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Hotel bread, help set this up!

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joels's picture
joels

Hotel bread, help set this up!

I wasn't sure where to post this, so mods, feel free to shuffle this wherever it might seem best. This is a strange request for information exchange so let me start with some background. I am operating a small hotel/B&B in Beijing... not commonly thought of as the land of bread breaking, but our clientele is 99% foreign and 100% into our western breakfasts. A decent chunk of this a la carte breakfast gets made up of country-style toast with home-made jams and locally made french cheeses (!!? - yes, awesome). However, the bread we are buying is less and less interesting to someone like me who gets to see it daily, or anyone reasonably into breads. I'm a western-trained chef -- but far from a baker, so I can tell there's a problem with it and it is fixable with hopefully not too much effort.

We've recently invested in a proper-sized (60x50cm) oven that just just fits in our tiny kitchen and haven't looked back since, with cookies, cakes and quiches as often as possible. The next jump for us to take it replace the breads we are buying with something made right here! There are some limitations though, as I can't simply turn the place into a bakery with the staff I have and the hours which I'm trying to generally REDUCE. So the goal is to somehow supply ourselves with 2-3 loaves of bread per day, 7 days a week that are completely awesome in taste and texture, can be prepped once a week (maybe I freeze the dough-balls and take out to proof overnight?), and perhaps use something fun as a base, like a sourdough starter? Anyway, you all get the idea. If you think freezer storage for something like this works and I can therefore bake every single morning, great! If it's a better idea to spend a few hours in one block each week prepping and fully baking the weeks' breads, that's fine, though not as fun, and likely even more annoying to the kitchen.

As you can see this is a question of logistics, but also one about recipes, as I'm not a big baker and I need some form of recipe that gives the best bang for the buck in terms of ease of recipe and taste -- something I can train others to do. The more I read through this forum the more I want to spend a month playing around and baking just for myself but I can also see how much of it goes way over my head. I'm an impatient cook that hates precision. China and Chinese food is perfect for me - until this question came up.

What do you all think? JS

joels's picture
joels

just as a quick follow-up:

I've become heavily interested in pursuing some solution that includes keeping a sourdough starter constantly bubbling away with the net effect of solving the bread quality  while also giving me a uniquely awesome upgrade to my pancakes. Also the pancakes would like be an amazing way to ensure that the starter was getting both used and fed daily, since our pancake requirements are probably greater than that of the bread!

So to follow up on that, does this extra info make more or less sense towards what we are hoping to do?

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

"I'm an impatient cook that hates precision"

The first thing to do is to recognize that your description of yourself is a potentially fatal flaw where baking is concerned.  With that in mind.............

Your request was moderately simple until you added the sourdough concept.  If you go back to the idea of simply baking bread in house, without sourdough, you should be able to achieve success without too much difficulty.  Someone is going to have to learn to bake and I would say that you personally are not a good candidate as what is needed here is a methodical and precise approach.  I do not see an easy internet answer for you without someone at your place who knows how to bake bread.  Imagine the reverse,  if you were a bakery looking for a cook and wanted the answer via the internet.  You can see the problem.

With someone who knows how to bake bread you can most definitely create your own in house bread that is very good and not all that difficult to create.  If it is an experienced baker then you could go directly to sourdough, otherwise I would start with yeasted products and look to sourdough later on down the road.

Good Luck with this,

Jeff

Ford's picture
Ford

Here is a recipe that you can make and freeze the loaves for weeks at a time.

WHITE BREAD (SUBSTITUTIONS FOR ♥)

For the poolish

3 cup (12.8 oz.) King Arthur Bread Flour
1/4 tspn. dry active yeast
3 cup (24.9 oz.) chlorine-free water

Poolish hydration: 188%. Note: for half a cup of the bread flour you may substitute half a cup of whole-wheat flour to modify the taste and texture.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a little of the water, then add the rest of the water and flour and mix enough to wet all of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 8 to 18 hours at room temperature. If desired, the poolish may be refrigerated after 4 hours of fermentation.

For the dough

All of the poolish
2 1/8 cup (17.6 oz.) warm scalded milk (or skim ♥)
1 tspn. dry active yeast
10 1/4 cup (43.6 oz.) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1/4 cup (2 oz.) melted butter (or corn oil ♥)
1 1/2 Tbs. (1 oz.) salt
1/4 cup (2 oz.) of melted butter (or corn oil ♥) for greasing pans and brushing the loaves
water in a sprayer

Dough hydration: 69%.

