Saturday, April 23, 2011

Michelangelo, Static Flour and Sourdough

About once a year, we hire a cleaning company to come to our shop to clean our ceilings. The process is dramatic, well because for starters, anytime somebody is getting paid to do something 40-50 feet in the air, it always adds an element of danger...don't you think?

Not all bakeries do this, but they really should. Flour is a stunning element. all too often we think of it in it's bulk form, but flour partials broken down to their smallest micro components can achieve startling effects.

For instance, if you place a black sock on the work bench in the production area for 24 hours while the shop is dormant, I think you'd be more than surprised how thick of a film would encompass said sock.

All of this takes place before your naked eyes,every second of every day, but yet you never witness those partials dancing across the slightest jet streams of air.

The downside to this is when the these partials eventually adhere to your walls ceilings or the backs of ovens, they will cling to the moisture that has come to life through hot temperatures and humidity.

All most all wholesale production plants don't have air conditioning, so your range of atmosphere can have a huge window.

If this flour is allowed to congregate and sit in these moist conditions, it turns into what we call "Static Flour", and as this static flour gets some age on it.....funky things begin to happen.

I'll spare you the changing color prism that the flour will experience, because as gross as it is, it is nothing compared to the end result which is bugs.

Uh Huh, that's right, this goo wad will eventually morph into an insect hotel, and it gives me the jeebies to even thin about it.

So ceiling cleaner dude has the shop tarped off in sections and he raises himself towards the ceiling in his automated cherry picker as if he were Icarus approaching the sun.

The guy sports a vacuum unit that must have PSI that would allow him to juggle bowling balls.

The bakery ceiling isn't flat like a homes. We have metal beams, and lighting fixtures protruding, in fact they kinda look like hovering flying saucers.

So now cleaning dude is laying back down in the cage while doing his best to manipulate this flimsy, elephant trunk looking apparatus which is designed to get into nooks and crannies.

Now it occurs to me that this was how they frescoed the great cathedrals of yesteryear, and if circumstances were tweaked just a bit, maybe this guy who was vacuuming my ceiling might have been a famous painter.

Of course when most of us think of painted ceilings, the first place we think about is the Sistine Chapel.

Were you aware that Michelangelo had no desire to take that gig in the first place?

Actually it was viewed as a demotion.

This famous artist viewed himself as more of a sculptor than a painter. He finished his epic "David" statue before his 30th birthday.

Dude was an arrow up, and if he would have accomplished that statue today, I'm guessing People magazine would have listed him as one of the 10 sexiest men alive.

There were big things on the horizon for Michelangelo. I'm not a history major, but I think it was Pope Julius the 2nd who was in charge of not only the world, but in the dispensing of who got what art assignments.

In the art community, the streets were buzzing because the word was dropped that some major-major sculpting gig was going to take place.

I think it was something about columns of statues that lined pathways to burial chambers, or something like that. It was a gig that would sustain the lucky commission winner throughout their entire life.

Pretty much everyone thought that Michelangelo would win this hands was obvious that his talents were the best, but sheer talent isn't what always brings home the prize is it?

While our stories protagonist was busy feeding his ego, several of his less talented colleagues sidled up to the Pope.

When they received an audience, they proposed that this top project should be shared amongst others. Something of such magnitude could not rest on the shoulders of just one bloke.

So the Pope mulls it over a bit, and then asks what would he do with Michelangelo then?

The brood of vipers had already thought ahead and they came up with the ceiling painting deal. I can't remember how they justified it, and to be doesn't really matter.

The moral of the story is we have one of the greatest works of art ever. A vision that will outlive its creator by century's, and you know what?

He simply didn't want to do it. He was forced into it. He would have starved, or maybe worse...been thrown into debtors prison if he refused.

I wonder what he would think if he were alive today. I wonder what feelings would stir in Michelangelo's soul if he saw grandmothers holding their grandchildren's hands, heads tilted back and mouths sewn shut from bewilderment.

How could a mere man accomplish such a task.

Are you ready for the segue? LOL!

Danny Klecko never wanted to be a CEO of a baking company. He never dreamed of doing anything other than making rye pans breads.

Now days people ask food professionals what their favorite foods to eat are,but things were different when I got into the show. There was no sense of entitlement, nor was there ever a moment where you considered your own personal culinary desires.

Instead you thought about making what the masses needed, and if they actually liked it, well....that was a bonus.

So like I said, I wanted to make rye pan breads.

These loaves weren't meant to be artisan or glam, no in fact they were meant to be just the opposite, just like the mail carrier, or phone line attached to your home, rye loaves were something that that were meant to be staples that you simply didn't notice.

I love this attitude that was passed down to me, in many ways I feel that I was blessed to have Masters that trained with the bakers from the depression era.

With all that said, like Michelangelo, I really thought that if I implemented tunnel vision, and stared down the line at my eventual destiny, my legacy would delved deep into the rye camp.

But just as King David had Bathsheba to lure him off his predetermined path, Danny Klecko was pimp slapped by a sultry temptress as well, and her name was sourdough.

OMG, it was so love at first sight.

I'll never forget the day that Spencer Ludke first introduced me to the concept.

Spencer was the Production Manager at a shop called Custom Breads. His body was frail looking, but he kinda had the strength that long distance runners have.

After a messy divorce in Colorado he came to the TC's and started banging out sourdough cultures and pottery.

In my next post I am going to bypass the romance of this wonderful bread type and focus on a more utilitarian side.'s true, Klecko is going to give you - the KleckoNation, his brick starter recipe.

As I shut down for the day, I'm gonna toss a homework assignment at you. If one thing you've done or created in your lifetime would be considered your "Legacy", did you realize it while you were in the process of it?

Have a Happy Easter, I love most of you.

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