The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The day before the market

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breadnik's picture
breadnik

The day before the market

Before:


 


Before


After:


After


 


111 loaves in all. About 16 hours of work prepping and measuring the ingredients, mixing the dough, [overnight rising in my little hippie greenhouse on the deck]


 


Greenhouse


 


dividing, shaping, proofing and baking.

Comments

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Nice work!

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Good job!! 111 loaves in 16 hours!! So how did the market go?
Betty

breadnik's picture
breadnik

The market was great! The only reason I didn't sell out was because I made a little too much -- this was my first ever of our monthly winter markets, and I didn't know what to expect.

JoeVa's picture
JoeVa

You are a professional baker and without the professional stuff they have!


Giovanni

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you. You are very kind but no, I'm not a professional baker, for a whole bunch of reasons. I am just a pragmatic well-organized home baker who somewhat accidentally ended up doing this craziness. In summer I did it once a week! ;)

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

would love to know the make and model


All the bread looks great

breadnik's picture
breadnik

No special kind at all. My old electric household oven (don't even know the brand, it came with our rental farm) was moved to the garage and gets used only when I need to bake anything over 60 loaves. In the kitchen I have another old electric household oven but this one is slightly better -- a 10 year old convection KitchenAid that we bought on Craigslist for $150. I do bake in two pans, 10-12 loaves per batch, rotating pans regularly and monkeying with temperature.


The worst part for me is NOT not having a commercial oven. Not having a commercial mixer is what's really hard. For now all my breads are mixed by hand, with my 21 year old son and my husband being my live Hobarts while I weigh all the ingredients.

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

That looks like a whole lot of work, and a fine lot of bread. I hope it sold like, er, hot cakes.

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Well, thank you, it did. This is the only reason I continue doing this: the fact that my customers seem to really appreciate my work, in spite of there being two other bread bakers at the market.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Nika,


How do you bake all of this?


Jeff

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Jeff,


I start my doughs the night before, on Thursday, usually in 7 or 8 five-gallon buckets. I do NOT have a commercial mixer yet, so my 21-year old son comes to help me mix the dough. I do the first couple of S&Fs on all of my doughs late at night, before I go to bed. On Friday, I get up early and do the last S&F on all the doughs. For the next 10-12 hours I divide, shape, proof and bake. When I have over 60 loaves, I bake in two household ovens (one in the kitchen and one in the garage), but they are both old and crappy (the better of the two being a 10 year old convection electric Kitchenaid that I bought on Craigslist for $150). I bake 12-loaf batches (6 loaves per tray), rotating my trays regularly.


It takes me about 9-10 hours to divide, proof and bake all of this bread. Late at night, before I go to bed and when the loaves have cooled off completely, I package them in bags and pack them in totes for the market.


I've tried a few different schedules but settled on this one for now as it seems to be the most efficient -- my bread comes out good and doesn't seem to suffer too much from having been baked a few hours before the market while I don't end up too terribly sleep-deprived and overworked.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Simply more evidence that you can make a masterpiece with seemingly inadequate tools but state of the art tools guarantee nothing.  Really nice work all the way around and I love the idea of having two live breathing Hobart Mixers !!!!


Jeff

breadnik's picture
breadnik

I am very far from producing a masterpiece, Jeff, but I'm certainly working on it. ;) Yes, two living breathing Hobarts are nice. Our massage therapist likes this idea, too. :)

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

While any given loaf may or may not qualify as a masterpiece your overall effort out of a home kitchen certainly qualifies. 


Jeff

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Yeah, Jeff, I keep wondering whether this is heroic or stupid on my part. But since I enjoy doing it so much, I'd take your kind compliment. Thank you.


Nika

chouette22's picture
chouette22

... recently posted a home baker's portrait that I found just wonderful. You might enjoy reading it as well:
http://www.farine-mc.com/2009/10/meet-baker-kathy-andrews.html.


Kathy Andrews bakes all of her loaves at home for a farmer's market and just enjoys the sense of community that comes along so much, making it all worth it.


Your bake: great effort for a great outcome!


 

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you for your kind words and for the link. I really enjoyed reading it: Kathy's thoughts re community very much resonate with my feelings.


I've been a customer at the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy farmers' market for three years before I, somewhat accidentally, became a vendor. And, I feel, it is my small way of paying back for all the kindness and hard work that our local producers put into making great locally-grown and locally-produced food available to us.


I use all organic flours (locally grown and milled, when possible) and other local organic ingredients which, as much as I can, I get from the local farmers. Without a doubt becoming a part of the local foods community was the best and the biggest thing that happened to me this year. And I'm deeply honored that my customers choose to buy my bread when they have so many choices. That is what keeps me going and what makes me want to keep learning and getting better.

chouette22's picture
chouette22

... to the local foods community very admirable! Especially when your efforts are so much tough work. I cannot believe you knead all that dough by hand, that is tremendous! I used to knead by hand a lot (but just for my small family), however since I bought a stand mixer several years ago, I have happily let it do that part of my bread production (unless I do a S&F kind of recipe). I hope that you'll find an adequate mixer for your needs some time soon! What a relief this would be!


