So, Liz, tell us about your day…
I start most days at 11pm, when I come in and turn everything on – all of the ovens go on, the radio goes on, and the mixer’s turned on. I start on my own, and we end up with about five people by the morning, but for a blissful couple of hours, I’m by myself. I begin by mixing various doughs. We’re primarily a bread bakery, so we make about 28 varieties of different breads, but also do things like croissants, which are made in the daytime and baked at night. Because we work in an old-fashioned way, where we let things sit and develop flavour through fermentation, these doughs get put into tubs or boxes to develop interesting tastes and strengths, all of which make for a better finished loaf in the end. At the same time, I start to bake off the croissants, pain au chocolats and other morning goods, which have been made the day before. They sit in a cold fridge space, before coming out to prove and grow in a warmer atmosphere, and are then baked in the night, along with things like cheese straws, American-style cookies and scones. All of these are made the day before, held in the cold, and then baked in the night for sale the following day.
While that’s happening, I’m also putting more doughs in the prover and feeding our sourdough starters. This entails feeding them with flour and water to encourage more new wild yeast activity, which is also done at night. Then, after about an hour to an hour and a half, I start to process the first dough that I mixed, scaling it into various sizes. I go through the whole dough, scale it, mould it, put it in tins and stick it in the prover, then proceed with continuing to mix other doughs. We don’t do a huge amount of tinned loaves, but I do those first, because we have very limited oven space, and need different oven settings and temperatures for the tins. If I can clear those early, we then have more space to do other things in the oven later on, so I do our granary-style country malts first, followed by our English whites, such as farmhouse loaves, sandwich loaves, bloomers and cottage loaves.
By this time, our dough maker has come in to take over the mixing, whose more or less exclusive job is to mix dough. I can then carry on doing other little bits and start to process another dough; this is normally one of the sourdoughs, which has been sitting and fermenting now for a couple of hours. We also make 15 or so bagels a day, so at some point around this time, they get boiled and immediately baked. Meanwhile, as soon as the croissants, cheese straws, scones and things have proved appropriately, they go into the oven at about this time as well, maybe between 2am and 3am.
At 3am, two of the other bakers come in to take over the processing of all the doughs. My co-owner Rachel also comes in to make all of the sausage rolls and savoury tarts, which get baked off immediately in the early hours of the morning. By now, a lot of the stuff that I put into the prover is ready to go into the oven, so I then go on to oven work for most of the rest of the night. The aim is to get everything cool and into vans by 7am to 7.30am, so that it can all go off to various places. Some days that’s easy, and some days it’s a bit of a struggle! Lighthouse Bakery Ockham, Dagg Lane, Ewhurst Green, Robertsbridge, East Sussex TN32 5RD 01580 831 271 www.lighthousebakery.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
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