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New Years Baking

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proth5's picture
proth5

New Years Baking

I didn’t think I would be baking at all. The little hobby that supports all this baking fun was keeping me away from home and oven.

However, I am working for a client who employs a chef to prepare meals for the executives and he graciously lent me the executive kitchen for the day (and the evening before.)

After getting the lay of the land in the kitchen and not wanting to poach too heavily on the supplies, I turned the wheels of the rental car to the local mega-mart and stocked up on the essentials for a day of baking.  The local mega mart had fresh yeast and I couldn’t resist – some cream, some buttermilk, eggs, KA 11.5% protein white flour, some whole wheat flour, butter, brown sugar – that would give me at least four different baked goods.

So, late at night (well, late for me) on the first day of the year, I did my scaling and mixed my pre ferments.  Early the next morning I returned.

It hadn’t hit me the night before, but as I walked into the space in the morning (and checked my pre ferment first thing) I realized that for the day this kitchen was all mine.

I’ve worked in commercial kitchens before, but always when they were under the control of someone else.  But today, for one day, I was in charge. I didn’t get the satisfaction of buttoning on my chef’s jacket (Yes, through a long series of unfortunate events I was forced to buy a chef’s jacket.  I generally avoid enterprises that require new clothing, but this was unavoidable.) but I was the head baker that day.

Being engaged in the discipline of planning, I had the day laid out.  The kitchen was minimally equipped for bread baking (no wooden surfaces to work on, no couches, no loaf pans) but I was able to adjust.  I first baked some scones to get some food out to hungry colleagues, and then started the (hand) mix on about eight pounds of baguette dough.  I then did the mix for some Moravian sugar cake and took a deep breath.  I had a lot of whole wheat flour left and so decided to make a whole wheat sandwich loaf.  All that practice in formula writing served me well and I was able to write up a formula using available ingredients.  I did the mix in the Kitchen Aid Pro 600 mixer to as close to an intensive mix as I have ever gotten. I noted that this was a weak, whiney little machine compared to My Preciousssss.

A request rolled in for more scones and it was easily accommodated.

I had to proof the baguette dough (shaped for epis de ble and an Auvergnat) on parchment, but no biggie (actually, yes, big biggie to me, I don’t understand why anyone with a love of artisan bread baking doesn’t just bite the bullet and buy a proper couche – so much benefit from so little expenditure.).  Six ounces of dough that was left over from those shapes was rolled out, brushed liberally with olive oil and then sprinkled with dried herbs (a good use for it).

Since proofing facilities were primitive, at best, I did a lot of my proofing in unoccupied areas of the building which were, curiously warmer than the kitchen.

The Vulcan convection oven had a practical capacity for 3 sheet pans, so my eight pounds of baguette dough could be baked all at once. I contemplated mightily what I could do if I had that sort of oven capacity on a daily basis.

Since there were no loaf pans, I baked the whole wheat sandwich loaf in a conveniently shaped hotel pan.

Oh. And I kept up with emails and technical request from my hobby.

Strangely, the only disappointing moment had to do with the yeast.  (And realize that since this was a long way from home, I had no access to sourdough starter – which forced me to work with all commercial yeast.) The local mega mart had fresh Fleischmann’s yeast.  Now, I know that for the end product itself, instant yeast is most likely the same as fresh (Please, let us not open the great fresh vs. instant yeast debate!), but in terms of process and the impact on me the baker, there is nothing the action and aroma of fresh yeast early in the process.  I find the smell quite intoxicating although as the process goes along that early-on smell and feel is lost. So I had purchased fresh yeast.  When I went to open the little blocks I saw the words “Product of China” emblazoned on the package.  Has it come that? Really? Really!? We get our fresh yeast from China!? What the ----? I’m going to need to look into this further and see if there is a closer source.  This product is not available in my home market, but as sensuous as the experience is, I am not completely sure I can support flying in yeast from across the Pacific Ocean just to give me that little fresh yeast high.

