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Preparing for market

Okay, here it is – a nearly complete pictorial guide to preparing some bread for market.  First off, I use baker’s percentages to prepare my bread and several other great baking bloggers have posted about this so I will recommend you check out this tutorial series at the Wild Yeast blog.  It’s where I learned how to use baker’s percentages and began designing my own bread recipes (err… percentages…).  Second, all images below related to bread preparation and packaging were taken by my lovely wife Cat who takes fantastic photos.  You can learn more about her photography and our kids at her blog The Bird’s Nest.

The first picture below is the dough after it has been hand mixed as far as I’m able.  It looks somewhat crumbly with softer and firmer patches in it depending on the wetness of the dough.

This is about as far as you can get with a spoon, so it’s time to get my hands dirty and start to knead the dough.  In the slideshow below you can see the ‘crumbles’ of dough begin to stick together and then stretch into a semi-smooth ball of dough as the gluten is developed.

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Next it’s time to test for gluten development in the dough with a window pane test.  This is done after the dough feels right and is beginning to get resistant to kneading .

 

 

 

I’m happy with this level of development (medium to full) and knead the test pinch of dough back into the larger ball.  This gives us the finished lump of Rosemary Potato dough which is now ready for it’s initial bulk rise.

After the bulk rise, the dough is turned onto either an oiled or floured surface, divided and scaled to the right size for the loaf that needs to be made.  In this case, I’m making batards (16 ounces) and full sandwich loaves (32 ounces).

Skip ahead a little further and the bread is scored, baked, cooled, packaged, labeled and taken to market.  This market is at 4910 Forest Hill Avenue with The Market Umbrella from now (December) until the end of April.

Where it is sold by me to all the smiling customers!  Yes, it is winter, and yes, there is snow on the ground.  The winter market is a lot of fun and I encourage you to visit sometime!

I hope you enjoyed this little journey and there will be more fun with bread in the near future – stay tuned!

Weekend update #1

Okay….so I was bad and forgot to get pictures of this past week’s baking.  That will have to wait another day….  On another note, revisiting the Sourdough entry, I did make my first batch of sourdough baguettes this weekend and they came out great!  Yes, the Barmy Baguette is a new addition to the Tater Dave lineup; it was well received by the family and moved pretty quickly at the market.

I’m also doing some courtesy baking this week – one is for the CVC fundraiser at the office for Monday and then office Holiday parties later in the week.

That’s all for now!

Sourdough Starter

One of my goals over the winter is to develop a couple of sourdough starters.  I’m testing my first batch of starter tonight to see how it’s doing and below are a few pictures of what’s going on.  As a reference, I’ve used Peter Reinhart’s directions in his book Crust and Crumb for developing this starter.  At the moment it has a fairly strong ‘sour’ smell to it, but does not smell offensive.

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I’ve built up a little over 2 quarts of starter so far.  In the measuring cup is roughly 1/2 c. of the starter I’ve pulled out just to observe to see if it grows.  This is the day after feeding it so the yeast should be on the upswing.

The 8 qt. bucket the starter is living in is one of my food grade proofing buckets that is used for the bulk rise on most of my breads.

I may stay up later tonight to check on the starter, but I’ll most likely head onto bed since it’s 11 p.m. already.  The sample starter I’m “proofing” shouldn’t escape the liquid measure (unless it quadruples!) so even if I go to bed, I can measure the high water mark on the inside of the glass in the morning to find out how much it rose on it’s own.  I’m hoping to get a double or tripling in volume to show that the starter is alive and well!

Now for a little teaser of what’s in store for later in the week – I’m planning a post to chronicle a day baking and preparing for market from start to finish.

This Saturday will be the last weekend of the season of the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park.  It’s been a great first season and I’ve learned a lot about baking for production, marketing via Facebook, and managing a booth at the market.

I’m proud of a few achievements I’ve made along the way this year:

#1 – I can produce a little more than double the amount of bread now in the time it took me to make my first 40 loaves of bread for opening weekend at the market.

#2 – I’ve learned how to properly brown a loaf of bread in an over packed oven (folks no longer wonder if the bread is “cooked”)

#3 – Facebook has been a great way to make quick updates and keep in touch with other fans of the market!

#4 – I can set up my tent, table, and bread in about 15 minutes and breakdown in less than 10 – not bad for only having a little Toyota Matrix from carting everything around!

So come visit for the last weekend before the South-er of the James Market starts out on Forest Hill Avenue.  I’m probably going to get my application in for that market, but will take a little bit of time off over the winter.

Yes, it’s odd getting started late in the year with a blog, but the season has been very busy between working the full-time job, baking for the South of the James Market, and keeping my family happy and sane.

While I’ll be taking a break from the market for the winter; I will be experimenting with new breads based on customer feedback during this past season.  So yes, this means that I will be working on sourdough bread, maybe some gluten-free items, and of course variations on the staple potato breads’ available at the market.

I will offer occasional ‘Tater Tasting’ events to try out the new creations and I hope that some of you will be able to join in on that fun.

Be well and stay tuned for more news from Tater Dave and the family!