The Bread Doctor

artisan bakery in Torrington, Wyoming
April 10, 2015

Layers upon Layers

It may have seemed at first that I was not really working hard in class this week from the lack of blog entries…but reader beware.  I have learned just how complicated and orderly cake-baking is.  The first two days we spent making bare cakes and freezing them as well as the Mont Blanc cookies.  These cakes are later pulled out, sliced up and made up into beautiful layers of tasty perfection.  Of course before you can make them up, one must make all of the cremes, icings, curds, mousses, and caramels that make up the layers.  It is quite a delicious armamentarium.  Cakes can provide a wide arrange of taste experiences depending on your mood, and the layers upon layers of ingredients are reflective of what your palate is craving at the time.  We started with a very dense and rich chocolate torte that is layered with truffle filling scented with rum and Amaretto.  We then moved on to this luscious beauty, which is then frozen enough to get the slices made up.

This is a lemon chiffon cake with Bavarian lemon mousse filling.  The cake is made up of yellow chiffon (cake made with a little bit of oil and separated eggs so that you can fold the whites in later and get an incredibly light and fluffy crumb).  The cake is then very lightly smeared with lemon curd (which I also made) and then topped with Bavarian lemon mousse filling.  This filling is basically a lemon pudding mixture that is folded  into whipped cream.  It sets up beautifully and can hold its shape once it is chilled.  This layering process is repeated and then topped with cake.  The whole cake is then refrigerated until solid and the outside is covered with vanilla bean butter cream and topped with lemon curd.  It will be sliced into 1.25 inch slices and packaged individually.  Its components are extremely light and airy and are a sharp contrast to the deep and rich taste experience of the chocolate caramel truffle torte.  It is very exciting to apply food chemistry in such different ways.  Cakes such as this are an extension of Pastry art and are a true testament to the understanding needed of chemistry to enact such a fantastic assemblage of layers.  I am learning all day long and am excited to come back and be able to introduce some of these fantastic creations in the bakery.  I love lemon and chocolate, so these were great places to begin. 

Oh, by the way, while waiting for things to set up and chill, etc…we had time to make a whole batch of long flake pastry and peach filling and make peach cobblers.  This peach filling is divine with lemon notes in it and nutmeg and cinnamon.  This was a surprise addition, but will be a fantastic offering at the bakery.  So….the amazement never ceases.  Marda has more tricks up her sleeve than David Copperfield.

Peach cobbler

On to another day of fun baking.  I think that milk chocolate and hazelnut are coming up on the menu soon.

April 9, 2015

Chocolate Caramel Truffle Cake….a lesson in preparation and execution.

I have started again at the International School of Baking with a three week course that largely focuses on cakes.  This was our third day of class, but we finally cut and plated our first cake.  I started this week with a beautiful early morning walk along the Deschutes river.  It is a little lower in April, but is still very beautiful.

This week has been an excellent example of the need for advance preparation in a bakery.  The cake that we produced today has five separate components and all must be prepared before the cake can be assembled.  This is also a clear reason why desserts like this are a delicacy and why they make an occasion special.  This cake is made of two cake layers that are split and filled with two separate truffle fillings, one flavored with rum and one flavored with Amaretto.  The cake layers are also gently coated with apricot glaze which lends a subtle yet distinct fruity note to the cake.  It is positively decadent and is therefore topped with a single spot of gold leaf.  But first the entire cake is enrobed in a caramel chocolate glaze that gives it the beautiful shine.  It really is simply elegant, and straightforward to make, but the lesson lies in the execution of each part.  The texture of the truffle filling and its flavors are important.  The choices of which type of chocolate cake to use as the base, but also be considered.  I am very pleased with the final result.

This chocolate torte is really a Polish dessert called a Rigo Torte, but a current name would be Chocolate Caramel Truffle Torte.  This will likely appear in the bakery in some fashion.  During the last three days, we also make a beautiful shortbread cookie with caramel and almonds and dipped in white chocolate.  Its traditional triangular shape has earned it the name Mont Blanc and can also be made with really any nut and dipped in other chocolate varieties as well.

Other preparation for baking later in the next few week has also led to the following creation in the freezer.

