The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

mcs's blog

  • Pin It
mcs's picture
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

mcs's picture
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!

 

mcs's picture
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.

mcs's picture
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

 

 

 

 

mcs's picture
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

 

 

 

 

mcs's picture
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

 

mcs's picture
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

 

 

mcs's picture
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


 


 

mcs's picture
mcs

Last week my wife and I took a short vacation to a small farm on the outskirts of Victoria, BC.  We stayed with Diane (aka intern#2 last year) and her husband Ed - both gracious hosts, tour guides, and entertainers for our (almost) week long stay.  On one of the days I taught a couple of classes at The French Mint, a culinary school in Victoria run by chef Denise Marchessault.  In the morning I taught a class on croissants, in the evening a class about sourdoughs.  Both went great.

Other than that, I mostly sat around or marginally earned my keep by taking their Yugoslav Shepherd for a walk.  Sharon (my wife) was happily busy cleaning fresh eggs, milking the goats, feeding the newborn goats, and pulling weeds in the greenhouse.  Diane force-fed us fresh bread, brioche, eggs, and everything else under the rainbow, which of course led to more of me sitting around.



Zeva taking me for a walk



Butchart Gardens



Diane baked this much bread everyday



Sharon and an 8 hour old nubian



Ed and some calves


We had a great stay, and to top it off I got to try some Roger's flour (from BC) and came home with some Alberta flour also.  I used the Roger's flour for both of my cooking classes and was very pleased with their unbleached white and rye flour.  Nice texture, flavor, and color. 


Thanks a lot Diane and Ed. 


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


PS If you'd like to see more pix of the trip I'll be posting them on my Facebook page

mcs's picture
mcs

I guess that's what I'd call a pizza made with 75% hydration baguette dough.  MMMMmmmmmmm!  Tomato sauce covered with seasoned chicken, marinated artichoke hearts, mozzarella and parm.  Next time you make baguettes, do yourself a favor and reserve some dough for dinner.  Tomorrow night will be calzones.



-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - mcs's blog