Baking for the French Teachers

The kid goes to a French immersion school here in Columbus, Ecole Kenwood. The Europeans and Francophiles on staff were an irresistible gang to try a small bread baking production effort. Baking on a large scale has been tricky for me in the past, so I decided to use a retarded (cognitively disabled, sorry) rising to slow things down and gain control over the baking stage. I can't give all the details, but the pics show the sequence adequately and I wanted to use this entry to remind myself of things I did that I would and would not change.

This past Friday night, I mixed 4 batches of dough. Each batch was 400 g cold water, 1 packet rapid rise yeast, 10 g salt and 600 grams Montana Sapphire unbleached white. I plopped the 4 kg in a large stockpot for the weekend. Temperatures outside were 18-39°F throughout the weekend. I punched down the dough (it rose even at those temps!) during the weekend about 2 times. Sunday night at 8 pm, I plunked a probe in the middle and took it inside to my chilly home to warm up until 4 am the next morning.

rising dough warming up
It went from 38-50°F in 8 hours.

dough warming up and rising
Very active dough, even at cool temps

The dough was punched down and scaled to 100 g and 200 g pieces. The 200 g pieces were formed into small baguettes and the 100 g pieces, boules and allowed to proof about 20 minutes each.

scaled and proofing, boules and torpedos
Scaled and proofing

While 4-8 pieces proofed, another batch were formed into loaves. The house temp was cold and the proof was sluggish. Once the loaves formed I had between 20-30 minutes to get them in the oven. If any piece had overproofed, I punched it down again, reformed the loaf and let it proof again. Eventually I got a rhythm and the first batch of 4 small baguettes came out nice.

One of the first batches out
First batch up.

The rest of the morning went well. I tried various shapes and docking methods to play around. After all was finished (2.5 hours), the loaves were placed in a basket with preserves, butter, napkins and left in the teacher's lounge.

Ready for delivery

• At one point, I realized a 200 g piece was a bit much for a morning snack and took a long baguette-shaped piece of dough and chopped it into 80-100 g pieces with my spackle knife (pastry knife) and docked the center. It was a nice shape. Kind of a pillow with a vent on top. I never reformed the freshly cut ends - working too fast.

• Once the dough started to warm up by forming it into loaves, it started get pretty peppy rising.