The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

bread making early? why?

littlegrasshopper's picture

bread making early? why?

Hello everybody


I am nowadays planning to set up an artisan bakery in my city. Our focus are whole grain flours and wild yeasts only bread, a little bit of "ancient style". And by now, I have to plan the working timetable. And I do not want to wake up early in the morning for making the bread, so I ask you :

why so many organic sourdough bakers do start to make their bread at 5 a.m. in the morning? ¿Do you find this really necessary?

I can understand the convenience for consumers to get their loafs reciently done, almost still hot when we speak of conventional white bread whith fresh yeast and chemical stuff, because the loafs do not last so long in good conditions, BUT as far as I understand, a 100% sourdough bread needs a resting period after going out of the oven. Some people even recommend waiting 48 hours before start a rye bread, because the process is still going on inside...

So, Any of you might tell me if make his/her   bread without waking up early? Which ones are your fermentation periods and temperatures?

I will be very grateful for any information on this issue.

Thanks so much and...

Have a nice day


Stringbean42's picture

*Posted at 1:04 a.m.*

You know, some people have no problem getting up that early...

There's a reason... ;) XDXD

hanseata's picture

Since I bake in my home kitchen, I can prepare all my doughs the day before, refrigerate them overnight and have just to go down to take them out of the fridge when I first wake up in the morning (between 4 and 5). Since I portion the breads the evening before, I only have to shape and proof them in the morning, while I'm making breakfast and the oven is heating.

For me this is very convenient and doable with the amounts of bread I bake for our local natural food store. They get their breads between 11 and 12, just in time before most of their customers come in.

The limit are not the rising times of the breads, but my being a 1-person operation with just one regular home oven.

proth5's picture

0500! That's a late start from my limited experience. My advice would be to understand your market. If you are baking for the morning commute crowd - well, I do "office work" and I leave my place of residence between 0600-0700. Unless you have put the loaves in the retarder and just baked them in the morning - you will miss my window to buy.

Same with farmers markets. Trust me, the serious folks are there before they actually open.

If you think you can bake for the "pick up on the way home from work" crowd, perhaps you can start that late, but rising times for these natural yeast doughs can be long. Also, in general, people want to buy freshly baked bread. Even though sourdoughs mature gracefully, there is an allure of the freshly baked that cannot be denied. So if you can somehow "train" your customers to not want freshly baked breads, you might be successful. However my humble opinion is that people will want to buy the bread fresh and then if it improves with age - age it themselves.

Artisan bakers traditionally toil in the wee small hours of the morning. I have thought a great deal about how one might change this model and have come to the conclusion that the hours are what they are for a reason.  If you don't want to "wake up early" - you might consider that your desires run counter to most traditions and you will need to create a new business model to support it.

Good luck with your venture!

Franko's picture

Hi Pablo,

You might look at what your competitors are doing. After all, they're already in business and know what your local market wants. Best not to allow your competition to have any advantage on you. As proth5 says there's a reason for the hours. Good Luck .


arlo's picture

I myself get up by 2:15 am and am at work by 3:30 for yeasted breads and pastries at my bakery. This just seems to be the way since we catch so many workers going to their desk jobs early and so many people just wanting warm bread.  If I were to have it my way though I would have the bakers come in around 6 am to start baking yesterdays retarded bread, then once done and through, begin production on the next days bread which would be retarded by the end of the day, 4 or 5, in the right temperature climate.

You would still have bread out of the oven by say 9 am, and not needing to be up so early. Other than that I think the early baking started a loooong time ago when it was one baker, one wood fired oven and one whole village to feed that day. Times have changed a bit though : )

Again though, I am still in school for this whole 'baker thing' and I am sure I will learn the ways and reasons for it soon.

littlegrasshopper's picture

Thank you guys

I appreciate your answers, and I will bear it in mind. I realize too that we live in different countries, and we use different shedules. Here, the end of the the day is not 5 pm, rather 20:00 or 21:00 hours. And there is really few people awake at 5:00 am.But I have some issues to start thinking of, thank you for your support.



nbicomputers's picture

is when most bakeries open for the day.

i use to start at 12:00 or 1:00 am you have to allow for the the time for

1 changing out of street into whites

2 taking inventord ( to see what is needed)

mixing time

rising time

cooling time

Bakerys are a breakfast busness and people want the items fresh out of the oven not 12 or even 6 hours old. yes sour dough will develop over flavor over a few days but when was the last time you bought a bread or a cake took it home and told your family not to eat it for two days. 

5 in the morning is a very late start if you are going to open a bakery that sells bread or any sweet yeast goods get ready to start anyware between 11 at night ti 1 in the morning

unless you are only going to make cakes like wedding and birthday and even then you will have days that you will have to start early

also get ready for 16 to 20 hour days of work and you will find out that when holiday time (christmass) comes around at 20 hours a day you will not have enough time to make all that you have too

ps even stores that will carry your bread want their deleveries early in the morning so that

1 thay can offer there customers the freshest product and

2 because most stores will not accept deleveries in the afternoon when delevery men would interfear with customer traffic

3 if your not going to stock there shelifs ( which most bakeries that supply stores do) they will need time for their over worked stock people to put the product of the shelfs and their priorty goes to items that require placment in fridges and frezzers so your bread might be left on the selling floor it the bags tou brought them infor a few hours at best and if they are busy much longer than that

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco you have any relatives or friends to help you? You're going to need a lot of it.  Good luck.

yozzause's picture

Hi Pablo

I checked on your member information to see if you had any details but there were none about where you were from.