Into the bowl containing the poolish, beat in the milk, the yeast, and about 6 cups of the flour, or as much as can be readily mixed by hand. Cover and let stand for half an hour or an hour (autolyse).

Mix in the 2 ounces melted butter, the salt, and as much of the rest of the flour as convenient. Scrape the dough on to a surface dusted with bread flour and thoroughly knead the dough, adding flour from the measured amount as necessary until the dough is smooth. For a more open structure, minimize the amount of flour. For a more dense structure, add additional flour. Allow the dough to rest for about ten minutes and then knead some more. This dough will be elastic and smooth. Place the dough into a greased bowl (about a teaspoon of corn oil) and cover to rise to double the volume, about an hour. Gently degas the dough by folding it on itself.

With melted butter, thoroughly brush three loaf pans (2 qt size, 9 5/8" x 5 1/2" x 2 3/4"). Divide the dough into three equal pieces (about 32 to 34 oz. each). Shape each piece to fit the bottom of each pan, puncturing the large bubbles. Place the loaves in the pans, seam side down. Brush the top of the loaves with melted butter. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise until the domes are about 2 inches above the tops of the pans. Bread benefits from retardation. (Place in the refrigerator when dough just reaches the top of the pan and remove next day and allow to come to room temperature.)

Preheat oven to 450°F with a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf, with the middle shelf being reserved for the bread pans. A large broiler pan works well. When the dough has risen above the tops of the pans (about an hour), spray them with water, and immediately place them into the oven. Spray the loaves 2 additional times at 1 minute intervals to permit additional rising. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until the interior loaf temperature reaches 195°F, an additional 45 minutes (about one hour total). The loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Turn out on to a cooling rack, brush with melted butter, and cover with a damp paper towel until cooled. Bread may then be packaged and frozen.

WHOLE-WHEAT BREAD (SUBSTITUTIONS FOR ♥)

For the poolish

5 cups (21.3 oz.) whole-wheat flour
3 cups (24.9 oz.) water
1/4 tspn active dry yeast

Poolish hydration: 114% Note: We like Arrowhead Mills stone ground brand whole-wheat flour because of the texture it gives to the bread. However, a finer milled whole wheat flour (e. g. King Arthur) is also good and gives a lighter loaf.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a little of the water, then add the rest of the water and whole-wheat flour and mix enough to wet all of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 8 to 18 hours at room temperature.

For the dough

All of the poolish
2 1/8 cups (18 oz.) warm scalded milk (skim ♥)
1/3 cup (3.8 oz.) honey, or brown sugar, or corn syrup
2 tspn. dry active yeast (remainder of the package used in the poolish)
8 1/4 cup (35.1 oz.) King Arthur unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 Tbs. (1 oz.) salt
1/4 cup (2 oz.) butter (or corn oil ♥)
1/4 cup (2 oz.) melted butter (or corn oil ♥) for greasing pans. brushing dough, and brushing bread

Dough hydration: 75%

Into the bowl containing the poolish, beat in the honey, the milk, the yeast, and about 5 cups of the flour, or as much as can be readily mixed by hand. Cover and let stand for half an hour or an hour (autolyse).

Mix in the 2 ounces melted butter, the salt, and as much of the rest of the measured flour as convenient. Scrape the dough on to a surface dusted with bread flour and thoroughly knead the dough, adding flour from the measured amount as necessary until the dough is smooth. Allow the dough to rest for about ten minutes and then knead some more. This dough will be elastic, not as elastic as the dough of the white bread. Place the dough into a greased bowl (about a teaspoon of corn oil) and cover to rise to double the volume, about an hour. Gently degas the dough by folding it on itself.

With melted butter thoroughly brush three loaf pans (2 qt size, 9 5/8" x 5 1/2" x 2 3/4"). Divide the dough into three equal pieces (about 34 oz. each). Shape each piece to fit the bottom of each pan, puncturing the large bubbles. Place the loaves in the pans, seam side down. Brush the top of the loaves with melted butter. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let rise until the domes are about 2 inches above the tops of the pans.