 

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Truth be told, I don't knead it. It's all S&F, and even that feels like battling with a monster -- my batches are usually between 12 and 18 pounds each!


Yes, I would love to have a standing mixer but at this point, I'm afraid, I really need to invest money into a 20-quart Hobart, and I'm not quite ready for that yet.

Salome's picture
Salome

Hi breadnik, Kudos to you!! I am very impressed.


How many and which kinds of bread do you bake? How much is a loaf? I'd love to have some... ;) (altough it's impossible, exept if I'd ever get to your region, which is unlikely at this point)


Salome

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you! I guess I'll have to figure out some way to mail my breads -- many of my friends all over the world would like to have some. ;)


I usually take to the market anywhere from 4 to 7 kinds of bread. I always bring my Russian Corainder-Rye (the dark bread in the picture), Caramelized Shallot-Thyme (front left in the picture) and Calamata Olive-Cracked Black Pepper (front right) breads, these seem to be everyone's favorites. Depending on what produce is available, I make other breads filled with dried or roasted veggies, herbs and spices, such as roasted sweet potato white (it is actually a beautiful golden color), sun-dried tomato-basil or roasted garlic-sweet and hot pepper loafs. For the Thanksgiving market I made savory cranberry bread with dried cranberries, raw chopped onions and a blend of herbs traditionally used at Thanksgiving (in the picture that's the one in the right back corner). I baked 24 loaves of this bread and sold every one of them.


Most of my breads cost $5 per 1-pound (a touch under 0.5 kilo), and my customers seem to be willing to pay this price to get good quality organic locally-made bread. 

Salome's picture
Salome

I love the way how you seem to adjust to the seasons! Must be exciting to discover what you've brought along this day. Sounds like a lot of tasty variations and a inspiring creativity from your side.


I can understand you customers, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a bread which is a) made with love and knowledge, b) local and c) a new creation/known from experience to be good!


Keep your work going, and if you find a way to ship bread without staleing, let me know. I'd be willing to pay double the price. ;-)


Salome

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Thank you, Salome, I'm very happy that you understand and appreciate what goes into my breads. I came to bread baking via my more general love of food and cooking, and since the best ingredients are only available seasonally (and because I am also a budding farmer), I tend to cook and live with seasons. Luckily for me, this sensible and traditional approach now seems to be all the rage!


Cheers,
Nika

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Wow! I am so............impressed. Your breads look like sourdough breads. Are they? Reading your comments make me think that it may not be but it looks like the "Artisan sourdough" at the expensive stores.


mantana

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Mantana, thank you so much, I'm truly honored.


No, my breads unfortunately are not sourdough -- and I know that on TFL making yeasted doughs is considered cheating. ;) I was just getting ready to start experimenting with sourdough when I got into this baking-for-the-market pickle and had to quickly figure out how to scale my modest home baking to an almost commercial operation. So I never got around to learning to make sourdough and now I seem to never have the time, the courage and the energy all at the same time to start experimenting.


My breads are yeasted but I use very little yeast and long fermentation (15-18 hours). No kneading, just S&F. The results are predictable and good but I'm still looking for ways to improve my crumb.


Hopefully, I will eventually work up the courage to try starting my sourdough.


Nika

Kroha's picture
Kroha

Hi Nika,


Your breads are so beautiful, as is your story.  While I am a city girl through and through, I admire those who have a better connection to earth and nature.  And I have a fantasy that one day I will bake not only for my own family, but also for other families who are raising children with life-threatening allergies.  I bake organic, nut-free, predominantly whole-grain, breads and desserts for my family, and know that many other families, where parents do not have the time or skills to bake, struggle to find healthy quality baked goods that are safe for their kids. I am not where I am ready to do this yet, but I hope that within next couple of years I might experiment with scaling up my production and supplying breads and desserts to at least several families on a regular basis.


I am very curious about about your breads that inorporate vegetables.  I would love to learn how to do that.  My toddlers love bread and do not love veggies.  Do you come up with your own formulas?  Are there any tricks to these breads that you would be willing to share?  I have not yet experimented much with developing my own breads.  One day I will have more time and more for space for flops.


Vsego xoroshego!


Yulika

breadnik's picture
breadnik

Yulika,


Believe it or not, I am a city girl myself, through and through. In fact, it is exactly the fact that I lived most of my life in Moscow (now a city of almost 15 million people!), doing weird intellectual jobs (first as a musicologist and then as a translator) that sent me in the opposite direction of looking for Paradise Lost. I think my country life, which includes growing my own fruits and veggies, doing fiber arts (knitting and felting), making my own butter and sour cream, putting up the harvest and baking bread comes pretty close to idyllic. A LOT better and simpler than it was in Moscow. I wish I had more bookshelf space for books, though. ;)


Re you are not ready to do this. Necessity is the mother of invention, at least it was in my case. A year ago I could not even dream that I'd be making my very modest living by baking bread. And even when I briefly contemplated becoming a vendor at the market, I quickly realized that for me it would be beyond doable, so I gave up on this idea almost as soon as I started thinking about it. But lo and behold, I ended up where I'm doing it anyway. Which to me means that if you're really passionate about something it WILL happen. I know that with small children you really are not yet in a position to start baking for other people but I do wish you that your dream of baking for living will come true. I think it will.