I'm afraid you will find that the public will be the ones that determine when you will need to have the product they are going to buy on the shelf, and you will have to accomodate them. I remeber my old boss buying up a couple of small bakeries that were producing Italian style breads and thinking that the customer would take what he was offering instead, it wasn't long before all those customers disappeared.They found some one else that offered the style of bread that they wanted.

You will really need to understand your market, and if you are going to have a shop front you will need a good variety of product on the shelf when the people  start to come pass, and you need to get them in and need to have them handing you money as early as they are around, i used to have earlybirds come in before the sales staff got there and they were some of the best customers well prepared with the right money oredering ahead and often buying for a few friends as well.

 A take away coffee and a fresh bun on the way to work is where the profits can be made but if you are just on the way in yourself -- say no more.

Even if you are in a little country bake house miles from anywhere you will still need to know who you are catering for. Nowadays here in Australia bread is trucked in to every little country town often as frozen product and the good shopkeepers even have it thawed for the first thing in the morning you even have the delis with the frozen dough trade  with bread and pastries ready for when the store opens.

Iidoubt that you will be able to afford to let a potential customer  pass you by beacause you havent got anything on the shelf as soon as the shops open.

If you like your bed and regular  hours, any service industry is really not the job for you. i went from Baking to bus driving, first bus out the depot at 5 am leave home at about 4am next week last bus back to the depot @ 0030 get home after 1AM.

I remember relieving a single handed baker in a country town  186 miles from the next town start work at 8 pm make the doughs bake the bread have a few hours sleep then slice the bread load up the van and do a delivery run to mine sites and another town 200 miles round trip on a dirt road.  The first week i was there the  towns folk were amazed when i had fruit bread and buns  available the other baker never made them and when they saw wholemeal and white bread on the same day they were gobsmacked. You may get away with doing what you want you want to do for a little while but not for long as there is always someone out there will do it if you dont.   

Regards yozza 



littlegrasshopper's picture

Hi Yozza,

I live in Spain. Southeast coast of Spain. Where I live, few people eat organic sourdough bread. Non of them normally goes for their loafs at 7:00 in the morning or so, they usually buy one kilo loaf once a week, mostly in the afternoon. The people who make a short stop for a break when they go to work, usually go to a bar or a cafe, rather than a bakery. (Spain is really full of bars). And many people go at 11:00 or 12:00 a.m.  for a break and eat something.(Again in a bar or a cafe) But is not a lunch like in uk i.e., our main meal use to be at 2:00 p.m.

I appreciate your complete reply. I will consider your suggestions, but I need to think about what is appropriate or not  for my context, because as you can see, we have different timetable for eating and working.

Regards and

Thank you




yozzause's picture

Congradulations in the soccer the parties looked like the Spanish know how to celebrate. Of course different countries and different customs will come into play, how big a town are you going to cater for, is there another bakery near by and what style of breads will you be baking?

As Karin says if it is touristy you should be able to pick up some trade there and from my understanding the place is full of  Poms (english) anyway!

regards Yozza

hanseata's picture

Pablo, this is very interesting. Local customs differ so much! In Germany, for example, people eat breakfast usually at home, they don't "grab a bite" on their way to work like Americans do (and it would be so much more expensive, too!).

Are any tourists in your area? Im sure, Germans and English would buy sourdough breads or other specialty breads.

When I started baking for our local natural food store I fully expected them to wish my bread delivery early in the morning. But it turned out that in our little resort town people eat breakfast either in hotels and B & Bs, or in cafes and sandwich shops. Therefore tourists and locals come into the shop usually at noon time, not in the morning.

After two years of doing business with them, I have my "followers", customers who come in especially to get my organic European breads. It took a while, and there are still many more people out there who rather buy bland, crustless and squishy "Wonderbread".

I wish you luck - and let us now how your venture turned out,




bobm1's picture

an interesting question. i've asked it myself. a year and a half ago i started baking in a small room behind a winery. no retail outlet. just a few wholesale accounts with local restaurants, church groups and the local farmers market. i worked alone. my day started with taking my kids to school, going to the bakery and baking until school let out, getting the kids, coming bake to the bakery, bagging bread and preping dough for the next morning. the objective was to have a normal life with my children and work the bake schedule around the family needs. What happened instead was that the kids spent many a night sleeping on the bakery floor. my wife would help bag and prep but life was not good. we were all exhusted. 

now we have a retail space. the doors are open at 6am and folks start coming in by 7am. most want coffee. bagels, bialy and baguettes as well as an assortment of pastries are on the table by 7am. other breads follow in a steady stream until about noon. then, a quick bit to eat, a bit of clean up from the mornings toils and batching for the next days bake begins. flours only. water is added about 3pm to the preferments according to when they will be handled the next morning. bagels and bialys are mixed and shaped or preshaped and placed in the cooler till morning sourdoughs are also bannetoned and placed in the cooler for the mornings bake.

i will also do one or two single method doughs for the afternoon crowd. often a sweet bread or fruit bread.

i guess what i'm getting at is that in order to best serve my customers with what they want when they want it i have to get in the shop between 3 and 4 am. i still manage the bread alone but have hired a young pastry grad. and have a couple of great people to handle the coffee and manage the displays of bread and pastry.

the hours are still grueling, 14 to 16 hrs a day, but as we get our feet under us and i can afford to hire some help for myself that will change. i think.

i have never had any retail experience of any kind and this is my first forray into professional baking. if i had had a clue what was going to be entailed, equip., plumbing, elec., seating, permits, healthdept. employees, accountants. ..............

i'd be happiy retired building canoes and furniture, instead. but, you do your homework and a bit os soul searching and move forward gusto and a full heart.

if sucessful the reward are sweet and if it fails there are no regrets. only fond memories of the journey.

best of luck