Wednesday, October 14, 2009

one inexpensive, valuable idea

Had two really cool experiences at the trade fair in Germany. Well maybe more than two, but two stick out in my mind.

I'm sure I've mentioned Raymond Calvel, here before. He is regarded as the new age, patriarch of French bread baking. Mr. Calvel died in 2006. I never met him. Wish I had. Any real bread baker, anywhere in the world, knows his name. He has written books, that have been translated into many languages. The BBGA published a three video tape set of Mr. Calvel working at the CIA campus in Hyde Park, New York. He is really held in the highest regard in Japan. Shortly after his death, a fellow by the name Hubert Chiron, started the "Amicale Calvel", the Raymond Calvel Society. Mr. Chiron has written a book of his own. Without question, the most in depth, science of baking book, I've ever seen. Only in French, although Hubert speaks pretty good English. Hubert is a very soft spoken, humble man. I am a member of the Amicale Calvel. As far as I know, there are two members here in the states, myself and Jeff Hamelman. The society prints two newsletters a year, and they get together in France for a few bakery related excursions annually. The most recent email I got from the group announced a meeting of the group at a certain place, at a certain time, during the trade fair. Tuesday morning, October 6th, 10 am , at the Merand booth. I wanted to go, so I could pay my dues, and see other members. Merand is a French equipment manufacturer. I arrived at the booth, and Hubert was there. There were maybe a dozen or so folks, half Japanese and half French. I spoke to Hubert and offered my dues. He passed the money across the table to anther member, and they marked me as paid. I started talking to Hubert, we spoke of each others families, and the state of bread baking in each of our countries. Hubert and I agreed that the bread at the trade fair, that all the respective companies were displaying/baking/sampling, was all very "Flat". Lacked flavour, and/or character. He brought up a point, the very point that defined the place in the world for the Calvel society. Hubert said "Why can't they just use less yeast and ferment longer"? There it is, spoken from a man, who was very close to the man. A slight, humble, quiet man, who respects the proper, bread baking process. He was standing within earshot of millions and millions of Euros worth of equipment, all designed to sidestep our beliefs. I found it very ironic.

The second coolest thing I found, a German "Sahneblaeser". If I had to make a list of my reasons for traveling to IBA, this would be top on the list. It's a machine that, whips creme. It does it by blowing refrigerated air into liquid creme while a big screen spins and breaks up the air bubbles. It whips far more stable cream, with a lot more volume, in about 20% of the time. It also allows us to use more real cream. We use a blend of non-dairy topping and real cream. Without this type of whipping apparatus, whipping straight, real cream, creates cream that is far to unstable to apply to cakes. So, here in a few weeks, we will be using real cream, flavoured with pure Mexican vanilla. I can't wait. Not sure why I'm so excited. I don't shop here. Guess I'm excited for our customers. Lucky dogs, you.


Blogger Laminatrix said...

Your comment about the lack of flavor made me think of the box lunch I had yesterday (all-day management meeting; woo-hoo!): the bread was spongy crap, the pasta salad was greasy and salty but otherwise flavorless and the pasta was overcooked, and the desserts were just nasty gloppy blobs of sugar. I later grabbed a half a chocolate chip cookie, took one bite, and threw the rest out: it tasted like artificially flavored crap. But if that's all anyone has ever had to eat, they think that's what a chocolate chip cookie is supposed to taste like. They're killing people's taste buds with that junk.

October 15, 2009 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Antony van Zyl said...

What a great blog. Jory - your love for what you do, for your baking art shines through in each post.

It is a pleasure to get the insight of one of the last true artisans, a master of his craft who still derives such pleasure from the craft itself.

I look forward to reading more - and enjoying the baked goods from Bennison's.

October 27, 2009 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

very sad, I'm afraid the bar has been set to low.

October 29, 2009 at 10:34 AM  

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