I have so far gotten the hang of creating bread for our daily consumption by baking four .5 kg loaves once a week, freezing two of the loaves and taking them out of the freezer as needed. It's a nice, relaxing routine to bake Hamelman's straight dough French breads, and they have such a lovely taste. So as part of the celebrations of my oldest sister's rite of confirmation, I offered to bake some bread and cakes to remove some of the stress from my parents as they were having the house filled with guests.
Being a fairly small family, I just had to bake for about 16 people, but then it started to nag at me... what if there isn't enough food? So I cleaned out the kitchen tables and got ready to bake some cake.
The recipe I chose for the cakes was Fudgy Brownies from the most awesome chocolate book Crave by Maureen McKeon. This is the book for chocolate lovers. As I have remarked before I really do not like underbaked cake, so I usually give the cake a wee bit more in the oven than is given in the recipes (enough so that there is no batter left on a fork when I put it all the way through the cake and lift it up again). To liven it up a bit, I went to a specialty store and got candied violet leaves to decorate the cake.
I made a quadruple portion of the cakes, you know, just for good measure. Over a kg of sugar, over a kg of chocolate and lots and lots and lots of oat-based cream to avoid any fun moments with us lactose intolerant people. This is one heavy cake. The candied violet leaves worked wonders.
Of course, this was the easy part. The fun part was to bake ten .4 kg loaves so no one would leave the party hungry. Not taking any chances I went with my tried and tested straight dough French bread from Hamelman's Bread.
Is it just me or does this make you want to go ‘Ferment, my babies, ferment!’ in a good, classical cheap television production Frankenstein voice too?
Baking the French bread involves a lot of times where you need to fold the bread, it needs to be divided, shaped, scored, and baked, and the bread better not overproof or everything might be ruined! Three doughs meant that I had run out of alarm clocks to signal when I needed to do what! Fortunately, salvation was only 60 lines of Python away, and my laptop sat happily on the kitchen table, reminding me to do all the things in the correct order, at the correct intervals, and fortunately I timed everything so that none of the foldings, shapings or bakings got in the way of each other. I would feel daunted by trying to run a bakery and having to interleave not only three doughs, but thirty or fourty doughs!
So, feeling peckish?