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Sour Bakery

from barm to table

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Unique Creations

It is 1:14 in the morning on the 24th of April. I am playing the waiting game. Waiting for my dough to be ready to shape into the loaves I will bake tomorrow. Waiting for the dish machine to finish its cycle so I can do the next load. Waiting to feel like I am really “a baker” who makes “great sourdough breads”. Every time I come to The Cookery (the commercial kitchen where I rent space) I learn something new, or do something not smart. This is my fourth time here. Lets take a quick minute to go over what I have learned through each mistake (some silly, some super terrible).

First time at The Cookery was on Sunday the 1st of April. My first ever market was to be on the following Tuesday. I was super nervous and jittery. The first day went okay. I made the bread, it looked pretty good. But I tried to do all 100 loaves AT THE SAME TIME.  I mixed all the dough in two sets in the hobart (mistake 1). I tried to separate it into the individual styles of bread before doing the add ins, but the dough was poorly mixed, due to overloading the hobart so I spent hours (literally) trying to repair the damage. It all worked out, but I had some dough autolysing for way too long, so I damaged the structure when it was time to mix it. I got it done. when it came time to divide each loaf from the mass I did it ALL AT ONCE again (mistake 2). my prep tables were over flowing with bread and, again, some of my bread sat too long, developing a crust before it should. Anyway, I got them all in the baskets, and then into the walkin fridge to sit over night (my shelves on the super tippy top, and I am short, so this took forever too). Day one done. A few mistakes, an hour and a half past my time, worried that the bread was going to be garbage. Woo, home to sleep and worry.

Day 2, Monday night, started out well. I timed the bread well, so there would be plenty of time between bake-offs and for the bread to cool before putting them in the tubs. I did great! I was done and ready to start cleaning up 4 hours early! So I leisurely started cleaning up. The bags I brought for the baskets were too small, so they were a pain. But I got the baskets in the bags, took one round to the car, returned to get the rest, back to the car and…. Locked myself out of The Cookery. The doors look behind you and you use a key fob to get in. I had left the fob on the table where the baskets had been. It was 2:40am at this time. No one was due at The Cookery until 6am. I didn’t have my car keys, phone, jacket, brain (apparently), but at least the car was open and I had my laptop. So, after trying to jimmy the door, repeatedly, and seeing if I could somehow McGuiver the door (no, no I could not. But the tool I made was pretty cool) I decided to listen to a book on my laptop and wait for rescue, at 6 (it was 3 by now). At least I was done, the oven was off, and my bread was definitely cool enough to box up.

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Picture taken later to show where I spent my time waiting.

That was my first experience. Luckily the first farmers’ market went really well, so I tried my hand at production again. My second time I didn’t bring enough dusting flour, and forgot the spatula to help get the cheesy loaves off the sheet pans. My third time I forgot the rolling pin to roll out my spiral rolls, and a thermometer to test the temp on my breads. Luckily, there is a store less than a five minute walk away.

I am now on the bake-off day of my fourth session at The Cookery. I have not forgotten anything, yet. I have improved my process and been able to reduce the amount of hours that I have to rent the space, which is saving me money. My loaves are still not perfect, in fact I think the Garlic Cheddar I am about to bake-off may not be my finest loaves. But, when I don’t hate this it is very fun and beautiful and full of joy.

I recently had some bananas that were perfect for banana bread. But, I did not want to make banana bread. I LOVE to experiment! It is why I want to open my own bakery: so I have control of what I make and when I can try new things.

In recent posts, I wrote about a wild yeast cinnamon roll recipe that I was experimenting on. So, I decided to stuff that dough with mashed bananas, chocolate, nuts, and peanut butter.

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This is what it looked like before the roll: I wanted to try two different types. Half was chocolate, peanut butter and banana, the other half was banana and walnut. Rolling these was a bit messy. I realized that if I was going to have so much yummy gooeyness I need to leave more empty space for the goo to expand on.

Once I had it rolled I really thought it was not going to work, so much so that I did not bother taking pictures. I shoved the pan into the fridge overnight, filled with barely rolled, explodingly gooey rolls and thought, well- experimenting is half the fun. They will probably taste good…

This morning I got up and started taking my loaves out for bake-off. After the third round of removing a few baskets at a time I remembered the rolls. Cringing slightly, I took the pan from the fridge and inspected the mess. There was so much liquid I thought that baking them was going to be a mistake. But, I chose to bake them anyway. No one would have to know if they were terrible.

I am so glad that I baked them off! They are absolutely delicious and I am getting ready to make some more tomorrow, with a few tweaks.

For me, baking is all about imagining something that might taste great, and applying that idea to your existing knowledge. Sometimes, it will flop, but sometimes it will be absolutely delicious!

 

This was so exciting to create! I found the font years ago and find it rather whimsical and quirky: like myself.

I have been asked: why the Unicorn, what does it have to do with bread? My initial answer has been: because I am a Unicorn! But, in all seriousness I find that food, in general, but specifically wild yeast breads, is pure magic. Being able to go to the grocery store and get anything you want (naturally made or purely manufactured), at any time of year, has removed the magic of food from most people’s lives. I think I will write a whole post on this next!

