This Bakers Life No. 277

On the eve of my 64th birthday senility raised its ugly head or at least gave me a hard stare over the parapet.

I have a spread sheet calculator that works out quantities for the day’s bake, so the ingredient weights for each dough are detailed on a printed worksheet. The weight of starter for each dough appears in a separate column at the bottom of which the total appears telling me how much I need to have ready. What could possibly go wrong?

The rounded-up total for Wednesday evening’s mix was 4K which I duly mixed that morning. About 5.00 p.m. I began working down the list of doughs starting with the combined baguette/campagne which called for 1417g starter. Seemed to be rather a big hit from the bucket but I proceeded on with the Classic Sourdough which sank another 787g. Ooops, I thought.

Went back to the computer and went carefully down the list. The biggest mix of the night was a new bread, Pain Nicoise, full of olives, sundried tomatoes, figs, red onions, garlic, herbs, olive oil, herbs – most of Provence is gathered here – which needed 3523g on it’s own. Then I noticed that the next ingredient, the salt at 127g, had found it’s way into the starter totalising column instead of the rightful occupant.

So I very calmly weighed what was left in the bucket – 1792g – and worked out what was needed – 5813g.

I have to say that if I have any talent in the baking line it’s for recovering from  the cock-ups I make. Let’s face it, I’ve had plenty of practice.

Sharpened my pencil and brushed the flour from my trusty, pound-shop calculator. To have all the breads ready for customers by 6.00 the following evening I need to have as many doughs as possible mixed and in the fridge overnight to get the bake started as early as possible. So I began by trimming as much as I dared from the remaining starter – 533g would cover the two smallest mixes, two little wholemeals and a few large multigrains, leaving 1259g.

5813g required – call it 6K. Time to break a few rules. Normally my final refreshment is at a ratio of 1:1:1. 1259g would only give me 3777g. But I went ahead and added 2370g water and 2370g – that’s pretty much 1:2:2. Put the bucket by the radiator.

I had intended to give my rye starter 24 hours to ripen and mix the Silesian Rye with Pumpkin Seed in the morning but I went ahead and mixed it anyway and into the fridge with the rest.

Instead of the usual 5.00 a.m. bake day start I was up at 4.00 a.m.. On my birthday. The starter was well lively. Scaled and shaped the first dough and then the baguettes. Normally I do them last but it occurred to me that they only need about two hours prove where the dough for loaves get about three and a half. Then worked in three mixes between scaling and shaping.

Last load out of the oven about 5.00 p.m. Last customer about 8.00 p.m. She probably heard the champagne cork popping as she went back through the gate.

Categories: Uncategorized

5 thoughts on “This Bakers Life No. 277

  1. Hehe Mick, great post!

    Reminds me of Christmas Eve last year…we arrived at the bakery at 10pm on 23rd to start our biggest bake of the year and it took me about 10 minutes to notice that the rye sourdough starter in the large bucket wasn’t looking too perky. Scratched my head for the 20 seconds it took me to spot the small pot of starter rye sour on the windowsill. Oops.

    I’m not going to divulge how we turned out all our rye orders on time but I can promise you that it didn’t involve any yeast at all.

    If I had a pound for every bit of inventive c**k-up reversal we have done over the past 2.5 years, I think I would be a rich man by now!


  2. Thanks you, chaps. You’ll be pleased to know I survived a four day birthday weekend which has probably done for a lot more memory cells.

    Andrew, I think we should be told how you resolved the rye problem.

  3. No cake, Alison, but plenty of other delights. Home made vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce? Plus a few tastes …

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