Saturday, 10 October 2015

back in Poland

We are back in Poland this week.  The bakery is looking lovely now it has been painted, the fire has been lit and we are ready to do some baking,  Looks like I will do some sweet buns today and some pizza tonight.  Looking forward to do a big batch of bread some time next week.

the bakery  is looking almost finished

Dorothy helping to light the fire

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Baking today after a little break

Its been a while since we baked regularly due to being away for work and taking part in Triathlons.  Later in the year we will be taking a holiday, but until then I am going to try to bake as often as possible.

6 am start today to mix the dough which is now in the fermenting containers.  Probably about 2 hours to go until shaping time.

The oven has to be re-lit this morning as I forgot to close the damper properly last night, the result was that the temperature of the surface of the oven had dropped to around 250 °C.  I like to bake at around 300 °C.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

First Victoria sponge in a wood fired oven

This weekend we did our first bake in some time as we have been away or working on finishing our kitchen. We had a fantastic time baking bread again, I have missed it a lot.  When I went to tidy the bakery this evening, I thought I would take a quick temperature reading of the hearth and it was around 200°C, something had to be done with this retained heat, so I decided to try my first Victoria Sponge in a wood fired oven.  I'm no expert at baking cakes, but I am very pleased with the results, maybe the lightest, moistest   sponge I have ever tasted (except my mothers!).  With a bit more practice, I may start to offer a special order cake service.  You can cook a big cake in this oven, 80 x 120 cm, if you had a tin big enough!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Bake

Just finished our Easter bake.  We baked on a Friday this week so that people had their bread before this special weekend.  We baked more loaves than we have done on a single firing and on a new schedule that we have not used before.  The results are continuing to improve as we refine our process form week to week and I hope we can keep this up.

Rustic Sourdough

Wholemeal sourdough with sunflower seeds

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Bread in a wood fired oven - Improving week to week

There are still a few things to finish on the wood fired oven, but I have been focusing on improving the quality and consistency of the two types of bread I bake each week.  In the last couple of weeks we have started using a new source of flour and as a result the mixing, hydration, fermentation and proofing has all been adjusted. With what we learned baking last week some more refinements were made this week and the results are now greatly improved.

Quick lunch on bake day

Our wholemeal bread with sun-flour seeds is now being made with this new, freshly milled, wholemeal flour. This recipe needed more work than the rustic white bread, which I have been making for a long time.  This weeks changes have finally got close to what I have been aiming for.  The main difference from the rustic white method is that where the white dough is proofed cold for around 8 hours.  The wholemeal is fermented cold for 10 hours and then proofed warm for 1.5 hours.  The cold dough hold shape much better and then maintains this shape while proofing.  This results in a much lighter loaf with a more open crumb.
Wholemeal with sunflower seeds

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Recipe - Rustic Sourdough

This is the basic outline for my Rustic Sourdough bread.  With a brief set of instructions like this, it is only possible to show the approximate quantities and techniques.  There are entire books written on the techniques that go into making these ingredients into high quality bred.  I will not be able to go into anywhere near enough detail in this post, but I will, in the future, dedicate posts to specific parts of the process.  To explain my formula, I will be using baker percentages, where all quantities are expressed in terms of a percentage of the weight of wheat in the final dough.


2 KG of starter at 100% Hydration
1 KG strong bread flour
1L cold water

Final dough;

2 KG  all purpose flour
4 KG strong bread flour
1.5 % Salt
75% water

Two days before bake day, expand 100 g of starter with 200 g of strong flour and 200 ml of water, leave for 12 hours at around 15 °C.  Expand the 500 g of 1st starter by adding 750 g of strong flour and 750 ml of water.  Allow another 12 hours of cool fermentation.

Roughly mix the remaining 2 KG of strong flour with 3.5 L of water, this is then left to sit for 2 hours.  After this resting period mix the remaining flour, starter and salt to complete the dough formula.

I then leave the dough to sit for another 30 minutes and then hand knead for 15 minutes.  The final dough is then left to ferment for 12 hours at the same cool temperature.  The dough is then divided into 1 KG portions, shaped and left to proof in linen lined baskets.  After half an hour of proofing, the loaves are put in a cold room overnight at around 7 °C.  In smaller quantities the dough would be in the refrigerator or for these quantities, at a warmer time of year, this step would be omitted and shaping would happen just 2 hours before baking.  With the cold rest period the dough is removed from the cold room and allowed to warm up and proof at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Baking happens in our wood fired oven with the hearth temperature at around 250-260°C until the internal dough temperature is 98°C.  At these temperatures, baking will take approximately 25-30 minutes.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Baking weekend - Rustic and wholemeal sourdough

It was a very early start required for our first production bake in the wood fired oven.  The quantities we were planning this weekend are not big as it all needed to be mixed and kneaded by hand, but we wanted as many people as possible to taste our bread.  We had pre-orders for 17 loaves of our rustic sourdough and I was experimenting by making a small batch of 7 wholemeal and sunflower loaves. In the end we sold out of everything, but did leave ourselves a couple to eat during the week.  Unfortunately we don't have lots of pictures of all our lovely customer standing round the oven as the weather was appalling and with no proper walls yet on the bakery, it was too cold for people to stay outside.

In addition to this being the largest bake I have done, we were also trying out a new brand of flour.  The flour is an improvement from the bread flower we have been using, but as it is stronger, the hydration will need to be adjusted to achieve the same open crumb that we were getting.  

The real success of the weekend was the wholemeal, it was by far the tastiest bread I have baked and we will be looking to improve it further over the next few weeks.  This new recipe can also be baked at a higher temperature, enabling us to start baking earlier on the thermal curve of the oven, increasing its baking capacity.

We won't be baking for a couple of weeks.  Now we have done a larger scale experiment, there are a few things that need to be finished on the oven and bakery, we need to find a baking assistant for me and we are also considering buying a mechanical mixer.

First batch of rustic sour-dough loaves