The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Working in a bakery

mike204's picture
mike204

Working in a bakery

A little over a year ago after working 23 years as a mechanic in a factory, I joined the ranks of the jobless


when the plant shut down. I realized fighting with machines was no longer for me. So after baking bread


at home for almost 20 years, the last 5 or 6 mainly sourdough, I applied at the only place in


town(southern Vermont USA) I wanted to work at, a small mostly bread (some pastries) bakery. While


losing my old job was stressfull to say the least. Turned out to be the best thing for me. I've learned alot


since working at the bakery, Number 1 bakery work is hard work, 100 lbs. sacks of flour are HEAVY, but


the work is very satisfying. Pastries were completely new for me, found out I enjoy making them along


with the bread work. Over the past couple of days i've taken some photos at the bakery, they are at:


http://home.comcast.net/~204mike/bakery.html


It's a personal page not commercial


Just want to say that if you are thinking of bakery work, it's not like baking at home, but it's  good


honest work.

mcs's picture
mcs

Mike,


Congrats on your job at the bakery.  Baba-a-Louis is the bakery where I learned my skills as a baker 15 years ago, and the boss, Jerry, gave me a job also when I was out of work - even though I don't think he was really looking to hire at the time.  I had never made a loaf of bread when I started working there, but after a couple of months I had helped make thousands of loaves and twice as many rolls.
I spent quite a few quick winter breaks on that front porch in my shorts, T-shirt, and apron eating Ben and Jerrys cooling down from the bakery heat.
Tell the boss I said Hi and let him know that my bakery is up and running.  Keep up the good work, as you said, it's definitely tough, but it is an honest living.


-Mark

mike204's picture
mike204

Mark


I gave Jerry a big hello from Mark in Montana. We had a bit of snow last night and he went right to shovelling when he came in, when he was done I told him.


The tutorials on your bakery page really helped me, particularly the "roll shaping" one. I'm still slow put at least they are round.


take care


mike


PS Jerry sends his regards and was glad to hear your bakery is open.


(just got up from my nap, had just dragged my tried ass in from the bakery when i wrote your reply)

mcs's picture
mcs

Of course when you're working at a bakery, you don't have the option of practicing what you want to practice, so sometimes it might take months before you even get a chance to shape rolls or work the ovens.  When I was new there, I was the guy doing the scaling and dough dividing with the divider in the background, and it seemed like as soon as I had finished stamping out 36 rolls and pulling them apart, someone had already shaped them and I had to do some more.  Once I got fast enough with that stuff, then I made space where I could actually shape the rolls too.  Otherwise someone was waiting on me, and that's definitely not a good thing.  It probably took me shaping 10,000+ rolls until I got the speed down. 
Anyway, glad you found the videos helpful.  Hey, any chance Lynne, Kathryn, or Dan is still working there? 


-Mark

mike204's picture
mike204

Mark


Lynne or Dan I don't know, Kathryn was finishing up when I started. She comes in to vist every once and awhile. I believe she is teaching reading in a elementary school.

mcs's picture
mcs

Next time she stops in, if you could tell Kathryn I said 'Hi', that'd be great.  She might not know me as 'Mark from Montana', but instead as 'Mark who moved to Hawaii'.  That's another story.


-Mark

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

We don't have many bakeries around where I live, but there is a Great Harvest a few miles away.  I know the owners, and I've been thinking of asking them if they'd let me "apprentice" there for free for a week sometime this year.  I'd take a week's vacation from work, and become a baker for a while.  I suppose the worst that could happen is they could say no.  Or yes.


Oh, yeah.  Welcome to TFL, Mike.  And congrats on your dream job!

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Work it bro. ;-)
Loved this page btw:
http://home.comcast.net/~204mike/74tribonne.html

I've been building bikes since the mid 70's.
  Salute,
    Mark

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Great story.  I admire your spirit of perserverance, determination, and reinvention.


Christopher Kimball writes of the "Vermont Creed" in the February 2009 issue of Cook's Illustrated.  One of the principles noted was "Every Day is a New Day."


Am glad your new day was filled with sunshine. 

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

i did that work most of my life.  its a bit of a shock going from home to shop work


many people think since they bake at home they could work in a bakery with no problem   NOT!


you find out quickly that you know little more than nothing about this kind of work and the first time you stand in front of a 300 pound flour mixer it can be intimadating.


your home mixer as well as yourself feel real small


good luck and learn all you can.  i still don't know every thing and i have been at this for 25 plus years

kanin's picture
kanin

Very inspiring. Glad to hear you found something you enjoy doing after such a rough setback.