I started at 7:15 AM and by 3 PM I had produced:

2 batches of scones

4 epis de ble

1 Auvergnat

1 mini foccacia

3 Moravian sugar cakes

1 Whole wheat loaf

If I hadn’t been such a wimp with the size of the baguette dough mix (I could easily have handled double or triple the amount even with a hand mix – but I hadn’t purchased enough flour!) I could easily have made more. I am more convinced than ever of the primacy of oven capacity (and practice with hand skills to be able to divide and shape quickly and efficiently) to determine how much can be produced in a reasonable working day.

All the products were consumed by a grateful project team.  They were pretty good. (Ok, the scones [formula on these pages] were awesome – even when triticale isn’t used.)

I also have a streak of lightly charred flesh on my left hand (not serious, it doesn’t even hurt) from a miscalculation about oven racks to remember the day. Some bakers get ink – I collect scars…

As I looked out over my sparkling clean kitchen (I was, after all, a guest – but a kitchen should be that sparkling clean at the end of a work day anyway) with tired feeties and deep satisfaction, I felt that the universe was sending me a message.  I just wish I knew what it was.

Comments

varda's picture
varda

Pat, Sounds like a great day in the kitchen.   Now about those Moravian Sugar Cakes - could you perhaps share that formula?   Is there a place called Moravia or is it someplace that used to be?   -Varda

proth5's picture
proth5

has already been shared on these pages in one of my blog entries.  Try a search because every time I try to link to a particular place in these pages from a post, the link doesn't work.

My recipe is from my grandmother.  The Moravians are one of the many religious groups that make up what is commonly known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.  They had large early settlements in Bethlehem, PA (land of my birth) and Winston-Salem, NC.  We PA Dutch are folks of German or Swiss/German ancestry who arrived in North America prior to the War for Independence and most settled (as you might guess) in Pennsylvania.  Our most enduring and well known religious group is the Amish - but there are many others.  The PA Dutch language (of which I speak only a little) is most closely related to Schwabian dialect of German and survives to this day although it is a very endangered language since we (except for the Amish)  have assimilated quite successfully (my second language, for example, is French.)  I guess that's a good thing...

This is a very sweet and rich yeasted cake and one of a few foods that is traditionally served at the Moravian "Love Feast". 

So there is the history lesson.  Hope it helps. 

And yes, it was a good day.

varda's picture
varda

now pondering it.   Here is what Wikipedia has so say about Moravia - Moravia (Czech: Morava; German:  Mähren (help·info); Polish: Morawy; Latin: Moravia) is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region. Moravia's largest city is Brno, its de-facto capital since the downfall of Olomouc during the Thirty Years' War.

So I am supposing (two minutes of research is not enough to confirm) that the Swiss Germans who came to Pennsylvania, etc. were practicing a religion that got going in Moravia back in the day.   And I also wonder if your cake and other Pennsylvania Dutch cooking (my friend just gave me a lovely cranberry relish that she said was a staple of PD cuisine) has a link with what might be more eastern European than German. 

Anyhow, I have a cake to make for an event coming up so....

-Varda

proth5's picture
proth5

groups is always tricky, but the Bethlehem Moravians came from Herrnhut in  Saxony which is near the Czech border. Certainly PA Dutch is a German based dialect sharing grammar and some words and all the Moravian music (and this I did study a long time back) that I know of is in German.

Geography and climate are destiny and so what I know as PA Dutch is probably heavily influenced by the fact that it spent a lot of its time developing in North America. 

Things like hinkle bott boi (various spellings - but essentially chicken stew with thick home made noodles) miliche flichte (milk pie - milk, sugar, flour and cinnamon baked in a pie crust),  dandelion greens with bacon dressing (a "must have" dish for Maunday Thursday - which means we were distictly not Roman Catholic), the more famous shoe fly pie, and our big commercial success drechter kuche (funnel cake) - may or may not have an equivalent in Czech cuisine - I don't know, because it is not a cuine I have studied - but certainly these items use inexpensive and common ingredients.  Of interest is the fact that my grandmother's baking recipes (and the very few bread recipes left to me) are exclusively wheat based (I don't think I ever tasted anything coming from her kitchen that contained rye, nor did I eat rye bread until I left home), which one would not expect from a pure German background. That is to say the long years in North America possibly caused the cuisine to change.

