Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We are truly Thankful . . . .

"How can a nation be called great
if its bread tastes like kleenex?"
~ Julia Child ~

The BakeHouse has been a buzzing since the Thanksgiving Holiday and Christmas right around the corner. Las Cruces is a tourist destination and the mild winter climate brings in new visitors every weekend. Since we're still a floating vendor (we don't have a permanent spot yet) new local customers are discovering us each weekend!

Customers arrive very early to get their bread.
Sometimes the tent is just about set up and we're selling bread!
I never have to worry about anything at our booth with
both my mom (Jolan, on the Rt) and my Mother-in-Law (Rita)
running the show! They are such a wonderful blessing to me,
the BakeHouse wouldn't be the same without them!
There's nothing like customers to keep you on your toes and to keep you striving to do your best. Just about every Saturday since we started selling BakeHouse Breads at the market there has been at least one person that asks for Rye bread. And when we introduced our big BakeHouse Miche, which is a 95% Whole Wheat Sourdough, many of the Rye customers purchased that bread over the others.

The thought of adding another bread, especially Rye bread, was very difficult for me. Rye, the Rye I wanted to make, seemed to have its own schedule of fermentation. And no matter how I tried to weave it in to the schedule, it just seemed like it would be a struggle.

BUT there was this one customer from Sweden. I don't know what it was about her, but she was able to coax me into making a Rye. She wasn't demanding, or pushy, in fact she was tremendously gracious as she shared with me her enjoyment of the BakeHouse Miche. I think it was when she started sharing with me the reason Rye bread was the bread of choice in her country as she grew up. It was simple bread with a very important place on the table. It was purchased out of need. To not have this bread in the home meant that stomachs would be hungry. Because of the keeping quality of the bread, the loaves were made in very large rounds so that they could sustain a family for a week. A slice of this bread with a meager slice of cheese, or a spread of lard, would offer the body fuel for the day.

My desire to recreate Old World Breads is what inspires me as a baker. The bread she spoke about was not quite the dense German Rye that I had researched. I found myself reading about Polish style Rye breads, and there it was, the Polish Cottage Rye, a Sourdough Rye that had the same exact fermenting schedule as the Miche. I became overjoyed with the realization that I could actually add this bread to our line up!

As with all the other BakeHouse Sourdoughs, the Cottage Rye starter is prepared
14 hours before the dough is mixed.

The dough, once mixed and fermented for 2 hours is as soft as velvet!
There is very little evidence of the typical increase in size that you usually
see with a dough made with wheat flour.

The Cottage Rye dough wasn't as sticky as I thought it would be. It was actually very easy to scale and shape.

If you look closely, you can see some of the gas pockets that have formed in the dough

Now that I know how the dough handles, I will be scaling them at 5lbs each.
I dusted the linen heavily with flour to assure that the dough would not stick.
After proofing for 2 hours at 72°, the dough was ready to go into the oven.

The oven temperature was perfect at 475°

The oven bloom was amazing!

It was very hard to do, but we waited until Saturday morning to actually cut a loaf.
The smell was amazing. The Rye flavor was very much there and the taste was

Saturday morning was going to be the real test. To offer this bread to our loyal customers and to give part of a loaf to the very person who coaxed me into making this wonderful bread, my Swedish customer, Inge. She was so pleased to be chosen as the official taste tester. I told her that she needed to follow up with me, good or bad, and let me know what her thoughts were. 

I received a call on Monday. Inge gave the Cottage Rye an A+! And she thanked me over and over again for bringing this very special bread to Las Cruces. She again shared with me how it was this type of Medium Rye that was a staple bread in many homes throughout Europe. I was so grateful for her experience with this bread and for her encouragement. And to confirm that this bread was needed, the BakeHouse Cottage Rye was the first bread to sell out!

It is a privilege to be able to make these wonderful breads. As our customers come and purchase their special loaf of bread each week, I can't help but watch them walk away, hugging their loaf, wondering if they realize that they are carrying a little piece of history. 

To all of you, our friends, our family and our customers
We wish you a Very Merry Christmas!
Thank you ~ Kath