishes, mixing bigas and doughs, washing dishes, stretching and folding dough, washing dishes, pre-shaping and shaping loaves, washing dishes, making pastries and fillings, washing dishes, scraping the workbench, washing dishes, packaging the finished breads/pastries, building friendships with Mark and Sharon (his wife), and washing dishes.


A typical day would start at 2:00 or 2:30 in the morning.  We'd begin by pulling bigas from the refrigerator (they had been mixed the previous afternoon or evening) and measuring the ingredients for each bread.  Most of the breads were mixed in a 20-quart mixer, except for the baguettes, which were a larger batch that was mixed in the 60-quart mixer.  The other exception was on Saturday morning, when about half of the breads were mixed in the 60-quart mixer because of the larger batches being prepared for the Kalispell farmers' market later that morning.  Mark also pulled 2 or 3 frozen pastry doughs from the freezer at about the same time so that they could be thawed and ready for sheeting and shaping during a lull in the bread production.


After mixing, the bread doughs were placed in a proofer.  Most were given 3 stretch and folds at 45-minute intervals.  After proofing, the doughs were shaped and placed on sheet pans, then put back in the proofer for their final proof prior to slashing and baking.  The baguettes, again, were an exception to this general practice; they received a pre-shape, then a ferment at room temperature, followed by a final shaping and final room-temperature ferment before slashing and loading into the oven.  Mark uses two convection ovens; one is electric and the other is gas fired.  All of the baking is done on sheet pans, rather than on a deck or stone.  Neither oven is steam-injected, so Mark throws a can of water on a cast-iron griddle sitting in the bottom of the oven when a bread requires steaming.  


What I haven't conveyed well is the overall planning that Mark does in deciding which doughs are mixed first and which are mixed last.  Based on experienced he has gained and on the particular day's product roster (it varies from day to day), Mark sequences the production steps so that he can maintain a steady flow of bread or pastries in and out of the ovens without creating bottlenecks or gaps.  And it's all subject to change, depending on the activity of the doughs.  There are anywhere from 1 to 4 timers in use at any given point and each step of the process for each bread or pastry is noted on a sheet of paper.  If it didn't get written down, it would get lost in the ever-changing flow of the work.  A couple of examples may help to illustrate just how important time management is in a bakery.  One: "If you have time to stand around, you've probably missed something."  Two: Mark muttering "That timer rules my life" as he leaves the dinner table to put the rye starter in the refrigerator for the night.


I encountered several surprises during my week at The Back Home Bakery:


- Mark produces a variety of pastries, using both croissant dough and puff pastry dough.  I had preconceived that he was primarily making breads, but that was a misconception on my part.


- Mark uses Wheat Montana's AP flour, which most other milling companies would label as a high-protein bread flour.  Still, he produces incredibly tender and flaky pastries and robust breads using that same flour.  The man knows what he's doing.


- Aforesaid pastries, still warm from the oven, make a spectacular breakfast.  My wife ran out of adjectives by Thursday.


- Mark is something of a Renaissance man: teacher, coach, log home builder and baker.  And very patient with a well-meaning but sometimes-addled assistant.  I'm sticking with the sleep deprivation defense as long as I can.  


Saturday was the biggest production day of the week because of the Kalispell farmers market, so we were up at 1:00 a.m.  Sharon also pitched in, so there were three of us banging around in the bakery, trying not to trip over each other.  That morning we produced and packaged:


- palmiers


- bear claws


- croissants


- cherry croissants


- blueberry croissants


- cheese danish


- pain au chocolat


- apple strudel


- ham and cheese croissants


- sticky buns


- sour rye bread (based on Eric's Fav Rye)


- rustic white bread


- buckwheat-flax bread


- baguettes


- Sal's rolls (torpedo shaped, made from baguette dough)


- Portuguese sweet bread (shaped as rolls)


- Kalamata jack bread


All of the above was loaded in the van, along with the booth and display fixtures, and ready to roll by 7:30.


Here are a couple of pictures from that morning:



Sharon, wisely, bundled up for the chilly morning.  Mark's concession to the cold was to change from shorts to jeans and put on a cap.



Sharon waiting on early customers.


Mark's commitment to putting out a high-quality product is paying off.  He has loyal customers who come looking for their favorites and who are very disappointed if they arrive too late and find that item has sold out.


I'm very grateful to have had a week working with Mark and getting to know both he and Sharon.  Should you have the opportunity to pursue a future internship, I can highly recommend it.


Paul

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