The culture and the soul of the bakery, its not in the formulas
First of all, I'd like to say this:
Now that thats out of the way:
I've been taught that thats a textbook example of the improved mix. There's three mixes; the short mix, the improved mix, and the intensive mix. When you pull a window, the short mix tears easily, the improved mix has characteristic "veins" that run through it, and the intensive mix looks very even and opaque. This is how you can judge the crumb of your finished bread before you even divide the dough.
It'd be an understatement to say that I've learned a thing or two while working at the bakery, truth be told, I learned more in my interview with the owner of the bakery (an interview which was 5 hours on the bench of course,) then I did in the few weeks we spent on bread in school.
I wanted to showcase my bakery's breads and the title I wanted to give the blog was, "the soul of the bakery, its in the formulas" but the truth really doesn't reflect that. Formulas are the backbone of any bakery, but its melodies, subtleties, and nuances are what really define a bakery. We make this dough with three different kinds of levain in it. Thats a really unnecessary thing to do, and personally I have a notion that having the three different cultures all together might hinder the growth of the individual cultures since they'll be competing (a fight that the white levain will have an advantage in!). We create formulas, we calculate water temperatures, use our hands to tell us all the things about the dough that we should ever need to know, and we live bread. Or at least thats how it is meant to be. whether we actually reach (or want to reach) this lofty attitude of bread baking is debatable.
I like to think that as an artisan bakery, we bake bread as it has been made in past decades. This involves small ovens, a single mixer, couches, loading boards or peels, and hand shaping. But ultimately, how feasible and how practical is this arrangement? Bread bakers are the eccentrics in an already quite eccentric field. Moving into the culinary field is almost romanticized in our culture, yet many do it for reasons other then the love of the process. The man hours, the physicality, the odd work schedule, all of it pushes away possible bakers. On the other hand, when people need work, all of that diminishes in significance.
If we were to become a chain bakery (either privately owned or corporate) is this a business model that could be passed from store to store to store? Or are we a fad, living a fast, high octane experience that will ultimately and inevitably implode and collapse in on itself?
We definitely make good product, though there's always better; but is artisan baking a relic of the past or an unrealized future?
Despite the high costs of labor and running an establishment based on perishable food stuffs, we continue to expand and put out good product. And the more I work and throw around thoughts about bread with my colleagues, the more ideas for my own bakery spring spontaneously into my mind.