The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How do you bake High volume of bread?

davidjm's picture

How do you bake High volume of bread?

My wife and I are completely exhausted today.  Why?  We baked 9 pizzas, 7 baguettes, and 8 whole grain loaves yesterday from our home kitchen.  And, we did all that while stoking the fire in our clay oven in which we bake.  At the end of the day, we said, "There has got to be a better way!"

So, my question is: How do you bake high volumes of bread from a home kitchen?  We have a standard Kitchen-aid mixer, lots of bowls, and proofing baskets, plus we worked out a proofing room (laundry room with heater on thermostat).  Neither of us have a background in bakeries - and we're not trying to go pro.  We just want to bake more at one time to meet our home demands.

The problems we ran into were: (1) Mixing all the dough took too long, and it through off our rise times and coordination with when the clay oven would be ready to receive the loaves.  In the end, 6 of the whole grain loaves over-proofed and were a little flat.  So how can we shorten mixing times?  (2) It was completely exhausting to do so much work in one day - just two people.  (I don't see how anyone can make a living at this!)  (3) Timing was also a big issue with rises and mixes and the clay oven.

Any suggestions?  I particularly welcome responses from those who have worked in bakeries, etc.  But any help is appreciated.



OldWoodenSpoon's picture

to avoid getting so exhausted.  I'd prepare the doughs the afternoon and evening before, and then take that proofing room and let it get cold so I could retard the shaped loaves till next morning.  Then I'd put the last ones to bake into the refrigerator while I turned up the thermostat in the cold room, to proof the rest of the loaves.  At the "appropriate point" in the baking I'd pull the dough out of the refrigerator into the proofing room so it would be ready when the oven is ready for them.

It would still be a challenge, and I admire your courage for taking it on. I'm advising you from absolutely no experience at large volume.  I'm sure you will get more and better advice from others here on "the Loaf" with more experience, but I could not resist offering a free opinion.  Just remember:  free opinions are worth what you pay for them.

Good luck with scaling up.  Please come back and let us know how you work it out.  We'd love to learn from your experience.


davidjm's picture

Thanks to all for the great and thoughtful comments!  As it turns out, we retarded the dough for the first rise in the fridge.  We mixed the day before, put them in large bowls and stuck them in the fridge.  Then the next day, we took them out several hours before baking to warm up, shape, proof for the second time in our make-shift proofing room, then bake in the oven.  It worked great!  This is definitely the way to go.

Thanks again!


proth5's picture

In my "real life" I implement planning and scheduling software, so while I may not know much about baking - production scheduling - that I know...

  • When you say that mixing the dough took "too long" - I must ask "too long in relation to what?"  An obvious response is that you need larger equipment so that if you are doing three distinct types of bread, you only need to do three mixes and have powerful enough equipment so that mixes will not take so long.  Alternatively, you can understand how long your mixing will take with your equipment and start working earlier to accomodate  your limitations.  Things take the time that they take and you need to understand what that is and schedule accordingly.  I get paid money to tell people that.  It seems obvious, but for some reason it is not.
  • What you also have observed is why professional bakers adhere strictly to formulas, dough temperatures, fermentation/proofing temperatures and timings.  Once again, you need to pay attention to those things and develop accurate timings.  Then you can schedule accordingly.
  • You don't mention the capacity of your oven, so I don't know if you had to do the baking for the same kind of bread in different oven shifts.  If you did, after understanding the timings for your mix, your fermentation, your shaping and proofing, you might wish to schedule your mixes to start at different times so that you are mixing one oven load per mix.  That way you can stagger your start times (see above about knowing and adhering to formulas and timings) so that loaves are delivered to the oven when they are ready to go.
  • Your baking task is made inherently more difficult by having to fire a clay oven.  I don't  know how to make that easier, but I am sure others do.  One thing I do know is that you want to schedule the loading of the oven to take advantage of how it heats and cools.  Pizzas - that require active fire - go first,then breads like baguettes that really need a hot start and then loaves that can do well in a cooling oven.  You might want to assess your mix of breads to take advantage of the temperature fluctuation of the oven.
  • Tiredness.  Uh, did you read my blog "No Country for Old Women"?  This is a tiring business.  You will get more fit as you do it, though.  I spent a while practicing making a minimum of 5 different types of bread every time I baked just to get my mind and organization around the whole undertaking.  I made 6 different types of bread for Thanksgiving dinner while producing the rest of the elaborate dinner and roasting a turkey over a mesquite fire.   Oh, and having a couple of stitiches in my left hand. You play with pain.  That's all I can say.  You stay organized, focused, work cleanly, and you get it done.  It gets better.

