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Archive for March, 2011

I’m always disappointed with store bought rolls-they always seem be just a vehicle that brings your burger to your mouth. When you chew one, it turns into a gooey wad! Gross! And they never go bad or stale-you can have them for a month without them molding!

I’m glad that Reinhart had a recipe for Kaiser rolls. They have a really cool technique and are slightly enriched dough-so they were fun to work with. My brother, Evan, told me about buns he made from the website Smitten Kitchen. They were brioche buns though, meaning they were rich and very tender. These Kaiser rolls are a good balance between an enriched bread and a lean one.

Kaiser rolls are the quintessential sandwich roll because of their large size and their crisp-yet-soft texture. Supposedly, they originated in Vienna, Austria and were named after Emperor Franz Joseph. The word Kaiser means an Austrian emperor or an autocrat. In Austria, they are called Kaisersemme. The names of these rolls changes depending on the region in which they are made.

Oftentimes, they are referred to as Vienna rolls. However, kaiser rolls are sometimes called “bulkie rolls” in the New England Area. This variation is usually larger and softer than that of the Kaiser.

Anyway, Kaiser rolls have a hard crust, while still maintaining pillowy insides. They can be topped with seeds, or none at all. The top of a Kaiser roll represents a star-like shape. Rather than knotting each individual roll, some bakeries choose to use a Kaiser roll press.

This press is in the shape of a star. With a roll-sized ball, the baker presses the dough, going almost to the base of the dough. This cuts in a star-like shape which blooms in the oven, giving the roll its distinct shape. However, the traditional method is knotting several times until it forms a star.

Reinhart begins with a pre-fermented dough, in order to give the rolls more flavor. A few nights before, I made the pate-fermentee, which translates into “old dough.” Unlike other pre-ferments, pate-fermentee has salt. Usually bakeries just use yesterday’s leftover dough, rather than making some for this purpose.

I mixed together flour, salt, yeast together. To this, I added the pate-fermentee, water, oil, and egg. I kneaded the dough until it was soft, tacky, but not sticky. Then, I let it ferment for the first rise for about 2 hours.

After it had risen, I divided the dough out into 2-2/3 ounce pieces, and shaped these into balls. I let them rest for about ten minutes, or until the gluten had relaxed. Next, I rolled them out into 8 inch strands, and then I began shaping them.

I crossed the dough over itself, and tied a simple knot. Then, I took the strands and wrapped them around again, making a tight, star –like shape. I flipped them nice-side-down onto a prepared sheet pan, and let them rise again for about 45 minutes. Then, I flipped them right-side-up for the final rise. However, I realized that if I let them rise again and baked them, it would be past midnight. So, I put the pre-proofed, but shaped, rolls in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I took them out to take off the chill. Then, I misted them with water, sprinkled them with seeds, and baked them in a 450F oven for ten minutes. I then rotated them, lowered the temperature, and baked them for another ten minutes, or until the insides reached 200F.

They turned out really well-and they’re tasty too! I made a wicked sandwich with chicken, tomato, basil, mozzarella, whole grain mustard, and a reduction of balsamic vinegar. It was delicious, and the bun was too! Usually the bun is the worst part of the sandwich, but instead, the texture definitely complimented it. It was crunchy on the outside, and was substantial enough to hold together. I’ll definitely be making these again; maybe I’ll make a double or triple batch and freeze them!

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I think I’ve been in the process of making this bread for over a month. I started making the pre ferment, called a biga, four times. Every time I made the biga, I never had time to bake the bread. I’d start it and get distracted by schoolwork, my sponsorship, and my job. I’m never home on the weekend, which is the only time I have to make bread.

Anyway, when I got home from work on Sunday, I felt pretty inspired to bake bread. I want to catch up on the BBA Challenge, because at the pace I’m going, I don’t think I’ll be finished by May.

Italian bread in supermarkets has become a gooey white loaf, with a soft crust. Supermarket French bread is pretty similar, except that it is usually in a baguette-like shape. Unlike real French bread though, this Italian bread has a softer crust and a more tender crumb, thanks to sugar and oil. Most Italian breads do not have enriching ingredients though, and have a lean, holey crumb.

