Autumn Wedding Cakes
A few pic’s of recent wedding cake deliveries I’ve made! Aren’t they stunning?
All made from scratch by the talented cake decorators at Bernice’s Bakery.
On an average week we go through a 5-gallon bucket of italian buttercream every other day.
A blended whole-wheat and white Poolish hydrated with Anchor Steam, Summer Wheat Beer accompanied by a pitcher of sprouting wheat berries.
Sourdough hoagies fresh from the decks at Bernice’s Bakery in downtown Missoula, MT just off the banks of the Clark Fork River.
Making a Poolish from equal parts flour and water with a pinch of yeast will give the amateur home-baker a great introduction to a 12-24 hour liquid pre-ferment. If you want to build and elaborate your own sourdough culture, experimenting with a Poolish will give you insight and a relatable experience that you can apply to fermenting a sour-starter.
I would recommend checking the Poolish often and recording the results and process that you observe. What does it feel like off your finger after just 30 minutes? Is there any noticeable activity or bubbles appearing on the surface after a few hours? How does the aroma change as it sits? Check in at 12 hours to see how much it has risen, how it smells and if has tenacity when you dip your finger into it.
After 16 hours it should be about good, bubbly and active with a wonderful warm, toasty aroma. However, this will depend quite a bit on the conditions in your kitchen…water temp, ambient temp, humidity, ect.
Let the Poolish go past 16 hours and observe how it falls from the sides of the container and the aroma changes to a more alcoholic, possibly vinegary smell. This will give you tangible examples of a pre-ferment that is under-ripe, just right and over-fermented.
You can apply what you learn to cultivating your own starter in the future and keeping it alive to bake with often. I would say bake with the same variables at least three times before changing your process and ingredients to see the results and effects of day to day conditions. Once you have achieved some predictable consistency try substituting a portion of your flour with another, or adding different oils, malt, toasted nuts, seeds ect to take your baking to the next level and build on your base bread or “mother dough”.
A letter for the bakers and coffee slingers…
Hey everybody! Happy Wednesday! Hope it’s just swell fer ya…
Wanted to add a “memory” to these pages…I have been working Overnights a couple times a week lately, filling in while Scott gets our new Overnighter Mr. McClintock all trained up. I really enjoy the shift. It’s satisfying work taking flour and water, honey, oil, brown sugar and eggs with a bit of salt and all that and creating our cinnamon rolls and caramel rolls from it, pulling them bubbling and smelling so sweet out of the ovens hours later in the night…
Scaling the muffin ingredients, adding the wet to the dry and gently folding the batter to consistency. Sometimes I feel kinda like a gunfighter whippin those teaspoons and tablespoons out; 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I play them tablespoons like an instrument I swear.
My favorite muffin is the lemon-blueberry buttermilk because right when it gets pulled from the oven while their still real hot, we take a toothpick and poke a bunch of holes all over the muffin tops then mix up equal parts simple syrup and lemon juice and brush it over the muffins. The lemon infused simple syrup soaks into the muffin as it cools and imparts a really delicious aroma and of course, that beautiful shiny muffin top is guaranteed to be sweet, tart and tasty too!
Hmm…Bernice’s is so different late at night when we’re closed, just the Overnighter and the Croissant builder rollin out doughs on the back table, rolling out sheets of butter and laying them onto the croissant dough, folding the dough over itself throughout the night to create all the rich layers…did you know that their are _______layers of butter in our croissants?
There are no customers and it is calm and rhythmic. The Loafies have left, the bread is all bagged. The closer says goodbye and leaves coffee for us…the cleaner has swept, mopped and wiped the equipment down, lighting a cigarette as they step outside and walk away.
I like to play relaxing music or Nikko’s jazz mixes for the first few hours, let it play in tune with my flour as I weigh it out and sift it into those big ol mixing bowls. Somethin sly, something smooth and mellow that will roll off my shoulders, sink into the dough while I work. Put all that feel in there… It helps me focus on the many tasks at hand.
Nothin like takin a few moments after the croissants come out of the oven and pulling off a hot chocolate or almond croissant from the tray and sitting outside on the back picnic tables and looking out over downtown all lit up, quiet and peaceful…the butter blisters the tops of the croissants and they have a crackly, crispiness to them. There is something about warm chocolate and a hot cup of chai that just makes me appreciate how good life can really be.
