Friday, July 16, 2010

my poor fridge

Man it's hot in Chi town! Gets to the point, the bakers are gasping for air, near the oven. I left last night, our walk in fridge had to be sixty degrees. We are very unfair to it. Jeremy Gouduas, member of Baking Team USA 2010, was here the middle of June. It was late, late, Saturday afternoon. He was here doing a practice run at Kendall College. He came to the bakery here, directly from the airport, to mix a few dough's for Sunday's practice run. He opened our walk-in, and said "That redefines a full walk in". At the last few minutes of the day yesterday, the day crew pushed about five racks of shaped sour doughs' in there, awaiting the oven, for Friday morning. The cooling capacity of that fridge, which is on the roof, was out matched. I was in San Fransisco last weekend. The baking team was practicing there. SFBI, San Fransisco Baking Institute, is a lot of things. It is a school, as well as home to TMB Baking Company. TMB is an equipment supplier. They also bake for their own retail store in the mission district of the city. I was very impressed, they sent a lot of stuff to that store, stacks and stacks of product. Nice product, very nice. Anyway, I'm talking to Michel there, about building a retarder, to hold our product for the next days bake. It will have the ability to have different temperatures, at different times, switching automatically. Sourdough is best, held at fifty two to fifty five degrees Fahrenheit. We could set the retarder to be cold, maybe thirty eight, at 5pm. Forty two, at 10pm, fifty two at 5am, etc. Bread handled that way is awesome! Flavour, texture, crust colour, crust consistency, it's the real deal. I'm gonna make it happen. Just gotta push around a piece of equipment, or two.

In spite of the heat, we're holdin' our own here, business wise. Gonna be a busy, farmer's market weekend. Forecast is hot, but dry. Dry is all that matters. I was looking thru orders for the weekend, seems we have a lot of large celebration cakes this weekend. Not necessarily, in great numbers, but a lot of big ones. Oh well, won't be long now, pumpkin face cookies are just around the corner. Very comfortable outside this morning. 'Bout sixty six, at 4am. I drove here with the van windows open. Bein' right here on the lake helps loads. I pulled up and outside I could smell toasty wheat, as they were unloading baguettes from the oven. Residual flour burns quickly, on the hearth. It's an unmistakable, unmatched, aroma. Only smells like that a few times a day. Same when they are fryin' donuts, or baking cinnamon rolls.

We took in a lot of fresh blueberries yesterday. We are making fresh blueberry croissants for the markets this weekend. We will fill them with cream cheese filling, and top 'em with fresh blueberries, prior to the bake. The ones we made for Wednesday's markets, were really pretty. Got big plans 'bout fresh blueberry coffee cakes, as well. We'll see how the day goes. They might get pushed until tomorrow. Everyday starts with good intentions. Quoting Vince Lombardi "Fatigue makes cowards of us all".

Well, gotta get started upstairs. A lady is comin' from Oak Park, to pick up goods for a memorial service. Can't disappoint her. She claims "You're may favorite bakery". She's "Comin' early to beat the traffic". I answered the phone, when she called. I was just talking to one of the opening retail kids here, about her order. I mentioned to them that "I could tell, she was an older lady". I just realized, she's probably my age.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

what a day, weather wise

Didn't get much sleep last night, turns out yesterday, we committed to being the lone bread bakery, participating in a "Green market" at Lollapalooza, in August. It will be us, Seedling fruit and Brunkow cheese, at a minimum, from the GCM. It's concerning, it's gonna be a lot of stuff. We're figuring on a lot of smaller bread items that people can eat with wine and cheese. The single reason we decided to do it, is because we have our Koenig machine that will divide and round three thousand pieces per hour.

Needless to say, the markets yesterday, did very well. Truthfully the nicest day we've had this market season. It was perfect. We ran out a little early at both markets. I'm sure it's because I have forgotten how much can be sold when the weather cooperates. We have battled the weather more this market season, than any other, in the past. Hopefully the rain is behind us. Forecast for this weekend is in our favor, as well.

I posted a picture of a cherry flan. Every trip to France, I can't get enough of the flan, all the boulangerie offer there. The funniest thing, no matter how many books I look at, it's difficult to find any info on the flan I'm speaking of. I've spoken to a number of French bakers, they are willing to talk about it, but I can't find anything in print, or on the internet. Seems every version I find is similar to our custard pie or bread pudding. Which I don't care for, it's to "Eggy". This flan is simply cooked pastry creme, spread into a pie pastry crust and baked in a hot oven to get that deep brown skin. We cool it overnight and glaze it with apricot glace the next morning and cut it. It has been doing very well. We use milk, sugar, custard powder, a blend of egg yolks and eggs, both organic vanilla bean and vanilla extract and butter. This is the first one we've done with fruit in it. Not sure how well you can see, it but it has pitted Washington state cherries in it. I'm glad to see it worked out. Opens the door to trying many other things. Next is gonna be lemon flavoured custard with fresh blueberries. Oh, by the way, delicious! I'm runnin' out of reasons to travel to France.

Gotta get upstairs, and get to it. Should be a good weekend, Fourth of July sales, have been doing better, year after year. Last year it fell on a Saturday, we were open. Probably should've opened Sunday and closed Monday this year. Next Tuesday morning, we'll see if I made a good call or not.