Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why we do, what we do, the beginning

Strange feeling in the bakery right now. Very similar to the feeling one gets when your nine year old, trumpet playing nephew leaves, late Christmas eve. Four hours ago, this bakery was packed, I mean PACKED. We filled two vans, quite a few times. When they leave with the last load, there is much rejoicing. The week is done. Now we're here waiting for any news from the folks selling, hoping they come back empty.

Yesterday i mentioned the enzyme protease. I wasn't really sure where to start the whole enzyme thing. It's kinda like the chicken and the egg thing. Before i go any further, I'm not trying to pretend I'm a chemist. I'm a baker. I'm telling you this so you can appreciate the effort that goes into what we bakers do. Not only here, but a lot of bakeries. Grocery stores, discount home centers, places that you perceive as bakery, but don't own a mixer, etc., excluded. Fermentation AMAZES me! For thirty four years I've been watchin' it. It still amazes me. We make our starter(s) everyday. A starter is a portion of the flour, that will be used to mix the bread dough, that is pre-fermented, before the final dough is mixed. This portion of flour is blended with water, some type of yeast, either compressed or airborne, and maybe some salt. It is allowed to ferment for a prescribed amount of time, until it is ready. Everyday, i lift the lid on that starter pail. I know ahead of time, what I'm going to see. And everyday it brings a smile to my face.

We could take lots of shortcuts here. There are a number of fermentation enhancing agents, we could add to our dough. Two pounds of S500 to every one hundred pounds of flour. Make ya the prettiest bread you've ever seen. It's amazing, mixer to oven in an hour. One thing I firmly believe, every loaf of bread has a soul. But bread made the old fashioned way, has character. It has texture, aroma and flavour. Quick method breads only have aesthetic appeal. Break open a loaf from the grocery store and smell it. We could sleep in later too, but not for our customers.


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