To coax the most flavor from the flour, Reinhart uses a pre-ferment called biga. I wish I had more time to ferment it longer, but I knew that if I let it retard in the fridge, I’d run into the same scheduling problems. After I mixed the biga, I let it proof, and divided it into smaller pieces. Meanwhile, I mixed together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and barley malt syrup. Barley malt syrup adds mostly flavor-however, barley malt powder boosts the colorization of the bread.

After I kneaded the bread, I let it bulk ferment for about 2 hours. Then, I divided the dough into two pieces, and flattened them into circles. To shape batards, I used the method Joe and I use in the bakery. I fold down the top of the dough, pull in the corners, fold in half again, and seal it with my palm. Then, I elongated the rolls, and shaped it in a football-like shape. I knew that by the time they would proof, it would be past midnight by the time they were finished.

I had a genius idea! I have a baguette pan that I could place the refrigerated loaves on. This way, they would keep their shape and would be easy to store in the fridge, right? Wrong.

I covered the pan with a plastic bag, which stuck to the surface of the dough. To make things even better, the parchment paper stuck to the sides of the bread; I guess the moisture made the paper cling the to the surface of the bread. It was going great, can’t you tell? They had also overproofed, or the dough was too wet- I can’t really tell. But instead of being short and tall, they were long and squat. I was beyond frustrated…

I’m not sure what’s wrong with my lame, but I can’t bend the blade on it. So, when I tried to score the bread, I was apprehensive and didn’t slash it deep enough. They were going to be ugly- I knew it. I shoved them in the oven which I attempted to recreate as a steam oven.

They didn’t turn out as bad I thought they would have. The flavor was pretty good- I’m sure that if I let the biga ferment longer, they would have a fuller flavor. They were just so ugly and flat.

It’s frustrating because everything in the bakery is so easy to use and the results are good every time. It’s just so disheartening because I put so much time and effort into these loaves and they were just subpar. Why can’t I translate what I’m learning over to what I’m making at home? The dough is so much easier to work with, the equipment creates better loaves, and Joe is there to guide me through the process.

Let’s see how the next one goes…

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The Equiptment

This is the dough scaler. First add the dough and sprinkle it with flour. Then, lock the lid, and press down on the left lever. This compresses the dough. Then, press down on the right lever. This cuts the dough into either 10 or 20 pieces depending on what is needed. Then, pull up both levers at thes same time. Next, unlock the lid, and press the levers down to push the dough up. The dough is now scaled and divided into pieces.

This is the large mixer. There is a hose which directly adds the water to the bowl of the mixer. Joe and I use this to mix the basic doughs. I’ll take a picture of the controls so I can explain the different speeds better. It mixes in first and second speed, for either a controlled time or a manual time.

This is the scale which is on a moveable storage cart. Here, the scale says -.40Kg. To measure on the scale, it needs to be zeroed out by pressing the tare button. This scale can measure both in Kg and Lb. Joe prefers to use European measurments, while Terrance prefers the American standard.

This is the convection oven which bakes cookies, quick breads, pastry, etc.. Joe does not like to use this oven, but prefers to use the steam ovens instead. There are two levels to the convection oven. To the left side of the oven, breads proof in the racks. On the right hand side, baked goods cool.

This is the steam oven. I’ll be sure to get a better picture of the loading rack as well as breads in the oven. The oven has four layers, two doors wide. The black handle opens up the glass so the loading rack can enter. The blue button injects steam-I typically press this for about ten seconds. The red lever opens a vent to release the steam after the first ten minutes of baking. The bottom of the oven is stone which distributes heat evenly.


This is the infamous dough roller/extruder. The dough goes on the belt, which moves back and forth, using the black handle/lever. To change the size of the dough, I press the silver handle to the correct thickness. This changes the distance between the rollers, and rolls the dough through to the desired thickness. It’s hard to control the machine because it goes through very fast.

This is a baking rack full of couche-lined, empty boards. Joe and I just unloaded these which were full of baguettes, ciabatta, boules, batards, pugliese, etc.. Mr. Granarolo is very specific about the couches-after we finished using them, we made sure they were folded neatly. The couche keeps the dough from sticking to the wooden boards. It also provdes the dough with structure while they proof.

