The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Artisan" baguettes?

Pioneer Foodie's picture
Pioneer Foodie

"Artisan" baguettes?

I'm wondering if there is a market segment that cares about baguettes au levain made by hand versus formed from a sheeter.   I suppose if the formula is just levain, salt and water, raised in couche and baked on a stone, it would qualify as "artisan" but I wonder if there are people who care enough about the crumb to pay more for a hand-formed baguette.

What about a completely hand-mixed, hand-formed, wood-fired baguette?  Is there any market that would pay for such an additional value? The difference in the bread would be a more open crumb (not smushed by the sheeter), and a creamier, non-oxidized color inside.  And the rest would probably just be sentimental.  But still, maybe some people pay for sentiment.  What do you think?  Would YOU pay more?

Ruralidle's picture

Hi Pioneer Foodie

It sounds like a great product to me but perhaps this is not the correct place to ask the question "would you pay more?".  This is for two reasons: 1) the vast majority of people on this forum love good bread and yours sounds good, so that would tend to produce an answer biased towards "Yes"; 2) a large proportion of people on this forum have/are/will be struggling to produce a great baguettte themselves so that would biase the answer towards "No" (because thet would rather make it themselves).

Whichever sort of answers you get will be very strongly biased because you are asking bread lovers and bakers.  Perhaps you should try a little real life market research at your local farmers' market?

jcking's picture

If you could convince a high end resturant to try your breads you may have a better chance. Customers of these resturants expect the best.


eander315's picture

One of the main reasons I started baking bread was due to the lack of availability for  artisinal quality baguettes. Now that I'm learning to bake my own I might be less interested, but I'm sure there are lots of people out there that just want a baguette and don't want to spend years learning to cook it.

GeraldC's picture

Is there anything else in your market where a hand worked (and of course demonstrably better for it) version of some food good is thriving along side a lesser quality mechanized version? Is it that kind of market where small meat markets and farmers markets can do well?  And who is selling baguettes right now? Just the grocery store, the typical Wonder Bread in baguette shape? A bakery actually trying to do something better? If it's just the grocery store bakery with the "Wonder Bread" product, and dedicated bread bakeries don't exist there, I'd worry that even the mass produced "artisan" goods can't find a market. 

If there are genuine boulangeries, how many? Are small operations accepted? If people there show willing to patronize a small bakery, just to get good bread, and there are multiple such bakeries, and you can produce a better product, I think you can conculde that people (1) like decent bread, (2) will make a special stop for it, and (3) will therefore make a special stop for something even better. Of course, price is always a factor. And how price factors depends a lot on what's going on right now. I think that you have to be seeing that small bakeries are working and able to charge more for decent bread, else you're unlikely to make a go of charging as much or more for a bit better than decent bread.