The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Home baker needs advice on producing bread in a professional kitchen!

smithbr11's picture

Home baker needs advice on producing bread in a professional kitchen!

Hello Everyone!

I've been a member of this site for a few months now, but this is my first time posting.  I'm 25 years old, and have been baking bread in my home for the past year or so.  In the past few months, my baking has become much more serious.  I'm currently working a "normal", 8-5 office job that keeps me busy --- but I am not totally satisfied with what I'm doing.  Recently I've been spending a lot of time thinking about taking the plunge and becoming a professional bread baker. 

Anyway, the real reason for this post is to ask for advice.  I have been given a great opportunity to use the kitchen of a local restaurant to experiment making breads on a larger scale. They do not have a baker working for them, however it is their intention to begin making bread in the future.  This is both exciting and a little scary.  I have been making all of my breads by hand for the past year, so this is totally different.  I want to be as prepared as possible when I go in there to begin.  Here's what I know:

-They have a 40 quart mixer

-They do not have a commercial proofer yet, so I'm not sure what they've been doing

-Not sure about the oven, but I think it's a convection deck

-King Arthur European style flour

I'm going to visit the kitchen this Wednesday to check out the facilities, but I need to start planning now.  I plan on starting out with basic baguettes, nothing involving my sourdough.  Here are a few of my basic questions, and I welcome and advice/tips anyone may have.  There is no pressure on me to produce perfect bread on the first try, but I really want to do well!

1.  What's the min/max weight of dough that can go in a 40qt mixer? Any advice on basic mixer operation/times when using a larger machine?

2.  Should I be OK scaling up my dough?  I've never made anything in such a large quantitiy before

3.  I've never used the KA European flour.  Are there any adjustments needed when working with this?

4.  Any advice about using a deck oven -- temps, steaming methods, anything I need to know!

Thanks for the advice!


gcook17's picture

This sounds like an exciting opportunity!

I don't know where you're located but one option for learning about baking in larger quantities and using a hearth oven is taking a class from the San Francisco Baking Institute.  I just got this in an email from them :


We just added a new Artisan I class to our schedule from August 31-September 4. This is your last chance to take  Artisan I in 2010!


Their website with course listings is .  When I took this class we mixed 40 kilo batches of dough (if my memory serves).  I still use the same formulas in much smaller amounts at home and they work fine so I don't think scaling up should be a problem.  One difference is that the bulk fermentation may go a bit faster with large quantities because (again if I remember correctly) the larger mass of dough retains the heat better.


Anyway, good luck and have fun


smithbr11's picture

Thanks for the advice.  Unfortunately I'm in the Washington, DC area -- only 3,000 miles from SFBI!  However, I have been on their site and have considered signing up for a session.  I need to save some money first. 

This whole experience should be pretty interesting, especially because it's happening so fast.  I'm basically going to go check out the facility tomorrow night, and then go back over the weekend and see what I can whip up!  The good thing is that there is no really pressure, other than what I put on myself (though I had a bread-related nightmare the other night...)

deblacksmith's picture

You really should go on-line and order Daniel's book right away.  This is a very serious textbook for the bread-baking student.  Daniel is the chef instructor at Culinard, The Culinary Institute of Virginia College.

This isn't your how to bake bread at home book – but rather a book written to be used in a college level course in baking artisan breads.  It takes you through the process chapter by chapter with lots of information on baking for the "learning to become a professional baker".  He has a great deal of information on using baker's math and how to go from "recipes" to learning to use formulas that let you scale bread batches to any size you need.  I think it is a book that you will really use.

For those of us home baker's that are very interested in the technical side of baking it is a great book too – and I have learned a great deal.  It is not your coffee table bread book full of recipes, it is designed to teach you to develop or change your own formulas.  With it you can gain an understanding of what is going on in your bread and why we do what we do and how to make better bread.  For the new professional he leads you in to thinking about both the cost and the scheduling of you baking day.


feedmittens's picture

Forgive the noob here: could you provide a link to Daniel's full name or book title?  Thanks!

smithbr11's picture

Thanks for the book recommendation Dave.  I've been working out of BBA, Local Breads, and Bread Bible for the most part. I'm currently reading Bread Science by Emily Buehler and it's great!  It's so important to understand what is happening during each step of the bread-making process, and this book has been very informative. It's looking like my next two purchases will be DiMuzio and Hamelman.


catpoz's picture

I'm not anywhere near that level and I have a whole bunch of other books I haven't even looked at yet.  Just let me know your address, Brendan, and I'll get in the mail to you tomorrow, Priority Mail.  You should have it in a couple of days. 