This is a rack full of ingredients: raisins, almonds, walnuts, baking powder, chocolate , spices, etc. I’ll take better pictures (I promise!) but on the right hand side, you can see the 50 lb. bags of flour stacked up. On the left, these are refridgerators that hold the retarding laminated doughs

And here we are! Terrance is on the left, I’m in the back right, and Joe is up front. The table isn’t all that big! I’m working on cutting out pie crusts, Joe is lining pie plates, and Terrance is making brioche. Mary is taking the picture-she’s making pastry crème. Do you see how crowded the table is? The bakery is pretty tiny, but it’s got a lot of character.

This is Joe and I working on mini-pie crusts. He’s filling lining the pans while I’m cutting the circles out. A lot of the workers in the kitchen call me Joe’s “hermanita.” (This means little sister in Spanish.)  I guess it’s the hair?

 

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Today didn’t really start up (or end up) that great. I’m back to complaining-but bear with me. This week was pretty excruciating; every day of school pained me. I’m seriously suffering from senioritis-I just want to get out of high school and actually do something I want to do! On top of the monotonous week, I’ve been exhausted. Last night, I babysat and didn’t get home until 11PM. Okay, I know. 11? That’s not that late-but I’ve been beyond tired this whole week, and getting up at 5AM is pretty painful. I cannot wait until spring break-I can finally sleep in!

I left a little later than normal, forgot to eat breakfast, made too weak coffee…sounds great, right? I thought I was going to pass out while I was driving to Princeton. When I got there, I searched around (again) for free parking, but, there is none-anywhere! So, the $12.50 parking garage it is…

I’m not really sure where my brain was today, but I was a flustered mess for the majority of the time I spent at the bakery. Joe asked me to scale the dough out into different sized pieces-I just made everything so complicated. I’d forget to add more for rolls, I’d cut them too small, I’d not add flour so they stuck everywhere, I’d dropped dough on the floor. It was pathetic. I felt terrible, nervous and fidgety. “Sorry, sorry, sorry…” I could feel the nervousness and self-doubt piling up. I could barely shape the dough into boules or batards.

Joe asked me to roll out croissants, which I’ve done countless times. But this time, I rolled the dough too thin, or too long, or too wide. I forgot to flour the top, and all the croissants stuck. Mine were hideous too…The same thing happened when I was rolling out pizzas-I overworked the dough because I had rolled it out so many times because I’d shape it improperly. And again! When I was rolling out the dough for the blueberry-brioche, I couldn’t figure out what size to roll it to. Everything was falling apart, I was spiraling.

Joe realized how flustered and upset I was, and gave me the task to peel and core a ton of apples. This should be easy, right? Simple, right? I’d get in the rhythm of peeling apples, but the moment I wasn’t focused, I’d mess up. “Joe! What’s wrong? Joe, why isn’t it working? Joe, it’s not taking the core out! I’m sorry, sorry, sorry…!” It was pathetic. I’m so bummed out that I performed so dismally.

He brought me over to the ovens, where we’d bake off baguettes, batards, ciabatta, boules, etc. He refreshed all the cuts in my memory, and I was practicing transferring the baguettes. Oh my gosh. All of mine were crooked-they looked awful. “Relax. Just watch. Three movements-just watch.” He showed me over and over, and then let me practice again. When I took a breath and slowed down, things turned out a lot better. When I had to load the breads into the oven, I thought I was going to break something. I had to push the loader into the oven, which was at least a foot overhead. I thought my arms would fall off, or I’d damage something in the process. I’m such a klutz.

I explained to Joe about one of my frustrations with this project. It’s hard to replicate what I’m learning at home, because I can’t make bread in quantity. It’s hard for me to remember the technique and get better at it when I only practice once a week. For example, I can make baguettes at home, but I can’t practice scoring over and over again. I just don’t have the equipment to make the quantity I need to practice. He told me about practicing just using my mind. He told me that if I just visualize the steps over and over again, I can build my memory and get the technique down. I’m day dreaming about transferring baguettes…

Joe handled my craziness pretty well. He told me to relax, to breathe, to not worry so much. “Bread is forgiving!” he told me when I was fretting over the inconsistencies in my slashings. I guess I looked pretty distraught too and he told me, “It’s not the end of the world.” Although I know this, I felt like such a wreck and disappointment. Last week, I felt so assured and at ease in the bakery. What happened to my confidence?

