The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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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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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

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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

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mcs

...and rounding up this year's interns at the Back Home Bakery was Brendan visiting from Washington, DC.  He came prepared with two-handed-roll-making-skills and a willingness to work his hardest at everything.  Thanks a lot Brendan for all of the help;  hope to see you running your own bakery some day.

-Mark

http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


shaping rye, stretch and fold on 15# Rustic White, ready to sell on a chilly Saturday morning

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mcs

For those of you who may have missed one or two of the recent postings of the intern bakers who have visited us at the Back Home Bakery this year, I thought I'd use this as a reference page for all of them.  Click on the links to visit the pages specifically about them.  Enjoy.

The cast in order of appearance:

Thomas (tssaweber):  Having grown up in Switzerland, Thomas had the taste of fantastic bread from an early age.  When he moved to the US ten years ago, he began baking his own bread and during the past 5 years he has spent much time experimenting with sourdoughs and native Swiss breads too.  This is the page of his internship.

Diane:  Diane's been cooking and baking bread for many years also.   In her spare time, she's also a cheese maker and dairy farmer.  Here's her internship page.

Paul (PMcCool):   Paul's enjoyed baking breads for over 30 years.  He's also a regular contributor here on TFL and he frequently blogs about his baking adventures.  This is his blog about his visit.

Callie (calliekoch):  Callie has spent most of her life cooking at home and has been baking bread for the last few years.  About a year ago she began to enjoy baking sourdoughs with her own starter.  Here's a bit about her internship.

Greg (gcook17):  Greg's well versed in both pastries and breads.  Although not a professional baker, he's taken several courses at SFBI and has been baking artisnal breads for many years.  This is the page about his stay.

Pat (proth5):  Pat's a great bread baker with the mind of a pastry chef.  Not only has she baked bread since she was a little child, she's also studied under some of the top bread bakers around the country.  This is her blog about her stay.

Brendan (smithbr11)  Brendan is relatively new to bread baking, but is improving quickly.  With his kinesthetic learning style and detail oriented mind, he'll be an expert in no time.  This is my blog entry about his internship.


Thanks so much to all of you interns for all of your help and time.  I hope you went home with some improvement in your skills and maybe a little more baking knowledge too.  Take it easy.

-Mark

http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

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