The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking Beginnings

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Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Baking Beginnings

As stressful as the last few weeks were for me in the business, I was fortunate to find 3 days to get away to my favourite B.C. region, the Okanagan.  The Okanagan is tucked away in the interior of B.C., with hot, dry summers.  Wine country with many lakes and beautiful sights.  I have been going there almost every summer for the last 20 years.  It is just one of those places that has embedded itself into my heart and blood and will not go away.  In the last few years it has been increasingly difficult to find time to get there, but this year I found my way back to where the initial inspiration of baking first hit me.

Last summer, I found myself walking around the beautiful lake town, Kelowna, with my wife when I stumbled upon a new bakery/cafe I had never seen there before.  The artisan breads sitting in the windows instantly drew me close like a magnet.  I was immediately inspired to try and recreate these stunning creations.  I had never baked before.  Never touched my hands to bread dough.  Never used yeast...never a lot of things.  Was it possible to learn to create these breads without a professional bakery environment?  Well...I think we all know the answer to that question.

Here are some photos of the bakery, along with some not-so-uncommon loaves that I found time to bake this weekend.

The Bread Company located in Kelowna, B.C.

Mission Hill Winery

And some bakes of my own this weekend...

A couple of multi grain levain loaves with adjustments in higher hydration.

100% whole grain loaves with spelt, stone ground ww, light rye. Thanks to dabrownman for the help in adjusting the hydration level.

 

 

Comments

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

What a wonderful story. I don't believe things happen for no reason...you were meant to be a baker !  Your loaves are so beautiful. Love your vacation pics too and glad you were able to get back to where " it all began" and renew your relationship with bread. c

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks trailrunner.  If I was meant to be a baker I am in big trouble being in a business which is a total 180 from baking!

Happy baking :)

John

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

It appears that you are learning to balance all three, John, and doing rather well at it, too.  And your baking shows the influence of the breads that first mesmerized you.

Some are so smitten with baking that they want to open a bakery and I wish them well.  Myself, I'd rather keep baking for the fun of it and not turn it into a job.  It's a welcome outlet for creative expression and a tangible connection to the living world.

Paul

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Paul.  Thank you for your feedback.  Yes, it has been a heck of a challenge to balance it all.  I agree with you...keep it a pleasure.  Glancing around that cafe/bakery, it was hectic and extremely busy.  Top that off with crazy baker hours, and it is a formula for burn out. 

Take care.

John

wassisname's picture
wassisname

That close-up, crust shot of yours is pretty inspiring as well.  Beautiful loaves, John!

Marcus

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks Marcus.  Appreciate your comments and praise.  I hope you have some wonderful inspired bakes soon.

John

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

is killer.  How could anyone who appreciates great bread not buy one of those!  They have to selling their bread like hot cakes when the snow isn't too deep:-)

You have come a long way in your balking John and those batards are top notch.  Just beautiful crumb , nice and blistered with a fine bloom.  Would love to see a crumb shot of those.  What flour did you use on them and what hydration did you decide on?

The crust and bloom plus additional open cracking on the tinned loaves is incredible.   The open crumb is pretty good for 100% whole grain bread too.  Nice baking all the way around.  Don't you just love the taste that whole multi-grains provide?  Those are my kind of breads.

I do have some more advice for you too.  Don't ever get rid of that turkey roaster:-)  I know you love yours as much as I do mine. 

Really like the scenery and the lake too. Happy baking John

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hey dabrowny.

Thanks for all your feedback.  I was very happy with the loaves.  I will post the crumb shot of the levain loaves when I get home.  I used a stone ground organic whole wheat, unbleached bread flour, with a rye sour.  The grains are barley, oats, cracked wheat berries and steel cut oats.  Thanks again for all your help with the whole grain hydration.  Even though I changed the flour types from the loaf you helped me on, it still turned out much better than the last one.  I LOVE 100% whole grain bread flavour.

The bakery in Kelowna turned out to be a huge hit in town.  They are known for their breakfasts and brunches.  Best in town apparently.  The breads are very reasonably priced too which was surprising for a tourist spot.  You weren't too far off with the snow comment.  Even though the weather there is known in summer as very hot and arid, the winters are VERY cold and snowy.

Happy baking friend.

John

 

 

 

Breadandwine's picture
Breadandwine

…and so's your story.

I'm sitting here with a big smile on my face, reading through your post again. Thanks for sharing!

Paul

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Well Paul, you put a smile on your face with your comments.  Thank you so much.  I am glad you liked.