After Mary arrived, I felt more comfortable. Maybe it’s because bread baking ceased, and Joe and I were working on pastry. Around 12, it’s pretty relaxed-Terrance and Joe joke around. It was nice having Mary there too because I didn’t wallow in my self-deprecation as much.

Joe also showed me a couple new breads today, which they make during the night shift. They make “concha” which is a Mexican bread. It’s a brioche bun, topped with a sugar-cookie-like topping of shortening, sugar, and flour. This is scored, and it looks like a shell. The other bread was a couronne, which is shaped like a crown. It is proofed in a circular basket, and it forms a ring. He was also explaining to me how to adjust cookie doughs to gain the desired result. He explained how substituting different protein-level flours, inverted sugars, clarified fats, baking temperatures/techniques, etc. all change the characteristics of the dough . He’s like a textbook!

By the end, I was feeling better and was less flustered. I need to learn how to relax! Anyway, I gained up enough courage to ask Joe if I could take some pictures of the bakery and the equipment. He said sure, as long as I don’t take pictures of him (Terrance said that too.) Oh well-both of them are in the photos anyway. =P

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I’ve been staying longer at the bakery on Saturdays because my friend, Mary comes from 11:30-1:30. Afterwards, we sometimes get coffee or lunch in downtown Princeton. Although it’s really fun to meet up with her and work with her in the bakery, I’ve been there since 7AM. It’s a long day, but I’ve been learning so much that I don’t really notice the time passing by (except that my feet hurt!).

We did the usual routine-mixing, kneading and shaping breads. When I was scaling out breads, Joe was quizzing me-if you have 8Kg divided by 10 loaves, and you want 1 KG pieces, what do you do? Although the math seems simple, it’s hard to think in different types of bread. For example, batards are 300g, boules are 1Kg, etc. It’s just a lot of numbers to mix up. I’m getting better at it though, and I’m understanding Joe’s method of measuring better.

I’m actually proud of myself! Joe asked me to make croissant dough, and I made the recipe from memory! It’s pretty simple, but still-I feel like I’m getting the hang of it. Also, while we were making pumpkin bread and other various recipes, I was trying to think ahead and get essential tools. Joe said the most important thing is the ability to be aware of other people and to assist them without being told. Although I still usually wait for directions, I can usually assume what’s to come next or what needs to be done in the meantime.

The more time I spend with Joe, the more he reminds me of my brother, Evan. Joe’s very scientific like my brother, and can explain to me the science of baking. It’s fascinating-I love hearing him explain, even though I sometimes get confused. I asked him a bunch of questions about baking bread in a home oven. Right now, I spray my loaves with a water mister to imitate the steam ovens. However, spraying the loaves creates bumps on the outside of the bread, rather than having a smooth crust. He told me to just spray the sides and the bottom of the oven. However, home ovens can never really replicate the bakery’s oven because the steam circulates in their ovens.

I’m totally fascinated by bread baking, but eggs and milk also are amazing ingredients. I asked him a billion questions about egg whites and their ability to inflate when whipped. Joe’s a textbook of information-he told me that when they’re mixed with an acid (like copper, cream of tartar, vinegar) egg whites can never break. Without an acid, the alkaline can break when they are over whipped. It’s awesome having Joe around because he can answer any question I have with an explanation that I can understand.

Since Joe and my brother, Evan, are very similar in age, it feels like I’m actually hanging out with my brother rather than a “boss-like” figure. I don’t really know how to explain it-they’re just very alike. For example, Evan’s very aware of other people’s needs and emotions just like Joe. Around 12, my energy was fading and I was getting flustered as I was making frangipane-filled puff pastry. Joe saw that I was tired, and he told me to grab a cup of coffee. However, the pot was empty, so Joe went to the front of the café and brought me a cup. I know-this doesn’t sound like much, but it was so thoughtful of him to go out of his way to make sure that I was comfortable. It’s really nice working in a place where everyone cares about each other-it really makes working fun and comfortable.

