This morning I had the pleasure of observing some early morning behind-the-scenes bread baking. When I first came to the bakery, Jamie was mixing a batch of dough in the large stand mixer. She poured in a flour and eggy mixture, and then slowly sifted more flour into the bowl as it mixed. She moved swiftly between adding the flour to the mixing bowl and working on other tasks. As I stood at watched, I slowly came to realize how much was going on at once. Beside her on the work bench there were loaf pans full of bread that had already been mixed and loafed. These breads were waiting for their turn in the oven. On the other side of the room there was a bowl full of rising dough. It was ballooning up, almost over the sides of the bowl, peeking out from under the cloth that was covering it. Standing next to it, I could feel the
presence of that dough. It certainly had a force rising up there in that bowl. It was warm in the room and the longer I stood there the more layers I had to shed. Feeling the heat and looking over at that bowl of bread growing made me smile. After the dough in the mixer was done, Jamie moved to this bowl. She uncovered it, poured the dough out onto her bench, and began to pat it down. The whole bowl of dough moved as one bodily mass.
She then sectioned off pieces of dough that would form the loaves and weighed them out individually. Jamie moved with the speed and ease of someone who has been baking for a long time. You can see it in her subtle movements and connection to her process, product, and equipment. Piece after piece of dough was put aside that she then made into loaves.
The process of forming each loaf was beautiful to watch, and reminded me of the way a potter interacts with clay on the potters wheel. The physical memory is so well ingrained that the motions look effortless.
After she made loaves from the rising bowl, it was time to put the existing loaves into the oven. She opened the top shelf of the oven and warmth bellowed out of it.I then noticed that there were long baguettes and loaf pans of risen dough sitting on top of the oven that I hadn’t even seen yet. Those trays went into the oven and the loaves that had been on the tables moved on top of the oven.
That’s when I realized: Jamie was baking five different types of bread at the same time, and several batches of each. Talk about multi-tasking. Each piece of the process seemed to be timed perfectly so that as a single person doing all this baking, she could move between tasks at key moments.
As a relatively new food producer myself, I am constantly thinking about ways to make tasks in the creamery more streamlined and comfortable and am glad that I took some time to really watch how Jamie does things in the bakery. Watching her work was impressive and inspiring – thank you Jamie! Keep in mind that this is just a glimpse into the work that she does. You can check out a few more photos from this morning on the Cricket Creek Farm facebook page and hopefully there will be more images coming out o f the bakery again soon.