The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Arts and crafts market #9

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Arts and crafts market #9

It has been quite a while, I know, but commitments and chores of life can have a toll on your time. If anyone is is interested in viewing my weekly and market bakes, here is my instagram id : http://instagram.com/MEBAKE _  (add an underscore after MEBAKE).

 I’ve been contacting two artisan bakeries, mostly franchises, for a chance of an apprenticeship and received mixed responses. One has refused and the other agreed, in principle, to train apprentices. I’ve yet to confirm whether this works for me, given the circumstances. They take in apprentices as full time job, and so I need to free myself of my current inescapable obligations.

On the other hand, I continue to bake at home for the family and neighbors, in addition to the local crafts market. Two week ago, I baked for the November’s ARTE market. The market has evolved into a fully fledged artisan gathering, where numerous Artisans showcase their exquisite handmade crafts, in addition to home-made food. Anything from  pastries ,preserves and condiments, to crackers and cookies were there, and were absolutely delightful to see, and eat.  Here is a link to their website: www.ARTE.ae .


For bread, I baked 3 types: A whole wheat multigrain with tangzhong (left), a 60% rye sourdough with wholewheat flour, sunflower seeds, old rye bread soaker (middle), and roasted garlic levain (right). The market’s footfall was very good, and I received few compliments on the Rye bread from Austrian buyers. I sold out everything, and probably could have sold twice as much.

My next plan is to purchase a bigger oven, to increase my baking capacity from 6 loaves a day to 18. I’ll blog about it when time permits.

Happy holidays to all!  and keep on baking!

Khalid

Comments

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

Volume is obv the key element to making any reasonable profit from this.

In regards to the apprenticeships with local artisan bakeries I'm guessing what you are asking represents a little too much commitment for them. Having someone more or less on a full time basis is effectively employing them so I would think that introduces liabilites and other complications which they probably don't want. When I canvassed 5-6 bakeries I offered to work voluntarily for about a week in exchange for the valuable experience and skills I would gain. Every bakery I approached was positive, though a couple just didn't have the physical space to accommodate another person on top of existing staff. So I picked the best 2 and did a week at each.

The experience is good and teaches you how things scale up in a production environment. You learn how to shape loaves the way they shape them (and every bakery seems different in this respect), how they manage bannetons and tins, how they make preferements and host of little tricks that are helpful. It's very hard work, constantly on your feet for some 7-8 hrs at a time with no breaks, drinking tea on the go and having a bit of toast if you are lucky !

When I look at the loaves you are making I ask myself how much will you learn from a full-time apprenticeship? Your loaves are great so you understand all the key principles, your shaping is good etc etc. It's possible that any local artisan bakery could infact see you as a threat to their business. Why train you up to then become one of their competitors?

You might get a better response if you take things a week at a time. Offer to help out for a week and see if that helps. It might fit in easier with your current obligations too. Bear in mind that having additional people inside a working bakery generally creates a bit of a chore for them. Their usual clockwork routine is interrupted by having to find things for you to do and having to spend extra time telling you how to do things and where things are, Just learning where all the various ingredients are stored in their various tubs and packets takes time ! It's also a risk that you might not do things right, i.e. you might not shape a baguette correctly so they may have to spend additional time correcting it or, if they just let it through, their end product might be compromised. Making mistakes of course is the best way to learn :

"you can not steer a sail boat unless it is moving"

but naturally those mistakes make you feel a complete ass and you worry that you are an inconvenience to them.

Overall I would ask yourself just what is it that you believe you want to learn at your local artisan bakeries? Then determine how long it would likely take to learn those things. You could consider just working weekends with them for example. I found that one day is typically much like the next though usually volume ramps up towards the weekends where they sell more so Fridays are often the hardest day.

Anyway, good luck with it and I hope you do get sorted with a bakery. It's definitely the right thing to do to gain further experience and skill.

ATB

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks for the valuable suggestions and pointers, ATB, much appreciated. I'm actually somewhat anxious of the fact that it is a laborious affair I may not be able to cope with (back pain and all). I think one week should suffice, as you rightly said. 

What I plan to learn , is how a bakery is run behind the scenes, The little intricacies that one can only observe being tackled by the hands of professionals. I have tons to learn from the world of bread making. 

Khalid

 

ANNA GIORDANI's picture
ANNA GIORDANI

Gentile Mebake,

la tua grande passione per la Panificazione di qualità, traspare dai tuoi straordinari risultati.

Complimentii, ma soprattutto cosa aspetti ad aprire un laboratorio tutto tuo?

Saluti, Anna

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Ciao, Anna

Grazie per i complimenti caldi. Mi aspetto di avviare un business da forno entro un anno o due al massimo.