Since I’ve never been in the bakery’s basement, Joe gave me a tour. I’m only 5’2” and my head was brushing against the ceiling! He showed me rows upon rows of paper products, cups, bulk ingredients, etc. This was pretty similar to Ruthie’s bakery-all extra supplies are organized in every inch of space they have. Joe showed me a ton of extra pans and random tools that are used infrequently. This was like a goldmine to me-I love kitchen equipment. I could spend all day in a store like William-Sonoma just looking at pans and uni-purpose tools. I hope that we’ll use some of the interesting baskets and pans-they even had muffin top pans!

I usually only make the bread, but never bake it. This time, Joe let me load the ovens up with ciabatta, pugliese, baguette, and the batards. Very rarely, I do this with Mr. Granarolo-so it was nice to use the ovens with Joe. He was teaching me different slashing methods-each type of bread had their own style. Joe was experimenting too-he made a beautiful loaf with slashed like a wheat stalk. Like cake decorating, this is the artistic part of bread baking. I’m definitely getting better at using the lame- and Joe was very supportive and explained every movement carefully.

I’m definitely feeling more comfortable too-I’m stepping out of my shy self finally! I was talking to Terrance about the industry and the types of jobs he once had. He’s been pastry chef for 10 years at the Witherspoon Bread Company. However, he too started out as an intern when he was in college. He worked as dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, chef—all the way up the kitchen hierarchy. When his son was born, Terrance changed his job in order to watch his son grow up. As a chef in a restaurant, he worked all weekends, holidays, and every night until at least 1AM. As a pastry chef, Terrance works in the daytime, from about 9AM to 6PM. Baking wasn’t his first choice-but he’s learned to love pastry and his job.

Both Joe and Terrance are very versatile and flexible chefs-and I admire them for this. They both went with the flow-they didn’t throw out any opportunities that came their way. They don’t do their job grudgingly-they enjoy their craft and care about what they make while having fun.

So, after about 2 ½ months of interning, I feel like I’m becoming more comfortable with Terrance, Joe, and myself. I’m going to try not standing back anymore, but to speak up and ask questions. I’ll get a lot more out of my internship if I ask so I understand exactly what is going on.

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Since it is St. Patrick’s day this Thursday, the bakery’s special is Irish Soda Bread. Irish soda bread is a quick bread made from flour, salt, sugar, baking soda butter, and buttermilk. I measured out all the dry ingredients , to which I cut in cold butter. Then, I added cold buttermilk, and mixed in golden raisins. This technique is used to make biscuits-the bread is crumbly, yet moist. We shaped them into rounds, and then slashed them with a knife down the center. After we baked them off, Mr. Granarolo tasted it and decided that for the next batch, he’ll be using currants, which are a small, red raisin. For the amount of dough, the raisins were measly. Oh well-it still tasted good.

We made the usual doughs and shaped them too. However, while making tons of batards, Joe showed me a new bread they’ve been making. It’s an apricot, walnut, whole wheat batard. While shaping a batard, we sprinkled fresh cranberries on the dough before rolling it up. This creates a tart berry filling in the center. This has become a huge seller in the bakery; we must have made at least sixty.

I must have slept weird because my arm was killing me. While I was rolling out what must have been at least 100 croissants, I had the sharpest pain in my shoulder. It was really difficult to work, and I noticed I slowed down a lot, compared to my normal rate. Then I began worrying about the future-what if I get hurt? I want to be in the restaurant industry as my future career, but I can’t imagine what I’d do if I got seriously hurt. Making, shaping, and baking all require two hands, and it’s almost impossible to do it single-handedly. Also, the culinary industry is very strenuous-if I’m tired now, I can’t imagine what it will be like when I’m forty-five.

After the shaping a lot of breads, Joe told me about a special type of bread that he makes-a combination of brioche and croissant. The dough has both eggs and butter in it, but it is laminated with butter, making it flakey. He cut it into squares, piped an almond crème on it, and sprinkled it with blueberries. Then, he folded the dough, making a beautiful package. I asked him if it was a traditional bread, and he said no. He told me that if he tried to explain it to any customer, they wouldn’t understand the concept. If it taste and looks good, a customer doesn’t really care how it was made. Joe is an artisan- he takes such pride in his work, and he loves to create perfect breads.

