First order.

Good morning.

So the other day, my good bud Pete ordered two Field Loaves! My very first actual order. I got up just before 6 to bake two big boys before I went to work. They turned out beautifully.

Before:

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After:

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I was so happy with the turn out, this is the bread I want to sell to people. After the bake, I jumped on a Borris with two loaves strapped to my back and rode like I’d set my ass on fire. I handed over my mornings produce and Pete seemed very excited, lost his mind and gave me 10 quid! While I’m still testing I thought that was a little too much, but as I’ve said before it’s a lot easier to accept the money rather than get into an English politeness war…Which inevitably ends  in feelings of ungratefulness, embarrassment, shame…Y’know, the usual things English people feel daily. Anyway, we made the exchange and I went about getting to work on time. Oh, yeah, I forgot all my work stuff in a classic Ric way. Way to go.

While at work working away, the lovely Pistol Pete (as he’s commonly known) starts posting gushing things about The Snapery and there’s instant interest in future ordering. I can’t tell you how nice the feeling is for strangers to want to buy what I produce. I really want my own premises and oven. But I know I’m being too eager…Or shall I just go ahead and bloody well do it? What’s that you say? Do it? Well ok then, I will! Is it now time for the oven hunt? I think it may well be.

Stay tuned.

Love RPS xx

//

Loaf refinement.

Originally posted on thesnapery:

Good afternoon world!

If you’ve been following my rebirth as a baker, you will know that I’ve been on a hunt for my basic sourdough loaf recipe (see ‘Finding my bread’). Well, the recipe quantities have stayed the same, but as anyone who bakes a lot of bread will know, it’s the flour that’s the important thing. At the weekend I went through the vast selection of flour that I had delivered.

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I went for a traditional organic flour from Shipton Mill, with a bit of of organic whole wheat flour also from Shipton Mill. Both are an ancient variety of wheat called Maris Widgeon (used traditionally for thatching roof tops). As soon as I mixed it i knew it was going to be good. I think that when people see me mixing with my hand rather than some kitchen utensil they think ‘whats the point? he’s got sticky dough…

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Loaf refinement.

Good afternoon world!

If you’ve been following my rebirth as a baker, you will know that I’ve been on a hunt for my basic sourdough loaf recipe (see ‘Finding my bread’). Well, the recipe quantities have stayed the same, but as anyone who bakes a lot of bread will know, it’s the flour that’s the important thing. At the weekend I went through the vast selection of flour that I had delivered.

Image

I went for a traditional organic flour from Shipton Mill, with a bit of of organic whole wheat flour also from Shipton Mill. Both are an ancient variety of wheat called Maris Widgeon (used traditionally for thatching roof tops). As soon as I mixed it i knew it was going to be good. I think that when people see me mixing with my hand rather than some kitchen utensil they think ‘whats the point? he’s got sticky dough all over his hands. Idiot!’. Well, to those people I would say ‘shut up drylords!’. You get to know what a good dough feels like, and you remember. Which means when you’ve nailed it, you’ll nail it every time. Making bread is all about using your senses, intuition and common sense, taking key factors into account: temperature of the water, the flour, the air, and the humidity. Anyway, I’m not going to get too in depth now. Back to it!…The dough was promising and smelt like harvest time in Piddington (my home village). This is what I’d been looking for. After it’s first prove I divided and shaped, then tucked these three into their proving beds for a nice sleep, and in the morning they looked so ready to get up and into that oven.

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At home, I bake in a dutch oven…Lads, I can hear you laughing from here you sad bastards! What are you like 12?! Get over it! This is a dutch oven combo cooker:

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You turn your proved loaf into the preheated shallow skillet, slash the top, and cover with the deep pan, into the oven and remove after 20 mins. Bake until dark ember. Coving the loaf is basically steaming it. This is what makes it rise properly. It’s this kind of atmosphere that is created in a professional bread oven.

I loaded the first one with hope. The anticipation I get from the first 20 minutes when the loaf is covered is almost unbearable. Will it be tall and proud with a great burst? Will it be a pathetic flat discus? Testing is stressful! This time ladies and gentlemen, they were a thing of glory. Look!:

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The look, the smell, the crust were all where I wanted them. I think I’ve done it. I think The Field Loaf is in existence.

When I realised all was good, I took it to the internet. FREE BREAD! Here are the two excellent recipients:

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The Snapery’s first delivery.

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Winner!

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Baxter is a bread lover. Laura is my FIRST paying customer! The Snapery is in business!

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…A correctly presented loaf.