Un caro saluto,Khalid

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Khalid,

Lovely to sit down and see a post from you.  Lovely breads as usual and I am so glad that demand is rising.

Lots of decisions for you to contemplate.  ATB has posed some good things to ponder.

Good luck with finding an oven that will increase you home baking capacity.  I know having my Cadco really made a difference for me even though I don't bake near the volume you currently do.  It is awfully nice to have 2 ovens to use - I am very spoiled with my baking toys equipment.

Take Care,

Janet

 

P.S.  Thanks for the links.  Fun to see a map of where the market that you sell in is located.  I love maps - that they read the same despite different countries and languages.  Somehow I find them very grounding.

Couldn't see any photos on your link.  Just words - 'no photos'…..

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks , Janet :)

I've chosen the oven. I just need to lay my hand on some 4k. 

Many great ideas here. 

I'm glad you located me geographically! As to the Instagram link, just add an underscore to the end. Thanks for the reminder.

Khalid

embth's picture
embth

Hello Khalid,   You are not only a talented baker, but you also have a eye for displaying your breads in a very attractive way.   The table covers and baskets are perfect.   Best of luck finding a larger oven….perhaps you can find a good deal on a used unit to get you started.   You will do well, I am sure.   Liz

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, I just placed what I had on hand. I scouted around for quite sometime for those baskets though, only to learn that they are sold few blocks away from where I work !(Fuming). 

i think I'll go with a new convection oven for now.

Thanks, Liz

Khalid

 

CAphyl's picture
CAphyl

Khalid:  Anyone who doesn't want you to apprentice is crazy!  Your breads are fantastic.  I always love to see what you are doing and the results of your fantastic baking.  Thanks for sharing our posts with all of your devoted TFL followers. I am not surprised that your breads sell out at the market.  Please keep us up-to-date and all the best,  Phyllis

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, Phyllis. That is so kind of you.

Its the restrictions that cause them to refuse, and I understand. 

Best wishes to you,

Khalid

isand66's picture
isand66

Beautiful display of breads Khalid.  I look forward to hearing about your new oven and hopefully your apprenticeshIp.  I'm sure in no time you will be ready to open up your own place and take the market by storm.

Regards,

Ian

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks For the encouraging words, Ian!

best wishes,

Khalid

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and that you could have sold twice as much!  Just means the baking will be twice as much:-)  Well done and

Happy baking Khalid

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, DA!

Happy baking to you too,

Khalid

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

What a pleasure it is to spend a little time with one of your posts, Khalid. The breads are breathtaking! I appreciate the chance to follow along on your journey, best of luck!

Julie

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks for the kind words , Julie!

Kiseger's picture
Kiseger

and your breads are just fabulous, glad ro hear you had a success at the fair. Your presentation is great, I'd definitely have stopped to buy!  Hope you get the work experience you're after, I bet most bakeries in Dubai don't make anything near as good and beautiful as your bread!   Keep going, am rooting for you!

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, Kiseger. That is you kind of you.

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Hey, that triangular scoring looks mighty familiar... ;)

Congrats on your success at the market! I was wondering about what you've been doing, but I can see now that you're likely as busy as I am. Baking, baking, baking, plus other activities.

ATB (ElPanadero)'s comment above is excellent. In addition to his / her words, I'll contribute some of my own.

Forewarning: baking is indeed a laborious affair. Before baking professionally, I had a vague idea of what I was getting into, but I knew it was going to be strenuous. So I began to exercise regularly and opted to stand than sit whenever I could. It's been several months now, baking professionally and whatnot, and I learnt that good, comfortable shoes, proper height of tables, and correct body posture when standing (for hours at a time) is incredibly important. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a world of aches and pain.

Additionally, I now rarely sleep over 4 hours at a time, averaging about a total of 5 to 6 hours of snooze per day / night. One of my biggest mistakes was underestimating the rise in demand and not training any staff earlier.

Another thing to consider, if you haven't already, is to find yourself a mentor who you can trust. Somebody to give you guidance when you need it. Perhaps somebody who knows a thing or two about mass production in bread baking, as well as business in general. I consider my business partner my mentor (as well as a close friend), and have 2 unofficial baking consultants (one, a certified Austrian baker, and the other a retired Dutch baker who had owned and operated 3 bakeries). 

As you can see, it's not pure luck or coincidence that I'm succeeding as much as I am now. I've had a lot of help from well informed individuals in relevant business fields.

Anyway, if you need any tips or suggestions, or just want to talk, please feel free to contact me. Although, I can't say I can offer much valuable advice. At heart, I'm still a baker in training.

Take care and best of luck, Khalid!

