Believe it or not, I have worked as baker. I did some time over the deep fat fryers you might find in fast food restaurants, dropping raised doughnuts in by the dozen, for hours at a time, day after day; I picked cake doughnuts off of a conveyor belt; admired the mechanizations of industry that made it possible to produce maximum quantities with minimum effort, mixed fifty pound bags of flour together by the ton before 8 AM and also once made a créme brûlée recipe with Tablespoons of sugar, rather than Teaspoons.
Hundreds of dozens of finished product, being carried out double doors, box by box, started at six in the morning, being escorted to urban businesses by vans and trucks...the sort of mass produced quality gas stations and hospital cafeterias are famous for, but there you have it. Four years of frying, sheeting, baking, cutting, mixing, picking, packing and watching the cake decorators painfully constructing magnificently complicated works of art, while I and three or four other bakers hammered out chocolate coated biscuits by the thousands.
Other experience, if you needed to know, came from three or four other bakeries, where I learned about cutting butter into scones, shaping boules, making croissants, the relevance of salt in bread, the amount of time it takes different flours to become active starters in a sourdough recipe and how to listen to bread to make sure it is done. It takes less time to blink though, to trace down a wealth of information on the internet. The thing I draw on more and more, is those days working over a fryer making the lowest common denominator, than the few months I spent in a kitchen making chocolate croissants from scratch.
So, if anybody I ever worked with reads this, thanks for the help. I'm no expert, as you probably recall.
Here are some pictures of the bread I have been baking lately, almost all made with honey, nuts and cranberries, high quality flour from my local Co-op and dry active yeast. I haven't tried making a sourdough recipe since 2009, a Thom Leonard recipe I found in Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer, which I highly recommend.
|Nut and Berry bread, photo by michael McKinney|
|Cedar Lake Minneapolis balancing act, photo by Michael McKinney|
|Nut and Berry bread, photo by Michael McKinney|
|Nut and berry bread, photo by Michael McKinney|