The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

So what do you do to streamline baking your daily bread?

clazar123's picture
clazar123

So what do you do to streamline baking your daily bread?

I am finally settling into a pattern of baking 3-4 loaves every weekend for our daily use-WWsandwich, fruited morning toast, french and maybe 1 extra as experimental,giveaway or to perfect a recipe.


It occurs to me their are many little things I can do to streamline the process of making the repetetive loaves such as pre-measuring out my flour into ziplocs and even adding all the dry ingredients to it.


I thought I'd ask the collection of experts here what they do to streamline their process? I have learned so much from this forum. I'm sure there are many great ideas as to procedure and supplies that make it easier and faster. After all, it will leave more time to bake NEW breads!

baltochef's picture
baltochef

When I am going to devote an entire day to baking bread I usually time it for the weekend when I also wash-dry-fold-put away laundry all day..I find that the long periods of time between the various stages of bread making tend to coinicide neatly with the long periods of time that exist between washing-drying-folding laundry..


What I have found to work best for me is to weigh out the various stages (ie. sponge, final dough, dry ingredients, wet ingredients, poolish, biga, sourdough starter, etc) the night before..The only thing that I do not weigh out / measure is instant yeast..I keep the instant yeast in the freezer in a flip-top, clear acrylic canister that has a silicone seal..I purchased this canister from KA Flour..It is specifically designed to hold either a 1 pound, or 500g package of instant yeast..From the time I open the factory-sealed foil package of the SAF instant yeast I attempt to always do two things..First, is to expose the yeast to as little oxygen / air as possible by keeping it in the sealed canister..The second thing is to keep the yeast frozen, except when I am using it in a recipe..To that end I measure the yeast with measuring spoons directly before I stir it into the flour being added to a final dough; or direcly before making a sponge..By keeping the yeast frozen all of the time I can keep a 500g package viable for as long as 2 years,


I weigh out, and place things like cold milk, cold water, etc., in 16 oz. Tupperware drinking glasses, snap on a mating Tupperware lid, and place them in the door of the refrigerator..If I am working with a long fermentation dough I use these liquid ingredients right out of the fridge..If I am working with a 80F room temperature fermentation dough, I take the pre-weighed liquids out of the fridge and heat them up either on top of the stove in a saucepan, or in the microwave oven..


For warm fermentation doughs, things like whole shell eggs and butter are pulled out of the fridge the night before baking..Butter is weighed out, placed in a shallow glass dish, covered with plastic wrap, and allowed to soften to room temperature..Dairy products like sour cream, cream cheese, etc. are weighed out, placed in containers, sealed, and placed back in the refrigerator..Hard cheeses are weighed out, grated, placed back in the fridge, sealed..


All of the above is called Mise en Place in French..A direct translation from French to English is, "Setting in place"..Chefs in the United States more loosely translate this phrase to mean, "Having everything in its place"..Culinary schools teach this to mean for the baker or chef to have everything weighed out, raw foods cut into appropriately-sized pieces, all pots, pans, utensils, equipment  readily at hand, stoves, ovens, broilers, etc. pre-heated, BEFORE a recipe is started..This way the recipe has the greatest chance of proceeding seamlessly from start to finish, with no mistakes occuring..


I find that I can arise early, pre-heat the oven to WARM, start a sponge, start the first tub of laundry, and procede through the day baking 2 batches of bread, a batch of cookies (or some other sweet), and do 5-6 tubs of laundry from washing through putting it away..This is a full days work, and it will usually procede fairly smoothly, as long as I do not allow myself to become distracted..


Bruce

tdapple's picture
tdapple

I have no real answer but am intrested in this myself. I seem to barely have time to keep up with a loaf a week, and would like to make a couple plus a desert every week. Hopefully good advice pours in.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Mise en place.


Cooking "Mise en Place" is a wonderful concept that I have only recently tried practicing more consistently.  There is a whole different way of using thought and memory to keep track of the project's progress. I just didn't know it had a name! Growing up, we always cooked in a more linear fashion-get the next ingredient and then use it before getting the next ingredient,etc,etc.It was just the way we did it.