Not only did I get cards, but I also got postcards with my offerings on the back:

Coming soon will be my Kickstarter to help get these beautiful loaves into as many hands as I can! I’ll keep you posted!

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I am so lucky that I have been able to work on my art more, now that I only have one job. My repertoire has expanded and I would like to create a list that exists outside of myself, for any to see, so that it exists beyond me and makes what I am doing more real. My loaves are not always as big, not always as tasty, and not always as beautifully open as I would like them to be. I am not always as patient nor as confident in myself as I should be after all these years. But there is hope. There is always hope.

Here are the loaves that I sell:

vegan

classic sour, roasted onion garlic potato and herb, sundried tomato and garlic, salted rosemary, olive garlic and pepper, seeded

cheesy

caprese, garlic cheddar, jalapeño cheddar, chipotle cheddar, habanero cheddar, artichoke parmesan and garlic

meat

bacon apple gouda

sweet

raspberry and white chocolate, cinnamon and raisin, dark chocolate cherry and pecan

I am always experimenting, it is one of the greatest joys in baking! Not only do I make these phenomenal loaves, I also make cinnamon rolls, crackers, biscuits, and sweets. All with a wild yeast starter!

These turned out absolutely delicious, and absolutely HUGE! I experimented with extra sweet potato and no buttermilk, leading to a tender and sweet roll. White chocolate and milk chocolate created a decedent treat. I need to recreate them soon!

Making loaves of wild yeast sourdough is fun, delicious, and time consuming. Sometimes I envy people who choose to use commercial yeast. Their bread can be finished within one day, and eaten that evening! Yet, I don’t really envy them. Bread made from commercial yeast lacks the beauty and intricate dealings that are required when using a living part of the kitchen environment. Wild yeast requires just the right temperature, handling, nutrients, and time.

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In looking for items that require less than three days to be enjoyed I happened upon a recipe for Sourdough English Muffins! What a fun dough. Of course, it still took two days, but it was such a different process. I didn’t let the dough rest enough after the second roll so I got some interesting sizes. They are delicious, sour, and full of all the delightful pockets that make english muffins great for jam, or eggs and bacon. I think I will sell them in four packs for $6. Of course, I need to work some more on the shaping and cooking. I don’t have a griddle so thats fun.

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My loaves have always been about a pound and a half, before I add in extra tasty bits. I decided that, maybe, they were too big. So I’ve reduced my loaves to about a pound and a quarter. I haven’t reduced my initial dough recipe yet, so I had a bit of extra. The other day I made a roll; today I tried a mini baguette. I notice that people seem to buy baguettes more than a loaf when I snoop on other bread makers. So, I might start making souguettes (sourdough baguettes). It was fun forming a different loaf, but I will need to work on form and mess with the proofing time.

I don’t always eat all the bread; I don’t know enough people here yet to hand it out, but I so love creating it, watching it, messing with it, and seeing how my creations turn out.

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Once, long ago, I bartered some 150 miniature stuffed muffins for business cards. Those cards were beautiful. But, I wasn’t experienced enough with what should be on a business card and I utterly failed to add pertinent information: like my phone number, blog address, or my name. The lady didn’t say anything, just provided me with the incomplete card and called it a day. It was meant to be. I was not ready to even believe that it was possible for me to embrace this skill that I love. But those cards were beautiful, and I still have a few.

Hello, new day! I am ready. I am excited. I am so nervous I could pee myself when I think about the possibility of being completely dependent on my being able to sell myself and my product. But I am so excited by the possibilities, and ready to try. So, I got some business cards!!! My partner helped me create them. They may not be “beautiful”, but they are glorious to me.

One step closer to being brave. One step closer to shining out loud.

When feeding the starter, barm, or pulling some out for sourdough breads, there is always extra. I feel so sad just tossing it down the drain: the lovely, happy, and active yeast has no idea what awaits it down the drain hole and all its potential slips away. Sigh, I have tossed the extra more times than I care to admit.

In the past year I have started making crackers, herbed and garlic, as well as cinnamon spice. Yesterday I branched into unknown territory. Having recently satisfied my sweet tooth with a delicious cinnamon roll I thought I would try using started as the yeast in my own sticky bun.

I made the dough using a rich dough recipe, replacing the baking soda and powder as well as some of the flour and milk, with the starter. Leaving it to proof, I realized I did not have any pecans. If they couldn’t be nutty, they would be fruity sticky buns. I did have some peaches that were heading out, and some green apples I had just bought. So I made the buns three ways: classic spiced cinnamon, spicy apple, and sweet peach.

Experimenting, which seems to be a major theme of Sour Bakery, is so much fun! When I was at the Academy I was told I had to get the “classic” recipe correct before I should branch out to “oddities”. While I respect the classics, I think that a person can learn how to do what should be done while trying out what has not been done.

My first try turned out beautifully, spread out a bit to thin, my sheet pan was to big! I think I will try these in jumbo muffin tins next. I loved how the fruit filling blended with the spices, and the fruit that ended up on top changed the flavor of the caramel sauce. I had one for dinner, and another for dessert. Oh, and one for breakfast too.

I think I would sell these for $3, once I get them perfect and tall and crispily gooey.

Also, as a side note: I think I make up a lot of words. And I forget words and use odd words to replace that which has been forgot.

 

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