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mcs

Hey Everybody,
Well guess what?  Buddy of mine and TFL member Bob (TFL screen name bobkay1022) made a guest appearance at The Back Home Bakery this week.  Just in case you aren't familiar with Bob, both he and his wife of 41 years primarily reside in Arizona, but spend much of the year traveling the U.S. in their motorhome.  Although he bakes at home in Arizona, he has also baked during his travels using a convection microwave in his motorhome.  Bob and I have corresponded quite a bit in the last few years having first become aquainted with each other here on TFL.  As I knew he would be in the northwest part of this country sometime this summer, I extended an open invitation for him to visit should he make it to the Flathead Valley.
Anyway, they rolled in to the area on Friday morning and were invited to join us at 1:00 AM for a Saturday morning session getting ready for the Kalispell Farmers' Market.  Bob heartily accepted the invitation while his wife thought better and instead decided to decline.  Bob will also be joining me on Tuesday morning to get his hands in some dough and help prepare for the Whitefish Farmers' Market. 
Here's a couple of photos of us on Saturday.


Bob packages up some pizza dough for the market.  'Take-and-Bake' pizza dough is now one of our biggest sellers!


Here we are striking a pose while we should probably be working.

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

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mcs

So we just got back from our two-week vacation in Europe-   Spain, France and Holland to be precise.

I'm going to roll through some of the highlights, but if you'd like to see a lot more pictures of the Big Adventure, you can check them out on my Facebook page here.

We landed in Madrid about mid-day, found our hotel, washed up a bit and headed out into town.  If you ever happen to make your way there, you should put this place at the top of your places to visit.  The Mercado de San Miguel is an indoor market with lots of booths filled with food and wine.  Yes, and because it's in Spain this means that you're free to eat, drink, and be merry while you walk and sample everything from fresh mozzarella with blueberries on a sliced baguette to a glass of wine from La Rioja.

 

Next we move onto the island of Ibiza where we visited my friend Helena.  Although its recent reputation is as the party capital of Europe, Ibiza has a rich history with relics dating back to Carthaginian times.  Helna hosted us at her home and gave us a super tour of the beaches, the local foods, and fantastic churches and museums. 

 

Our next stop was further north in the land of Spanish Wine known as La Rioja.  Two of our friends were generous enough to give us the local tour complete with visits to Logroño, Santa Lucia, and Laguardia.  In the first picture, accomplished sculptor Félix Reyes poses with some of his work and my friend Javier.  Below, there's nothing like a night on the town in Logroño with good friends, food, and wine.

 

Next, we took the train up to France and managed to spend a night in the picturesque village of Saint Emilion.  Since we were a bit early for tourist season, we had the streets to ourselves as we walked through the town at night after an outside dinner in the evening.

 

After spending a night in the very scenic town of Tours, we began our three day visit to Paris.  Of course we had the obligitory visits to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  Breakfast and/or lunch was spent touring the various boulangeries- pictured here are Michel Deschamps' and Eric Kayser's.  Baguettes were coming out of the oven at Deschamps, but we opted for a couple of delicious quiches instead.


I know it may be heresy to say on a bread baking forum, but by far the highlight of the Paris portion of the trip was not the baked goods, but our first-time visit to the Palais Garnier.  Back on January 9, I spent between the hours of 12:45AM and 2:15AM 'standing in line' online waiting for tickets as they went on sale for the first time for the Robbins/Ek show titled 'Dances at a Gathering' and 'Appartement'.  It was well worth it as we got front row seats in the center of the second mezzanine. 

If you only have one night to spend in Paris, this is what I would recommend.  I particularly enjoyed the second half of the show which featured the Swedish band Fleshquartet playing live as a modern ballet was performed in front of them. Here's a link to a video of a portion of the show from a few years ago.  It was as good as it gets.

Finally our Big Adventure was capped off with a high-speed train ride to Amsterdam, a visit to the Van Gogh museum, and a personalized tour of the Keukenhof tulip gardens by fellow Fresh Loafian and BreadLab meister,  Freerk.  It was the perfect finale as we saw more colors and varieties than one could possibly imagine and thanks to Freerk, we actually got to and from the gardens without ending up in Belgium, Germany, or just in the water somewhere. 


