Saturday October 23, 2004 weblog of sorts.....

Well those "useless" managers are being let go from our companies staff, rumor has it that there will be new menu items forthcoming, and our new employee meal plan has been introduced. There is no charity giving of our left over food as it goes to the employees using the food coupons. If nothing else it decreases our liability and the occasional return of food from that program by ungrateful cheaters who wanted fresh replacements at our expense. The continuing pressure to have a JIT inventory puts a constant reality of shortage of ingredients on every department. I would hope that upper management will soon allow some back log of stock items that must be here to always have the products on the shelves for our customers. Cash flow is King. QUALITY & reputation brings them in the door and TASTE brings them back.

Well it's back to five days a week work schedule. I was ask where I wanted to go with Eatzis. I responded that I wanted to learn everything I could about the complete bakery operations and would also want compensation if I was given anymore work load and or responsibility.

My work schedule was adjusted to only 4 days a week for the next week and possibly more weeks will follow. I ask my supervisor about the reasoning behind this and he said everyone in the bakery will have this happening on a rotational basis, which is not a reason for the change but the deflection of the question. I personally believe it's to show a better production cost review for our manager rather than him using just plain old production adjustments based on sales and waste records. I have therefore stepped up my efforts to find employment elsewhere. I will be using these days off to apply, interview, and/or search for a new job.

I am just sick and tired of EatZ'is using the employees to squeeze out profits instead of increasing revenues by introducing updated products, livelier advertisements, and a thorough gleaning of useless managers from their overcrowded management group.

I was surprised that most in the main kitchen, the catering kitchen, salad bar, sandwich area, and the market in general feel that the bakery is not an important or significant part of the EatZ'is experience. If that is true then my making a change of employment is even more of a necessity. I am going to send my resume to Panera Bread, Central Market, and Whole Foods.

I might first send an adjusted letter stating similar items as this one to the main office in Dallas. Identifying that our bakery group is in need of an overhaul from the Head Baker to packaging. I have shown most of our managers what other bakeries are using to increase sales successfully but nothing is ever done to thwart our decreasing sales. The fact that all of the decisions involving any change now seem to come from corporate sources and those directives are based only on accumulated data from the management teams of each location. When our new partner was presented to the employees in January we were ask to submit anything that would improve the company. We were promised our broken down equipment would be fixed and raises would be given where due or had been skipped during the last reviews. Other parts of the market have had equipment fixed and or replaced but not the bakery. Our wholesale bread sales were suspended, staff cut, and now hours reduced all pointing towards the general direction mentioned above that the bakery is felt to be of non importance to the EatZi's experience.

Saturday, October 23, 2004 09:03:01 PM -0500

Just got a call from the head baker asking if I knew the whereabouts of a replacement loader belt. This belt has been shredding itself for months. Fellow worker had told me we had a replacement but none can be found. My boss said he will call manufacturer to airfreight one from France or hopefully an American storage location.

Bread Making Terms of Art

 

Proofing
Professional bakers use this to mean "rising." Originally it meant to prove the effectiveness of the yeast by starting it to grow with a little "food" such as flour or sugar. If the mixture did not bubble up, it was discarded and little time and ingredients were lost (please read about yeast.)

 

Kneading
There are many styles of kneading. Obviously if various machines like food processors, mixers, bread machines can do it in different ways, so can humans. Basically, you want to pull the dough to develop the gluten. If the dough is very soft and sticky (some sweet breads or french breads) you may start out just flinging it against a lightly floured surface. Usually you push the heel of your hand into the dough, pushing away from you. At first the dough will be sticky and you will instinctively release pressure to keep from getting stuck. As you repeat this motion, turning the the ball of dough after each push, it will become more resilient and lose its stickiness. How long will it take? For one small loaf (about 3 cups of flour) 10 minutes should do it. The usual two loaf recipe will take about 20 minutes. If you are a novice, you might want to start with a white bread because it develops its elasticity much more readily.

 

Overkneading
Based on my daughter's experiment, I don't believe overkneading by hand is possible. She deliberately tried to overknead and gave up after more than one hour. So don't worry about it. If you need the exercise or meditative state this repetitive activity can create, keep going; it won't hurt the bread.

 

Smooth and elastic
This is the condition that seems to occur magically after adequate kneading. The dough feels like a baby's bare bottom, plump and resilient. You may stop kneading at this point.

 

Double (double in bulk)
This does not mean you need to measure the volume of the dough. Yes, it is roughly double, but more importantly, the dough has risen to the optimal stage where gluten is stretched to capacity without the strands breaking; the yeast is still alive but needs to be redistributed, so it can continue growing. The best test for this state is to poke a finger or two about one-half inch into the dough. If the depression remains, the dough is ready; if it quickly fills in, it needs more rising time; if it starts to collapse, it has gone too far (proceed to the next step in your recipe, but watch it more carefully next time.)

 

Punch Down (deflate)
Deflate the dough in order to more easily redistribute the yeast or to shape the dough. Bread dough doesn't really require violence but, hey, if that's what you personally need at the moment, go for it. Some authorities say that you should be ever so gentle and just ease the dough from the bowl. In my experience, it doesn't much matter how you do it; just don't tear up the dough.

 

Redistributing the yeast
A second or third kneading to get more rising power out the yeast and create a finer textured bread. Yeast is a microscopic organism. It does not wander about like an animal; it stays put like a plant. It doesn't grow much in the sense of enlarging its size, but it multiplies like crazy under proper conditions. Fresh food (the starches and sugars in your dough) is brought in contact with the yeast when you deflate the dough and briefly knead it.

 

Sounds hollow when tapped
The test for doneness after baking. This is another condition, like "smooth and elastic," that may worry you the first time, but once you hear that hollow sound you will recognize and remember it. It's a bit like trying to find a stud in a wall--you keep tapping and wondering if you are even going to know when you do hear it. Relax, you'll know. What if you are deaf? Insert a thermometer and look for an internal temperature of 200 degrees.

 

Hearth Breads
Breads that are baked without pans directly on the floor of the wood fired oven. In our kitchens that usually means putting the loaf on preheated tiles on an oven rack in the lowest third of the oven. Pizza stones are another option. I've never tried then because my reading has led me to believe their expense is not worth it. I use tiles. Another option is a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan, preheated with the oven. Using two pans nestled together gives further insurance from a burnt bottom. Corn meal is often used to keep the dough from sticking. Only a small amount is needed. I often prefer to use semolina or rice flour instead of cornmeal