So, that's my advice.  If you were a large manufacturing firm, I would tell you that the most important part is to get your methods consistent so that you have predictable timings and to make sure that materials (ingredients) are available at the right time.   You then need to schedule backwards from your bottleneck resource (the oven) to make sure that you start all your tasks at the appropriate time (I can do up to 5 oven loads in my head - above that I actually draw a little timeline backwards from when I want to load the oven and that will give me start times). Also having an experienced workforce makes a difference. It's the same with big volume home baking.  Consistent practice eventually makes easier....

Hope this helps

RebelWithoutASauce's picture


If you are baking in large volume, then you should schedule yourself as many professional bakers do.


For this example, I will assume all your breads have about the same fermenting/proofing times.

Decide what a 'batch' is, this is how many loaves you can bake in your oven. If your oven can handle four loaves make a four loaf batch of that dough. Then, how long do your loaves take to bake? If your loaves took half an hour to bake, start your next dough half an hour after you started the first one.

So if you have a two hour proof then you are taking out your first batch at T+2:00 and your second batch at T+2:30. This way you don't have any flat loaves, everything is getting baked right at the right time.


If you still want to mix your dough in one huge batch you can retard (that is, slow the fermentation) of some of the dough by putting it in a cold place like a garage or refrigerator.


I'm not sure how you can reduce mixing times without changing the gluten structure of your final loaf. If your mixing time is taking so long because you have to do batches in your mixer(which it sounds like you must be doing), then you should take advantage of this, and then do another batch awhile later like I said above. You will still be mixing a lot of dough but if you time it correctly you will not have the problem with overproofing. You will also have time between batches so you will not be in such a crazy

I hope this helps,



mcs's picture

As mentioned above, the organization of the mixing and oven times are crucial.  I'll try to say how I'd do it, although without knowing your oven capacity, it's a bit more of a guess.

Mix the pizza dough in advance - maybe a week before form them into 12 oz (or whatever your pizza size is) boules, and place them in the freezer.  Then all you have to do on game day is take them out of the freezer/fridge to bring them up to room temp., thaw, shape, and bake.  This of course will vary with your dough recipe, but it could at least be mixed the day before and retarded in the fridge.  I'd use 9 different tupperwares that I could stack to minimize fridge space.

The baguette dough can also be mixed ahead of time - the day before.  If that's 7 pounds of dough, you could also fit it in your fridge.  Shape and bake on your big day.

Since I don't have a lot of fridge space (and you'd be running out of it at this time probably) I mix breads on the day they're baked (except for the sponge, biga...).  You can mix 8 loaves by hand using the stretch and fold method.  Since your oven (I'm assuming) can't handle them all at once, after mixing put 1/2 the dough in the fridge and proof the other half.  Your other dough should be out of the fridge at this point, so you'll have room. 

Then go from there.  You can stagger your dough in the fridge behind the rest of it by pulling it out an hour after it went in the fridge. 
If you get your baguette and pizza doughs wired, then having to focus on the regular loaves will be a lot easier.


sicilianbaker's picture

professional bakeries use professional equipment, you need a larger mixer.. 20qt or 30 qt and professional bread/pastry oven but thats if you want to put out in mass production. it cuts down on labor and time where thats costs more than the ingredients.

davidjm's picture

Great comments! Thanks so much.  I'll have to work through your advice when the Christmas holiday is over.  But here is more information about the oven:

The following link is a post that has a graph of the temps on a firing.  It will give you an idea of how long a period of baking I have.  (Basically 1 1/2 hrs it takes to go from 600-400 degrees F on a 4 hr fire.)

My oven floor is 28" Wide and 31" deep.  I can fit about eight 12" pizzas in a batch, seven 28" baguettes in another batch, and eight 2lb whole grain loaves in yet another batch.  Here are pictures of the oven under construction to see the floor:

 I really think the mixing process is our "rate limiting step."  So I'd be interested in learning more about retarding the dough fermentation in the refrigerator (or freezer for pizza).  I wonder if Dan the Rebel or Mark (back home bakery) could expand a little more on retarding.  I think that is going to be the key.  I don't really want to buy a prof mixer at $1000+.

(BTW: Proth5, I loved the old woman blog!)

You guys are great!  Thanks.

RebelWithoutASauce's picture

All this really means is putting dough in the refrigerator or a colder place to slow down the yeast (to avoid overproofing). You can either do this during bulk fermentation as a big ball of dough right after you mix and knead your bread, or you can do this after your bread is shaped and take it out right to bake.

The one problem with retarding dough is that it needs to warm up a bit to room temperature. If I must retard, I oil up a large pot and put my kneaded mass of dough in it (make sure you have plenty of room for expansion). I throw this in the refrigerator and it will be fine for a day or two. You also get great gluten development from this process.