The street lights out front light up our sign and those windows shine, warm and buttery yellow melting onto the sidewalk out front.
I still get taken aback, quite often actually, when I walk by a batch of pies that just came out of the oven and the fruit filling is bubbling up through the lattice top. When I watch the cakes being decorated, or the cupcakes…the Old World loaves coming out of the oven lookin real nice… The crust cracking and snapping as it cools. The term for the sound bread makes as it cools is “singing” did you know that? Sometime if you think about it when the Old World sourdough comes out of the oven put your ear close and listen to it’s song.
When a loaf gets too close to the oven walls and gets a dark spot on it many bakers call that the “oven’s kiss”. Potters say the same thing of a pot or mug that has a particularly bright spot or flash on it from the kiln. A kiss.
It’s pretty cool making all the fillings and glazes too. The caramel for the caramel rolls is just half and half, brown sugar and a little salt, so simple and so delicious! Messy trust me, but delicious. The dane glaze is powdered sugar and coffee with a bit of vanilla…
If you’re ever in a pinch making a birthday cake and run out of frosting, just think. You probably have both coffee and powdered sugar in the house. Just mix them together till you get the consistency you want and drizzle that all over the cake. It’s probably just the thing the cake needed anyway, especially because you can drink coffee afterward you eat the cake and really do it right!
Wow, I could really go on and on and in future talk book notes I will. However, the phone is probably ringing or T4 just went off or a customer just walked in and you gotta go…but I will just leave you with one more thing…
Bernice’s is the best bakery in Missoula, we’ve been here for over 30 years. That’s a lot of chocolate chip cookies…
People feel welcome when they come here, they feel at home and it’s not just the coffee. Or the english scones or Marco’s mustache or the chocolate chocolate cake or even your beautiful, smiling faces behind the counter or at the make tables workin away, whisks and pastry bags in hand that keep customers coming through our old doors…
It’s all of it.
It’s all of us.
It’s what we do.
It’s the whole “shablam” or “shebangs” as Aaron Curtis is so fond of saying…
When it comes down to it, there is a reason why people say: “Don’t forget the love…”
….and a refill.
Thanks for everything you do and all you bring to Bernice’s. You are truly, wonderful.
Okay, T3! T3! Who’s on T3, 10 minutes?! Is that you Joy?! Joe?!
Flour, Water and Salt
These old brick walls and frosty windows remind me of a little bakery I worked at, years ago…it was down a block from an old bridge leading downtown. Street lights out front lit up our sign and we’d get a steady stream of foot traffic most early mornings. Just past dawn but those windows shone, warm and buttery yellow melting onto the sidewalk out front.
The croissant builder would be finishing up for the night. Pushing his rolling rack of firm doughs into the walk-in, careful not to slip in a little puddle of olive oil. He’d be tired from a long night of rolling the doughs and folding them gently, with layers of roasted onion and chive infused butter. Other doughs with thyme butter layers and some with lemon zest and vanilla…our Friday special was a lavender infused butter lunette with two sticks of dark chocolate placed onto the flat sheet of dough and rolled up and baked till it shined and blistered.
We’d tried laminating honey butter into the folds of dough but it was difficult to get consistency. We formed the dough into pinwheels with a honeyed cream cheese filling and slivered almonds on top. It worked and tasted wonderful, subtly sweetened, but didn’t hold the flakiness as much as we liked… the honey tended to soften up the dough a bit too much.
Anyway, I was talking about gettin off for the night. Shaking out your apron outside the back screen door, maybe lighting up a cigarette and looking out over the river and towards downtown. Hotel lights shimmering off the waves near the bottom of the bridge where a park entrance lit up the boardwalk as well.
It was nice to sit out back on the picnic tables and reflect on the night, the morning and the coming day. Off before too long just a few more danishes to glaze, flour bins to wipe down and hustle up and down the ladder to take stock of what there was that needed ordering. Heading in the walk-in to see what we’d need from the dairy. How many boxes of 30 pounds worth of cream cheese? Twenty-five pound boxes of butter and gallons of buttermilk (for the muffins), half and half, cream and five pound bags of parmesan and asiago as well as mozzarella, cheddar and five-gallon buckets of feta?
