Hey, guess who came to do a microbakery course last week? It was Ben the Biker!
Which raises an interesting philosophical question. How do you run a course for someone who’s a better baker than you are? Well, he wanted to know how to set up and run a microbakery not how to make bread. But of course the two are not mutually exclusive.
Guest bakers take part in my weekly bake – not as big as it was anymore but still around 34K of dough which is plenty to give you the experience of baking for sale. They get the opportunity to scale up one of their own breads for sale to the customers. Ben went for a Butternut Squash and Onion Bread and, Ben being Ben, he was still designing it and making changes on mixing day. It came out absolutely fantastic – the onion flavour really came through, enhanced by a mix of fresh rosemary and sage. But we mixed 30 large loaves and to achieve that flavour we had to prep and roast 30 large onions and 8 squash. We had every large container we could find pressed into service and both ovens running for most of the day, plus we had to fit in roast chicken and baked veg for Ben’s lunch, plus just when I thought we had finished I discovered we had only done half of the onions.
Then, that’s a lesson in itself. Baking for sale is about being practical and getting the best results for the least effort – or at least finding a balance between input and output. Not sure if Ben agrees with that but then if he sets up his own microbakery it will be very different to mine which is one of the beauties of individuals following their own instincts and interests.
It was a fascinating couple of days – I’m still thinking about it. For instance, the flours in the mix were: Strong White 66%, Wholemeal Wheat 12%, Spelt 12%, Wholemeal Rye 5%, Barley 5% (so many flours I missed barley off the labels). I’m going to have to ask him if that combination was crucial to the final loaf – my instinct is always to simplify. Plus, we had two mixes of about 14K each – a formula like this has to be adjusted on the day because the moisture in the squash and the onion is impossible to predict. But I think I scandalised him by looking at the mix and lobbing in another shovel of flour (about 500g) into each. I have to decide how wet a dough I want to look at 6.00 a.m.
Fabulous bread, Ben.