18 March 2008


I mentioned at the end of last year that I'm baking full time, as in, I'm a baker. One of three (bread bakers) at relatively small bakery, meaning that I usually only get one bread shift per week, as we do everything by hand from start to finish: no mixers, shapers, etc. (Otherwise I do muffins/cookies or laminated doughs and cakes).

With the head baker in Argentina for ten days I picked up a whole handful of shifts (in fact, I got two weeks without making muffins, which is wonderful). Doing bread once a weeks means a blunted learning curve and long days (often thirteen-and-a-half hours) with a week to forget some subtle motion of the last shift. Even working two consecutive days -- and then three consecutive days -- has led to what seems a vast improvement. My baguettes will always need improvement, and shifts in protein and moisture in the flour this week didn't help, but I'm feeling more and more comfortable in each movement. And I'm shaving off hours from my days.

...Which means, being probably a bit obsessive, more time for baking at home. I made a three-and-a-half pound miche last week that far surpasses any of the other's I've made. I used a high-extraction flour -- something between white and whole wheat, only part of the bran being taken off -- which led to a light bread for having the richness and keeping quality of whole wheat. I also used a higher amount of pre-fermented flour (more of the sourdough build) which helps in all of those regards.

And now I have two days off (otherwise I'd be in bed by 8 pm).

(N.B.: We do have a Hobart mixer, if I made it sound like we had no electric mixers. We just aren't a bread factory with people who are mixers, shapers, etc. We do shape, load, etc by hand.)

03 March 2008


I've been enjoying the cookbook Breakfast•Lunch•Tea, a cookbook companion to Rose Carrarini's Rose Bakery in Paris. Her biscuits (cookies) that I've made have been nicely not to sweet, which is refreshing. (I made a bunch of the gingerbread biscuits around the holidays). This is her lemon cake. It's a pound cake of sorts, but not quite. I halved the recipe and put it in kougelhopf mold:

125 g. butter / 100 g. sugar / 2 eggs / ½t. vanilla / juice of ½ a lemon (I used a whole meyer lemon, since it's a little smaller) / zest of one lemon / ½ rounded t. baking powder / ¼ t. salt / 25 g. ground almonds / 140 g. AP flour.

The butter and sugar get creamed, the eggs beat in, then the vanilla and lemon juice and zest. the dry ingredients are folded in and it gets bakes for 25-30 minutes at 350ºF.

And last night I made blood-orange meyer lemon marmalade. I found both fruits on sale and organic so it seemed like I needed to find a great use for those rinds. It was really great for breakfast, on toast.


I made a Vollkornbrot -- a 100% whole rye bread with sunflower seeds. It's mainly a sourdough with a teeny bit of yeast (which I'll probably omit next time as it was probably not necessary). I used coarse whole rye (70%) and rye chops (30%). It made this one heavy loaf that was baked for about 80 minutes (470ºF for a quarter of an hour, 380º for the rest -- the initial heat helps it get lift since there's so little gluten). I let it rest for 48 hours, and then I cut into it:

It's been a week since I first cut into it and it's now as good as that first slice -- it may even be better. With time the rye gets a full flavor, almost spicy, and the sourdough element keeps its tang.

On a very different note, the ultimate winter comfort lunch:

It's a grilled cheese of cheddar and sourdough semolina bread (this and the last from Hamelman's Bread) with an cream of tomato soup from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It leaves me with just a few jars of tomatoes from last year's canning madness, but was well worth it.