The Fresh Loaf

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Need some help with planning

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daddio's picture
daddio

Need some help with planning

Hi everyone,

I have been baking in the past few years at home, and I have an opportunity to bake professionally for a new cafe that is about to open in my neighborhood. First, keep in mind I will be doing this on the daily basis, as well as continuing to work as a software engineer with ~8 hour work days (i work from home). The cafe has his own kitchen located near the cafe, and they will supply everything including a combo steam injection oven, fridges, pans and ingredients.

I am required to produce the following daily (the cafe owner would love to double this quantity if possible, especially on Friday before the weekend starts):

- 40 croissants
- 10 mini baguettes (for sandwiches)
- 10 loaves of sourdough bread, whole wheat

I am following Tartine's Chad Robertson techniques for most of my baking. combining poolish and leaven.

I am aiming for a daily routine which won't kill me after a week, go to bed at around 8-9pm, and wake up at 4am. Finishing up all baking by 7:30am. I live very close, so i can drop by the kitchen during the day if needed here and there for some touch ups.

For the croissants, i was planning to make the dough twice a week, and freeze it, moving the dough i need to roll out in the morning, into the fridge at 5-6pm.

For the sourdough bread, i can mix the leaven in the morning, and at 5-6pm mix the dough, bulk rise, divide into pans, and put in fridge to be baked in the morning, this is perfect, as the whole wheat bread can be proofed longer without being overly acidic.

For the baguettes, i was thinking to do the same as the bread (I will be using baguette pans). Although i'm worried that 8-10 hours proofing in the fridge would produce a more acidic baguette.

So this seems like it will fit well with my schedule, and leave me some sleep time before waking up, and i can prepare some fillings and prepare pans etc during the early evening bulk rise.

Is this a good schedule? are there any suggestions of making this even simpler? as i'm looking at 4 hour work in the morning, and perhaps 2-3 hours in the early evening (on top of the 8 hours work day in between)?

I am very excited about this opportunity, as i never baked professional, and also never attended baking classes or schools. I am willing to sacrifice some free time, but would like to hear suggestions taking into account i do not want to compromise the quality.

From reading other posts, seems like freezing the prepared loaves is definitely going to affect the end result, but if some of you have had good results with freezing, i would love to hear it.

 

Thanks everyone!

 

daddio's picture
daddio

wow, not a single comment? :) someone must have something to say, or i should rather assume i'm completely nuts for taking this new job? :)

 

 

fotomat1's picture
fotomat1

schedule you are creating for yourself. Hopefully there will be some financial reward.I myself freeze bread all the time but not for resale...I think I would stick with fresh made. Good luck!

daddio's picture
daddio

yes indeed the schedule is not going to be simple to follow, but the cafe owner has another cook/baker which will help me out for the evening bulk rise and shaping, so i hope after a few weeks i can just do the morning shift.
As far as freezing the croissant dough, it is mentioned in the book that it will keep for 3 days in the freezer (this dough contains both natural leaven, poolish and yeast). Is that correct? can i perhaps make enough croissant dough and freeze it for a week?

Thanks

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(you will need them anyway) (one for each batch) 

and go through some dry runs to look for conflicts.  Then with real dough.  

daddio's picture
daddio

I will definitely use some kind of timer. My plan was to mix the leaven/poolish early in the morning (after shaping the croissants, and while they proof around 5-6am), which will give them about 10 hours to ripen before mixing the dough at 5-6pm. I'm planning to shorten the bulk rise, and shape the loaves and baguettes at 7-8 pm, then retard final proofing in the fridge.

This seems like my best bet for minimizing work hours.

 

mcs's picture
mcs

Your croissants will take a few hours to proof.  If you want to cut your morning work time, I would recommend freezing them previously shaped so you would have one less step to do in the morning.

-Mark

daddio's picture
daddio

Thanks Mark.

Do you have a recommendation on what is the best way to freeze the shaped croissants? fully proofed? or prior to proofing? I have made 2 tests with this a couple of months ago, and both did not turn out very well.. I assume i did not freeze them correctly, or perhaps i overproofed them prior to freezing.

For fully proofed frozen croissants, i baked them directly from the freezer. I should not let them come to room temp before baking correct?

Thanks

 

mcs's picture
mcs

Freeze the croissants immediately after shaping.  No proofing.  If you freeze them after proofing they will deflate a bit in the freezer then will have a tough time rebounding.

I also recommend thawing your frozen croissant dough slabs at room temperature rather than in the fridge overnight.  When you thaw in the fridge, they will inevitably rise as you sleep.  You will be forced to degass them when you shape them, and this compromises their layers.  When you thaw slabs at room temperature, work with the dough as soon as the frost is 'melted' from the slab and is ready to work with.  The croissant shaping can be part of your afternoon activity and you can dedicate an hour or two to shaping the croissants for the week.

Since they are frozen unproofed, the proofing time will have to come on 'game day'.  If you are pressed for time, you can try starting the thaw the night before, covered in the fridge.  Keep in mind they would have to be set up for baking since they might be difficult to move after thawed.

Otherwise, as soon as you get there in the morning, take them out of the freezer and they do all of their proofing then.  It will take 3-4 hours depending on your dough and the heat.

Puff pastry can sometimes bake from the freezer since there is no yeast in the dough, croissant dough should be 80F or so when they go in the oven.

This is a photo of croissants right after shaping and before freezing.  Here are some croissants after baking.

-Mark

fotomat1's picture
fotomat1

that your times will change with the weather and humidity. Dry runs are a good idea...as well as getting name and contacts of a local food bank for flubs and fails.

daddio's picture
daddio

Thanks for the tip, i live in a warm and humid climate, and the warm season is near. I will have to check how warm the kitchen gets during the summer, especially if i plan to bake the bread while the croissants are proofing.
The bread will be more forgiving, and i think the warm/humid climate will be an advantage in cutting down rising and proofing times.

Thanks again

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

....then I hope that your working/storage area has AC.  I'm in India and while it's still cool now, in one month it will simply be impossible to produce any kind of decent laminated dough unless your work area is temperature controlled.  And the temp plays havoc with dough fermentation times so at least in my case I have to watch things like a hawk then when baking breads.  I literally experienced an episode where I was shaping dinner rolls and placing them on a tray before baking.  Kitchen was 37 centigrade, as was the dough temp.  By the time I had shaped and placed number 30 on the tray, the first one had fully proofed.  Not optimal to say the least.

 

 

daddio's picture
daddio

Thanks xeno, good point. A/C is indeed a must in my situation, I have experienced disasters while laminating before in a room that is as low as 25 C. I dont have a sheeter, and am rolling the dough by hand (at least for the first few months), which makes it even more important. I'm thinking of getting a metal rolling pin and keep it cool in the fridge to compensate. 
Additionally i'm planing to keep the batches small, around 1-1.5 KG flour per batch (20-30 croissants). This will give me some time to roll an shape 1 batch, then start with the second batch.

 

 

 

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

try getting your hands on some shortening that's specially made for lamination, it has a higher melting point than butter and works easier, especially at higher temps.  Disadvantage is the mouthfeel, it's not as good, nothing can beat butter for that.  That being said, most croissants in the west are made with it, 'real butter' croissants are a treat and usually only sold at some bakers, mostly on sundays.

If you roll by hand it could actually make sense to make a larger quantity in one go (once you're familiar with the specific ingredients used where you are), then roll it out, pre-shape the croissants and freeze them.  When baking you just take them out, let them sit a while for proofing (you'll have to experiment with the timing) and bake them off.  More initial work but saves massive time overall, trust me.

 

Good luck!