We’d need plenty of all for the busy week ahead, plus special orders, more if there was a rugby game this weekend.
The really nice part about working the croissant shift that I liked, was when I could move my cooled steel trays of cinnamon and raspberry twists near the front counter and see the customers come in and inhale from over their scarves, taking off their hats and gloves and ordering a coffee and one of my freshly powdered twists. The powdered sugar would always remind me of snow and hiking the mountains behind my home in winter.
It was nice to see them smile and to start their day in our warm, cozy bakery. I liked to play jazz after the other bakers got off shift, let it play in tune with my flour as I weighed it out in preparation of tomorrow night’s production. Somethin sly, something smooth and mellow that would roll off my shoulders, sink into the dough while I worked. Put all that feel in there…I’d have the whole bakery to myself before we opened, a glass of hot chai by the window…the dough drying out below my elbows…raspberry jam on my apron as well as cinnamon and brown sugar. That is why I liked wearing black to work, the jam didn’t show but the flour did.
Which was fine with me…
Night at the Bakery
A full, almost toasty aroma bubbling up from the cambro. Flour, water and a little yeast set aside the night before. Into the mixing bowl, the day’s par. Pecans, toasted flake coconut and amber malt extract, inspired by a local brew…..
A whole-wheat sourdough or baguette proofing on dusted linen, waiting for the supporting palm of the patient baker. A dusting of flour, sifted onto a stencil, or the quick score of the baker’s signature onto the surface of the boule.
What is it about taking your apron off at the end of a shift? Rinsing your hands under hot water and scrubbing the dried dough from the back of your elbows? Clocking out and pulling the cooling rack out a bit, to take a final peek at the golden, blistering crusts?
It’s satisfaction. In a job well done, of tasks thoroughly carried out to the finish. Eagle-eyed, detail oriented with knowing hands…a quick touch along the surfaces of a rising tray of rolls. Just a little bit longer….
It’s the quickness of your oven peel as you turn and pull it out from another loaf onto the hot stone deck. The hiss of steam as you shut the oven door and the terrible feeling of disappointment after fucking up a batch of rosemary olive oil bread. Maybe you added too much water during the mix…turned off the timer during the bake and then got carried away, focusing on something else and forgetting them in the oven.
It’s the beer at the end of the night…or as the sun rises and you clock out with croissant dough in the cracks between your fingers, the 6-pack waitin in the walk-in, next to the hazelnut latte layers, or the peach lattice top.
It’s the newbie across the table from you. Their first day by themselves, trying to keep up. You check up on the oven room with them and then take them over to the mixing bowl…stretching apart the dough and showing them the gluten formed inside the dough. The window test and later on as you divide, again, so they can see the development that has taken place.
It’s forming the same 3.5 oz rolls, hundreds, thousands…the memory of the day’s in your muscles not even looking as you gaze over the work benches into the dining room and see the customers smiling into the cases and at the register. Looking back at you, what you’re doing and wondering what wonderful goodies you’re at work over.
Cinnamon! Sea salt! Cardamom and brown sugar! Turn up your ovens and don’t forget the steam!
3# 4oz, let’s see….let’s go 78 degrees. Make sure to put the eggshells in the compost bucket and use a bench knife and a little flour on the olive oil spill.
Wet floor! Hot water! Aqua caliente! Cake comin through!
Are we getting more honey delivered before 3? Can they place a special order for tomorrow? What’s triticale? Do you know if there is any dairy in the espresso truffle?
It’s the orange zest and vanilla you smell as the muffins are rotated in the oven. The honey butter, simple syrup, infused olive oil and caramel glaze. The lemon liqueur and the candied thyme.
The cherry topping, a scoop of buttercream or a rum raisin pour-over.
I like the cream cheese pin-wheels the best, but the asiago garlic rolls are just coming out of the oven! Free samples of multi-grain with butter. But I think I’ll go with a loaf of roasted potato sourdough for dinner tonight.
I tear off a chunk as I walk out the back door and wander down the alley away from the bakery…I’m covered in flour. There is a strawberry jam stain on my sleeve. Honey on my neck, probably in my hair. I smell like…flour… and butter.
I don’t think I got all the dough off the back of my arms. Man, I’m tired, but it was a good bake.
Loaves looked nice.
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