My email address is .

Cathy in Miami


deblacksmith's picture

It is Bread Baking, an Artisan's Perspective by Daniel T. DiMuzio  

ISBN 978-0-470-13882-3


bassopotamus's picture

This is great. My wife would really like to do something like this, and actually may end up doing it for a school that is going all natural in their lunch program. I can't comment on all the points but


2. Scaling up the dough is no problem. It is the proportion of things that matters, not the absolute quantities. I find that working in grams is easier for this kind of thing (I scale a lot of recipies 4-8x for farmers' market baking with no problems and would scale further if I had a mixer that was up to it). The one thing to watch is if you are doing things with refrigeration and such. Big quantities take longer to both cool and to warm back to room temp than the recipe might suggest.


3. Not sure why it has to be the KA european flour. Could they get you what you are used to? If not, all the KA I have ever used is extremely high quality. Just remember to go by feel as well as the recipe, and take notes of what works and what is a disaster.


4. My understanding, without having one of my own, is that deck oven timing should be similar to instructions for baking on a stone. Also, I assume you are taking bread temps now? If not you should, because a convection deck oven probably cooks faster than your home oven. My wife was testing a muffin recipe at the school the other day, and they were done in about 1/2 the time the recipe claimed (it was a convection vulcan, but no deck)


As to the proofer, it is not an absolute necessity, but it helps with predicibility. You can proof loaves anywhere from overnight in the fridge to at warm (Hot) room temp. We bake about 70 loaves a day in a home kitchen without a proofer, and the result is just that you have to be a little flexible with your timing, and know what correctly proofed dough ought to look like. We proof most of our loaves on pans on a stainless rack at about room temp, but I have a tempremental wholewheat we make that I proof on top of the stove while other stuff is baking to hurry it the heck up. I've done these enough now that I know that the WW likes about 90 minutes on the stove, SD needs about 3 hours on the rack, lean yeast breads are ready in 45, etc, but that is based on the conditions in my house. If my A/C breaks, I'll be hosed. That's why the proofer is nice. It is a constant temp, so batch to batch is the same.

mcs's picture

I don't think you have to worry about the capacity of the mixer at this point, because it'll be able to mix more dough than you'll be able to deal with now. 
-Check out the oven(s) and figure out how much bread you'll be able to bake in there at once - that'll be the deciding factor on how much you should mix.  If you can fit 12 loaves in there, then your batch size should be for 12 loaves -  if you can fit 15 baguettes, then only mix for 15 baguettes.  You can mix two separate batches but as a beginner you'll have a tough time dealing with a large batch of dough that needs to be spread out over 2 or 3 bake times.  It's easier if you process the whole batch together.
-For mixing a typical bread dough, with a 20qt mixer I mix 3 minutes speed 1, 3 minutes speed 2.  With a 60 qt mixer, I mix 4 minutes speed 1, 4 minutes speed 2.  Larger mixers have slower RPMs and all mixers mix differently based on the size of the dough ball.
-Like I said, don't be tempted to mix a big bunch of dough just because you can.  I'd suggest no more than 10-15 baguettes even though a 40 qt can handle more.  Better to have 10 nice baguettes than 25 crappy ones.
-Stick with a recipe you know and adjust from there.  You can probably drop the yeast down to 2/3 or even 1/2, but for the first time, I'd just stick with the same formula so you don't have any new variables this time.
-Rotate your pans or baguettes and part way through the cycle at least once. It's best to move your bread left to right and top to bottom to even out the browning - especially in a deck oven.  They hold steam pretty well, so one half of a soup can's worth of water is good for an oven of baguettes.  Check with your chef to see if he minds you throwing water in his oven. 

