Help a Newbie out, Sandwich Loaves
My husband and I own a very small neighborhood bakery/cafe in Albany, NY. He usually handles all of the loaves (baked goods & desserts are my dept), but the overnight baker we hired didn't work out and 16 hour days since opening in March have left him burnt (and he has to cover lunches), so I've taken over 3 nights of the overnight shift per week. He makes up bags of dry mixes and gave me specific instructions, which I follow, but a few details he can't explain unless doing must be escaping me (we're working opposite schedules now and can't seem to get together to work out the kinks). I'm making 2 batches of 5 sandwich loaves per morning (hearty multigrain and ww or rye, alternating), plus running the first mixes of his sourdoughs. We use NY wheat, which has protein variances we are learning to work with. The sandwich loaves, in my opinion, have never come out quite high enough (they're 2lbs, and are about an inch too short above the tin pans after proofing..and the HMG sinks in the middle during baking - I spray the tops lightly/gently with water and then gently sprinkle oats on top), so we've been trying new techniques. Please bear w/ my untrained explanations, I'm new at this.
These are quick rise, active dry yeast loaves. We have a....less than ideal...oven (4 tray convection), but do have two gas ovens below our stove that Nick uses for the sourdoughs. Since he makes the dry mixes for me ahead of time, I don't have salt/lbs of flour/etc. measurements at hand. I have no probs w/ yeast or water temps or the mixing/kneading time of the doughs. Where I think I'm running into trouble is w/ rising times. I mix, knead, then turn out and measure/portion out the dough, flour it and cover w/ plastic on my prep table. The temp of the bakery differs.
I am unsure of just how elastic/how airy/how much time should pass during the first proof (about 25-35 mins has been my normal, depending on how stiff the dough is - I'm afraid to let them overexpand, but perhaps I should?), before pin rolling or finger pressing (i've tried both) into a rectangle and then rolling and tucking, jellyroll style (we've tried the letter fold as well). Loaves are just not rising/blooming properly, not rounded enough (jellyroll has improved loaves somewhat). My Ryes today had an airy upper crust....not good (I over proofed in an effort to see if that worked to make them bigger..mistake).
I'm reading everything I can get my hands on and have tried to find the answer with a search of this forum (and elsewhere), but there are so many factors involved (I had no idea!), that I have been unable to pin down my solution...so far. Your advice and questions (it's likely I've left out some pertinent detail) welcomed. My next overnight is Wed, hope to be able to apply improved techniques then!
I have to say, I'm really enjoying learning about all this - it's threatening to consume me! We're using quality ingredients and would really like to be turning out consistently excellent loaves. If I can learn these basics, perhaps I can learn to be a backup for the sourdoughs, too (Nick has no troubles there, but as our main guy, I worry that if something happens to him, no one else will know what to do).