The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

To the Fair!

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wassisname's picture
wassisname

To the Fair!

Baking for the county fair.  Or, what if they gave a bread competition and nobody came?  Well, I would win lots of ribbons, that's what!  I'm exaggerating a little, there were a few other breads but none were in the categories I entered (fortunately for me).  Makes the blue ribbons a bit less impressive but I still had fun doing it.


It is always a good learning experience as well.  Things I learned (or was keenly reminded of): 

Baking three batches of bread makes for a much longer day than baking one batch. 
Baking a loaf for a random, judgemental stranger is much more stressful than baking a loaf for myself. 
Baking an olive bread next to a plain bread makes the plain bread taste really funky. 
Pitting a whole jar of lucques olives by hand is a pain in the neck (and the hands).
Sourdough always seems to proof faster when the oven is occupied.
Taking photos of my own bread at the fair may give people (non-bread enthusiasts, anyway) the impression that I am a narcissistic weirdo.
Giving away a loaf of bread feels really good.
I sincerely hope that at least one person walks by my breads and says, "Heck, I can make better bread than that!" and brings it to the fair next year.

The breads:  a basic sourdough with 10% whole wheat, the same sourdough with olives, a 30% rye sourdough, and the same rye with walnuts and raisins The group photo has a couple of extra loaves because I doubled-up on two of them. 

 

 

This is the extra olive bread I kept for my own enjoyment:

 

Marcus

Comments

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Marcus,

They all look great to me.   Another thing you could add to your "things I learned":

It's the taking part in these competitions that is the really important bit!

 Well done for entering; even better to win!

Andy

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you, Andy.  I am definitely coming around on that point.  I'm grateful that our little fair still offers a wide variety of competitions even with funding getting scarce.  The least I can do is show-up.  So, I try to show-up... with enthusiasm!

Marcus

 

mimifix's picture
mimifix

Congratulations Marcus! Your breads look great. And I hope you enjoyed the experience.

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, mimifix.  Spending a day baking bread is always enjoyable!   And, a little recognition is the icing on the cake.

Marcus

varda's picture
varda

Congratulations on your blues and all the lessons you learned.   Your breads look terrific!  -Varda

wassisname's picture
wassisname

It was well worth the effort in every respect!  Thank you, Varda.

Marcus

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Way to go Marcus! Thanks for holding up your end in the march forward to Real Bread.

Eric

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you, Eric. I appreciate it. I am beginning to look at it that way. Just keep putting it out there and who knows...?

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Marcus,

Thanks for posting your adventure.  I am  impressed by the mere fact that you took up the challenge and did it!  What a huge step to take; I am glad you enjoyed yourself and I loved the list you posted of all that your learned doing it ;-P

Janet

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks Janet! I questioned my own sanity for a moment when I decided to take a day off work to make it happen, but it was much more fun than work and that's good enough for me!
Marcus

Syd's picture
Syd

Yes, well done Marcus.  Those are fine looking breads.  And I know what it is like to have to make a selection of breads in one day:  very time consuming.  Last year I made a sample of: 3 baguettes, a pain de campagne, a foccacia and 2 ciabattas as a tasting sample for a coffee shop.  I started at 7 in the morning and had the last loaf out by four in the afternoon.  The preparations for the poolishes, levain, etc started the night before.  Everything was kneaded by hand in my tiny, tiny kitchen and every available space was covered with proofing dough in various stages.  Timers going off and kneading this, folding that, pre-shaping here, final shaping there.  I had to work out a schedule for it the day before otherwise I would never have got it all organised.  But what a sense of achievement when it was all put into a big basket stood back to survey it.  Of course, it would have taken a lot less time and effort if I had the proper equipment and decent size kitchen, but that was all part of the challenge/fun!

Syd

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Now that's a sampler! Whew! I tried to "cheat" as much as I could by splitting the same dough and dressing-up half of it. If the olives hadn't skunked the other half of the dough in my test bake I could have gotten by with just two batches. Of course, then I wouldn't have had any left over for me! Even this tiny glimpse of bread "production" brings a little perspective to that romantic, daydreamy thought so many of us have of, "I should go be a baker..." Ha! A big salute to all of you! But I'll only be baking one bread this weekend, thank you very much.
Marcus

lumos's picture
lumos

Lovely write-up and great looking loaves, Marcus!  Well done on your award, too! (I'm sure you'd have won even there were other entries. ;) )

lumos

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Too kind, lumos! It's inspiration I'm really after (why I spend so much time here). In a way, I really aspire to second place so I can go pester the winner for his/her secrets!
Marcus

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

There is no need to ever mention that you won the blue ribbons by finishing last. ;)  Maybe there were a hundred other entrants who withdrew when they heard that you had entered.

I am reminded of the story of the itinerant athlete who challenged the town's best runner to a footrace. After taking the race and the sporting bloods' money, the local newspaper reported that the local boy had finished second while the challenger finished next to last.

It's all in how you tell the story. You won the blue ribbons. That's all you need to say.

cheers,

gary

lumos's picture
lumos

I really aspire to second place so I can go pester the winner for his/her secrets!

LOL  you're sounding as if your my twin. :p

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Nice breads, Marcus.. What a busy day you must have had.. and congrats on the ribbons!

 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks Khalid! I should note that I tried out the shaping method for which you recently posted such nice instructions, and it worked wonders for the rye batard (the cross-scored loaf in the photo). So, thanks again (I would post a link, but my computer is acting-up. Check out Mebakes Blog if you haven't already.) Where would my breads be without all the help I've found at TFL!?!
Marcus

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

awsome breads !

;)

anna

 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks Anna!

Marcus

ww's picture
ww

Wow, look who swept away all those ribbons!

CONGRATS Marcus! We only wish we could have been at the county fair...

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you so much, ww. A good time was had by all!
Marcus

wally's picture
wally

And they look great as well! I would say those ribbons were well deserved, regardless of the competition (or lack of it).

Nice bake!

Larry

wassisname's picture
wassisname

So nice of you to say, Larry, thanks! Honestly, if I'd really wanted competition I would have entered the apple pie contest! That's more pressure than I can handle so I chickened-out and let my wife tackle that one. I think I put on five pounds eating practice pies - my contribution to the effort. I'm all about the team. No ribbon, but I don't think we've ever had so much fun losing!
Marcus

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello,
The fairgoers and judges must have been delighted to see your handiwork.
Congratulations on your well-deserved ribbons! The breads all look really good!
:^) from breadsong

Christl's picture
Christl

Congratulations, I knew you would winn. How could the judges resist the smell and that taste. You are awsome.

Your greatest fan!

wassisname's picture
wassisname

(baker blushes) 

Thanks Christl (mom).  When you gave the practice bread the thumbs-up I figured I was on the right track.  The kitchen is filled with the aroma of freshly ground coriander at the moment and there's rye dough stuck to everything - I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

Marcus