Amazing what three simple ingredients can create with a little bit of heat. My yeast is a natural culture called a sour where you let water and flour ferment, as well as capture the wild yeast and bacteria, for some days until you see some action in the form of bubbles. This culture will last your lifetime as long as you continually tend to it by the means of "feeding" or refreshing it with equal amounts of flour and water.

So last night I prepared some bread dough with this culture, at about 23%, and let it enjoy itself acting on the sugars of the flour for a good 4 hours. At about 3:30 I punched down any large pockets of gas and shaped the dough into four loaves and placed each on a board covered with a cloth. In the refrigerator until 10:00 and then let them proof outside until 14:00 where I then got to see them spring up in the oven with life.

This method of long and slow fermentation is what gives artisan bread it's notorious crunchy golden crust and chewy open crumb. Buon appetito! 



I made bread and drew, HA! Easy way to stay occupied while endeavoring through this weather and waiting for a job call.


Croissant experimenting

I have always been curious during class as to know how some bake shops like Thomas Haas and the few I visited in Paris are able to create croissants with massive volume and visible flaky layers.

I have been doing a little research and decided to experiment with how many and which turns to give the dough. Also I think the thickness of both the dough and butter as well as the final rolling to make up the product as well as the baking temp will affect the way the product looks.

So in the end I decided on having the dough as thick as 8mm and the butter at 6mm. I enclosed the butter without a single-fold and proceeded with a book-fold and then a single fold.

I shaped two different batches from the same dough but changed a few variables. The second batch was proofed at a cooler temperature for 4 hours instead of a little warmer for 3. I also hit them with a preheated oven of 246C and immediately dropped the heat to 218C. I believe this will give them more height by allowing the moisture in the butter to quickly evaporate.

I also rolled them out a bit thicker than the first by at least a mm or more but I think this created more crunchy rather than crispy layers.

The problem I had with both however was butter leaking during baking. This can be either bad enclosure of butter (not an even layer of fat and dough), weak flour (when oven spring happens, layers tear apart and butter seeps out), low temperature (butter melts before dough can rise), too much butter or under-proofed.
I can say judging from the photo, my layers of butter and dough are pretty nicely made, the temperature I baked both was high enough and my butter to dough ratio was industry standard (25% butter weight to dough).
Where I think the problem might be is I didn't have enough strong flour available(AP, bread) so I mixed what I had with pastry flour, this also affected the proofing because I can physically see the layers being split apart on the surface.

My next attempt will be to use European style butter which is "dryer" than the other stuff, use the right flour and try three single folds.
In the end they still turned out well and the family devoured them.
first batch

layers of dough and butter



visible layers during proofing

not the honeycomb center I am looking for

double egg yolk glaze

you can see where the layers have teared

second batch with much thicker layers from a thicker final roll-out


Busy end to an amazing year

So school is over and done with; however, words can't describe how much I miss being there and seeing my class-mates. There was a lot to soak in the last five months or so and I still need to process it all as well as see what I can do with it.

Our instructor for nearly majority of the last half of school was and is an amazing life saver. Nancy really rides on you for more reasons than you would know and all for your own good. Her theory and efficiency will forever be nailed in my head, even when I'm not in the kitchen I find myself working efficiently :) thank you Nancy!

My class-mates are the soul reason why I am sane today. Our sexual connotations and profanity will forever swim through my head and make me snicker :) Thanks guys for being awesome help and keeping it real every day!

I had a three week practicum for the final weeks of the programme and so I was sent to Terra Breads. This company is really a tight knit family with an obvious attention and passion to the quality of the products. I appreciate all the criticism, suggestions, and opinions I received from everyone there. Being acknowledged as part of the team with a simple "hello Marco how are you?" feels just as good. Thank you team Terra!

 During the same time through to Christmas I was helping my friends with their booth at the Vancouver Christmas Market; I helped his mother make the schupfnudeln whenever I was available. It took some understanding of the environment, time, and conditions to be as efficient and retain the quality the pasta needed to keep his customers happy. My friends mom was a powerhouse, putting many hours and huge amounts of energy into the 31 days; it was a shame I couldn't help her more than I did. In the end it sounded like from the Markets end of things it went really well and picked up nicely in the final weeks.

What's next for me and this blog? Well I am setting some goals for this year and somewhat for the next.
I will continue to create and experiment at home while I look for a placement somewhere in the city.
I plan to obtain a dual citizenship so that I can work in Europe for some time. This may or may not happen this year it just all depends on timing and how quick things roll.
I also look forward to hitting up a good sized canvas and painting something my parents have been asking for for a while now :)
For now I leave you with a couple of photos I took of a nice sourdough loaf I made last night with a natural sour I created a month back. I baked it in a cast iron skillet which gave it a nice thick crisp crust and moist chewy interior.