This week I spent my time just making bread for the bistro, and trying to really dial in the formula and technique. With just a few tweaks here and there, I think I nailed it all down. My formula is:
Flour (French bread flour aka tt 65): 100% (say, for the sake of comparison 1000 grams)
Water: 68% (or 680g)
Salt: 2% (this is a little higher than I would like, but the people that pay me love it, so…)(20g)
Yeast: .8% (8g)
This is the total formula, meaning: when all is said and done, this is what is in the dough. The flour, water, and yeast for the poolish all come out of this total. Everything that’s left after that is what I weigh out for my final dough.
My total prefermented flour is 30%, so that ends up being (from the example above) 300g of flour, 300g of water, and 1g of yeast (really it’s a pinch, but its basically just next to nothing). This gets mixed to a pancake-ish batter, and left to sit overnight.
After the dough is mixed, the next morning, it gets 45 min, then a punch, then another 45, than preshaped. After the preshape rests for 15 min or so it gets a final shape. Rise, and then bake.
The bistro decided they want rolls instead of baguettes, so they get about 120 to 240 rolls that weigh 75 grams (about 3 ounces) a day, and they decided on the tabatiere (or tobacco pouch in English).
The pastry shop needs about 60-75 loaves a day at 233g(which are cut in half to make two sandwiches), and 10 or 15 baguettes (425g) to sell retail.
So the low ball on this is about 34 kilos of dough (about 75 pounds according to the internet). This is where the real problems are. That won’t fit in the oven. Not even in two bakes. Nor will it fit on any rack, even in two bakes, and once the pastry chefs arrive, I don’t really have access to the oven. Especially since I have to set it about 100c higher than anything they will use it for.
roll shape test
What this means, summed up, is; I go to work at 2 in the morning (which means I wake up at midnight). I don’t think I need to explain how this could be a problem, or at least the effect it has on my nightlife.
The major problem with this schedule, quality wise, is that if the bread is out of the oven at 6 in the morning, then its stale by lunch, and they still need it for dinner.
Their fix; par bake the bread and blast freeze it so they can bake it as they need it. I don’t know if my issues with this approach are moral, ethical, or imagined, but it bugs me. Really, really bugs me. I’m open to suggestions here.
After the bread is pulled out of an inferior oven (half baked), it’s frozen to about -29c for what I hope won’t be more than 24 hours.
I also had a levain (starter) problem this week. Or, more to the point, I had a pastry chef problem.
One day, after I left, one of the pastry chefs put my levain in the walk in fridge.
I have been keeping it at room temp, and it’s just not old enough to be shocked like that. Think of it as being cold blooded. If you toss a young tropical lizard into a bucket of ice, he’s going to slow way down.
young tropical lizards...don't go in buckets of ice
What happens in a starter is a balance of the natural yeast, bacteria, and enzymes from the flour. For a healthy starter you need them to keep each other in check, but it’s delicate. When you change a variable (time, amount of ingredients, temp) something becomes dominate. In this case it was the bacteria (please, some one tell me if I’m wrong)
So I came in to an under active starter, and after 5 days of trying to get it healthy again, it’s still not looking so hot. God help that young man if I have to start from scratch again.