-That's about it for now.


nbicomputers's picture

one point i disagree

depending on how stiff the dough i would stick to speed one for a longer mix. the owner will not like you much if you burn out the transmission on the mixer the repair cost could run well into 4 figures and days or weeks of down tine beater shafts break too as well as the mixing head. so if the dough is stif like the onion roll dough speed one and keep it there.

speed 2 can be used for soft doughs like soft rolls bunns or danish.

dmsnyder's picture

it sounds like a great adventure.

I can't speak to the profession equipment questions, but I've used KAF European-style Artisan flour quite a lot, and it's lovely. It is basically an AP flour with some white whole wheat and a smidgeon of ascorbic acid. If it weren't significantly more expensive than KAF AP, I'd use it all the time for hearth breads. As it is, I usually use an AP flour (KAF or Giusto's) and add 5-10% WWW. I think you will like it.


hamptonbaker's picture

Hi Brendan,


I work in as an artisan baker and supply two farmer's markets and one fine dining restaurant with bread 6 days a week. As far as scaling goes, I convert everything to the same unit and then use a very simple formula:

 new recipe divided by old recipe= recipe conversion factor

The recipe conversion factor has no unit value and can be applied anywhere

 for example:

If you have 400 grams of sour available and the formula calls for 600; divide 400 by 600 and you get the recipe conversion factor.

Now multiply that number by each ingredient and you will get a new formula in perfect ratio to the amount of sour  you have.

Likewise, if your formula makes 8 pounds of dough and you want 12 pounds, divide 12 by eight and get a new RCF to multiply each ingredient by.

You can always check your math using the baker's percentage:

 multiply the total flour weight (once in the same unit) by the percentage you need of another ingredient and verify your ratio is correct.

Anyway, I convert formulas all day long with this method so I don't have any waste.

I have never been happier than I am baking artisan bread for a living, if you build it they will come!

Happy Baking,

Marcy, Hampton, CT



Mommy2Moo's picture

I am new too but wanted to wish you luck!  Your new opportunity sounds so exciting!!!  I will have to look for some of those books mentioned as well!

I appreciate all the info I get from this site!



yozzause's picture

Hi Brendan

i am in the fortunate position to be able to use the hospitality college's kitchen and mini bakery that has a double deck electric oven as well as gas and electric commercial ovens in classroom kitchens as well as recently a wood fired oven built by construction students. 

we also have a spiral mixer and a large hobart mixer along with a small proofer.

As most of the instructors are chefs they have often asked me to assist with bread or roll making.

i have just loved being involved with students and lecturers alike that are keen to learn.

The main thing is to work your way backwards  from when bread and rolls will be required , here it is a lunch sitting and an evening sitting in the restaurant dinning room.

so if rolls were required to be cooled and ready to serve for 12.00 they would need to be out of the oven by 11.30

they would need to be in the oven by 11.00

they would need to be proving time of 30 to 60 minutes  so handed up onto trays  by 10.00

on bench scaled up 9.30

bulk fermented by 9.00

mixed by 8.00

weighed up in mixer 7.45 

Establishing the number required  eg 50 diners equalls minimum of 50 x 50gram rolls ideally allowing 2 per diner 100 x 50g rolls 1 deck of the oven available (other likely to being used for sweets production) therefore 2 large baking tray capacity  every 20 to 30 minutes each tray could carry 50 rolls  quite easily

  dough  for 100 x 50 gram rolls equates to a dough of 5kgs  

using bakers percentage flour = 100 %

flour 3kgs  therefore 1% = 30g

salt  2% 60g

milkpowder 2% 60g

butter 2% 60g

eggs 2% 60g

bread improver .5% 15g

yeast dry 2% 60g

water 60%+or-  1800g/ml 

this would give a yield of 5115g

just the right ammount

finished dough temp of 28 deg centigrade will give a bulk ferment time of 1 hour

a 2nd dough can be started off 30 minutes after the first to follow on.

all sounds complicated by will run like clock work in no time.

as far as a proffer goes any enclosure will work quite well a set of drawers or a cupboard where you can exclude draughts at home the big plastic garbage bag works a treat 



pistolval's picture

Congrats! I am in pretty much the exact same position. I just started working Tuesday and have made some mistakes but I am learning so much and hope to start knocking thier socks off as soon as possible!

Henrylau's picture

Where is Brendan now?

Henrylau's picture

Where is Brendan now?