The Black Sheep Bakery stumbles into life
Firstly- apologies for the lack of postings to those of you kind enough to read and post on this blog. The past few months have been a mixture of intense activity combined with long periods of extremely frustrating inactivity. I won't go into the specifics of why things have been progressing so slowly because I don't want to rock the boat where fragile inter-personal relationships are involved!
Anyhow, even though we still have no electricity supply to the bakery we are finally moving in the right direction. For the last month I have been baking bread for the farmer's market at Gibside (national trust property in north-east England) and the Quayside market in Newcastle. It has been hard going working by myself at night then going straight to market in the morning but customer feedback has been great and it is an incredibly rewarding way of selling the bread. I have kept my range quite small with three main types of bread (white, granary and pain de campagne), one special (something with spelt), potato stotties and a couple of pastry products- mainly pain au raisin and chocolate brioche.
I hope to expand the range to include more pattisserie items and a soft yeasted white bread to be used for sandwiches. Right now I am using a 20 qt Hobart mixer powered by my generator which is slowing production down a lot. There is an 80 qt machine in the bakery but unfortunately the generator will not run it.
So far all breads are sourdoughs and I am working on around a 24 hour total ferment time- most of which is in the bulk ferment stage. The breads range in sourness from the white which is mild to the p.d.c which is tangy, fruity even. I was concerned that it may be too much for the general public but so far it has been the first to sell out. I have been producing around 20kgs of each dough and have been lucky enough to sell out at each market so far. Happy days!
This whole experience has been a steep learning curve but with each bake I am definitely getting closer to the kind of bread I hoped to make. My shaping and slashing are improving along with general hand speed though I am surprised at the amount of back breaking labour that can go into producing a relatively small quantity of bread (200 loaves or so). Understanding the oven has also been a challenge and I must thank Steve for his efforts during the firing process. We really need to find a source of wood as far to much effort is being expended at the moment to find, haul and cut wood for the oven.
I promise that I will post some recipes on here ( I did make this claim before!) but I have to say my methods are fairly simple and there are probably far better recipes on other people's blogs. Where I am lucky I think is cooking with the oven I have as when it is properly fired it is a dream to bake in and it can churn out a lot of bread. Oven spring is tremendous too!
Below are some pics I took at the markets I have been attending- most pleasing was the bread for last Sunday's Quayside market.
Thanks for reading!