Rebooting the Bake

As you probably picked up, for the past several months I have been suffering with leg ulcers which are now finally nearly healed. Had to stop baking for customers and running courses.

But I’ve been pain-free for weeks now and running out of excuses. I suppose what I’m doing is limbering up because, as I disappear into old age, decisions have to be taken. One’s already been taken: no more machine mixing. My trusty mixer has a fixed bowl at floor level and pulling kilos of dough out does not do me any good any more. It might sound strange to switch to hand mixing because of declining strength but I’ve always done a fair amount and now I just mix in multiples of about 5 kilos. So, if I’m mixing 10 large ones, I (or another column on the spreadsheet) divide the ingredient weights by two.

Since the start of November I’ve run one course and begun small weekly bakes for customers. We started off with a trial run – a pop-up bake for my mate Kev:

Kev did a course with me earlier in the year and this was partly to broaden his experience and partly as back-up for me in case I was struggling. We did four each of five doughs and it went really well.

Anyway, my logic was, my oven capacity is 10*, so instead of baking about 40 once a month, I would try baking 10 once a week just one dough instead of the usual two or three.

Started of with what I would call a Special (bread with bits in – £4.00) – Oat & Honey.

I have only ever baked to order and I was quite surprised that I had problems getting rid of all ten. But, when I thought about it, customers are used to being offered a variety and the biggest sellers would always be the plainer loaves, Campagne and Classic, so that selling ten Specials would be good going.

So the next week I did 10 Campagnes which went well (although I do have a secret weapon, Maggie, who always says she will take as many as are available).

Followed by ten Multigrain.


But then, 28 November, we come to Thanksgiving when I have always baked my special Thanksgiving Bread, in particular for my American customers (special price too, £5.00 for 500g, to cover the cost of cranberries, pecans, bourbon and the Panibois baking boxes). Plus I decided to push the boat out and do a second dough – Classic Sourdough.

Did pretty good (in my terms) – 10 Thanksgiving and 8 Classic. The Thanksgiving might only be 600g dough weight but they were hard work – heavy dough full of nuts and fruit. By contrast the Classics were easy.

Never mind the current trend for over-elaborate, over-decorated, pot-baked Instagram bread, nothing cheers me up more than the sight of a bunch of plain, honest, rowdy loaves that look like they might sustain you through the winter.

So now we come to Christmas Bread time – click here for all the details. No bake this week – time to gather ingredients and round up orders, then bakes on 12 & 19 December.

And then, after a couple of weeks feasting, decisions have to be made …
Where next?

*My oven capacity was 10. The top grill element burnt out in the domestic oven a couple of weeks back so now we’re down to 6.

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