While not delivering 2/2-2/12/17, I'll be investigating how to nurture long fermenting natural y

Said goodbye to my 4 cats to be well cared for by their surrogate mom, Cassie. Traffic & airport easy with half full plane. I'll be visiting Acme bread in Berkeley then Tartine Manufactory in the City before heading north for the week

My appointment at Acme is within an hour of landing. I chose Acme because of a blog entry two years ago that showed a chalk board progress timeline that was adhered to in order to maintain consistency. That is my goal too. How to vary my baguette ingredients without sacrificing quality and flavor. Often I refuse certain flavors due to taste compromises. Come on!! Why would I sell a bad tasting whole wheat baguette? Making a crisp flavorful, white flour baguette took 3 years to perfect…Geesh

During previous vacations in the Bay Area, I enjoyed the Acme bread product the most. I think they've found the secret to consistency since I'm never disappointed. I'm meeting Doug at the wholesale production facility to look at the operation and pick his brain on consistency. Doug was a treat and he confirmed that they tightly control operations in order to control the leavening and flavor of all breads. They don’t want their sour baguettes to be too sour so the preferment is refreshed (pour some out and add new flour & water) three times per day. While the starter/preferment is fermenting in a warm room they monitor its expansion to know if they need to refresh more often to control its evolution into sourness. If it’s not expanding enough they will throw it away and start over.

The mixing area has the “control chalk board” which shows the perfect

temperature of the water/flour mix and which work shift will be in charge

of making that happen for each type of product…they have 30 to 50 varieties!!

Blending the dough and moving it to various locations is controlled by the “move chalk board” in the blending/shaping area. It was a joy to watch deft hands gently control the shaping. There’s a time deadline to move the shaped dough to the proof box then the time to slow things down in a cooler room before being baked by the delivery deadline.

Both bakeries visited today promote going from a cool room right to the oven.

On from Berkeley to the City to Tartine Manufactory with very little traffic to worry about – only finding a parking space. The interior was a bit confusing as to how to purchase bread, but as I admired the display loaves, Mathew in the oven area immediately asked if I had any baking questions for him. Yes indeed, “how to maintain consistency” I ask.

Mathew tells me each baker determines their own look and feel of the dough so one batch may be a variant of the basic formula. Ah, the love of the baker as an artist. It certainly tells me not to overstress on some of my baguettes don’t taste salty enough.

Then my other crucial concern is the scoring of the top and how to get that “wing cut” to stay open. Mathew tells me the closing of the cut is called a “blowout” caused by over-proofing – too much yeast fermenting too long. But that’s what gives my baguettes their flavor! So this week I will test the theory to see if I can still get my flavor without over-proofing.

Traveling north of the City along the Hwy 1 coast route was our next adventure since it was after dark and extremely foggy. That kept us awake, for our early morning start would have made us sleepy by then. Our rental house kitchen is small but workable, but one of the starters I brought on the plane exploded into its baggie. Yes, altitude does have that effect on active starters. No sleepy starters on this trip. I’ll work on starters tomorrow but won’t have an update until the day after. Stay tuned.

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