The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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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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mcs

This past week The Back Home Bakery had guest intern Greg (gcook17) visiting from Mountain View, CA.  He brought his extensive bread and pastry skills to the workbench and got to try his hand at using the sheeter too.  Thanks a lot Greg for all of your help - we hope to see you again up here!


-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


 



stretch and fold on a 10 loaf batch of Rustic White


 



lining up the puff pastry bear claws


 



Here's Greg with his new found favorite toy.


 


 

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mcs

Callie (calliekoch) came from Fort Collins, Colorado to the Back Home Bakery last week (Sept 5-13) for her one week internship.  Although new to sourdoughs, Callie's been baking and cooking for a while, and it showed in her meticulous work and attention to detail.



striking a pose while sheeting puff-pastry dough


 




Apfelstrudel, shaping Buckwheat Flax boule, croissants, finished Buckwheat Flax loaves

I'm sure you'll agree everything looks absolutely perfect!

Thanks for all of the help Callie, hope to see you again up here.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


 

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mcs

At the end of August, Diane came from Vancouver Island, BC for a week long internship at the Back Home Bakery.  During her stay we made everything from puff pastry dough to baguettes with everything in between.  Although both she and Sharon (aka 'the wife') are a bit camera shy, I did manage to snap a couple of photos of the elusive two during the course of the week.
Thanks a bunch Diane for helping out with the farmers' markets, daily deliveries, wholesale accounts and even dinner too.  Hope to see you again next time around.


-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com



Sharon and Diane working on some pain au chocolat


 



Diane putting them together


 



This is us pretending to have a good time

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mcs

This past week was the first anniversary of our bakery's opening.  Of course this wouldn't have been possible without the help of  a few people. Here they are in order of appearance:



This is Mom about to sample a bear claw or two fresh out of the oven.  She's come out a couple of times to help us with both special events and our busy farmers' market season.  We must be doing something right if she keeps coming back.


 



Here's my "76 year-old migrant worker" and I posing for a picture.  John came up from Spokane, Washington last fall to help me for a week.  We both got a lot out of it and his visit was the inspiration for the 'bakery internship' idea.


 



Thomas came here from the Chicago area at the beginning of this summer to help out during a very busy 10 days.  Here he is posing with an impromptu sourdough loaf he made with rye starter, flax seed, and other goodies.


 



This is Sharon a.k.a. "the wife" setting up for our first farmers' market this year back in April.  When things get really busy, she's the one making the Apfelstrudels, doing the stretch-and-folding, and keeping me in line.


Although this is technically a 'one man operation'  we all know that there are people along the way who make any business plan successful.  Here they are.


Thanks everyone for making this past year a success.  I'll keep you Fresh Loafians posted on new developments over here.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

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mcs

OK, I know you're out there.  Maybe those Birks are getting dusty or they're hidden in the closet along with your beaded vest and shrunken tie-dye, but you're really hankerin' for some good ol' fashioned hippie bread.  Just like the kind you used to eat while working on your macrame choker and groovin' to Cat Stevens before he became public enemy number one.  Here you go.
A friend of mine was looking for something all-too-healthy, and I came up with this recipe.  It is primarily whole wheat with buckwheat flour, flax seeds, toasted almonds, and other goodies.  It's not exactly airy like ciabatta, but it sure has a lot of flavor.  Plus, if you need to, you can put some loaves over your wheels in the bed of your truck in the wintertime to get some extra traction.  I've tried a few different shapes, and the boule seems to help the loaf out the most because you can give it some height in the shaping for a boost of confidence in the proofing stage.  Try it out and hope you like it!  This is a link to the recipe in PDF format.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


PS, I'm about 2 weeks from finishing a couple of instructional DVDs. If you're interested, I can email you when they're ready, or you can stay tuned here since I'll be posting about it on TFL when they're done.



 

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