Joe and I made madelines, which are a cake-like cookie baked in a pan which look like shells. He showed me how to use a pastry piping bag to fill the tins. I’m not really sure which hand is dominant-technically I’m a lefty, but I use my right hand to use a knife, scissors, and to shape breads. Anyway, using the pastry bag was rather difficult, because I couldn’t really get the pressure and direction right with it. Maybe with practice I could be neater, but I find that I’m better with breads than pastries. Pastry requires absolute aesthetic precision, while breads are rustic. I get pretty frustrated with little details-I have more of a big-picture, get-the-gist-of-it kind of personality than an exact one.

When I was baking the madelines, I forgot to turn on the oven timer. Joe always uses one, while Terrance does not. Terrance told me that he has in “internal timer,” and doesn’t need a machiene. I asked him if he ever burns anything, and he told me that he does burn things occasionally. Joe then informed me of a secret-always check the oven every seven-and-a-half minutes. This is the magic number-cookies usually take 12, cakes about 50, etc, and by checking often, nothing will ever have a chance to burn.

We also made palmiers, which are made from puff pastry and sugar. They look like butterflies-the sugar makes very distinct layers in the pastry. They were really fun to make-it was like laminating normal puff pastry, but I had to sprinkle it heavily with sugar While I was using the roller, I looked up at the customers- and guess what? I saw Ms. Marionni at the counter! It was so funny seeing her at the bakery. She told me that she loves the Witherspoon Bread Company, and she comes rather often. It’s also funny because I’ve actually never really eaten anything we make. So when I hear people rave about the bakery, it makes me want to try all the breads and pastries I’ve made.

I was definitely inspired to bake after being in the bakery today. It is my friend’s birthday, so I’m baking her a super-chocolatey cake. Even though I’m supposed to be baking breads for my project, I miss baking in general. Before WISE, I baked a lot of breads, but also pies, tarts, cookies, cakes, anything. But I’ve been so focused on breads and the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, that I haven’t baked a variety of goods in a long time. I’m glad to get back into the routine of baking, even though I don’t have a lot of time to do it.

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I just got back from the bakery-today was a long day. I got there around six thirty and left at about one. I’m exhausted! The only inconvenience there is about my internship is the time! I feel like if I wasn’t in school, I wouldn’t mind the early hours. It’s just that I’m so tired from the week of school (and the homework that goes along with it), and then I have my internship on Saturdays and my job on Sundays. I never have a chance to catch up on sleep or hang out with my friends, which puts a damper on senior year.

Anyway, when I got there, Joe was mixing doughs and running around the kitchen. While he was busy, I cracked about 150 eggs, watched Joe, and cleaned up the table.

Meanwhile, Mr. Granarolo let me bake off baguettes again, which was really exciting. I’ve gotten better at using the lame (or, maybe, I just understand the concept better). My slashes were much more uniform and correct, and I’ve gotten much better at using the ovens. I still have difficulty transferring the bread to the racks though. With more practice, I think I’ll improve though.

The bakery is functioning differently now-They’re making more flavors in smaller sizes. However, this means that each flavor has to be individually mixed, as well as shaped. It’s not that it’s such a big deal to sprinkle in some rosemary or a few cranberries, but it’s just an extra few moments from the clock. Anyway, since they’re making so many flavors, it’s hard to do with few laborers. Much to Joe’s dismay, the bakery now freezes his pre-shaped breads, in order for them to be baked as needed. I asked Joe if the customer’s could tell the difference. He said, “No, they can’t. But I can.” I totally relate to this statement-when I make anything-a bread, a cake, a chicken dish-I know when the quality is lacking. If I skimp on something, or over-knead, or do anything not right, I can taste it. Everyone else might say, “This is great!” but, I know, that it could be better. Joe feels the same way-and I don’t blame him. He takes such pride in his bread, and I admire that quality about him.

