The oven is the bottleneck of my baking schedule. One oven for rye bread, wheat bread, pastry, granola. I can fit in three shelves for a bread bake, or five for a pastry bake, which perhaps, compared to your home oven, sounds like a lot, but in fact means that unless I have everything lined up just so it's a true clusterfuck. Last night was a clusterfuck, and I paid for it in sleep, but as a result of my poor scheduling, I ended up with unusually handsome bread.
If you've only ever baked standard white bread, or no bread at all, you may not yet have had the pleasure of meeting a high hydration dough. They're delicate and smooth and lovely, the only way to make delicious whole grain breads (in my biased opinion), and fussy. They tear and sag under the weight of their water. If you're not careful, they sag right into each other when you load them into the oven, and then you have a bunch of kissing flatbreads with no kick (1).
In the normal course of things, I'm trying to move all the parts of the bake day along as efficiently as possible. The breads are shaped and risen, and then, while the oven preheats, get a brief retard (2) to give them a little more structural integrity. But last night, due to the above mentioned clusterfuck, I was almost six hours late turning up the oven, while I juggled the pastries and did who knows what else, so by the time the bread went in, it was cold all the way through. The results were everything I hoped for but never thought I'd find in this sad excuse for a bread oven.
Baking digression complete. On the menu: Red & White, Mountain Rye, Sunflower Rye, Wild & Seedy, two truly delicious kuchens (plum anise & pear), apple pie twists, and the usual cookies, etc.
Also: I'll be baking SMOKY VOLLKORNBROT, ROSEMARY SEA SALT, and Mountain Rye for my wholesale next Wednesday. If you miss your smoky or rosemary bread (I'm not sure when either will make it back onto the Saturday menu), or just need to restock midweek, I'm taking orders for pickup anytime Wednesday.
Off to market.
See you soon.
(1) When bread dough first hits the heat of the oven the yeast moves into high gear, respiring lots of CO2, and that gas and the gas already trapped in the dough expand, so that for a brief window before the crust hardens, the bread rises quickly. That's the kick, or the oven spring.
(2) Retarding is cooling down the dough to slow the fermentation. It has all sorts of benefits, but the one I'm most interested in is structural: the cold dough stiffens, and the cold gas trapped inside contracts, so that when you load the loaves into the oven they hardly flinch.