The Bread Doctor

artisan bakery in Torrington, Wyoming
September 19, 2013

Midnight Madness

So, I get up at 11:20 pm last night and get dressed quickly to head to the bakery to watch and help if I can.  I go downstairs and my housemates are coincidentally arriving home from the six hour drive from Seattle back to Bend.  The interaction was priceless.  They are dragging and area rug into the living room that Papa Nolan’s parents sent back for the house and I appear totally dressed and ready to go.  “Did we wake you up?” was the first concern.  When I informed them that I was going out to help at a bakery their eyes got big and I thought that they might need orthodontic procedures to reposition their jaws.  Then one of them said, “At Midnight?”  He got a quick lesson from the other about that is when bakers work.  I am enjoying all of this and thinking that why can’t an older guy go out at night.  It is not a privilege reserved only for the young college-aged types.  I then toss on my jacket and run out to my vehicle and drive to the bakery.  Of course, I had to use GPS to find it in the dark.

The time there was amazing.  The young baker was very kind and answered all of my questions.  I tried to stay out of the way mostly, but he did let me help him shape and grill the English muffins.   They make their own and serve them with breakfast at the restaurant every morning.  I also helped shape some brioche rolls for an event that they are catering this weekend, and made two loaves of cinnamon babka.  He also asked me if I wanted to shape the baguettes for the day.  I was a bit nervous because a bakery is judged by the quality of its French bread.  At baking schools in France they start their day by shaping 100 baguettes.  I have not done very many at this point, but he helped me and things went well.  It was a great evening, and suddenly it was 5:30 in the morning…oops that was six hours.  Well, I run home and find that I am the late one in, even though as I left the roomies said something about maybe being up when I got home?  I slept for another hour or so and got up for class.

As I arrived at Marda’s house, I was greeted by a lovely view of some late summer crocus that have been blooming all month.  I have never seen anything like them….no leaves…just buds popping out of the ground.

 
Well, back to baking.  I do not have tons of pictures today because everything we made is still in process.  We made Sacher Torte, which is a chocolate almond cake that is soaked in apricot glaze and then glazed with chocolate.  That will happen tomorrow.  I made some chocolate truffle filling for cakes tomorrow and some Italian Meringue butter cream.  One big highlight of the day was that we made New York style cheesecakes in several flavors.  Marda makes a cheesecake base and keeps in in freezer.  She takes it out and then bakes it plain or adds amazing flavors.  I made chocolate with brownie chunks, mocha, raspberry, key lime and plain today.  They are resting in the oven overnight and slowly coming to room temperature and were baked in a water bath.  Here is a picture of them being assembled starting with the biscotti crumb crust.
 

Getting ready to swirl the raspberry in
 
One other very cool thing is that right now, it is mushroom time in Oregon.  Marda has friends who are certified mushroom foragers and bring her back beautiful chantrelle mushrooms that she steeps in warm olive oil and it gradually semi-cooks them and preserves them.  She then uses them on pizzas, salads, and whatever.  I have had some several times and they are amazing.  Today she had two jars sitting there and I thought that they looked great.
 
 
Who knows, maybe they are contributing to the midnight madness.  So in total, I baked 15 hours in the last day….what a trip.