Friday, July 3, 2009

I talked it up

It's ironic, the other day I was speaking about lower protein in the flour and how I don't see so many scorched baked goods, well guess what? Yesterday, twenty sheet pans of eclairs, in the bin. It wasn't that they got forgotten in the oven, the guy who loaded the oven, didn't pull the dampers. We bake them in our deck oven. The oven decks are so well sealed, no moisture can escape during baking. Anything that spends time in any oven will give off moisture. The percentage of weight loss during baking, is relative to surface area. Baguettes, lose seventeen or eighteen percent moisture in the oven, because they are all surface. Eclairs as well, turn into all surface during the bake, because of the oven spring the have. It's very cool to watch them bake. They go in the oven, and begin omitting steam immediately. The moisture than remians in the oven chamber keeps the surface of the eclair, very moist. You can see the layer of moisture. This allows for abnormal expansion, during the bake. Problem is two fold. First the moisture contained in the oven makes for extra large eclairs, sidewalls get extra thin, and weaker. The pressure from excess steam, will cause them to collapse, right before your eyes. A couple posts ago I mentioned the Maillard reaction. Well the excess moisture, combined with the protein from the flour and the eggs, causes the eclairs to get very dark. When you bake eclairs, they need to bake until they dry out some, in the center. Yesterday, since they were baking in a sauna, they never dried out. The guys left them in longer than necessary, trying to dry them out. They look like something you could grind up and use for mulch.

If you pull(open) the dampers before the eclairs go in the oven, the steam will never build up in the chamber.

Just goes to show ya, not everyday can be a good day.

I gotta tell ya, one of the coolest sights that has never gotten old, watchin' a load of ciabatta bake, in our deck oven. Our ciabatta is a very wet dough. Around seventy five percent water. It really expels water during the bake. When it's about sixty percent baked, the oven deck can hold the moisture back. Steam comes pouring out around the oven doors. Coolest thing you ever seen. All my French baker friends gave me grief for buying an Italian oven. It's been nine years, they still ask me about my "Italian oven", chuckling. Most even oven I've ever baked in. I've baked on both sides of the water, never seen another one like it.

We will be open tomorrow, Sunday hours, eight to three. Two farmer's markets, and most cafes/restaurants we bake for, will be open. Besides, in order for us to be open on Sunday, we need to work on Saturday. Damn, this artisan process. If only we could open a box of frozen dough. If only.....


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