The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Scone Boy's picture
Scone Boy

New to 'The Fresh Loaf'

I'm new to this website and was glad to find it! What a wealth of information! Found it by following Peter Rheinhart's blog and he mentioned the website recently. Also, was intrigued that the website is based in Portland, Oregon, which is where I live. I snapped up Peter's book recently, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, with hardly a glance inside. I knew just by the title that it was a book I needed to read.

I'm in the process of reinventing myself. I am learning the art of making bread and I plan to open a bakery in the Portland, Oregon area. I say reinventing because I have no experience working in a bakery and minimal experience in my own kithchen. I'm following my heart, and that feels right. I know there's is much to learn and detailed plans to make. Even though it may be a few years before the bakery idea comes to fruition, I just feel so excited that I've begun the process.

My goal right now is to practice making bread and learn as much as possible. I'm looking into culinary programs that focus on artisan breads and pastries and I might go this route. What I really want, though, is to be mentored in the art of baking. I want to learn by doing. The diploma doesn't matter to me, unless it is a means to an end. I'm hoping to meet folks who are bakers and who own bakeries with the goal of finding a place where  I can start to learn by apprenticeship.

If any of you in the Portland area have any suggestions about who I could talk with, network with, learn from, please let me know! I want to learn! I'm also interested if, in your opinion, it is necessary to have a diploma from a culinary arts program to succeed in the field.

cheers,

Scone Boy

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm also interested if, in your opinion, it is necessary to have a diploma from a culinary arts program to succeed in the field.

No. Well, I guess it depends on what route you are trying to take. If you want to be the pastry chef at one of the chi-chi hotels downtown then, yes, perhaps you need a degree. But if you want to just bake great stuff and open your own shop you basically need access to a kitchen that the health inspector says is up to code and a lot of practice and dedication.

As I am sure some of the professional bakers here can tell you, baking is a hell of a lot of work, and the mark-up on bread is very small. You gotta sell a lot to make money at it. It seems like most folks either go for the wholesale approach, selling baked goods to other restaurants and cafes, or open their own cafes where they can sell coffee and other higher mark-up items. It is very hard to earn a good living selling bread alone.

Scone Boy's picture
Scone Boy

Floydm,

thanks for the words of advice. I do know that running a bakery will be a whole lotta work. I get tired just baking a few loaves at home! But there's an aspect to it that really appeals to me and that's the idea of a bakery as a center of community. That's why a whole-sale business doesn't appeal to me as much.

 Thanks, also, for the advice about where to buy stuff for cheap. 

Time to get back to baking...... 

Scone Boy

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

You may want to look at the professional classes offered by King Arthur Four in their Baking Education center.  They have great classes run by Jeffery Hamelmann along with guest instructors.  I have taken a 10 hour class with him and plan to do another very soon.  I am just a home baker but what I learned there took my baking up a notch or 2.  It is certainly worth looking into it if you are interested in opening your own bakery.  Good luck, our small city no longer has an independent bakery and I miss it a lot.  That is why I am learning as much as I can to produce my own artisan breads. 

 

Rena in Delaware

Floydm's picture
Floydm

On the west coast, The San Francisco Baking Institute has some of the best classes.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

If you're interested in setting up a bakery, I'd imagine you'd want to check out this King Arthur Flour class on "Setting up a Successful Bakery", taught by Jeffrey Hammemlman. Here's the description:

Setting up a Successful Bakery with Jeffrey Hamelman and Special Guest Peter Franklin - Mar. 19 Monday-Wednesday, March 19-21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

If you've always dreamed of opening a small bakery, this class will start you on the path.

  • Pick the brains of Certified Master Baker Jeffrey Hamelman and baker/businessman Peter Franklin.
  • Class includes all aspects of beginning an artisan operation, from what equipment to buy to how to write a business plan.
  • Students will have the opportunity to mix and bake a variety of products to better understand the choices involved in product and equipment selection, costing, and market assessment.
  • Specific topics will include bakery layout, equipment selection, product selection, cost control, market assessment, business plans, and management plans.
  • Class size limited to 12; all class materials provided.
  • Class held at The Baking Education Center, Norwich, Vermont.


  • It's not cheap at $600, but I imagine the return on investment would be significant if you actually open a bakery.

    You'll probably want to get some basic classes under your belt or at least, spend a lot of time with the BBA, before going, if you decide to attend. But you can pack a lot of baking into 3 months!

    Here's a link, though the KAF links seem to go dead after a bit and don't transfer from user to user. Just look under Baker's Education and you'll find it.