Video: Bread and the Baker

Here’s a short preview of a project currently looking for some crowd funding.

I’ll let their own description explain:

Mike Zakowski, Baker Extraordinaire“This experimental documentary will explore the craft of baking what it takes to produce a high quality loaf of bread.  It will also focus into the world of competitive baking and the process of what it takes to sustain an olympic mindset.  As a part of the 2012 U.S. Baking Team, local craftsman baker, Mike Zakowski [the bejkr] competed in the Coupe Du Monde De La Boulangerie (World Cup of Baking).  Now in an individual effort, Mike is headed to compete in the Masters de la Boulangerie representing USA in the bread category in Paris, France 2014.  The story will be told through the use of innovative film technique and the documentation of the burgeoning localized slow food movement in Northern California.  In contrast, it will focus on the fast paced competitive baking scene worldwide.”

Here’s a promo video for the project:

If you would like to help out with a small (or large!) contribution to see this film developed, hop over to the Bread and The Baker’s Indogogo page and drop a few bucks, pounds or euros towards it. As little as $5 will help them out (and you’ll get a nifty bread sticker!)

The crowdfunding effort runs Aug 8 to Oct 7, 2013.

Digital Scales: Which Weigh To Go?

I’ve run into a few questions of late that involve the weighing of ingredients. Some of the writers mention that they don’t have a scale and I wanted to point them to a good choice when they do decide to make the upgrade to weighing their doughs so they too can benefit from the multiple advantages of scaling.

Sourdough on my Scale

I realized that although I’ve talked about weighing in passing in many posts, as well as a slight rant or two about the benefits of weight over volume measures, I’ve not put myself behind any specific scales people could consider when they do go out hunting for this most important baker’s tool. I’m going to fix that here.

There will be two levels of bakers to look at here: the hobby home baker and the professional (or expert home baker), both these levels having slightly different requirements. Primarily, the home baker will need something simpler, dependable and can do with an inexpensive model while the pros will (hopefully) have a bit more of a budget for this tool they depend on for their trade. This aside, there are aspects that both ends are in need of and even if a scale is in the lower price area, you will want to hit some points so your purchase will not become a frustration.

Let’s outline some of these “must haves”, in no specific order.

Scale Shopping: The Power Source

Look for a scale that uses normal batteries, such as AA or 9 volt. Avoid any scale that uses the flat disk lithium batteries as these are rather expensive and, as they also do not have a very long life, will begin to run up the bill over a short time. Although a lot of scales now use these small batteries because they allow for a “sleeker” design, it is really not a good trade-off. And the other batteries don’t necessarily make for bulkier scales. Yet, they will give your scale power for a very long time. Continue reading

Making Puff Dough

This one’s simply an instructional post where we see Chef Marina Brancely making a puff dough. This video was uploaded to YouTube by Chef Ciril Hitz, who also posted the ingredients list with the video in the comments section. Unfortunately, the YouTube comment section severely lacks any formatting ability and the results were a little garbled.  So I thought I’d repost the recipe in a neater table format here and make it a little more readable for people.

As you watch the video, you’ll see Chef Brancely add white wine to the dough. Say what? Yes, a little white wine, specifically for its acid content. Why add an acid to the dough? Chef Hitz explains:

Acid build strength in doughs without having to mix it more, however the more that you add the weaker the gluten membrane becomes so it is of great importance that once acid is added that it be in the right proportions.

First, let’s watch the video:

YouTube Preview Image

Now, the formula which I’m giving in weights as well as including Bakers’ Percentages:
(As always, mouse over the grams to get the converted ounces)



Bakers’ %

Bread Flour 1,600g 100%
Water 550g 34.4%
Butter, softened 400g 25.0%
Salt 40g 2.5%
Malt 20g 1.3%
Egg 100g 6.3%
White Wine 200g 12.5%
Butter, cold 1,600g 100.0%
Flour 400g 25.0%

If you would like to know how many cups or teaspoons all these are, sorry, I only have weights. You don’t want to be assuming that these are volume ounces, either; an 8 ounce measuring cup of flour doesn’t weigh eight ounces after all (more like 4.5). Here’s where I would urge anyone who wants to really get into baking to please consider investing in a scale and learning to use weight for measuring. I’ve previously posted my thoughts about why weighing is a much preferable way to bake which you can read here.

BREAD by Jeffrey Hamelman, 2nd Edition

Order your copy of Jeffrey Hamelman’s

Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques
and Recipes

This new Second Edition of the original landmark 2004 book from Jeffrey Hamelman includes:

  • 140 recipes, including 40 new ones
  • Many tweaks and updates to the previous recipes
  • 252 illustrations of step-by-step techniques
  • 41 full-color photographs
  • Updated information on working with locally grown whole grains, understanding trends in milling technology, and teaching hand mixing techniques.

This edition is slated to be available mid December 2012, just in time to be found under your local holiday shrubbery.

Click the links or image above to order your copy from your local Amazon today!

Happy baking to all!



Catching up: Weeks 2 to 5 of Pastry II

Where did we leave off? Ah yes, a few weeks back Kevin and I were doing Cakes Week of the Pastry II, our first station in the rotation.

The following week saw us on Ovens duty so nothing to discuss or show here except to note that we made sure the ovens were running smoothly and all the required product was being baked and sent off to the upstairs and downstairs cafeterias as needed. That was week 2. I’d point out here that we really did plow through this (as we have all other stations in the Pastry or Bread sections) even though we are the only 2-person team. Not sure if this hobbled team situation is being noted in our marks; we’re managing to keep up in spite of having 33% less manpower than other teams.

The photo? Just a little fun around the oven with Sara and Josie. Figured this was better than a photo of the oven baking stuff.

After Ovens came the Deserts section which consisted of producing Mousses, Puddings and a German Dough (sweet tart dough) and a Mousse cake, while still making sure regular bar productions (Nanaimo bars, etc.) were kept up.

Continue reading

I love Paris in the Springtime

Tomorrow, we leave for Paris.

Yes, this ragtag bunch of breadheads from Vancouver Island University’s Pro Baking and Pastry Arts course is heading off in all our bright red splendour into the skies, eventually landing some 20 hours later (largely due to time differences) in Paris.

I will eventually get posts and photos added on this blog here but during the trip, Vancouver Island University has asked me to be their official blogger for the Field School so I’ll be updating things from the laptop they lent me directly to the Official VIU Blog space:

VIU Blog: Paris 2012

So those of you interested in following our antics as we visit the 2012 Europain World Bread Baking and Pastry Exhibition, watch the best bakers in the world compete, see the latest baking techniques and equipment and all the usual trade exhibit fun. Then we’ll be hitting a slew of bakeries in Paris and (hopefully) get in “behind the scenes” a bit, visit chocolatier Barry-Callebaut in Brussels at the end of the first week, l’Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie in the second week, and of course get a wee bit of plain ol’ Paris culture in between.

l’Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie a Paris

So hop back in over the next couple of weeks to keep updated and trip about the “City of Lights” with us, even if just virtually.

A bientot!