Zita

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks for all the advice, Zita. I know my physical limitations, and will definitely be needing a hand/s all along.  All good tips.

best of luck to you with your baking venture!

Khalid

varda's picture
varda

Just dropping in late.   So what ovens are you looking at?  

Love to see your breads!  -Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, Varda

Thanks. The oven I'm eyeing now is an Italian convection oven with 6-7 racks. It has an integrated humidifier , and can bake around 12 loaves at once. 

Khalid

 

varda's picture
varda

Hi.   My Cadco is actually a UNOX which is another italian convection oven.   It has saved me but has real issues as convection can't be turned off and the stiff fan interferes with bread opening and color even with the humidity feature.   Have to work hard to compensate for oven issues but can be done.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Have you tried switching the oven off soon after you humidifier kicks in? wouldn't that stop the fan and improve the oven spring? Do you line your rack with a preheated stone?

 

varda's picture
varda

Khalid,   I could write a book on all the things I do to defeat the convection.   But.... I have a thick steel sheet that is fitted for the oven as a bottom rack.   I preheat the oven for at least half an hour to make sure the sheet has come to full temperature.    I then turn on the humidity for around 5 minutes before loading.    Right now for a lot of breads, I actually turn the oven off before I load and let the loaves open before turning it back on.  How long the oven is off varies a lot depending on the type of bread.    For my Lexington Sourdough, I have to leave it off for half the bake - around 15 minutes, and if I don't the bread often fails.  For something like flaxseed rye, it is generally off for only around 2 minutes.  I used to load before turning off and let it go with steam for a minute before turning off, but I have had better results recently turning off before loading.   Baguettes are an exception.   For these I simply load into the oven and bake with steam on for 6 minutes, then steam off for the rest of the bake, and they open beautifully.   The other issue I still haven't resolved is loaf color.   The loaves made with rye sour get gray during baking instead of brown.   This drives me nuts.  For loaves made with wheat starter, this doesn't happen.    I believe that this is again a fan issue, and nothing I've done to fix it gives me reliable results.    So anyhow, my 2 cents.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Khalid - I don't want to hi-jack but do want to comment on Varda's comments - please forgive me…

Varda,

Good to read how you manage steam in your Cadco.  A question arises - how do you maintain the steam in your oven while it is still turned on during your 5 minute time slot prior to loading?  I would think it would all vent out unless your oven has a feature that leaves the humidity on the entire time???  (Mine does not.  I 'inject' the steam.)

Also, when you do turn your oven off after loading, which I do too, at what temp. had you pre-heated and at what temp. do you start it up again?  I ask this because I notice that I get darker crusts on some of my loaves because when I turn it back on the heat goes on at a steady rate to get the oven back to temp.  The constant heat = darker crust earlier in the bake than I want it….Not a terribly big issue but I though I would ask just the same.

Thanks,

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Hi Janet,  

The way the steam hookup works is that water is piped into the oven at a very low rate and sprayed on a hot pipe where it evaporates immediately.   The feature is called humidity rather than steam which is accurate.   I use different temperatures per bread and that drops precipitously when door is open to load.   I haven't noticed the overly dark crust as a result of steady rate.   Mainly I adjust the bake temperature and time to control crust darkening.   I make one bread which gets very dark if I'm not careful (the durum levain) and with that I take it out around 18 minutes after turning the oven back on but bake it at my nominal temperature of 425.   I'm experimenting right now for that particular loaf on preheat temperature, but it doesn't seem to make that much difference (I've varied between 500 and 420.

Hope that helps a tiny bit.

Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Varda,

Yes, it does.  I am more or less doing the same thing with watching color as bake progresses but my steam does not enter the oven at a rate such as yours does by itself.  I pump it in and allow some to pool on the bottom of my oven (Doesn't permanently warp the floor.  It does 'adjust' a bit which is when i know I have added enough water but then retains it normal shape).  The pooled water usually evaporates more slowly so I am getting a bit more humidity without having to stand over my oven and continue to pump more water in.

 i do have to say that I am amazed by how much moisture stays in the oven despite all the steam exiting the exhaust pipe.  With some loaves - even after 15-20 minutes, when I open the door I am met with a burst of steam.

Always more to learn.  I will try pre- steaming and see if that makes a difference with my Cadco.

Thanks for your help!!!

Janet

Thanks to you too Khalid for allowing me to jump in here and ask a few questions.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks for the valuable tips, Varda.

Did you try misting your oven with a water spray bottle after loading, or throw some water on the oven floor? In some Mark Sinclair's videos, I noticed he throws water on the oven floor after loading bread (he does that with his blodgette oven). grey crust, as you I'm sure you already know is a result of dry baking conditions, so ample steam/moisture is crucial, especially for rye breads, due to the way they tend to cook and gain color.

