The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from the Midwest

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tamygram's picture
tamygram

Hello from the Midwest

I've been gleaning information from this site for a few years now and I'd like to say thanks to all of you. Everyone has been a great inspiration to me. I'm starting to bake at my local farmer's market and have gone  for the last 2 weeks. I wasn't sure how about the market so my first week I took 6 loaves of honey whole wheat and a couple dozen blueberry muffins and sticky buns. Well I sold out all but 2 sticky buns. So the second week I took 24 loaves of various breads 4 of which were free form sourdough, and various pastries and muffins. And again I nearly sold out, bringing home 1 loaf and about 4-5 muffins, which my kids ate anyway. Now this week there will be an art festival going on at the same time and location as the market. I would really like to increase my quantity but I'm already having a difficult time with getting a good rhythm for my baking sessions. I have 2 standard size home ovens. I fit 3 pan loaves at a time, or 2 free-form. I have 1 side-by-side frig that is too small to hold dough, so I have to bake as soon as dough has risen. I try to vary the temps of my liquids to stager rising times but I still find I hit a bottle neck at times. Can anyone suggest a rough timeline for reaching my maximum production potential and still get 4 hours of sleep. I also have to work around a large busy family and a full-time job.

Thanks,

Tammy

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Tammy,

I got tired just reading your schedule.  There is a real limit to what you can do in a home kitchen by yourself.  For that matter there is a limit in any kitchen no matter what the size.  Usually the oven capacity is going to be your bottleneck as this is where low capacity and baking time comes into play.  If you calculate oven capacity and the maximum number of bakings given the time that you have so spend in the kitchen, you will have your answers regarding production.  You know your life schedule far better than anyone else so the final plan lies in your hands.

Long term I found that pushing everything to the limits, especially your own energy, is a poor plan as it stresses everything involved.  This would include you.  Find a reasonable schedule and production rate and realize that there is only so much that you can do with all else that you have going on...and don't forget to stop and smell the roses.

Happy Baking,   Jeff

tamygram's picture
tamygram

I know my limits but I also figure there is a best way to utilize my time. I'm not sure I've got it yet. I'm also really enjoying my customers. I cant wait for market days just to see the familiar faces and hearing how much they enjoy my breads and pastries.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

For your breads, I wonder if it would help to increase production using different yeast/levain quantities. By this, I mean mix up several batches of dough, but vary your yeast/levain content with each batch. That way you should avoid a pile-up at the baking stage. It's never going to be an exact science, but if you always use the same flour and your ambient temperatures are more or less constant, then you soon get a feel for how long a batch of dough will take from mixing to ready-for-baking depending on the yeast/starter content. That way you aren't just relying on water temperature alone.  If your ambient temperatures change to any significant degree and you don't have a proofing box to maintain a constant temperature, then things will get too unpredictable.

I admire your energy!

All at Sea