January 19, 2012

Baking at UBC Farm

We've been talking for a while now with the people at UBC Farm about partnering up for one (and potentially more) workshop(s). Gemma, their Volunteer Coordinator, was particularly helpful in making this a reality.

Last night, Wednesday, January 18, it all happened. The workshop was sold out long in advance and they're even talking about people adding their names to a very long waiting list.

The day was ugly and snowy, and as darkness started to descend over the farm, we were wondering if anyone will show up. In the end, everybody arrived, and what a blast we had! There were 14 participants, including a Kelly Marion from the Vancouver Observer, who took the above pictures and wrote a very good article about the workshop.

We will keep everyone informed if there will be more workshops soon, and also we'll try to post some pictures on Florin's Facebook page.

January 1, 2012

Chapter The First

If you're going to start somewhere you might as well start with a good one. I don't know who said it, but they were probably right.

So we start with a good one. Story and formula courtesy of Florin, your friendly (and sometimes obnoxious) neighbourhood baker. Enjoy.

The following formula is one that I contributed some years ago to a very worthy cause: a book called Cook the Hood - Kitsilano. It is in turn based on a formula that I created for a loaf that was entered in a "serious-home-baker" competition a few years back. The loaf won first prize; I decided that I had to do something about all this baking knowledge I had amassed over the years; I bought a little artisan bakery in Kits, and the rest is history.

The reason for this first post is that today, after many years, is the first day I am no longer a "professional" baker. I'm out of the baking business for a variety of reason, which I'm not quite ready to discuss right now. It feels kinda funny to not have to get up early in the morning to go to the bakery. Well, all right, it's January 1; I wouldn't be going to work today anyway, but you know what I mean.

Being literally without a job, I thought it would be a good thing to start this blog, where I could stay in touch with all the amazing people I met over the years; and also, like an angry and disillusioned magician, to give away the secrets of the trade. Oh sorry, I meant: "to share all my baking knowledge".

Anyway, to make a long story short, here's the formula; have fun trying it out and do come back for more stories and fun with your friendly neighbourhood baker.

French Rustic Bread
Makes one large round loaf or three pan loaves

600 gr whole wheat flour (preferably coarse ground)
300 gr whole rye flour
300 gr unbleached all-purpose flour
800 gr water at room temperature
26 gr salt
10 gr yeast

Make a sponge using the whole rye flour, the all-purpose flour, 500 gr water and 2 gr yeast. Hydrate all of the flour properly. Ferment at room temperature for two to three hours. Refrigerate overnight or for up to two days. Remove the sponge from the refrigerator two hours before making the dough.

To make the dough, stir together the sponge, the whole wheat flour, the remaining water (300 gr), the salt and 8 gr of yeast. Knead for about 10 minutes on a flat surface. Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and let it ferment for about two to two and a half hours at room temperature. Divide and shape the loaves. Allow dough to rise for about one hour at room temperature. Bake proofed loaves for about 50 minutes (or until ready) in preheated oven at 450 F.