This is chiffon cake with lemon curd and lemon cream mousse filling.  It will be topped with buttercream tomorrow and then some lemon curd and sliced.  Look forward to a finished photo afterwards.  Very delicious cake.  We have also made long flake pastry for peach cobblers, house made peach filling, lemon curd, chocolate chiffon cakes, devil’s food cake, and worked on finalizing equipment purchases for the new bakery as it progresses through the remodel.  Look forward to more photos as we are finally able to assemble everything we have been baking.  Each cake is like a little gem with its own family of flavors and components that make it unique.  I am already so grateful for what I am learning.

September 21, 2014

Let Them Eat Bread…..and they did!

Well I just had the largest bread sale of my career this last week.  I titled the sale “Let Them Eat Bread” and I was overjoyed to have orders for 96 Sourdough loaves and 74 Jalapeno Corn Bread loaves.  It was a great experience to use my equipment to the maximum and I was able to bake 32 loaves at once and had both ovens going.  It was non-stop baking for several hours and I learned a great deal about managing batches of dough that were that size.  I was pleased with the flavor and texture of the breads and am looking forward to more challenges as I continue to expand what I am able to offer our community.  I was also very pleased to see the reaction of my patrons as they seemed excited about the bread and were truly gracious.  I am now planning on 2-3 sales in October and will be posting that information soon on Facebook and on my website.  I did realize that a large cooling rack is imperative and will have to be part of the bakery soon.  I had bread everywhere and cooling all over the place.  Each time the timer went off….32 loaves came out of the oven.  That was amazing and fun and scary all at the same time.  My teacher had helped me work out a time frame for mixing the dough so that the processes could overlap well for the two different breads I was making.  Here are a few photos of the process this week.  I am even contemplating doing it again!

Jalapeno Corn Bread
Sourdough awaiting packaging
Sourdough right out of the oven cooling down

Both ovens full and baking

Sourdough loaves springing up from the heat of the oven

The house was full of the aroma of baked bread and it was a wonderful sight to see all of the bread packaged at the end and ready to go.  I will keep posting as the adventure progresses.  I  am grateful to be doing something that I love and is useful for my family and the community.  Happy Baking!

September 15, 2014

Homeward Bound

Well, I spent the last two days travelling home to Torrington and I got to drive by the beautiful Teton Mountains north of Jackson.  They are always inspiring.

I got to visit my mother and sister in Thayne, Wyoming and shared some chocolates and pastries with them.  We had a lovely visit and they said good things about the items we had worked on in school these last two weeks.  I am grateful for all of the things that my teacher has taught and shared with me, and I hope to incorporate them into the product line of the bakery.  Now, we move on to the work of planning and carrying out the remodel of the building and working out the schedule for the bakery as it opens next spring.  These are exciting times and I will continue to post as there is progress.
September 13, 2014

Christmas in September

This was the last day of class, and what a day.  We were in full swing for Christmas already putting the final touches on our Gingerbread houses.  The trees and windows are made of melted sugar and we had many fun decorating techniques. 

We then moved on to Buche de Noel which is a very traditional French Christmas cake that is rolled with chocolate filling and decorated to look like a yule log.  The decorations are white chocolate and marzipan…all edible.  This is quite delicious.  We made several and I am sure that these will be at the bakery some day.

During all of this baking and decorating, we had a short lunch of the Chinese barbecue buns that we made—Char-Siu Bau.  They are steamed and served plain or with dipping sauce.  They were heaven.  Here they are in the steamer getting ready and we gobbled them up.

And just like Santa’s Workshop, we were baking to the last minute and were tending a batch of whole wheat sourdough bread today, which came out of the oven just before I had to leave.  We were in such a hurry that I did not take photos, but I am bringing some back to Wyoming.