Anyway, Joe and I made and shaped tons of breads, like always. He always teaches me new tricks; For example, he showed me how to make the most croissants out of the dough-He puts the tip of the triangular cutter at the center of the dough, and then cuts. Something as simple as this can produce more croissants in the long run. He also showed me a new way to for a batard. Rather than folding down from the top, if one rolls it up from the bottom, it’s a lot more efficient.  Also, he showed me how to open a bag of flour. Okay- I know, this sounds simple. But Joe has a specific way. He picks up a 50 pound sack upside down, and tears off the bottom string, which unravels. He then hefts the bag into the container, and pulls upwards. This causes all the flour to come out without making a mess.

A new bread that I made today was a German rye-cracked wheat-molasses bread. It has some name, but I’m not quite sure of it. Joe was joking around that it tastes good with a beer, bratwurst, and mustard, while attending Oktoberfest.  Sometimes just the silly banter that goes on makes my day at the bakery.

Joe and I were organizing the walk-in freezer for the new breads to be put in. This took a while because the freezer has a lot of food stuffs in it, but the freezer itself is very small. We had to make room and organize the shelves to put the breads in. However, as we were doing this, we forgot about the brioche which had been mixing. When we came back, Joe was really upset-the brioche had been over-kneaded. The temperature of the dough had increased, and the gluten had been overdeveloped. It became a gloppy-mess of stringy dough. He attempted to rescue it by adding more flour, but it looked like all hope had been lost.

But wait! He decided to put it into buckets, and let it sit for an hour or two. He went back to the brioche dough, which looked much better and together. Then, he proceeded to stretch-and-fold the dough in order to provide more structure. Although it wasn’t as beautiful and easy to work with as normal, Joe successfully saved the dough from being wasted. (Although flour is cheap, 8 pounds of butter and 150 eggs are not).

Joe and I have a lot of time to chat and joke around, which makes the bakery really fun. Joe’s a really smart guy-he’s into chemistry, microbiology, and basically any subject, ever. I asked him a few questions about different types of yeast and the process of fermentation. He gave me a lot of information in little time- so, I’ll definitely need to do more research. But he explained the different by-products of yeast, the process of fermentation and the development of gluten. He gave me a lot of cool analogies to remember it too-the gluten of over-kneaded dough stretches more like an elastic waistband (sideways) than a nylon stocking (which stretches in all ways).

While I was reading a textbook I bought called Advanced Bread and Pastry, I read about different types of “mixes.” For instance, some baker’s prefer to use a “short mix.” This develops the gluten the least, and the dough requires a stretch-and-fold technique. It has the most irregular crumb compared to a very tight one. Joe said he doesn’t like this method very much, but prefers a mixing cycle that provides the dough with more structure. He also told me that breads that use the stretch-and-fold technique stale slower than breads with a normal mix. For instance, ciabatta, which is short mixed, last much longer than the baguette.

I was telling Joe about the difficulties which I experience when I attempt to explain anything. The other day, my friend and I were baking bread in my house. I get so into it-I forget to explain! Or I just say, “It’s like this!” and fail to really explain what I mean. I told Joe that he’s a great teacher-I mean it too. He doesn’t even get impatient when he’s explaining things for the first, or seventeenth, time. He said it’s because he knows it inside-and-out; he could probably even do it in his sleep. To be a teacher or a mentor, one must fully understand their subject, not just have a slight grasp. Hopefully by the time WISE is over, I’ll be able to explain the process of making bread.

I also asked Joe about working in the industry. He said that he really enjoys working long days, and a few years ago, he was working 14 hour days on a short day. He always worked holidays and weekends. I knew that he worked as a sous-chef, and I asked if he preferred working as a baker or a chef, and he said that he didn’t really mind. Joe likes to have a change of scenery every once in a while, so he says he doesn’t stay in the same business for more than a few years at a time. This way, he can explore more, learn more, and learn more about himself.

Anyway, Joe, Terrance, and I just joked around. I love spending time there-I spent six hours without even realizing it. Hanging out with Joe and Terrance remind me of hanging out with my own brothers. They’re both very close, and have a lot of inside jokes and tease each other endlessly. It’s very similar to a sibling relationship, except they’re adults. The more time I spend with Joe and Terrance, the more I think I’m going to miss them after WISE is over. I sound like a gushing little kid, but really, they’re two of the coolest people I’ve ever met. I’m so glad that they’re teaching me.

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