Archives for August 2013

Fermentation Questions & Answers

a.            What defines fermentation? What is fermentation all about?

  • Fermentation is the process by which yeast acts on the sugars and starches in the dough producing carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.

b.            What factors contribute to the rate of fermentation in any given product?

  • Controlling Fermentation requires a balance of time, temperature, and yeast quality and quantity.
  • The temperature of the dough is affected by bakery temperature, flour temperature, machine friction and water temperature, being water temperature is the easiest to control.
  • High percentages of fat and sugar inhibit yeast growth, so sponge method is used, allowing for most of the fermentation can take place before fat and sugar are added.
  • Fermentation can be retarded by refrigeration, or speeded in the proofer, where the temperature and humidity can be controlled and are set higher that room temperature.

c.            Describe any scenarios that you have encountered where you had to actively manage the fermentation rate of your dough or sour.

  • In two occasions I placed the dough I was working on in the fridge to control fermentation. The first time, I placed the challah bread dough in the fridge as I was running late for proofer the cut off. The second time I placed sweet bun dough in the fridge, as I was preparing the dough one day in advance. I should have used half of the yeast amount, but even leaving the yeast amount as in the original recipe the fermentation was slowed by the fridge temperature and I was able to use the dough for the following day’s production.
  • In the previous course, while I was in the bread station I made several loaves of white pan bread, but the team taking care of the proofer, didn’t realize they had forgotten about my bread until it was too late. In that occasion, we used the ovenproofed dough as part of a new recipe. While it seemed we were simply re-purposing the dough, we actually learned that dough was acting in the country loaf recipe similarly as a natural sour in artisan bread recipes.

Reflections: Professionalism, organization… and donuts

This week we had a lot more time in classroom than in the kitchen-lab, what came in handy since this was one of the busiest weeks at Berliosca Cake Boutique. The course was Professionalism & Organization.  We covered since conflict resolution to planning a bakery schedule. We had lots of role-playing opportunities to develop conflict-resolution skills, also tons of discussion time about the dos & don’ts of real life work.


Usually when writing these reflections, we are asked to write about new things we learned and how we are going to use that knowledge, but having worked for the past 21 years there is not really much than can be new in terms of professionalism.

It was however an opportunity for me to reflect on those 21 years. I thought of every job I had, every boss, and every company. It also made think of when I moved to Canada and all the fears and doubts about my new career path. As a new immigrant I had the opportunity to go through a similar courses sponsored by the government, covering the Canadian work environment, how to write a resume and cover letter, network and mock interviews. I also had access to a career counselour and I still remember her expression when, after going through my resume, she heard my plan was to change gears and start a new career as a cake maker. Funny to remember how surprised people would get about it, some were supportive even if doubtful, most just thought I was plain crazy. And here I am being crazy and happy as the days go by. Only being a little crazy to endure the long hours in this one-woman show I call my cake boutique, but I think my success is just possible because I am passionate about what I do.. But I digress. Back to this week’s course, I find that it was very useful to have it inserted in the early stages of our program.

Since most of my classmates have work experience, especially in the food industry, the topics were covered and the discussions got redundant pretty quickly., so with the extra time we went back to the kitchen-lab to learn how to make donuts, as a preview of next course on fermentation.

It was the first time back in the kitchen in 3 weeks, since last week we were taking care of retail operations at the school’s bakeshop. Funny to see how rusty we got, trying to figure out how to do things.

I have eaten many donuts in my life, but making them was a complete new thing for me. After a quick demo, we had the opportunity to make our own. Then it was time to fry, glaze and eat them. Fresh donuts are really good, especially when you are allowed to get creative and adding chocolate glaze and almonds to your apple fritters 🙂

Donuts Demo

Glazed donuts

We ended up the week with a field trip to one of the largest food industries suppliers in Canada, located here in BC. I had been there several times purchasing items, but it was the very first time in the warehouse.

Field trip

Corridors and corridors of products later, It was time to leave. While for my classmates it was the end of the week and the beginning of the weekend fun, for me it was just the beginning of another workday. Much like the scenarios we were discussing in the beginning of the week.