This has been a great couple of weeks and today has given me pause to reflect upon the gifts I have been given.  Christmas in September is a cute phrase, but it has real meaning for me as I have been given many gifts: the gift of patience from my wife and famil as I explore this new career, Marda’s gift of sharing her vast experience and talent with me, the gift of the Sauter’s friendship as I enjoyed their company here and wild Oregon Chinook salmon smoked for dinner tonight, and the wonderful gift of hospitality form Bill and Donna Pfeiffer who let me stay with them while I was in Bend.  I am truly blessed, and tomorrow I move on to another chapter in this adventure.  So much has changed in the last year, and I am excited to see how the next year unfolds.  Stay tuned, and I will continue to update about how things are going with the bakery and the business and building remodel plans.

Merry Christmas!

September 12, 2014

Let the Bread Rise

In addition to the lessons I learned in handling the gluten this morning at the bakery, I was able to practice those lessons when we made pan au levain.  This is a very French type of sourdough bread that is leavened completely with sourdough starter and no added yeast.  It has no fat in it, but is delicious and it turned out great today.  It takes a long time and a lot of patience to make sure that this bread is doing well and it rises well.   Factors are involved like barometric pressure, humidity, activity of the starter on that particular day.  It can be capricious.  I have been dreaming of making this type of bread for many years.  This is why I have a sourdough starter in the first place and sparked  the first interest I had in baking bread.  My teacher was pleased with the loaves and I was excited with the results.  It has a chewy crisp crust and a great interior with nice bubbles and delicious flavor.

Pan au levain

We also made semolina bread from durum flour and it is an Italian bread covered with sesame seeds.  It was cooling as I left, and I have not tasted it yet.  Will do that tomorrow.

Today, for lunch we got to try the Pierogis and Sausage Rolls, which were delicious and the pastry that we had made had turned out well and baked up nicely.

The raspberry gelee was finally ready to package and took longer to set up than the lemon..will need to work on that next time, but the flavor is pure raspberry.

We worked on Gingerbread Houses including candy windows and trees…still in progress, but there are a few photos.

Bottles holding the walls up until the icing dries and sets.
We just got the roof on before the end of the day today,

And lastly, I put away all the frozen savory pastries in the freezer, the star of which is likely the Chinese barbecue pork bun, or Char-siu-bau.  Delicious and worth every moment of preparation.  These are usually steamed and sometimes baked. 

Today is also my mother’s and my daughters birthday, and so happy B-day to them.  I have one more fun-filled day at the bakery and then I pack up and leave.  It has been a great experience, and I will be a better baker as a result.

September 11, 2014

Visiting the Bakery…a lesson in respect

Okay….yes ….I did it again.  Twice this week I went to work with my baker friend Kevin at the La Magie bakery here in Bend.  Once was last night, and I have learned so many things helping him and watching him work.  Now that I have had a year to bake on my own, I am noticing much more things about the way he works with the dough and he has offered many insights from his years of baking.  I am truly blessed and I appreciate his help.  It felt like the lightbulb went on in my head in regards to handling the gluten, and keeping the loaves looking nice.  As is often the case with me, I was overdoing how I shape the loaves, so he offered some pearls of wisdom that were excellent.  I respect his craftsmanship and appreciate his generosity.  It is hard to have a stranger hanging around your workspace that is normally your private domain.  A million thanks to Kevin.

At school, we made English sausage rolls  (more pictures to come) that we had to boil the sausage for and spread a tiny bit of Chinese mustard powder in the roll.  We also shaped and froze the Char Siu Bau, and made and baked the pieces for our gingerbread houses.  I was also able to unmold the raspberry gelee and made two sponges for bread making the next day.  What a great day. 
Decorating of houses, baking bread and special cake still to come.

Nana watching the Char-Siu Bau pork being shredded and hoping for drippings

Curry puff being rolled in a triangle of puff pastry

Hand-shaped sausage links being simmered to go in the English Sausage Roll

Sausage ready to roll in puff pastry with small smear of mustard and egg wash

September 10, 2014

Preparation pays off and the pastry magic begins

In a bakery, there is a lot that happens behind the scenes, obviously, that then makes the baked goods appear like magic.  So yesterday we slaved over pastries and fillings and did not actually bake anything.  Bakers have to always be thinking and preparing for the next few days to create the delicacies that we all enjoy.  Then, like magic, it all seems to appear.  So today was magic.  We turned out the lemon gelee that has been setting for a few days and will still need a few days to cure, but they look magnificent all covered with sugar.

lemon gelee right out of the pan
Meyer Lemon Gelee sliced up and covered with sugar

After the gelee was out, we needed to shape and bake the croissants, both plain and almond.  They turned out beautifully, and Marda was pleased. 

