We’re always trying to improve our processes here in the bakery, but recently we’ve been really paying attention to various points in the life-of-a-loaf, with the idea of better quality bread and more consistency in mind. But also, we have to think about time versus income as we can work on pretty small margins. (If we could, we would offer all the types of bread possible, but each extra loaf we introduce eats into our profit). We are trying to nail the sweet spot for each bread; the best quality loaf we can expect, every time, for the least time spent on it. Some things we have been experimenting with include:
-Changing our whole bakery routine so starters are mixed 8-12 hours before being used. We had been leaving them anywhere between 12 & 24 hours, but younger starters make better bread, so we have changed up when we’re in, in order to make tastier loaves!
-Which order to do the bread on each day – one thing we’ve found is that some grains particularly resent being being left waiting (Spelt, I’m looking at you!) so we’re trying to ensure we do these impatient breads as early as possible. Meanwhile, we also have to consider allergens; so every day we do the buckwheat first so there’s no gluten-containing flour in the air or left in the mixer, so ensure we’re making a properly GF loaf!
-The ideal time for the bread to bulk-proof after mixing. Different breads have different tolerances. Obviously this depends on lots of other factors, notably temperature. If we’re baking, we try to keep the wheaty breads out of the bakery so they don’t go wild. White is the most temperamental as we add a little yeast, so if they’re going into the fridge, there’s little to no proofing time for the overnight white and the batons.
-Changing the “autolyse”, wherein the starter and the “soaker” (all the rest of the flour and water) are left for around 10 minutes so the flour can absorb water right through out the structure. For time’s sake we were just chucking in all the ingredients at this point, but we have started holding back the salt. This is supposed to lead to better water absorption by the flour, and a better structure. But unless everyone knows what everyone else is doing, it could end up with no salt…. or double salt… yergh!
We think we’ve made some good improvements recently, so if you find you really like the bread one week, or even if you don’t, let us know! We really value your feedback. (disclaimer: as long as you’re not mean!!)