Moravians are just one part of our merry band:Lutherans, Reformed (those two religions included in the group formerly known as the "Gay Dutch") Mennonites, Schwenkfelders, and many, many small splinter religions comprise the PA Dutch.  Some of us arrived earlier (1683 is the nominal date) than the Moravians, but they owned Bethlehem until the mid 19th century.  There is still a great deal of Moravian influence to be found there. An interesting subject indeed!

Have fun with your cake and do try the sugar cake (if you have a serious sweet tooth!)

Happy Baking!

Pat

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Pat,

A little piece of heaven indeed....If you knew what the 'Secret of the Universe' was - where would the fun be?

The search would be over and you would still be standing in a sparkling kitchen with sore feet :-)

Love the HX lesson on the PA Dutch....Now I am eyeing your scone recipe....oh dread, just when I was getting complacent about the things I can bake well and even predict the outcome....well....somewhat predict :-) The call to a new challenge is beckoning me and I have learned that if I don't listen when it is merely beckoning me 'it' goes verbal and gets a lot louder :-0.

Thanks for the post and the story that you included with it....my lingering question is how fresh can yeast be if it is imported from half way around the world????  Perhaps cross-cultural yeast is being formed as I type and will soon be assimilated into other countries.....

Take Care,

Janet

 

proth5's picture
proth5

back and forth to Japan, I could leave Tokyo and due to the curiosities of time zones would arrive home slightly before I left  - so the yeast could be pretty fresh.  But I can't get past the country of origin - we can't even produce our own yeast?!?

Try the scones - not my formula, but one that is very good...

The sugarcake is also quite good - but three 9 inch squares contains 3/4 of a pound of butter - so don't tell the heart doctor!

Pat

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Pat,

I so enjoy reading your exploits in the kitchen ... and this one had me captivated. I was transported into 'your' busy kitchen ... I didn't need any photos ... I was there. Sounds like such a fulfilling day. I am also one who enjoys standing and surveying a clean kitchen at the end of a busy days bake.

Fresh yeast is almost impossible to find here in Brisbane ... have to go hunting in specialist shops ... I have only found it once and after all that I was not sure if it was worth the effort.

All the best for the New Year.
Phil

proth5's picture
proth5

so much.  Somedays I get the feeling no one reads these blogs, but they have proved useful to me as I was able to retrieve a couple of formulas from my own blogs for this week's unexpected baking session.

The reason for no photos (other than the fact that I am a miserable photographer - and I almost never take pictures anyway) is that I thought I was just going to my day job and would never think to have a camera on my person (and my cell phone is just a cell phone...)

World famous bakers assure me that instant is as good as fresh in terms of the finished product.  I just like the fresh because it makes the process nicer for me.

Love your photos, though.  Was that a kookaburra?  I've never heard such a wild sound in my life than the cry of the kookaburra... (Yes, just back tracked and checked your blog - the "jungle sound" for some reason didn't hit my memory, but now that you say it...)

All the best to you, too, from West Texas.

Pat

ww's picture
ww

dear Pat,

just to let yo know, i like reading your posts because you're funny. Like Varda, i thought i remembered Moravia from European histoyr lessons. Might the message you're getting be that you need to be get back into a kitchen ;))

have i missed your scone recipe somewhere? there are scone fiends in the circle of family and friends so i collect recipes like a magpie. And the moravian sugar cake sounds so old world it deserves to be at least contemplated.

proth5's picture
proth5

recipe is somewhere in my blogs - like I reported earlier I don't seem to be able to link successfully, but if you do a search, the title of the blog entry is "Recipes from my Grandmother"

But don't let the amount of butter scare you!

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Thanks for the Tale of 2012's First Day, Pat.  Very entertaining account of an enviable experience.

Happy New Year.

Glenn

proth5's picture
proth5

the real chef is now using the kichen and I am back to this consulting hobby.  >>Sigh<<

Happy New Year back atcha!

 

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

haha... I like the part about your yeast made from China. And strangely, being in China for 8 years, I have not come across fresh yeast yet?!

Great write up, I wish I was there like you, access to a commercial kitchen, that is so cool...

proth5's picture
proth5

something odd - I guess China is sending all the fresh yeast to the US.

Alas! this was only for the day...

