Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I rolled the dice

I was here on Monday and I created the list of goods we would prepare for the market on Wednesday. When the troops got here on Tuesday morning, they could get started right away. I checked the weather sites yesterday, hourly. Last night before I left, I kicked it up. Well, what products I could increase. As you all know, using our artisan process, goods sold today had to be started on Monday. Baguettes, ciabatta, croissants, and epi, are exempt from this rule, kinda. Reports were that by 5am this morning it should stop raining. So far, so good. Unfortunately, if the weather holds, we will be out of product earlier than I'd like.

Back to that brief, general overview of the baking process.

We put flour, water, salt and yeast into our mixer. We start mixing at low speed. Most critical stage of mixing a dough. Once incorporated, we switch the mixer to high speed and mix the dough until it's ready. Most important part of mixing a dough, knowing when to turn the mixer off. Separates the bakers from the bakers not. The dough is placed into some type of receptacle, where it is allowed it's first fermentation. Yeast, water and flour come together and activity really gets going. During the first fermentation, the dough might be given a "punch and fold". Some doughs are given multiple folds. Remember, every bag of flour is different, every dough is different. Only experience can tell you what is right. Once properly fermented, the dough is divided into appropriate size pieces, loaves or rolls. The pieces will be "pre-shaped". This means loosely rounded, or shaped into a batard. Kinda, sorta like a loaf of bread. The shape of the pre-shape is determined by the desired "final" shape. Once the dough loosens up, it is given it's final shape. It is placed into a mold, proofing basket, on a sheet pan or on a couche. Couche is floured linen that loaves/rolls are "proofed" on. Proofing is the final rise, before the bread goes to the oven. When the shaped pieces are proofed enough and are large enough, they are scored with a razor and loaded into the oven. The loading process depends on the type of oven. The type of oven depends on the type of bread. Our hearth breads are baked on a stone deck. They are loaded with a belt type "oven loader". It is pushed into the oven chamber, as it is pulled out the loaves transfer directly on the hearth. Our pan breads are baked in a carousel type oven. Our buns and soft rolls are baked in a convection type rack oven. All three of our ovens are steam injected. The bread receives a shot of steam after the oven door is closed. The steam is imperative to the bread baking process. Doesn't have much to do with the flavour, but has great effect on the exterior of the product. The film of moisture on the surface allows it to expand properly, and the cuts to open fully. Generally, half way through the bake, the damper is opened and the steam is allowed to escape to dry out the crust. Again, bakers knowledge, humid/rainy days the damper gets pulled earlier in the bake. We are trying to dry the crust out more than normal. Once baked, the bread is removed from the oven, and off to the store.

I tried to make it brief. It's as brief as I could go. I will go thru it piece by piece over the next several postings. Once we go through it, you'll start buying your bread at a bakery. Ya might wanna start pickin' one out.


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