Visiting Baker - Alfanso
Some may remember that I put out a call for interns to visit my bakery Bread Obsession this summer. I am sad to say that no interns applied. First, we got a lovely visit from exceedingly accomplished baker, Pat Roth, which she wrote about so eloquently here. Then a couple of weeks ago, Alfanso showed up on our doorstep and proceeded to work alongside us for several weeks, with such zest and verve and talent and experience that I could hardly call him an intern - the better term would be visiting baker.
Here he is shaping one of our standbys - Flaxseed Rye
and Multigrain Sunflower loaves...
A few of the final product are pictured above.
Alan noted that our big mixer had a tendency to walk around the room when it got going. We have been wracking our brains trying to figure out how to solve this, but none of our attempts worked. Alan looked things over, and came up with a simple and ingenious solution: he epoxied little brackets to the floor. Lo and behold, no more mixer stalking out into the middle of the room.
It was so great to have him visit. We miss him already.
You have to have an appetite for hard work to do this sort of thing on vacation, that's for sure, but he seemed to be having a good time.
From our perspective, it was great fun to have him here.
I wish I could also make trips like this to meet other Fresh Loafians!
but from my experience, really great to bake together - not just look at the pictures!
it was just a fantastic experience, and I'm so glad that I took the plunge. The stars were aligned, time and destination-wise, to take the opportunity to be part of Varda's world. I'm already going through withdrawals!
Just watching Varda and her business partner/co-baker Joan work through their labor of love was a wonderful experience all its own. For two people to decide to put in the hours, sweat equity as well as the financial burden of believing in their enterprise, was satisfying to observe. The work day is a non-stop merry go-round of physical tasks starting early in the AM, and lasting after the crew has gone for the day. These two individuals work as hard as anyone can to ensure that their vision is successful, and are an inspiration to all who understand the effort required.
As much as any, this rendezvous in Waltham with them is one that will last in my memory for a long long time.
It was amazing that this fit so nicely into your trip this-a-ways. Hard work that doesn't involve staring at a screen is under-rated nowadays. I feel lucky to be able to do it.
Thanks again for jumping in!
why we hadn't seen any of his baguettes for such a long time. I hope you got to see him action making them since they would be such an exceptionally fine bread to sell in any of his variants. You both experienced a treat for sure. Well done all the way around and happy baking to all.
Varda probably had a good laugh over your comment, and she is too kind to say so, but I will 'fess up. I have probably 20 formulae at home that I do where I have a pretty fair amount of success with baguettes. But for whatever reason, the baguette dough that she has was a conundrum to me. After one, maybe two days I thought the better of it and asked to beg off rolling baguettes there. I can get my fix at home.
It was a humbling experience to let the shaping get the better of me, but it wasn't in the cards. Better to allow the experienced hands to handle the baguettes and for me to simply divide and pre-shape than for me to ruin their product. It felt more than a little odd to cede the task, but there were always plenty of other things for me to participate in where I do not question my skills or confidence.
I had this discussion with their experienced employee Maria, and she understood completely. She mentioned that she'd seen my handiwork on TFL. Misery loves company, I suppose, although Maria's shaping and overall skill set was strictly top notch.
It seems to me pretty remarkable to be able to come in and shape other people's dough from formulae you are not familiar with. I don't know why our baguettes are so hard to shape. We all (excepting Maria) have trouble with them, and I'm the one who came up with the formula. I'd change it, but oh so good....
Varda, you should use pics of your bakery in your web pages. It's beautiful and is certainly an enticement for your product.
Thanks for the suggestion!
What fun. I love the open mindedness of bakers. Glad you all had so much fun.
Different ideas about what makes a great vacation, I suppose, but it makes sense to me.