Time to learn new habits


I have discovered that some of my most important tools are my timers. I get easily distracted if I try to do too many projects at once. The timer ding can bring me back to reality-"DING" "Stop what you're doing and check that!" I've saved many an overproofing/baking with those dings and buzzes.

baltochef's picture
baltochef

I agree that timers are essential to preventing mistakes in the kitchen..Most modern people do not have the luxury of working in an environment where there are NO distractions..Therefore, it is essential to use timers to try and avoid mistakes..My all-time favorite timer is the Polder 898-series timer..It is the most easily set / programmed timer that I have ever used..Just clear the setting, and punch in the time desired..No laborious paging up and down to arrive at the time one desires to set..More accurate than spring-driven dial timers..The price is reasonable at around $15.00..They take readily available #357 silver oxide batteries that usually last for several years..There is a magnet for attaching to steel surfaces, and a lanyard for wearing around one's neck..Its only drawback is that the Stop / Clear button is easily pressed which means that carrying it about in a pocket is problematical..Other than that, it is the best, most easily used timer I have ever worked with..I highly recommend this timer..I have owned 5 of them over the past 10 years..


Bruce


http://www.amazon.com/Polder-90-Clock-Timer-Stopwatch/dp/B00004s4U7/ref=acc_glance_ktch_ai_-2_2_tit

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hello clazar123,


Mise en place not only streamlines the baking flow, it helps prevent mistakes. I now always gather all the elements of what I'm baking before I start. Also, I have forgotten the salt enough times that I automatically measure out the salt (along with some of the flour) first, even though it gets mixed in last. I put it near the mixer so that after an autolyse I can't miss it, and since adopting this technique have never forgotten the salt.


David

Strega's picture
Strega

Maintaining a well organized, tidy kitchen and properly storing all of your ingredients will definitely help.  Plan ahead and stock your freezer with family favorites. But, in considering the time investment required to pre-weigh everything and or pre-measure flour into zip-loc's are you really gaining?  


The more you bake the more you develop your own routine.


Time is an ingredient, relax and release the creative baker. 

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Professional chefs / bakers often perform mise en place the night before a shift of baking or cooking..In most instances it is a person / team of prep cooks that is performing this work so the swing shift bakers, or the AM chefs can get a jump start on the next night / days work..


Regardless of when mise en place is performed, it is an invaluable technique to learn..In the OP's case, if she is going to be strapped for time the next day, then weighing out / measuring the ingredients the night before a next day's baking can help to ensure that mistakes are not made..Especially, if the weighing / measuring is going to be performed during a period of  "quiet time" where one's attention is not going to be distracted..


Having a well organized kitchen where equipment and ingredients are always in the same place compliments learning, and performing mise en place..


Bruce

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Mise en place is mise en place, regardless of when it is performed..I only weigh out things in advance in order to save the time required to do so the following day for some other task that I need the time for..


There is not a restaurant in the world that does not do some form of advance preparation, ie. mise en place..I am constantly amazed at the reluctance of the home cook / baker to adopt mise en place..Of all the things that a chef can possibly learn in culinary school, or by on-the-job training, mise en place is quite possibly the most important..Without mastering it, one will have a very difficult time learning, and hopefully, mastering the craft of cooking / baking..


I agree that Zip-Loc bags are a little inconvenient for storing the pre-weighed ingredients for a bread recipe..Bowls, and other easily covered containers make more sense to me..Especially, if they eliminate the need for plastic wrap..


Bruce

mcs's picture
mcs

Any of my recipes that call for a biga of similar ingredients, get the same biga.  Then I make the adjustments to the final dough and the biga gets divided up on day#2 for each recipe.  For instance my focaccia, multigrain, and psb all use the same biga so I only need to do one mix for them on day#1.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

I do the same thing with biga. When I first started using preferments, I settled on one formula for a biga and different breads that all used the same biga. I make up a big batch and freeze what I don't need immediately in preweighed packets. I'm baking more with sourdough starter now, but having frozen biga on hand can be a time saver.


I've read you can freeze poolish too, though I've never tried it. (Not enough freezer space!). Do you think poolish could be frozen?


