The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Winchester Winter Market

varda's picture

Winchester Winter Market

It has been awhile since I've been on Fresh Loaf.   I have been bread busy and so too bread exhausted for posting lately. For the last few weeks I've been selling on Saturday mornings at a winter market, held in the greenhouse of a large nursery.  

The weather has not cooperated, and traffic has been sluggish, with sales following along.    This week, not wanting to be left with a load of bread (as happened when we got hit two weeks ago with a surprise snow storm) I followed the forecast carefully, and somehow got the reassurance to make a good load of bread.   I was not disappointed.   The temperature went up, the sun came out, and the shoppers reappeared at the market.   I sold almost all my bread, with quite a few return shoppers from past weeks.   Phew!

Fig Anise loaves

Tzitzel Deli Rye, Baguettes, and Bagels

Delicious marshmallow treats from the next table.

Guacamole made up fresh on the other side.

In other bread news, I finally got my wholesale license.   This was neither cheap, nor easy, nor pleasant, but the deed is done.   I have been visiting restaurants in my spare time with rolls and brochures trying to scare up some business. It turns out that there are some big bakeries who have managed to corner the market with low costs and high volume. Not so easy for a tiny little operator to get in there.   Will have to figure out how to do this.   

On the bright side, I recently rediscovered a treat from my youth that I'd entirely forgotten about - salt bagels.

Unbelievably good with a bit of cream cheese. 


Janetcook's picture

Hi Varda,

How fun to read your update and to hear that you had a good day at the market!  Looks like a nice location for a winter market.

Interesting that you should add a shot of your Fig Anise loaf….Mine just came out of the oven though they are not on the way to any market :) By the way,  I like the scoring on yours much better than the job I did on mine.

Congrats. on finally getting your wholesale license.  I imagine the rest is downhill but I know that really isn't true because, as you stated above, you now face the competition.

I look forward to reading more about your business as things progress.  Thanks so much for this fine 'chapter'.

Take Care,



varda's picture

Hi Janet,   I guess we were on the same fig anise wavelength.   I don't know how this will shake out but I appreciate the support.  -Varda

dabrownman's picture

up your way this year.  Glad you were able to get some sales in to go along with the costs.  The tzitzel looks great and there is more salt on that bagel than I am allowed to eat in a year - not really but I wouldn't be my first choice - looks great though.  Indoor markets have to be better than outside ones in the winter.

Happy baking and good luck with the business Varda.

varda's picture

is good for the soul if not the blood pressure.   A customer suggested this, and I made a bunch for her, and one for me.   It seems like an improbable treat but so good.  

I guess posts like this are as close as you get to winter.   Obi Wan insists on walking every day no matter what the weather.   And then just prances along as if it's 80deg out there.  I think it was around 7deg out when this was taken.

Thanks for commenting DA.  -Varda

isand66's picture

So nice to hear from you Varda.  That market looks fantastic and I'm glad you're getting some great experience.  I'm sure you will figure out the wholesale part of it soon enough.  It may just take some time to find some opportunities.

Your breads all look great as well.



varda's picture

Yes, thank you for pointing out that it  may take some time.   You walk into a restaurant and they are perfectly happy with their bread supplier, and why shouldn't they be.   I'll just have to stumble into the one that wants something else.   -Varda

Mebake's picture

Those breads look really delicious, varda. Your new cadco is churning out consistent results.  congratulations on the whole sale license! 

Well, like you, i've taken the plunge and joined a local Artisan's market here in Dubai. I've baked about my first market day here.  I haven't baked so much breads, as i you do; i've been invited to the market on short notice and i have only one lonely smallish oven at home that can handle only 6 breads in one go. But, look at the bright side, you've achieved more milestones in the last couple of years through your dedication and passion to the craft and it shows from your products. I believe that ,no matter what difficulties that lie ahead, you are more than capable now to overcome them than you ever were.

As for the time being, i can't afford a REAL new countertop convection oven. Therefore, and after searching through TFL posts for reviews on ovens, i bought a new toaster oven (Elekta) with assisted fan.I know i will never be able to trap any moisture in there, but i'm having some plans to sort this issue (more on that on another post).

all the best!



varda's picture

Hi Khalid,   Sorry I missed your news.   That's terrific that you were able to get out there and start selling.   I am pretty happy with my Cadco.   I bought baffles for the fan which allow you to slow down the wind.   This works great for some breads and not so good for others.   It's a pain to put them in and take them out, but that is what gives the best results.   The steel sheet makes a big difference too.   Altogether, through one thing and another, I can get it to do what I want, and you can't beat the capacity for a home kitchen.   I hope your Elekta helps you increase your production.    For this bake, I made 18 hearth loaves, 9 baguettes and two dozen bagels.  (A dozen of those were for a local restaurant that did me the favor of trying my stuff for a pittance.I dropped them off on my way to the market.)  I didn't freeze anything.   I had the previous week, but wasn't happy with the quality.   The oven wasn't even close to capacity for this latest bake, but my muscles were.   I will need to bake more for the market that starts in March, and will have to figure out how to do it.   Thanks so much for commenting.   And best of luck with your efforts.  -Varda

jcking's picture

Varda, you never cease to amaze me!

"Placing your bread in front of others, is an act of love."


varda's picture

Thank you Jim.   It is satisfying to feed people good food.  The business end of things will take some learning.  -Varda's picture

Proving for the third time in a week that going dark on TFL is the sign of a productive baker.  True for Tx, Pips and now you.  What a great idea, to have a winter market in a nursery's greenhouse.  That's a concept that could catch on, I hope.  Your product looks delectable, Varda.  You should have some loyal return customers by now.  And I bet those big guys who have "cornered the market" aren't turning out product as fine as yours.  Impossible.  I've been wondering if you've thought of building a bigger wfo for your venture.  Certainly that's one feature the big operators don't have going.

Best of luck...with the weather too!  Spring can't come soon enough.


varda's picture

Hi Tom,     It's a complicated equation what restaurants seem to be looking for.   Even pretty good ones in the area are willing to settle for just kind of ok bread if the cost and convenience are right.   But of course I know my customers are out there and I just have to find them.   As for a big WFO, I spoke with town officials when I first got my retail license and the picture isn't pretty.   It has to be done as a full home addition - not cheap or simple.   Maybe later, or by then I'll want to get out of the house entirely and "settle" for a deck oven.  Used ones can be had for not so much.   Thanks so much for your support.  -Varda

mcs's picture

It looks like you've got a very healthy variety of baked goods and nice color on everything too!  As you gain customers at your winter market, they'll go to their favorite restaurants to talk to the owners about your great bread, then the wholesale business will begin to fall into place.  Before you know it, you'll be turning them away as you pick and choose the businesses that work best for you.

Keep up the good work and be confident that your bread is better than anything mass produced that the restaurants can buy through their wholesalers.


varda's picture

Mark,   Thanks so much for sketching that out.   It's always hard starting out, and it's nice to think forward into the future.   Hopefully it will be as you say.   And of course thanks for all your pointers as well.  -Varda