Veggies in the bread. Here's the embarrassing truth: I do NOT have formulas for them. I have a few master formulas that I use for my straight bread, and all the other breads are based on them. Every time I end up with a 50-pound bag of shallots or a bushel of tomatoes kindly donated by a friend I start thinking, ok, how will I put THIS into my bread?! That's actually how my [now very popular] caramelized shallot-thyme bread came about, from a 50-pound bag of shallots that were going bad. Some veggies I saute in olive oil and, most of the moisture having been driven out of them, I add them in place of oil in my recipe (together with the oil they where cooked in). Some veggies, like tomatoes or peppers, go in dehydrated, in which case they are treated like dry ingredients. Onions or scallions oftentimes go in the dough raw, chopped. Potatoes, sweet potatoes or butternut squash go in baked or boiled. Depending on the particular vegetable, its amount and how it was prepped, I do occasionally have to hold back some of the water from the recipe.


Just to give you an idea, I make an onion-dill rye using the formula very similar to the one I posted for my coriander-rye (it doesn't have honey, which is substituted with water). [Side note: the smell of this bread baking makes me laugh every time: it smells like vodka and herring should be mixed right in the dough! :)] For two 1-pound loaves or 1 1-kilo loaf I take a large bunch of dill and a large onion and pulse them in my food processor. Of course, the resulting juice takes the place of some of the water in the recipe, but I can't just say that my 200 grams of onions=200 grams of water (because there's still pulp to be reckoned with), so I start with holding back about 10% of water, and if the dough is too stiff, give it some more water until I have the right consistency. The reason I don't have any reliable formulas is that I don't work with reliable water content in my veggies - I prep them myself, and they (and I) are different every day. So I am somewhat ashamed to admit that my bread baking is very far from being an exact science but is much more of an [not always predictable and successful] art. Which makes it all the more exciting and fun.


I hope that I didn't bore you with this really long and somewhat convoluted explanation.


Spokoinoi nochi,


Nika

Salome's picture
Salome

Wow, I admire your life story. I feel torn between these two possibilities me too. On the one hand I'm very much attracted to the "intellectual" world, I enjoy studying, dealing with abstract issues which find appliance in reality, and I'd not be willing to "give up" school now. On the other hand I'm worried about becoming an "office tiger" (as you say in German), that I'd become too busy and loose having my feet firmly on the ground.


I hope that I will, when I feel like it, be able to somehow combine the both.


Are you originally from Russia or is there a second Moscow in the States?

breadnik's picture
breadnik

No, I am originally from Russia, although there are, I am sure, multiple Moscows in the US.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Yulika,


I know of a couple of recipes for breads that incorporate herbs and vegetables.  I think that The Italian Baker by Carol Field has a recipe for herb bread and Jacques Pepin's The Art of Cooking has at least one recipe for a bread with vegetables.  I can dig them out and send you the recipes if you would like me to.


Jeff

Kroha's picture
Kroha

 

Jeff, I would love the recipes for the breads you mentioned.   I make a cottage herb loaf from Laurel's Kitchen, but would love to look at other recipes for herbed breads, and breads with vegetables.  Thank you so much for offering.

Nika, thank you for the explanation.  It is very helpful.  So, for example, if I wanted to make roasted sweet potato/chives bread, I would add pureed potatoes (one cup for two one-pound loaves?), hold back some water and then add it during kneading as needed?  Do I need to account for the extra starch somehow by reducing the amount of flour, or does it just magically get taken care of itself?

Thank you for your encouragement.  I don’t expect to make a living baking bread.  In the Boston Metro area, where I live, there are so many incredible bakeries, that the only “niche” I see is the nut-free baking.  And I would do it as something between a hobby and a “tikkun olam” ("repairing the world" in Hebrew) project.  I have four ovens at home (don’t ask!), so it is possible to bake large-ish batches.  I just need much more practice and a more predictable schedule before I can try that out.

Your description of the country life brought to mind the lines by Brodsky "Esli vypalo v imperii rodit'sya, luchshe zhit' v gluxoj provincii u morya" ("If one happens to have been born in an empire, it is better to live in distant provinces by the sea") and "Vmesto slabyx mira etogo i sil'nyx -- lish' soglasnoe guden'e nasekomyx" ("Instead of the powerful and powerless of this world, there is only a buzzing harmony of insects").  That life certainly sounds simpler than that in Moscow, or in Boston, for that matter.  Less time spent being hassled and more time spent being who you are.

Best,

Yulika