Preheat oven to 450°F with a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf, with the middle shelf being reserved for the bread pans. A large broiler pan works well. When the dough has risen above the tops of the pans (about an hour), spray them with water, and immediately place them into the oven. Spray the loaves 2 additional times at 2 minute intervals to permit additional rising. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until the interior loaf temperature reaches 195°F, an additional 45 minutes (about one hour total). The loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Turn out on to a cooling rack, brush with melted butter, and cover with a damp paper towel until cooled. Bread may then be packaged and frozen.

I also published two recipes for sourdough bread that are good for sandwiches and for morning toast at: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/26741/hello-los-angeles

Ford

joels's picture
joels

wow nice and excellent looking recipes --- I hadn't thought about doing poolish-based breads; maybe a good compromise in simplicity (as far as getting staff to handle things right!).

 

As for what Jeff said about the fatal flaw, it's true that this is not a good start, but I have made bread a few hundred times. I'm not a home-cook with a sudden interest in baking 15 loaves of bread per week; I agree, I'd be in way over my head if that were the case. I'm a chef with a passion for all good foods but that identifies more with the cooking side of things rather than the baking. I know it takes precision to bake great bread over and over again, but if our kitchen can build a system for it then it can be done, whatever my own personal limitations may be. 

The concept of wanting to do a starter is more about getting the absolute most interesting product, while also potentially solving other problems simultaneously (ie. pancakes). As Ford indicates, it's true it doesn't require a starter for this to happen, as good breads come in many forms. I'm also aware that even if I bake half-decent simple bread rolls it will still be a great improvement over whatever we currently buy and freeze for our toast in the morning. 

Also, when you say that those two recipes are great for freezing for a later day, do you mean freezing the baked product? I'm loving the idea of freezing the unproofed bread rolls and then letting two or three proof overnight for daily fresh breads in the morning. Is that possible or might they not freeze fast enough, or have some of the oven spring knocked out of them before they even make it to the oven?

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Ford is referring to doing a complete bake, then cooling and packaging the loaves before freezing them for later use.  Works great.  The bread can be thawed, then put into a 350F oven for several minutes to refresh the crust.  Some instructions recommend putting the loaf in a paper bag and sprinkling water on the bag before reheating.  You can try to see which gives the better outcome.

Another option is to parbake the breads, then freeze them until ready to finish the bake.  You'll have to look up instructions, since I haven't any direct experience with the process.

Paul

joels's picture
joels

ah - interesting. From what I'm gathering from the archived discussions on freezing it's possible that simply leaving the bread out and baking once a week would be generally good enough, quality-wise. This city's dryness has a tendency to make bread stale faster than anything I've ever seen though, so maybe freezing half the batch after baking is a good idea. I wonder also if there is a certain roll size that would also be particularly suited for the rate we go through the stuff (?). I haven't yet really spent much time working out the details of how the kitchen will have to adapt to a half-day's worth of baking. There's not much room to play with in terms of the first rise and then the final proofing -- ahh I'll report back after I test out some of these recipes-- thanks a bunch in advance !

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have had great luck baking rolls fully and freezing them after cooling. If you take a little trouble to get most of the air out of the bag before freezing they last for  a month easily. And as Paul said a little time in an oven after thawing and they are like the day they were baked. The other thing about the hard rolls is that each is a portion. If you need a dozen for breakfast, they thaw fully much better (faster) than a loaf. You also don't have to do any slicing and waiting for the center of the loaf to thaw.

The last few parties where I provided the rolls, I made them ahead and stored them in 2 gallon zip lock freezer bags. A dough divider would be handy if you need volume. Hope this is helpful.

Eric

joels's picture
joels

Just a quick update --

Trying out keeping your white poolish recipe as large rolls. Recipe makes 4 nice sized ones. I was hesitant to turn it into 3 just in case it didn't get enough rise and would then end up as three large fat domes. The end-result was about 4 large rolls with very nice crispy crust, 32x17x9 cm. Not enough rise, or at least as much as I was hoping for. Also the dough has a little too even density of small air bubbles. Was hoping for something larger, but I suppose the lack of rise made that happen. Also I'd say the dough is ever-so slightly cakey.  I did a hand-knead, so I wonder if I just needed a few more minutes on it. 

As for how this all relates to the OP, I think this idea is pretty attractive, and if I can succesfully manage a doubling of this recipe and still knead it by hand (??) then a simple retooling of our kitchen to provide a tiny bit more proofing space will allow me to do roughly 7-9 large rolls, which can be repeated on a schedule of twice a week. No freezing or anything fancy in between. That's not too bad is it?