When I make pizza dough I make extra and freeze it too.

proth5's picture
proth5

I have a "formula designer" spreadsheet that allows me to enter baker's percentage formulas for up to 4 different breads.  It then consolidates the preferments into one and creates a summary "worksheet"- in large type for my old eyes - on a single sheet that is used as my guide for doing the preferment and the final loaves. No fooling around with different books or formula sheets.  It's all there.


I would also add that doing the weighing of the dry ingredients the night before is important for me.  Not only is my "morning brain" not as efficient as my "evening brain," it allows me to get to the mix immediately in the morning.  If you are trying to streamline the time from mix to bake, getting this step out of the way the evening before is important. I weigh directly into the bowls that will be used for the mix and cover the bowls with vinyl bowl covers.


I am also very careful about dough temperature and fermentation temperatures so that I have a somewhat predictable schedule for my breads.  I will then offset the start time for the mixes so that I will be able to bake each batch in succession - no  bread that is ready to bake waiting for an oven and very little "empty oven" time until all the loaves are baked.  For up to four different breads this is something I can do in my head, if I went much beyond that, I would probably use a spreadsheet to make sure I stay on schedule.  I use timers diligently.


My personality is such that this kind of structure makes me content and relaxed.  Some folks would find this a bit too regimented for their taste or their life. 


Hope this is helpful...

baltochef's picture
baltochef

proth5


If I may ask, "What spreadsheet are you using to calculate your biga requirements for a days baking??"..


Thanks, Bruce

proth5's picture
proth5

The spreadsheet is of my own design and is mostly useful for soughdough baking, although with some tweaks can be used for preferments with commercial yeast.


Hope this helps...

mredwood's picture
mredwood

How everyone organizes themselves is so different. By the time got finished reading about everything being weighed out and put away till the next day I was exhausted. I probably would have put it all together and popped it in the fridge till the next day.


I have a smallish galley style kitchen. Next to the stove is a going into the pan, toaster and butter area with a large cutting, bread board. Next to it sit many gal. containers of different flours. Some smallish containers also, double stacked. This is where my mixer lives and dough & batter hook are stored inside the bowl. Also a container that holds some baking tools sit there. Directly below it is a drawer that has measuring and other kinds of preparation utensils. On the wall next to it sits a small shelf like the one you might use in the bath shower area to hold shampoos. This holds baking powder, soda and many other incidentals. Behind the bread board area sits another chopping board that holds different oils, vinegars , salts and other non refrigerated condiments. The baking area is about 34 " and the area next to it is about the same. Above this is cabinets that hold dishes and my scale and scale bowl. Turn around and the sink is there with a spot next to it for dirty dishes and other in use items. The refer is right next to it. On top of refer are my cooling racks my peel, and my proofing and other work boards. Also next to the sink are food processor, blender and coffee pot. When things are cleaned up and put away you can still see counter and work area. I also start out with an empty dishwasher and empty sinks. Turn around... baking area and stove. Next to the stove is a narrow cabinet that holds many baking items, like biscuit cutters, cookie cutters, bench scrapers etc. All in an easy pull out container. Next to the baking area is a pantry that holds dry goods. On the bottom shelf is a plastic file drawer that hold smaller containers of baking dry goods i.e.: corn meal, non fat dry milk, coconut etc. On another shelf is a pull out container that holds flavorings, etc. Another one holds only seeds that are used in baking. Another holds nuts & raisins and other dried fruit, all in quickly and easily accessible containers or bags. Everything can be measured, cleaned and reorganized, quick and easy. Everything has a place and always goes back in place unless it goes in the sink or dishwasher. My cookbook is on the stove and baking pans under the oven. Rolling pins on top of the pantry.


Gosh that was long winded. My point is everything that I use is close. There isn't anything I can't get in a second or two. It's easier for me to make something than it would be for me to measure and put away and take out again. What I envy is some who can do laundry in between baking. I can't. I must focus on baking and cleanup. The pre planning I do is the clean and emptied dishwasher and sink and clean and reorganize the fridge so I can place something in it.


 

rainwater's picture
rainwater

Hmmmm.....I don't see any savings of time by pre-measuring a day before the event.  I have a regular spring scale (@25.00) with a big bowl which seems to be very accurate.  Any technique I'm doing: poolish, biga, fermentier, firm biga, or just a straight forward recipe....I put in the flour, add other dry ingredients, stir with my finger, add liquids by just adding to the weight volumn I already have....stir with spoon for about 10 seconds, dump on counter, and go to work with my hybridized kneading mixing method.  This happens while I'm cooking dinner.......