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

For those wondering where the scones recipe is, it is in this post:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/26544/two-formulas-and-picture

Note Pat used tribbles  triticale as the flour and, while she admits that the amount of butter in the recipe would give a cardiologist a heart attack she fails to mention the heavy cream is equally dangerous so I am assuming that it is used to wash down all of the butter so it doesn't get stuck in ones arteries :-0  which means eat to your heart's content :-)

I am not going to let my husband or kids know the amounts of anything when I bake these!  

Janet

proth5's picture
proth5

the King Soopers where I shop has full fat buttermilk...  But they are 100% whole grain :>)

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

...so these are looking more healthy all the time....so by using my whole grains - freshly ground of course :-)  - I am balancing out the heavy cream  which balances out the butter which means these are really a healthy little snack :-)

 I will have to see if my buttermilk is full fat or not....oh heck, why spoil the fun with calories/fat counts....

endless possibilities leaves my head spinning

so today I am going to bake a pan full coconut, banana, chocolate chip cookie squares for son who is heading off to the oil fields of North Dakota tonight....he needs calories :*)

the scones will be up next for a non bread item - possibly this weekend....

Janet

 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

A lovely way to start a new year, Pat: doing something you love.   

That was one big bake - I hope your fortunate team members provided a quality meal to accompany those wonderful baked goods!

Loved reading about your day - although the info about the fresh yeast from China is disquieting.  A local supermarket stocks Red Star cake yeast.  While I've never used it, I think I'll mosey over this week and see where it comes from.

proth5's picture
proth5

to attempt to get access to the kitchen to bake, again.  I'm like a three year old - I won't tire and I won't forget.  I figure that if I had more than a few hours to plan, I could bake much more in the same time given all the oven capacity that I had.

And no, my team members were much busier working than I so no meal.  They actually called out for pizza while I was baking - I could have made them pizza(!)

I've now begun to ponder about the instant yeast that I buy - I don't really pay attention to what is printed on the bottle.  When I get home, I'll have to check.  Love to find out the country of origin for Red Star (Not that it is available in my home market, either, but I'm curious.)

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

My 1lb brick of Saf-Instant states country of origin as Mexico......

This link shows RED STAR's country of origin as US..

http://www.lesaffreyeastcorp.com/products/premium-dough-conditioners/saf-pro-relax-yf

I never would have though to check that either...now more new things to read labels for at the grocery store ....I will never get out of there :-0

I should add that, since discovering how easy it is to bake using sd, my IY mostly sits forlornly on the shelf....

Janet

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

While "Red Star" does sound rather communistic, I find that Red Star's yeast plants are in Alabama and Iowa(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Star_Yeast). 

Glenn

proth5's picture
proth5

Finding just where factories are takes a little more doing.  Fleischmann's Yeast belongs to a holding company who after much searching does have yeast factories in China (as we all learned unexpectedly).  Red Star is owned by Lesaffre and although they may have factories in the places you mention (actually the article says the US factories are in those places...) also has yeast factories in China.

Since my little hobby involves implementing the systems that ease the way for people to ship things like little blocks of yeast across oceans - I deal daily with the Byzantine nature of global supply chains.  My "what the ----?" moment comes with the thought that we now ship something as desperately perishable as fresh yeast across the Pacific Ocean. At all.

While I enjoy the only truly "local" yeast (sourdough) I also enjoy the convenience and action of commecial yeast.  While I try not to be doctrinaire about "local only" the whole fresh yeast realization has given me much to think about.

But mostly I just want to get back to that commercial oven and bake some more bread...

LindyD's picture
LindyD

At least the label of the local supply is reassuring:

 If you can't find a local source made in the USA, will be happy to send you some, Pat.

proth5's picture
proth5

for the offer - but I am so hard to pin down.  I'll look in my local markets (currently West Texas and Denver) for the fresh yeast...

My own jar of Fleischmann's Bread machine (instant) yeast is from Canada.  The far flung nature of these little guys is just intriguing...

But I did get back into the kitchen for next week - cannot wait!

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Glenn,

I just read that too.  I wonder why my Saf-Instant, which is from the Lesaffre Co. that was mentioned in the article, "a joint venture of...." states that my bag of IY was made in Mexico?  

Tomorrow, if so inclined, I may give the company a call to set my mind at ease....

Janet