Today we wanted to give you an insight into what a day in the life at Voyageurs Sourdough is like! The process is intricate, delicate, and artful. If one of these steps is skipped, done late, with lazy hands or even at the wrong temperature - the bread will be affected. Sourdough is very sensitive. :-)
A day in the life At Voyageurs Sourdough:
Daily • 8:00pm • Refresh the starter.
Meet Jude! She’s our Mother, the powerhouse behind Voyageurs Sourdough. Made up of flour & water she’s kept well fed (with more water and flour) and over time, through microbial activity, an ecosystem of wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria has been cultivated. She comes on weekend trips with us, and pretty much goes wherever we go.
Day 1 • 8:00am • Make the leaven
This is where we take a portion of the mother starter, Jude, and she makes babies... many many microbial babies to multiply in size (for ease of metaphor). Depending on how many breads we are making dictates the size of the leaven needed. This is the yeast that will help the bread rise. That's why it's called naturally leavened bread because there is no use of commercial yeast. It is all wildly fermented.
Day 1 • 2:00pm • Mix the leaven to make the dough
We measure everything out and then mix the leaven, water, and flour together. This is the beginning of what is called the autolyze process. Autolyze simply refers to the period of rest after the initial mixing of the flour and water, but before adding salt.
Day 1 • 3:00pm • Add Salt
Salt is added to the dough. Salt does more than just improve the flavor of the bread; it intensifies it. It also aids in gluten development, helps to control the speed of fermentation, and acts as a natural preservative.
Day 1 • 4:00pm • Stretch & Fold
This part of the process is very important in helping to give the bread structure. This is in place of the traditional kneading method in other types of breadmaking because of how the "stretch & fold technique" helps the gluten in the dough to develop. We do this between 4-6pm, and do a stretch every 30 minutes per batch.
Day 1 • 6:00pm - 8:00pm • Bulk Fermentation
This is the time that the dough rests for fermentation before being shaped in a loaf. This is when we go home to visit with our families and eat dinner during this quick 2-hour break!
Day 1 • 8:00pm • Shaping
Now we take all the dough, weigh it out into individual loaves, and do a series of movements to shape the dough into a little boule. Shaping usually takes 90 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how many loaves we are doing that day.
Day 1 • 10:00pm - 1:30pm • Final Proof
The boule then gets put into a proofing basket, which is made of bamboo, and will rest in its basket overnight in the refrigerator. This is the last "proof" or chance for the bread to continue to grow microbes and ferment. Then it's time to clean up and go home!
Day 2 • 1:30pm - Baking!
The ovens are on at 1:00pm, heat up to a blazing 425F Degrees, along with the cast iron pots that the bread is baked in. This is our current method with the kitchen equipment we use. This will change once we can buy a bread oven. It takes 46 minutes per loaf to bake, and we can bake 18 loaves at a time. For a typical bake day, we will do 4 rounds of baking.
And that's a wrap!
Then the bread is off for delivery - whether that is to your home, or one of the local restaurants or shops that we supply to in Green Bay! Most days we are doing both the dough making (Day 1) and baking (Day 2) at the same time. As you can imagine, timing and planning are crucial to make a perfect loaf!
We love what we do, and we are so grateful that you appreciate our art and care for the loaf that you order.