Monday, April 26, 2010

Signature of a Bakery

In my opinion, the signature of a baker or bakery, is how the cuts on a loaf of bread open up. So much goes into making a perfect loaf of bread, but the skills and knowledge can be easily defined by just a quick glance of a loaf. This goes back to the farmer and the wheat that a baker selects to use for each product. At our bakery we use about 10 different types of flour to get desired performance for different breads that we bake.
Without getting too technical, you can tell that a baker has picked out the right wheat for the bread. From here you go to tell if they have mixed and shaped the dough right. Next the most telling signs are that the baker has proofed the bread just right. When the cuts of the bread don’t “open up” this is normally because the baker has over proofed and over mixed the bread. When the cuts open up and start “tearing” this means the dough was not yet ready for the oven or the wheat selected was too strong. But when you have done everything right, the right wheat, the right mixing times and proofed for the exact amount of time, the cuts should open up with a “high ear” (ear is the term for the cuts on a loaf of bread) and not tear. It is such a great feeling when you open the window of the oven and see the cuts opening up as you have planned. You can see at the grocery stores that have “Artisan Bread” (this is a whole other topic of discussion) and how the cuts do not have ears at all, makes for a truly sad looking loaf.
So much goes into baking the perfect loaf, but at first glance you will be able to distinguish what should be a very thoughtful loaf of bread.

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