Then we took the long flake pastry and made all of the savory pastries that we had planned to use it for.  Spanish Empanadas, Indian Samosa and Polish Perogies.

Venezuelan Empanada filling with ground pork, olives, golden raisins, cumin

Empanada made up for baking

Out of the oven….Yum


Indian Samosa filling



 The finished Samosas are in these great shapes and have all been frozen for baking later.  Probably for lunch later this week.  The last pastry that used the long flake dough was the Polish Perogi filled with potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese and pepper.

Finished Perogies

The last savory pastry we made today were curry puffs with a Japanese curry filling and pastry puff triangles that are folded over and baked like a turnover.

We had a wonderful time today.  The amazing thing is that while we were doing all this other shaping and baking, we also roasted the pork for the Chinese barbecue pork buns tomorrow.  We will make and shape the dough in the morning, and the buns will be steamed.  Lots of wonderful things to make tomorrow, including the sponge for San Francisco Sourdough and the Semolina bread and we will mike the dough for the Gingerbread House.  More preparation for bakery magic.

September 9, 2014

Around the world in pastry….with one special stop.

Well, we were very busy today, but not lots of photos.  We made two pastries: croissant and long flake pastries, and we made five fillings for savory pastries today.  We literally travelled around the world.  All of these fillings will be made up into pastries in the next few days.  First destination was China, as we marinated the pork that will fill the steamed buns called Char Siu Bau.  The pork is slow roasted in the oven after an extremely long marinade consisting of ginger, soy, brown sugar, hoisin, sake, and oyster sauce.  The dough will be made up in a couple of days, and the buns steamed.  The meat will marinate for almost two days before roasting.   The buns are filled with the barbecue pork and then  Then on to Poland as we combined mashed potatoes, sour cream, and sharp cheddar cheese for Pierogi or Pieroshki.  We also made Empanada filling from Venezuela with pork, jalapenos, green olives, salsa, and pine nuts with a few other goodies and spices.  After that, we moved on to Indonesia with Samosas, that are a vegetarian blend of potatoes, peas, onions, mustard seed , fennel, and garam masala mixed with other spice that are all cooked in clarified butter.  Our last stop in the savory pastry tour was in Japan.  We made the filling for Curry Puffs that are a combination of Japaneses and Indian cuisine.  This curry flavor is particular to Japan and their adaptation of Indian flavors in their cooking. 

Of course, during all of this, I was going back and forth to the sheeter rolling out the various stages of flaky pastry that will cover most of these pastries tomorrow.  I was also back in France and making Croissant dough which we will bake out tomorrow into almond croissant and plain croissant. 

 These were not on my original schedule, but my teacher had a need for some croissants to be made this week, and so I got to do it which is a great review for me.  I was really hoping that we could cover croissants again in class, but there was so much to learn that I had not mentioned it to Marda.  This came as great windfall and will be a good refresher before I begin making these pastries at home. That took most of the day and we finished by packaging up the rest of the chocolates and wrapping up the frozen strudel for storage in the freezer.  More pastries and baking tomorrow, and bread later this week.
September 8, 2014

Birthday Time

Well, today was the Sabbath from baking and I enjoyed time at church and with my friends, the Sauters, who live in Bend.  These two weeks are the weeks of birthdays and I am thinking fondly of all of my friends and loved ones who have birthdays at this time. 

Bob Sauter’s Birthday is August 31
Derek Sauter will be 22 on September 10

My mother, Nada Fluckiger, will be….??? on September 11
And Grace, my daughter, will be 20 on September 11

My brother and sister-in-law and my brother-in-law all have birthdays at the end of the month.  I spent some of the day preparing birthday treats…’s a surprise!!  But happy birthday to those I love and care about.  Tomorrow the baking resumes and we will be making a surprise batch of croissants and filling and pastry for many savory pastries that I would like to feature in the bakery.