Baking bread at UBC Farm
“I believe only good people make bread, so when I see someone making bread I just know. And when bad people make bread it probably won’t turn out.” - Florin Moldovan, Beyond Bread
A cold, snowy night and I walk an unlit, icy road through the UBC grounds. Construction to my left and right. But where’s the UBC Farm? After 20 minutes of a Vancouverite’s version of near frostbite I am ecstatic when I finally find the office kitchen in a humble building belonging to UBC Farms. Tonight is the night where 13 others and I learn how to make bread from scratch.
Florin Moldovan, the quirky, head baker at Beyond Bread, makes a basic introduction to the evening, establishing that we are to learn about the science and principles of making bread while getting our hands dirty. We go through introductions, each person stating their experience in making bread and what they hope to gain out of the class. One comment by an uncertain man when grading ourselves on where we stood on a scale of 1-5 on bread making skills was, “She (his wife) knows dough more than I do, so whatever she is…I’m below her.”
I was surprised, and not surprised, at most of the answers. Many, like me, wanted to be able to simply make bread without it being a disastrous brick-like object that ends up in the compost. Others wanted to advance their skills and incorporate 100% whole wheat bread into their repertoire (not an easy feat for a newbie) or enhance their loaves by adding fruits and nuts.
There were also a few biochemistry students who wanted to know the science of bread making, from how the enzymes play a part in the process to how gluten forms and affects the flavor. Others were influenced by ethics, seeking a way to reduce packaging involved in store bought bread, or trying to live a more sustainable and self-sufficient life.
Regardless of what had brought them, they were all ready with notebooks, an open mind and a yearning to get down and dirty in dough. Not to mention eager to create and nibble on delicious bread. Equipped with pen and paper the crew was looking to have a few takeaways from the class.
And takeaways we received without a doubt. The information was overwhelming but presented in a fun and casual manner.
“The yeast pees alcohol and it burps CO2.” This is an explanation often given to kids but that Moldovan decided to share with us. By it he meant that the CO2 produces the rise and the alcohol enhances the flavor. Which got me confused. Does that mean pee is yummy? Apparently I’m not as bright as children are if that makes sense to them. Fortunately, the rest of the class was easier for me to follow and I was able to (sort of) successfully make 4 loaves of bread. Moldovan suggested further reading of Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking but below are also some notes I took.
A FEW TIPS ON MAKING BREAD