So there you go. I got me bread. Obviously there will be tweaks, it can always be better, but I am happy with what I produced on Sunday. So this Sunday coming, I’ll be making more, and doing the same. More FREE BREAD!…Unless you’re like Laura and force money in my hand. In which case I’ll initially protest but inevitably give in because it’s easier that way.

Everybody, have a excellent day!

Love RPS. x

Test bake No. 1

Ughh! Well, last night I went to Bar Tozino to see what their oven can do. I used it last year at Camp Bestival where I baked some simple little baguettes for Tozino’s famous Iberico sandwich. It worked perfectly. They looked like this:

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The oven is hot enough to bake sourdough and I have a huge piece of granite to bake on. the only problem I would encounter is generating enough steam to prevent early gelatinisation of the crust, resulting in a heavy unsightly lump, rather than a beautifully decorative and ornamental burst like this:

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Being a total bread geek, I visit bread forums to share techniques and look at bread pornography.  I heard of a steam technique that made me very excited. As I mentioned in my first post, this technique involves a hot tray of lava rock that once at full temperature has a full pan of hot water introduce to it creating billowing clouds of steam. In theory this should create an atmosphere close to that of a professional steam injected deck oven.

I finished work early so I could go home and pack a bag with everything I need. It was the heaviest bag I have ever packed. As heavy as my very heavy guitar amplifier.

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Effing HEAVY. The granite would be the contributing pain-in-the-ass. I thought ‘No way I can get on a Borris with this’…I was posh and got a taxi.

Arriving at Bar Tozino I was buzzing with excitement, and stupidly optimistic. I had every faith in my little volcanic steam pals to provide me with litres of face melting clouds. So without even eating any incredible Jamon Iberico, I went straight upstairs to shape my dough (which I made the night before) for it’s final prove in my new proving baskets.

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The dough was beautifully soft and airated and very promising. It was an untested recipe, but I was confident it would deliver the artisanal goods.

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This is me hoping the old timer will serve me right.

WP_000747One for my friend Greg: Using cardboard as a bread peel. What would that get me on the ‘Artisan Scale’?…That’s a scale I just made up…But I’m going to say it’s a 9.

After a couple of hours (and the most incredible chorizo and chickpea stew and Moritz beer) the dough was ready to bake. I slashed and loaded my loaves on to the searing hot granite and haphazardly sloshed a pan of water onto my volcanic layer. After a few minutes I could see that I was going to be disappointed, there was not much burst and the end result wasn’t tempting to look at. Not enough steam! After they had cooled I cracked one open, and to be honest, it wasn’t too bad for a first attempt in an oven I don’t know, with new techniques and a new recipe. But as you well know, I don’t want ‘not too bad’, I want goddam perfection! And I will achieve this, no matter what it takes. The hard work has begun, and I feel extra excited.

Tune in next time when I will be using MORE rocks, MORE steam, and some cast iron!

Love RPS.  x

This week.

Yo!

This week I ordered all the equipment I need to start the smallest of operations. On Saturday night, I came home drunk, and half had arrived. I was stupidly excited and felt like a kid at Christmas. My friend Ross and I sat in the kitchen eating my bread and some cheese, drank wine until it was all gone, and talked about my new business and how to save the NHS. It got pretty socialist, standard drunken conversation really. Who knows, we may have even come up with the solutions to all our problems…But I can’t remember any of them. Sorry England.

The next morning. I felt ropey and started on a new sourdough recipe. A slight problem I have had with my bread is that the crust can be slightly too chewy. Of course you would expect a little chew, but I want a more refined delicate crust. I got to thinking about my flour. I use 90% of pretty much the strongest white flour you can buy, with 10% of either spelt, wholegrain, or rye. Looking at other recipes (mainly American), they use what they call ‘all-purpose’ flour, over here it’s know as ‘plain flour’. Plain flour has a much lower protein level (protein is what gives flour strength. More protein, more strength, more rise, but more chew). So I start to think that this is the key to a crispier-not-so-much-effort crust. The new recipe would be 60% plain, 20% strong bread flour, and 20% wholewheat…Has to work…It didn’t. I got really annoyed and was a right grumpy bastard on the phone to my lady friend. She got annoyed, and the flippin’ perfect loaf saga continues!…

…And it continues tomorrow when I bake in the oven I’ll be using for the first time. I am very nervous. But excited as I’ll be trying an interesting steaming technique. Lot’s of red hot lava rock with a shit ton of water dumped on it. Might be dangerous! Will be Fun!

Peace lovers!

RPS.