The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Buying flour from a bakery

pjkobulnicky's picture

Buying flour from a bakery

This is question for the professional bakers out there or from others who have experiences.

I have, from time to time, been successful in buying hard to get flours from local bakeries. But I am wondering what the general feeling is regarding the right way to approach a bakery if you have not bought flour from them before. I always try to include in my purchase some of the bakeries products so I am not seen as just taking advantage of them,  I never ask about the price since they have to make a profit even on flour, and i usually try to ask the baker instead of a clerk (all the better to talk bread and get shown around the bakery). Any other thoughts to make this a positive experience?

CarlSF's picture

Instead of visiting a bakery that you have never been to before how about giving them a call first?  Call up the bakery and ask to speak to the manager (if possible), and ask them if they are willing to sell flour to you.  If they do, ask them about a specific flour that you want and how much it would cost you...say for 5 lbs. for example.  Now, try to keep a price in your head as to how much your willing to pay for 5 lbs. of this flour.  If the bakery gives you a price that is way too much, then you can say it's a bit too much.  The most the bakery can say is "no."  I think a bakery might be willing to sell flour to you since they want to make extra money.  I did this exact same step (by giving them a call first), and they were nice about it.

boilerbaker's picture

I have purchased flour and wheatberries from Great Harvest Bread Company.  First I phoned and asked to talk to the store manager.  Then I asked if I could order rye berries through them, and I was able to order a larger quantity.  The price was fair, and they were not trying to make a profit on the rye berries. 

Deonia's picture

Boilerbaker, would you clarify what I think "rye berries" are? Are they kind of oblong shaped, "seed" looking things? I've been trying to buy/find what was described in the recipe as whole rye for a breakfast cereal that combines these, oat groats, and barley. I purchased these at a health food store in South Florida, but I now live in a very small town and cannot find the rye anywhere. I never thought about a bakery, but I need to know exactly what i'm asking for. Any help in the form of a description of them would be greatly appreciated.

JoeV's picture

Since we are both from Ohio (I'm from Mentor) we share a wonderful resource in the Amish Community. I buy specialty flours from B&R Bulk Foods in Middlefield, Ohio, and their prices are below what I can buy in the grocery stores. An example is 25# of Montana Sapphire for $.49 per pound, which is $2.50 less than a 25# bag at Giant Eagle. I also buy whole wheat, spelt and all-purpose flour at similar savings, as well as coarse grind cornmeal at $.30 per pound. If I want something that they don't have on the shelf, they can order virtually any flour that the mills produce from their supplier. They package all their flours at whatever size you want, from 1# on up. I also get my 18" bread bags for free form Italian loaves from them, at $2.98 per 100 bags. I bought two packs the last time I was there.

Every Amish Community has places that cater to their own, and most will sell to the general public. A little research is all it takes to find where these stores are at. This way you are not inconveniencing the local bakery.

I buy in bulk because I give away lots of bread and donate to events at my church. Two weeks ago I made 30 loaves in one day for two church events.

24 loaves of Italian:

Honey Whole Wheat bread and rolls:


Sorry to get windy, but I tend to err on the side of giving more information if I have it.

nbicomputers's picture

when working i never would refuse a request for something that was hard to get in a store. i would say call early in the morning not to early cause we get busy from 2 to 7 am getting things ready but if you call arount 7 or 8 in the morning and ask to speak directly to the baker and tell them that you are making an old family formula that has been handed down and you need to use smoething called.... do you know what that is and can i buy some from you if you have it cause i cant find it anyware and nobody i talk to knows what it is eather.

another way is to just saythat you need a pound of and cant find it in a stor would you sell some to me.

i would give people things like freash yeast or bakers bran all the time because i know it is hard to find. and once in a while the person would bring mw a taste of there baking and from one cook to an other i would to sample other peoples cooking and baking it would give me ideas for new products or ways to improve a formula i was using.

sometimes thay would give me the formula  also.

it never hurts to ask the worst thing that could happen is thay say no.

boilerbaker's picture

Rye berries look like wheat berries, an elongated grain, skinnier than barley kernels. Lorna Sass has written an excellent book, Whole Grains, Everyday, Every Way.  Look for it at your local library to real more about rye and other grains.  The back of the book gives sources. I ordered 45 lb of rye berries through our local Great Harvest Bread Co. Check the internet for other sources, as I am sure you can mail order smaller quantities. 

Deonia's picture

Thanks boilerbaker, for the response. I have never heard them called "berries" before so that kinda threw me. I will pick up Sass's book and check it out. Thanks again for the info.