 

And thus ends Sharon and Mark's Big Adventure of 2012.  Thanks to everyone who helped us feel the local flavor of their wonderful lands! 

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

 

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mcs

Greetings everybody!
Today was 'Fundraiser Day' at the Back Home Bakery in Kalispell, MT with all of the profits from the sale benefiting  the Flathead High School French Club.   A small crew of high school students worked the final shift baking, packaging, and delivering croissants, palmiers, and pains au chocolat for their happy customers.

It started a few weeks ago as the students took orders for different combinations of pastry boxes so we could get our work order.  Next two shifts of teacher, student, and parent volunteers came up to the bakery to shape everything (a new experience for all).  Lastly, this morning we baked and packaged everything and even had a little left over to feed the worker bees. 

Ready for the grand totals?
Croissants: 198
Palmiers: 264
Pains au Chocolat: 319

Not too shabby, huh?  Check out the pictures below to see how well everything came out. 

Good job everyone and I hope you enjoyed your time in the bakery!

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

 


cutting and shaping Croissants

 

 


Pains au Chocolat and Palmier shaping

 

 


more shaping of Palmiers and Croissants

 

 


finishing the croissant shaping and then begins the baking and packaging

 

 


lots of eggwashing and 'bien cuit' Palmiers

 

 


Pains au Chocolat and Croissants fresh from the oven

 

 


a beautiful box of pastries

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mcs

Last week, Charlie came from Bowling Green, Ohio to hone his baking skills during a one-week internship at the Back Home Bakery.  Despite the initial butterflies, Charlie quickly adapted to the bakery hours and work schedule improving his dough handling skills throughout the week.  Below are some of the highlights from the week.

Thanks for the hard work, and I hope your family gets to enjoy some of the bread/pastries you learned to make during your internship.

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

 


Charlie transferring baguettes from the canvas to the baguette screen.

 


Here goes Charlie on the rolls

 





Charlie shaping croissants like a pro

 

 


Voila!

 

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mcs

Michelle came to the Back Home Bakery from Vancouver, BC last month for one week of bread baking and pastry making.  Like most visiting interns who specialize in rustic breads, Michelle quickly added an introduction to laminated doughs to her repertoire.  She used her meticulous nature and detail oriented hand-skills to create picture perfect Apfelstrudels, Spinach Puffs and Cheese Danish too.  I think her favorite breads to shape were the Buckwheat Flax loaves we make into boules. 

Unfortunately, most of the pictures we took during the week were on her camera or tablet, so she is invited to add her own photos to this thread!

Thanks for the help Michelle, and I hope you and your husband continue to enjoy your baking skills at home.

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

 


Michelle pre-shaping the dough slabs on Day 1 of Puff-Pastry making.

 


Michelle demonstrating that moving quickly while working with sticky dough will make your life easier.

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mcs

This past week Randy came up from Missoula, MT to help us out at the bakery.  It was a very busy week as we had plenty of special orders plus the usual wholesale and farmers' market work to do.  Fortunately we had perfect weather for both farmers' markets and we had lots of happy customers at both of them.  On Saturday we had quite the customer demand as Sharon and I quickly filled the orders and Randy worked his butt off to keep the shelves filled with bread and the display cases stocked with pastries (sound familiar Thomas?).  If you haven't experienced it yet, it's a very gratfiying feeling to have worked your hardest for the week and to have dozens of very pleased customers waiting in line to enjoy the breads and pastries you've produced.
Thanks for the hard work, Randy, and I hope you show off some of the baking skills you've learned at home for your family.

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

PS If you missed Thomas' account of his most recent experience at the bakery, you can see it here.

 


Randy paying his dues the Back Home Bakery way

 


Me watching in wonder as Randy tackles 18 loaves worth of stretch and fold

 


Happy Randy as he boules up 27 pounds of dough after a stretch-and-fold

 

 

 

 

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mcs

 This past week (June 5-11) May visited the Back Home Bakery from the L.A. area for her internship.  During the week we had the usual work-load plus a bunch of extra palmiers and baguettes for a special order.  The area she felt she improved on the most was controlling the factors to get the desired dough temperatures in both loaf breads and laminated doughs.  Although I'd like to think that being in the bakery was her main highlight of the trip, seeing this as we were coming home from the Tuesday night farmers' market was probably at the top of the list. 
Thanks for the hard work May, and for spoiling Hoku rotten.