Take care and happy baking.

John

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I should have said...meant to bake !  Being a baker is WAY too hard work. c

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

John was mneant to be a baker but he is just a painter right now:-)  If he paints half as good as he bakes, his business miust be going gang busters right now.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I do appreciate that comment dabrowny.  Unfortunately I am neither.  I am not a painter by trade, nor a pro baker.  My father was one of the top tradesmen around and I just learned the business end of things.  Same goes with the baking I guess.  Just learned the home baking part of the professional baking.  A 'wanna be' maybe?

John

merlie's picture
merlie

Hi John,

I live near Armstrong just 45 minutes from Kelowna but do not know the town that well. Do  you have the address or name of the Bakery ? 

Many thanks - Merlie.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Link to the website.  http://thebreadcompany.ca/

It's right downtown on Bernard.  Beside the very good Thai restaurant.

John

merlie's picture
merlie

Thank you so much for the information John - must go to Kelowna again soon !  ( Love Thai food too )

I don't know what I did wrong posting my question  -  only the subject was there and not the rest . Sorry about that. My computer skills are sadly lacking and I still haven't got the hang of using the site in its new form !

Merlie

annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

Beautiful holiday location with good wine and great bread.... top notch! :)

Your loaves look very delicious, too.

Cheers,

Annie

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks Annie.  Hope to see a post of yours real soon :)

John

annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

but right now, my thoughts are constantly interupted every day by chores and attentions to my children. All my levain builds, autolyse and retarding are scheduled overnight then the loaves are to be baked off first thing in the morning. I'm lucky to have time to read and bake... Right now, my little one just got up from an afternoon nap... I have to go...

Annie

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

That's some spectacular bread you've found and baked---crust, crumb, and all. I have to say, I always look forward to your posts as I'm guaranteed to salivate. :)

Happy baking,

Zita

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Well, Zita, I am not sure if inducing salivation is part of my goal here, but I'm very glad you enjoy my posts.  Much appreciated. 

Happy baking!

John

isand66's picture
isand66

Well John when you said you would do a post you certainly didn't disappoint.  I think  your photography and bread baking skills have both improved to the point you would think you were doing this for a long time

I love the look of your latest bakes.  They look good enough to be sold in that wonderful bakery you were kind enough to share with us.

Regards

Ian

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I really appreciate the comments Ian.  You were one of my first guides along this bread baking journey and I owe a lot of my successes to you and others on this site.

Safe travels to China and make sure you eat a few goodies for me.

John

Mirko's picture
Mirko

Hi, John

I spend 12 days in Vernon,BC (13.08-24.08) with my Family. It's very nice place to live.

I have some friends in Vernon and they try to argue us to move to Vernon and by the way you baked very nice loaves.

Mirko

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Good to hear from you Mirko.  The photo above is actually of Kalamalka Lake, which stretches between Oyama and Vernon.  I am sure if you spent that much time in Vernon, this photo will look familiar to you of Kal Beach.  Kalamalka Lake, native translation 'Lake of Many Colours.'

Very nice place to live is right.  Laid back...orchards everywhere...vinyards...lakes...sun.  Perfect environment for a European home baker :)

John

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Good to hear from you Mirko.  The photo above is actually of Kalamalka Lake, which stretches between Oyama and Vernon.  I am sure if you spent that much time in Vernon, this photo will look familiar to you of Kal Beach.  Kalamalka Lake, native translation 'Lake of Many Colours.'

Very nice place to live is right.  Laid back...orchards everywhere...vinyards...lakes...sun.  Perfect environment for a European home baker :)

John

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Very inspiring, John. no matter what you say or think, you are a baker now, only not one that makes a living out of it. I'm proud to be an artisan "home baker", we all are. 

The scenery is just out of this world!!! I'm in awe. 

I hope you enjoyed your vacation, you deserve it!

-Khalid

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thank you for the kind comments Khalid.  I find it difficult to accept that I may be a 'baker.'  A year ago, prior to this trip, I would never believe if you told me I would be baking bread.

Yes, it is a beautiful place I live...very lucky to be here.  Although, I do complain a lot about the rain!

Take care and looking forward to your next post.

John

Mirko's picture
Mirko

Yes, it looks very familiar. We spend some time at Kal Beach and my 14 years old daughter told me: Dad, I would

like to live here.

Keep baking good bread!

Mirko

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I said the same thing 20 years ago when I first visited there...

You keep baking great bread as well.

John