Sunday, December 1, 2013

Baking Bread in Gabon

There is a future plan for a boulangerie with a wood-fired brick oven at the mission. 
Pretty neat, but you have to remember that a boulangerie in Africa will probably be a bit more rustic than one in France.

For one thing, "climate control" isn't usually going to be an option. Don't get me wrong, it certainly can be, but it's not something many people are really used to in day-to-day life.
Plus, the money has to be there for the endeavor, and pretty much all the necessaries would have to be imported.

If you're in Africa, making baguettes may not be quite as straightforward as it would normally be.
You'll have to make some changes, to adapt.

Baguettes should take at least 12 hours from start to finish, and preferably more time for a better flavor development. While the dough rises, you'll need to protect it.
In the bakery, there are several inches of  space between the tops of the four walls and the overhanging roof.  Sometimes lizards hang out on the tall ledge and look down on what was going on below. Maybe it was curiosity, maybe it was strategy, but some evidently made their way down into the bakery overnight (hey, they leave evidence).

Lizard skin and pieces of butterfly wings- it looks like it must have been a pretty one, but the butterfly lost. I don't think it had a chance.

And no joke, bugs are prevalent. From les petites fourmis, to les mouches, to... I don't even know what many of those bugs were called since I'd never seen anything like them before, you'll have to keep
them out of the rising bread dough.
The setup is a little more rustic, so if you plan to bake, this is where the adaptation comes into play. 

Though it didn't matter what had gone on the previous afternoon, I would walk in pretty much every morning to find at least a few bugs on the counter, dead or alive.

To keep the little things out during overnight rising, you could use an overturned storage box. 

Everything is protected, fully contained, and the rising environment stays warm and consistent.

While a tile-topped counter is definitely a plus for kneading and rolling dough, a water bottle filled with ice water can make a suitable substitute when there's no rolling pin. 

In a pinch a floured bed sheet will suffice as a baguette couche. 

If you don't have a razor to slash the bread, a sharp (and clean) pocket knife will do the trick. 

Even if the situation isn't completely ideal, you can still figure things out- and maybe the challenge makes it more worthwhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment