The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Carlisle Farmer's Market

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varda's picture
varda

Carlisle Farmer's Market

Today, I attended my first farmer's market as a vendor.   Yesterday I baked around three times more bread at one time than I had ever done before.   Miraculously it all came out fine with no kitchen disasters.  This morning I finished up the baking and drove a couple towns over to Carlisle.   I had never been to the Carlisle market before.   I had two reasons for picking it.   One, I figured, given that Carlisle is pretty sparsely populated, that the market might be small enough for me to be able to manage.   The second is that unlike Lexington, they were willing to let me start in the middle of the season.   Sure enough, it was a fairly small and low key market.   The neighboring booth was a lemonade stand staffed by a seven year old and his parents.

So I relaxed and got ready to sell bread armored with my hastily purchased $6 sign from Staples.

There were plenty of baked goods, but only a couple other loaves about, and nothing like mine.   The market officially opened at 8 am, but there were only a trickle of customers and few of those interested in bread.    I figured I was going to be bringing a lot of loaves home, or engaging in some pretty furious barter for corn and squash at the end of the market.   

And yet, slowly but surely over the course of the morning my loaves walked away one by one, and in the opposite order that I expected.  

First to disappear were the flaxseed ryes.

Then went the Cherry Almond Whole Wheats.

The baguettes took longer to go, perhaps because they were a bit pale due to my needing the oven for the Challah rolls.   Finally a woman who would have preferred a Cherry Almond decided to take the last baguette home.  

When it was all over, I had only four challah rolls left out of my starting 18 loaves and 19 rolls.

The crowd seemed to divide into two parts (in my mind of course.)   The people who glanced at the bread, and then walked on as if they hadn't seen anything.    The second group would be almost past, when suddenly their eyes would lock on the bread, and they would circle slowly back, and only after a moment or two remembering to look up and say hello.   Of course, I liked those people better.  

One woman bought a roll, took a bite, and informed me it was dry.   I noticed that as she walked away she was still eating it.    Ten minutes later, she came back and said that after a bite or two she realized how good it was.   She just had to reorient herself from puffy.   

I experienced the limits of my kitchen all in one night.    I reached capacity on my scale (5 K) my Assistent Mixer which started chucking up bits of rye dough all over the place as they got too close to the top of the bowl.   My counter space and oven, and so forth.   But I survived, and sold my bread, and I'm ready to do it all over again next week.  Now I just have to figure out what to make.    

Comments

varda's picture
varda

I'm feeling a bit more tired than anything else right now but that will pass.   My "stall" is a tad barebones but it's all about the bread so who cares.  -Varda

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Varda,

Congrats on your entry into the retail side of baking, it's sounds like you've made a triumphant debut! Great to see more real bread available for folks to eat because of bakers like you.

Even more important is the fact you enjoyed it enough to do it all over again next week. Next thing you know you'll be building a workshop around that WFO of yours and cranking out quantities of bread and pastry you'd never have dreamed of before now. I wish you all kinds of success with this venture Varda, but hope most of all that you have a ton of fun while you're doing it.

All the best,

Franko

varda's picture
varda

Franko, You got it.  The urge to get real bread out there is what's driving me.  One passing browser said "we don't use bread."  What a thing to say.  What a way to think.  I think people are so willing to give up bread because it is just so bad.

Thanks so much for commenting.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Don't count yourself as going to get to old for something you enjoy.  What your doing will keep you young.

You've put in a lot of effort and it's paying off.  Congratulations, you deserve a big hug and you get one from me. 

Sylvia

varda's picture
varda

Hey Sylvia,   I am hoping it will keep me young, because the other alternative is that it's going to kill me.   Thanks so much for your words and also for the hug.   -Varda

isand66's picture
isand66

I'm so happy for you Varda.  I'm sure you must have felt so proud and relieved at the same time when your creations started leaving your booth.  I look forward to reading about your future markets.  I'm sure your customers will look forward to buying and enjoying your great breads.

Regards

Ian

varda's picture
varda

It has been interesting, that's for sure.   Hope you are doing well. -Varda

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Varda,

What a great outing and wonderful first market.  A job well done.

Jeff

varda's picture
varda

so much Jeff.   -Varda

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

The first time doing anything is almost always the hardest.  I'll wager the task will get a bit easier to manage each time you do it.  Breads look absolutely wonderful- if our local market in the Berkshires had breads like yours I would be first in line.  :)

re: bageutte vs. rye and cherry-almond, I would have gone for the latter breads as well.  At the end of the day, baguette is essentially a white bread, and I like to choose things with at least some whole grain (or high-extraction flour) and/or interesting flavors.  If you included a little high-extraction flour and came up with a name that conveyed the "this isn't just white bread" message, you'd have me.  

varda's picture
varda

Hey FC,  I am in total denial about your white bread thing.   If my home baking for friends has taught me anything it is that few people will buy white bread.   I've tried baguettes, pain au levain, and pain de mie.   If I had any sense I'd stop.   And yet...  I feel there must be a market for well made white breads so I persist.   And I would rather just stop making baguettes altogether than goose them up with whole grains or high extraction flour.  No, no, no!    I won't do it.   Spitting in the wind?   We'll see.   Thanks so much for your kind words, and for your attempts to help me see sense.  -Varda

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

A short coda to the chorus of praise and admiration for your having turned pro, Varda.  Well done.  Crossing that threshold indicates that you've attained a level of consistence in fermentation, shaping, scoring and baking worthy of public presentation and marketability (profitability can wait).  Not to mention an admirable level of multitasking prowess.  In all, it's a milestone qualifying you for bread baking's Black Belt (apron?).  Perhaps the queue of praise and support here is just that.  Now for the tug between what you would prefer your customers to want and what in fact attracts them.  Hopefully those twain will find a happy meeting.  I'd love to see your face when a customer asks "You wouldn't by chance do a Borodinsky, would you?"

Best of luck Varda!

Tom

varda's picture
varda

I'm just imagining the headline in the local Carlisle paper.  You are so right about the tug between what I want to bake and what they want to eat.   It is interesting that that has been driving me all along.   I got frustrated with just baking for husband and son for that reason.   Then got frustrated baking for friends for that reason.   Will I be equally frustrated in the world of greater Carlisle?    Probably.   And then on to the Lexington Farmer's Market, and then... This is how it goes.  Thanks so much for adding your words to the mix.   I post on TFL because many "civilians" who I might tell about this might wonder some more loudly than others why I am giving up my leisure time to work in food service.   Somehow that's not the question people ask on TFL.   Thank goodness.  -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda, 

I had another idea……I did check and I did refrain for a whole day without giving you any more of 'my' suggestions so I figured it might be okay to add one today and I do intend to stick to only ONE idea….  :- )

Today my bread of the day was the Mild Deli Rye from ITJB.  I know your clientele are probably not ready for the big B yet so maybe break them in slowly…Mild DR up to Jewish Deli Rye and your variations on that loaf.  

What made me think of you was that these 2 breads can be baked a bit in advance and the sour production is pretty simple as well as hands off.  I usually do these breads on a 2 day schedule.  Sour (mixed in the AM) and a soaker (Mixed in the PM) the day before then the final mix on baking day ala PR method due to my whole grains.  I can't imagine that if you baked them on a Thursday that they would be less fresh by market day due to the rye in the formulas.  They just get better :)

Both recipes make wonderful breads as you well know.

End of my suggestions for the day *^ }

Take Care,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

I meant to answer this earlier but the day got away from me.   I was looking at my records for my baking for friends over the last few months, and I realized that the Borodinsky was quite popular - among the most.    So perhaps I don't need to slowly acclimate people to it, and should just offer it soon.  But of course those other breads you mention are good too and I hope to make those as well and your comments about production are much appreciated.   Thanks for sharing your ideas.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Lots to consider and lots of ways to go.  A fun adventure for sure.

:- )

Take Care,

Janet

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Hi Varda,

You did a marvelous job of getting your bake together, and it looks great.  I hope you continue to do the market, it looks like fun (after an exhausting baking day before).  I'll have to send my brother (from Westford) to get a loaf and taste it for me vicariously.

-Brad

varda's picture
varda

Hi Brad,  I've done the last three Saturdays.   Exhausting but fun, and I've made and sold a little more each time.   I don't think any rational person would try to bake so much all at once in a small home kitchen.   But really rationality is overrated.   I've been calling around today to try to find some kitchen space.   I discovered an culinary incubator company that has kitchen space and equipment for rent, but they want a quasi-business plan first.   Drat!   Oh well, I'll just have to do it.   Yes, send your brother over.    Westford is just down the road.   I will be there this week, but not for the two after that, just in case you are serious.   Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

He will be visiting me this coming weekend, so he won't make it.  Do let me know if you'll be going back there after your two week break.  Best of luck finding some incubator space.

-Brad

varda's picture
varda

Expecting to be back, but I'll let you know.   Thanks.  -Varda

Syd's picture
Syd

Varda,

I am so sorry to have missed this post.  Have been away for a while and come back to search for your Borrowjadinsky and find you have gone all commercial on me.  Anyway, that was no mean feat and you can be very proud of yourself.  Now that the summer is over, I guess so is the market?  Do you have plans for next year or will we be invited to the opening of  a Bread Obsession bakery in the near future?

All the best Varda,

Syd

varda's picture
varda

Hi Syd,

Long time no hear.   Yes Carlisle market is over.   I did some fancy cross marketing :) by putting out a piece of paper for people to sign up for my email list.    My biggest customer this week for my bake to order business is someone who put her name on my list at the market weeks ago and just resurfaced with a huge (for me) order.   I start in a small winter market in January, and then I hope a much bigger one in March.   As for an actual bakery?   Hah.   I think I'd have to hire an actual baker to make it go.   But I am getting a consultation from the local chamber of commerce next week.   Hope they will help clear up the muddle.  

As for the Borodinsky.   I held a tasting for my little business a few weeks ago.   The hands down favorite was the Chocolate Borodinsky, which I have continued to make pretty much exactly as posted.   The next week, over half my bread orders were for Borodinsky.    I worked from morning to night, exhausted my supply of chocolate rye malt, and got completely sick of making it.   So apparently my customers just can't get enough of that Russian Rye.   Have you made it?   If so, be careful who you offer it to.

Nice to hear from you Syd.

-Varda

Syd's picture
Syd

Varda,

That is all very exciting and I wish you the best with your new venture.  I shall have to check in more frequently to see how you are doing.  :)

Haven't tried the Borrowdinsky, yet but might give it a shot this weekend.  Not sure where I will get chocolate malt, though.

Best,

Syd

 

 

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