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


May working on the 20qt mixer while we start the rolls

 


shaping as I record times in the background

 

 

 

 

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mcs

Last week Patrick loaded up his truck and drove up from San Antonio, Texas for the first internship slot of 2011.  We had a busy week preparing for Memorial Day, some wholesale accounts, and two farmers' markets.  Patrick had a bit of practice with all of the bakery equipment including using the sheeter to laminate 75 pounds of croissant dough on Thursday morning.  He elected to stay in the area for an extra week for some rainy sight-seeing in Glacier National Park and finished his stay by helping us and intern #2 (May) on an extra-busy Saturday morning.  More about that in my blog entry about her week. 
Thanks for the hard work during your internship week and for helping us on both farmers' market Saturdays.  I hope you enjoyed the stay and learned lots about the baking process.

-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


Patrick showing the mixer who's boss and operating on a Mannele made with baguette dough

 

 


Both of us working on a batch of rolls on a Saturday morning

 

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mcs

Hey TFLers,
This is a short no-frills video re-visiting some of the parts of shaping that I feel are important.  In the beginning I demonstrate slowly using a damp dishcloth, then I use the same technique with a few different doughs.  Lastly, I use a slight modification on the technique to form a couple of boules.  Enjoy. 

-Mark

http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

 

 

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mcs

Hey there Freshloafers,
I thought I'd poke my head out of the dough and cloud of flour to update you on the bakery's progress.


A few weeks ago I noticed that we had our two year bakery anniversary.  I think it went like this:
Me:  "Last week was two years for the bakery."
Sharon:  "Really?  When?"
Me:  "I don't know, some time last week, I think."


It wasn't exactly a 'stop the mixers and break out the champagne' type of celebration, but it was pretty cool to think of the progress we've made in such a short time.  Rather than summarizing the last two years, I thought I'd let you know what's happened in the past 12 months or so.  (Here's the post I did on our opening day two years ago; This is the post I did on our first year strategy)


During the slow months last year (November through April), I continued the baking for my wholesale accounts while working to finish the construction on the upstairs of our house.  Sharon had been patiently looking at sheetrock screw heads for the past couple of years.


taping


the loft


I also put in a new floor downstairs, which I completed just hours before our first farmers' market in the spring.


bamboo floor


The other goal during the off-season was to take my first days-off with the wife in two years.  If you missed that post, here's the link to my entry about our trip to Vancouver Island.


As far as the Baking Business goes, I continued the first year plan while making a few adjustments like:
1.  Cutting back on wholesale deliveries.  Thursdays is now my prep day which comes in awful handy now that the busy season is here.  It's now my laminating day since the place stays nice and cool without the ovens on.
2.  More special orders and special deliveries.  Last winter I used Friday as my 'home delivery' day to extend my farmers' market season a little bit longer.  I'll continue it this winter as I offer everything that I do at the market for home or workplace delivery ($10 minimum).  The new customers are very excited about this deal.
3.  DVD sales.  Last winter I started selling some baking technique DVDs, and that's definitely helped to supplement the long and slow winter.  Here's my post on them.  The next one will be on croissants.


Other than that, it seems that it's mostly business as usual.  There have been a lot of improvements as far as efficiency goes which have added up to 'a little less work making a little more product'.  I sleep in an hour later each day, but mornings are absolutely filled with baking and/or pastry prep for the busier days.  This leaves my afternoons a little more relaxed.  Funny thing, but the difference between waking up 1 hour later each day and sleeping in on Sundays is a big deal.  Ask any of the interns if they could've used an extra hour of sleep each day!  Plus sometimes we even get to eat dinner before 7.  Hey, not all the time, but every once in a while.


Anyway, that's about it.  I'll leave you with a few pictures of some of the special orders that I've worked on this past summer and spring.


Happy Baking.


-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


mini croissants


mini croissants baked


hot cross buns


burger buns


 


 

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