What to do while waiting for ferment, stretch & fold, etc......


visit you guys, play my classical guitar, eat, study foreign language.....

100percentwholegrain's picture
100percentwholegrain

The best streamlining I've done is finding easy recipes!  I used to measure and store dry ingredients for 2 pound loaves in the bread machine until I started making 6 loaves at a time.  Now I mix and bake and store in the freezer.  Kids and hubby put a sticky note on the cupboard when there is only one loaf left.  Then I have a day or two to make another batch.


Here's a fun, fast recipe for raspberry pasty that makes a healthy snack, if you're interested: whole wheat bread


Keep up the good work!

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Thank you for this wonderful discussion.  I am constantly trying to think of ways to streamline this process in order to minimize cleanup times, etc.  I am baking for 6 - and have been producing 20 or more 1 pound batards a week for sandwiches, dinner bread, and breakfast and gifts.  I am now making several batches of biga a week and putting them in separate containers with lids.  The day before we need more bread I make a final dough enough for 2 days in a large stainless bowl (no mixer), and keep in in the fridge for overnite bulk fermentation.  The next day I bake either 2 or 4 batards, depending on our needs.  Sometimes I bake all 8 and put the surplus in the freezer or give it away.  I know I could streamline this, but I so enjoy the actual mixing, folds, and baking.  I very much dislike the cleanup though.  


 


Does anyone have any tricks for the best cleanup methods for wet dough on a counter or bowl, or sink.  I am a baker not a scrub dutch!!


 


Blessings and good cheer,


Anna

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Cold water is more effective for removing raw dough, than is hot water..Hot water softens, "cooks" the dough, and makes the dough prone to sticking onto the utensil, or in your plumbing..On flat surfaces a bench scraper is the most effective tool for scraping dough..On the butcher block top of my wooden kitchen cart I use a no longer manufactured, customized, carbon steel Dexter bench scraper that I sharpen with a file..This allows me to actually scrape off a minute layer of wood along with the dough stuck to the surface..A baker's bowl scraper is the best tool for scraping out a circular bowl..They are D-shaped, and made of flexible plastic..This flexibility allows the scraper to conform to the radius of virtually any bowl that one might have in their kitchen..They were originally designed to allow professional bakers to scrape up the ingredients that always manage stick to the bottom of the mixing bowls under the paddle or hook of a Hobart commercial mixer..


Bruce

Aprea's picture
Aprea

I assume this D shaped scraper is available at baker supplies?  Since you already have one, you probably do not know.  I ask this because it is truly a pain - if you know what I mean.  I use the large bowl to mix by hand - dough all over the bowl.  The resulting ball of dough remains in the bowl for at least an hour before I put it into a covered container for the refrigerator.  I sigh everytime I look at the task of cleanup.  As sweet as my DH is, I couldn't leave that gook for him.  Even if I did - it would remain in the sink with all the other dishes taken care of.

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Yes, these bowl scrapers should be easily found from any number of internet sources..Just Google "bowl scraper"..Here is a sample link with the best photo I could find..


http://www.cheftools.com/prodinfo-new.asp?number=02-0633


Price should be NO MORE than $2.00..Fancy does not equate into a better tool..Simplicity rules!!..


Bruce

Aprea's picture
Aprea

Thank you - Simplicity rules!

Strega's picture
Strega

Check out chaper ten of George Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker which offers 12 varied menus that clearly outline the time schedule required to bake 3 or 4 varities of bread in the time it normally takes to make 1 loaf. 


 It's easy to follow for the home baker and only a well stocked pantry and a little planning is needed. The menus vary, one favorite is Program 3 (time 3 1/2 to 4 hours) which includes Psomi Bread, Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread, Potato rye with Onion & Caraway and Semolina Bread. Other programs include muffins, coffee cakes and there is even a non-dairy program.


 On occasions when relatives will be visiting or if you find your freezer suddenly empty this is a great resource. 

Strega's picture
Strega

Oops, I should clarify that there are several non-dairy programs in chapter 10!