When I have time to bake the dough I take the pot out of the cool and removed the dough. I divide it up and shape it into balls ( pre-shape) and then let it warm up for about 20 minutes. Then I shape it into it's final shape and let it rise.


It seems you would be more interested in timing your batches well. It sounds like you can bake an entire batch of each dough, so you might want to just space the mixing out according to baking times. If you want to retard mentioned having a proofing chamber. I assume this is to keep your loaves warm so they rise properly.

If you are baking two batches of bread, you can be safe by leaving one in a cold place and the one you intend to bake first in your proofing area. This way the warmer dough proofs more quickly, and the second batch should be colder so it won't overproof.

All there is to retarding is keeping dough cold and moist. I'm sure you know already but never let your dough sit out uncovered in a dry area (i.e. most rooms) or it will dry right out. My weapon of choice for this is a damp cloth but plastic or a moist proofing box work just as well.


For pizza dough, I usually form the dough into balls (one ball=one pizza), and put them into small plastic containers I have just for this purpose. Sometime within the next week I take how many I want out of the refrigerator and start heating up my oven and stone. By time the oven is roaring hot the dough is warmed enough to work. I shape it into a pizza, toss on some crushed tomatoes, some cheese, and bake it for 6 minutes or so. I have had some dough sit for a good while in the icebox and it still made great pizza. As for the freezer, I have not tried this yet. I'll be the defrost time would be longer, maybe even something you would want to do in the refridgerator. It should work though, as long as you can work the dough.

I hope this is the explanation your were hoping for, so much depends on the dough, the yeast (wild, dried, fresh), and room temperatures that it is hard to give any specific numbers.

Good luck, let us know how things turn out.


bassopotamus's picture

I bake 70-80 loaves in a day for the farmer's market in the summer, in a home kitchen.


Much of it is practice. Learn how your dough rises, so you can time it to NEVER have down time in the oven. Retarding in the fridge is a huge help too. We mix 2 kinds the night before our main bake day, and start bake day by shaping/proofing those.

DianaM's picture

I just came across your Dec. 2009 entry regarding making 70-80 loaves a day.  Are you still cranking that many loaves out?

I'd really like to know how you do that.



davidjm's picture


In our peak, we were baking 145 loaves for a farmer's market.  Basically, it requires:

  1. An oven large eough to handle a dozen or more loaves in a batch.  We have a wood-fired clay oven. 
  2. Mix all the dough the day before with cold water.  Don't try to use a mixer unless you have a large professional model.  Buy plastic tubs with lids and mix in them.  Place the dough in a refrigerator overnight.  Then shape the day of the bake.
  3. Better yet, if you can mix the dough cold and shape the loaves the day before then refrigerate.  But you'll need a walk in cooler for that.  It takes up a lot more space.
  4. Plan your bake day carefully according to oven temp and time needed in the oven. It is very tiring to bake that much.  So listen to your body. 

Happy baking!

jpchisari's picture

I ran my own small Bakery/Deli for 5 years and baked by myself approx 60-100 lbs of dough a day between breads and pizza dough. I also baked approx 50-75 lbs of cookies and pastries a week. along with all my other duties. But, I had a lrge 30qt mixer, a proofbox that held between 20 and 30 proof boards at a time and an oven that could accomodate 15 full sheet pans. Recently, I worked in a large chain grocery store bakery where we produced between 400 and 900 lbs of bread daily with 3 bakers.

I agree having the correct equipment is key along with planning and timing.

I now continue to bake only at home and bake twice a week and am happy if I can make 6 baguettes a day! (No production pressure) There is only so much that can be done in a home kitchen.

Pizza dough is something always made at least 1 day ahead of time. Just be sure to add about 1% sugar to formula if it is retarded that long.



abunaloaf's picture

I use my new 6 quart kitchen aid for small quantities.  I have an old 10 quart hobart for larger batches...I don't make the volumes you do.

I also mix dough the night before and bake it in the morning.  I didn't really have anything new to add and this is an old post, but was surprised you made such great volumes with a smaller mixer.  I love the kitchen aid for small batches, but not for more than a couple loaves or pizza doughs.  I too have lots of bowls and other items so I don't have to stop and wash while I am baking.  Baking is such a pleasure, I think mass production might spoil the fun for me.  I used to make bread by hand but can't anymore, so I am grateful for my mixers.

Last night at supper I had home made buns and store bought ones on the one touched the bakery buns and my youngest complimented the homemade buns...Everyone did really, by choosing them...none left this morning, so I mixed up another batch before I went to sleep.