Khalid

varda's picture
varda

Khalid,  I've tried various things excepting pouring water into the oven.   I really do not want to warp it, and it is not well designed to use all the various TFL tricks for generating steam.   But you are making me think that I've been over conservative in using the humidity feature.    I've avoided having it on for the whole bake as I don't want my crusts to toughen, but I'm going to try keeping it on with rye sour breads only and see if that helps.   Thanks so much.  -Varda

balmagowry's picture
balmagowry

... couldn't you just put a pan on the oven floor and pour water into that? This is more or less what I do. I have  an old aluminum cake pan (now basically ruined for cake purposes, but that's OK) that sits in an old clay saucer on the oven floor, with a few lava rocks in it. Just before loading the oven I pour in boiling water; I also spray the walls (no glass door to worry about). When it's time to stop steaming I just pull out the pan. Works well for me and doesn't harm the oven.

 
varda's picture
varda

Hi.  The Cadco design is very compact.   Basically the entire oven is baking space and I use it all.   That's why I can't do the million "TFL tricks" to generate steam.   There isn't a place to pour water even if I wanted to which I don't and there is a big glass door to consider.   I may try to do some spraying though, which I haven't until now - I have tried spraying the bread before loading but that doesn't help.   Thanks.  -Varda

balmagowry's picture
balmagowry

For some reason I thought you had said you were thinking about spraying water on floor of oven but were concerned about warping. If you don't have room, though, that's a different story! I chafe sometimes because my oven seems small to me, but I guess I should be counting my blessings in that department.

Also, to play devil's advocate, I have been thinking lately that I shouldn't be spraying either - I think it's part of the reason my crusts are sometimes coming out a little ashen-looking instead of bold and brown. For some breads (baguettes and sourdough batards, e.g.) I'm probably going to go back to experimenting with baking en cloche instead - that always gave me lovely crust color, and better grigne/ear than I'm getting now.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Great to see you still turning out some great bread at these markets.  All have very nice 'curb appeal.'  I would sure buy a few!

John

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks for the nice words, John!

Best wishes,

Khalid

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Khalid, love the photos and continue to enjoy reading about the journey.  Did you ever try selling the starter at the market?

As for the oven, it sounds like $4,000 is a lot of money to spend without getting a chance to try it out.  I don't know much about these things, but is there any way to buy an oven that you've seen others using successfully and, better yet, an oven that someone lets you use to see if YOU can use it successfully?

 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Thanks, David!

No, I have not sold any starter at the market. I'me not sure how many people will want to bother with tending a starter, let alone baking with it. But, there is one way to find out , right?!

Regrettably, no bakery equipment dealer would give you a "test drive" of their ovens. You'd stand a chance only if you are a large bakery and you'd need 3 ovens or more at once, not one.

All the best,

Khalid

 

 

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Any chance any of the bakeries you've seen, inquired about, use the oven your looking at? Another thing to do might be to ask the manufacturer if they know anybody in the area that uses the oven, and then you could see if they might let you take a look/do a test bake.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

i'll try that, David. Thanks!

Khalid

lumos's picture
lumos

So, this is what you've been up to these days.....

Haven't been checking this site very often lately and been donkey's ears since I posted last time. Great to see some of the 'old faces' still thriving, some on new journeys. :) 

 Brave decision to step forward to venture into a life as a professional baker, but you seemed to have done a lot of considerations, researches, etc. on possible routes and plans to realize your dream, just as you always do with your sensible, through and careful planning and execution on baking. 

. It may be going to be a very hard work to start with, but I'm sure you're already well aware of that. I'm sure your intelligence and thoroughness will help you all the way, whereever the journey will take you. And what a great community we have here with many professional bakers to share their experience and advice!  That's priceless. 

So, very best of luck for your new future.  Pity you live so far, I won't be able to be your loyal customer! 

Look forward to your next report on the progress! 

kind regards, lumos

 

P.S. So sorry to hear about the passing of your father. Lost mine two years ago, too.  Sad time. Hope you have a lots of good memories with him to cherish and remember for a long time. 

        ...and yes,  'inheritance' thingy lingers on......Even after 2 years, it still pops up occasionally......:p

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Yes, that's what i have been up to. i thank you for the generous words of compliment, i owe much of what i have become to this community. 

Sorry for your father loss, i hope he is in a better place now. The passage of my father has triggered a series of burdens, As as is the case with many people, only mine was somewhat special. But, most have come to pass, and i finally have sometime to focus on my plans (dream) to start an artisan bakery. 

I will update you whenever i have some spare time. Till then, keep baking awesome bread!

Khalid

 

 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Oh, Lumos, and it is always a pleasure to hear from you!