Bread Love

I have a new found respect for chefs, cooks, kitchen prep help, dish washers and the people who run a restaurant,
especially the bread baker.

I had the pleasure of being a baking apprentice last week at Razza Pizza Artigianale in Jersey City.

I was there to help bake the daily 18 batard loaves and 20 fougasse loaves and learn how it's done by a master, who lives, eats and breathes BREAD.

When I bake bread at home, I make one loaf, in one pot, 24 hours from start to finish. Very simple and I am quite pleased with myself afterwards.

But the process of making pizza dough for a thriving aritisanal pizza restaurant, along with loaves to serve with homemade butter to hungry patrons on a daily basis, is another story.

You are on a tight schedule here. You have a small window to get the dough ready for baking and then ready for the dinner crowd.

This dough is alive at all times. Living and breathing.

Waiting for you to boss it around, throwing it, barely touching it.
Punching it to de-gas it. Kneading it only to fold it, and pinching it only to seal the sides.

This is an exact science and I was amazed.

Take the temperature of everything with a thermometer, everyday.
Water temp, flour temp, air temp in the room, oven temp.

Measure. Weigh. Proof. Stretch and pull. Autolyse.
Enzymes. Proteins. Gluten.

I am nervous and afraid.

"Relax, and don't let the bread boss you, YOU are the boss".

"Pretend it's gum, you can't a blow a bubble when the gum is fresh, you have to wait until you chew it a bit".
"Dough is like gum", Dan tells me.

I understand this science of baking bread now much better, and believe me, science it is.

The doors open at 5:30 pm, so no dilly dallying here. It's work all day. 12 hours on your feet, prepping and creating.
Turning out a beautiful, delicious loaf and an even better pizza.

By 4 pm, we had made 18 beautiful loaves of bread, and Dan could tell which ones were mine, since mine were not as precise as his, and a bit longer in shape, I hope none of the customers noticed.

My day was done and we enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

Thank you Dan & Fred for the once in a lifetime opportunity.

I think I'll stick to food blogging.

275 Grove St.
Jersey City, NJ 07302
telephone 201.356.9348


Katie C. said…
I am SO jealous! How did you luck into this opportunity?
Christine said…
I LOVE Razza!
mil said…

You are one lucky woman to spend all day on your feet working like a dog along with two pros... and producing such luscious looking bread. Thanks for the pics and instruction. You did GOOD!
Brooklyn Boy said…
I'm heading to JC this weekend, I can't stand it anymore! I MUST try Razza!
Lucky girl!
SarahB said…
Wow! What a day! That looks like really hard work!
Ciao Chow Linda said…
What a great opportunity Stacey. You did yourself proud hanging in there with them. I too have great respect for bread bakers. It is a noble profession and I love all the ancient, ritualistic and religious connotations associated with making and eating bread. My husband's father was a bread baker in Italy and continued with it when he moved to the states, rising early, baking the bread and then delivering it in a truck to his customers. It's back-breaking, exhausting work and explains why some artisanal breads cost $5 a loaf. How would you say the Lahey bread compares to the bread at Razza?
I'm so impressed with you Stacey,What an experience! I like what they said, "relax, pretend it's gum, you have to wait until you chew it a bit". I always loved the way fougasse loaves look, a work of art. Did you get to take home some of your work? I hope you make one on your blog.
J.R. said…
Great photos.
I am loving Jersey City lately, it's like a mini Brooklyn. Good things going on there. Must try Razza Pizza, I hear the food is amazing.
John said…
Oh, how I wish you had filmed it!
Such a cool way to spend the day, I'm jealous:) BTW, love your blog!
Joanne said…
Whoa! That is an AWESOME opportunity! I'm sure you learned SO much.
Patsy from CT (in FL) said…
I'm jealous, too. I want to be lucky enough to be invited to bake bread with the pros!! Hmmm....where to start....
all I can say! I'd love some good bread and now.
Dana said…
How cool!!! What a great opportunity for you. I'll take a loaf from you any time.