Pannier’s first week–the aftermath

Shortly before 7 AM yesterday morning I was sitting outside sipping coffee and watching the smoke from my young oven fire billow upstream against the gentle tide of snowflakes.  I love this part, the quiet moments in between when I get to feel the weather. Yesterday, my first day baking to sell, I felt intensely grateful to the park, to the city, and to the people who are supporting me on this adventure.

And adventure it was!  I learned that when someone throws snow on your fire and closes the oven door on you, it really cools down your firebrick!  Thank goodness the hearth did not explode under that sudden temperature change. I learned that my target bake time of about 2 pm is probably a little late if I want my bread to be cooled and wrapped by 3 pm.  Moving it earlier means either getting up earlier (hello 3:30 AM!) or moving some of the activity to the previous day. Until the end of term I think the former is going to be happening.

And Brett, **thank you** for traveling half-way around the world to materialize at my oven right when I needed help!  Brett is in town from Brisbane to play Canadian Music Week with his rollicking and–I dare say this is a compliment–raunchy band The Good Ship.  I’ll be there raising a pint to you my friend this Thursday at your show!  You were a life-saver, helping me load and unload the oven and expertly painting the finished fougasse with olive oil.

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I love labour-intensive breads like the fougasse, but I lost 100 degrees (F) of heat loading the oven because all the action happens right before loading.  And by the time the oven was loaded, the loaves in the back were done!  Until I get better at, well, everything!, I think I need to stick to styles that load quickly.  A note of apology to those of you who got a Franken-Fougasse–that’s what happens when you get a little too hectic when you’re loading.

So at the end of the day, sitting down to a stew of red beans and posole, I finally tasted the bread.  I loved the earthy-sweet flavour of the whole grain flours that I tried.  In the multigrain, the high percentage of sifted whole grain flowers created a denser loaf than last week, but I dare say I didn’t mind!  What did you think?

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The fougasse was also delicious, and I was stunned by the cathedral-like loftiness of the crumb.  But I think the hunt for the perfect dough for that shape continues.  I would like the cuts to stay open, and for it to be a flatter more tearable bread.  Hmmmm…

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