This year was our first year gardening full time and selling at farmers' markets. Markets began in May and end the first week of November. It has been quite a learning experience, full of hard work, disappointments, and more than an equal share of reward and satisfaction. (If you want to read more about our farm, click here.)
To help beef up our offerings at market, I bake breads of various kinds. I have never been and still do not consider myself an expert baker. I simply love bread and always strive to better and perfect my work. I went from planning to bake 12-14 loaves per market to baking 50-60 items for our Saturday market. My baking schedule fluctuated throughout the season -- part of the joys of a flexible "job"! -- but this final month of markets requires the most intense baking schedule thus far. Thank goodness it is the final stretch!
As I said, my baking routine is never set in stone, but here is a peek into the life of a baker:
2pm: Feed one starter (I keep five 1-qt mason jars with starters in the fridge)
10pm: Use my fed starter to mix up the levain for stout sourdough. Re-feed starter along with the other jars.
7am: Use some of fed starter to mix up the levain for the golden raisin fennel sourdough.
8am: Use fed starters to mix up bigas for my standard sourdough loaves and boules, rosemary focaccia, olive fougasse, and cheese batards. Soak grains and seeds as well as mix up autolyse (again, using fed starters) for seeded multigrain sourdough.
8:15am: Mix up autolyse for the stout sourdough.
8:50am: Mix in salt for stout sourdough, then let rest and begin bulk fermentation.
9am: Mix soak and autolyse for seeded multigrain. Knead well, then let rest.
9:30am: First turn and fold for stout sourdough.
10am: Second turn and fold for stout sourdough. Mix up autolyse for golden raisin fennel. First turn and fold for seeded multigrain.
10:30am: Third turn and fold for stout sourdough.
11am: Fourth turn and fold for stout sourdough. Mix up autolyse for standard sourdoughs, focaccia, fougasse, and batards. Second and final turn and fold for seeded multigrain.
11:30am: Fifth turn and fold for stout sourdough. Pre-shape seeded multigrain into six boules, then let rest on counter under towel.
Noon: Sixth turn and fold for stout sourdough. Mix together biga and autolyse for standard sourdoughs, focaccia, fougasse, and batards. When mixing together for the fougasse, also add olives. Move seeded multigrain into six bowls (not enough bannetons!) and then into fridge. Afterwards, mix up dough for no-knead harvest batards.
12:30pm: Seventh and final turn and fold for stout sourdough. Let rest for two hours. First stretch and fold for standard sourdoughs, focaccia, fougasse, and batards.
1pm: Make sponge for bagel dough. Second stretch and fold for standard sourdoughs, focaccia, fougasse, and batards. Use levain to mix up golden raisin fennel dough.
1:30pm: Third stretch and fold for standard sourdoughs, focaccia, fougasse, and batards. First turn and fold for golden raisin fennel. Afterwards, pour boiling water over golden raisins to soften.
2pm: Fourth and final stretch and fold for standard sourdoughs, focaccia, fougasse, and batards. Move foccacia and fougasse dough to fridge. Second turn and fold for golden raisin fennel, add raisins and fennel.
2:30pm: Pre-shape stout sourdough. Split dough into one big loaf and two smaller boules, then let rest under towel on counter. Third turn and fold for golden raisin fennel.
3pm: Place stout sourdough into bannetons and move to fridge. Use sponge to mix up final bagel dough. Once kneaded, move to fridge. Fourth turn and fold for golden raisin fennel.
3:30pm: Fifth turn and fold for golden raisin fennel.
4pm: Sixth and final turn and fold for golden raisin fennel.
5pm: Shape standard sourdough into four loaf pans and shape batards. Move to fridge.
6:30pm: Pre-shape golden raisin fennel into one big loaf and two smaller boules.
7pm: Move golden raisin fennel to bannentons and move to fridge.
6:45am: Mix up plain challah dough.
7am: Mix up apple honey challah dough.
7:15am: Mix up cinnamon raisin swirl dough.
7:30am: Mix up pumpkin dough.
7:45am: Move plain challah dough to fridge.
8:45am: Shape pumpkin dough into six mini loaves and move to fridge. Then shape cinnamon raisin swirl bread into four knots. Move to fridge. Afterwards, shape apple honey challah into four boules and move to fridge.
11:30am-4:45pm: Out of house working as assistant director to a high-school Shakespeare troupe.
[Will take this break to say, boy, this is exhausting! If you actually have read all this, it's possibly more work than the actual baking.]
5pm: Pre-heat top and bottom ovens with stone, dutch oven, and cast iron skillets to 510F.
5:45pm: Bake stout sourdoughs, with temperature and steam changes partway through. When done, get everything back up to at least 500F.
6:45pm: Bake golden raisin fennel, with temperature and steam changes partway through. Take out standard sourdough loaves and batards. Shape three sheets of focaccia (to be cut into six items) and two standard sourdough boules. Shape harvest dough into four batards. When golden raisin fennel is done cooking, get top oven up to 525F and bottom oven to 475F. Pre-shape fougasse into three boules.
7:45pm: Bake standard sourdough loaves in bottom oven. Slit an olive boule to shape fougasse, slide onto stone, and bake in top oven (baking individually helps ensure they stay beautiful shaped).
8:30pm: Bake cheese and harvest batards in lower oven rotating halfway through and standard sourdough boules in top oven on stone.
9pm: Bake foccacia in bottom oven at 400F, rotating pans throughout. Bake seeded multigrain in top oven.
Before bed: Package breads that are cool. Aim to get to bed by 10pm.
Saturday: Market Day!
3am: Wake up. Preheat bottom oven to 350F and top oven to 500F. Take pumpkin loaves out of fridge. Shape plain challah dough into four braids, then let rise.
3:20am: Bake pumpkin loaves. Take cinnamon raisin loaves out of fridge and brush with egg wash. Take out bagel dough and shape into 18 balls. Let rest on counter. Meanwhile, bring big wide pot of water to boil with 1tbs of baking soda and preheat top oven and stone to 525F.
3:50am: Take pumpkin loaves out of oven and put cinnamon raisin bread in. Take apple honey challah out of fridge and brush with egg wash. Shape bagels.
4:20am: Take cinnamon raisin bread out, brush apple honey challahs with egg wash again, then bake apple honey challahs. Brush challah braids with egg wash. Boil bagels one-two minutes per side. Transfer to pan with paper towels to dry and immediately top with everything topping. Bake nine bagels at a time on stone in top oven for 10-15min, rotating pan, adjusting temperature, etc... until bagels are nicely bronzed.
5am: Brush challah braids again with egg wash. Bake in bottom oven for 20minutes.
5:20am: Brush challah braids again with egg wash to avoid pale spots in final baked bread. Bake for additional 12min.
6:15am: Weigh, label, and package all bread, then move to wooden crates and baskets for market.
7:30am: Leave for market and hope for a successful day!