The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What happened next

varda's picture
varda

What happened next

It has been such a long time since I've posted on Fresh Loaf.   As some of you may remember, I went very gradually from baking for fun to baking for fun and profit.    Over that time, the business has steadily grown, but was limited by the fact that it was based in my home kitchen.   Over a year ago, my business partner and I started looking for a place to rent.   It took longer than I could ever have imagined to find a place that we could afford in a reasonable location, but finally we found a place last summer.   Then it took longer than I could ever have imagined to fit up the place to make it suitable, safe, and sanitizable to make food for sale.   But now it has been done and we are approved for lift off. 

I would like to say that now I'm cranking out hundreds of beautiful loaves of bread daily but the reality is that I'm in test bake mode trying to figure out how to use the new oven.   I'm hoping that will be a lot shorter than the search for a place or the creation of a functional kitchen out of a former driving school, and before that ...a tile store.

We're looking for some baking help - part time at first, and then more as we grow.   Message me if you live near Waltham, MA, and are interested in finding out more.

www.facebook.com/breadobsession

www.instagram.com/breadobsession

Comments

RoundhayBaker's picture
RoundhayBaker

...it looks very ergonomic. And the floor tiles too. Hope they're not too slippery under flour. 

Oh, and you appear to have what looks like a running track outside the window. Really? If so, very cool.

varda's picture
varda

We will probably move the furniture 100 times before we are satisfied :)  So far so good on the floors but we haven't achieved a full coat of flour yet.  As for the "track" that is really a very nice brick wall on the "nice" side of the street.   Our side is more humble - we even have our very own graffiti tag on the side wall.  Thanks for commenting.

-Varda 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

You are one audacious baker, varda!  Best wishes for your new store-front bakery. 

Do you plan to be a bread-only business or will you branch out into pastries, too?  If the latter, I foresee some additional toys in your future, like a sheeter.  (Shh!  Don't tell Pat!)

Paul

varda's picture
varda

Hey Paul,

Audacious?   Maybe I just have a hard time seeing what I'm getting myself into.  

We are doing bread and rolls wholesale and to markets.  Our biggest seller is baguettes.  No pastries for the time being.   We'll have to see if we can fill up that oven with "bread alone."   Suspect that we'll be able to do it.

Pat has already volunteered to help me break in the equipment, with no sheeter as an inducement.   I'll take her up on it, when the chaos of moving in subsides. 

Hope you are doing well and have some time for baking.

Varda

 

 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

An amazing road you've traveled, Varda.  Congratulations on finding your passion and now being able to live it. 

It's wonderful to be able to do the things we love on a daily basis.  Lots of hard work on your part, but am guessing lots of happiness as well. 

All the best.

Lindy

varda's picture
varda

Hi Lindy,

Well at least I don't have to worry about having nothing to worry about.  And yes, it is very exciting and rewarding to get the bread out there.

Hope all is well.   I think of you when my bagels pop up in the pot.

Varda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

If I wasn't 2.700 miles away i would be there to help you at least break everything if not break everything in:-)  Next thing you know a sheeter will be somewhere with a whole new batch of problems to conquer!  It's not an official bakery without bagels........ Well done and 

Happy ...and fun baking in 2016 Varda!

varda's picture
varda

It's just a matter of how much pain you like with your fun ;)  And not to worry - we're all set up for bagels.   

Thanks DA and happy baking for you as well.

-Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

Of course my eyes go straight to the oven.  A far cry form the Cadco and I see how you would have been hard put to fit one of those into your home kitchen :)  I have dreamed of having such an oven in my home, but alas, it would require an addition to be built onto our kitchen/dining area which, at this point in our lives, is out of the question.  If only we were 30 years younger and were to win the lottery….

Until then I bake along, at home, with my Cadco and Electrolux ovens.  I have been at war with the Electrolux people for awhile due to light bulb issues….I had to remove the oven and disassemble it in order to replace a $5.00 halogen light bulb!!!! (The wires on the bulb broke inside the light housing and there was no other way to get those little buggers out other than to pull the entire oven out….The design is sooo flawed but I have light back now so I should get over the process and move on with my baking life :*)

 I do hope your ovens are more user friendly.  They look splendid and straight forward.  I assume you have steam injection too?  I would love to hear how it all works and compares with your home ovens….I am sure that there really isn't a fair comparison to be made.

I love all the space you have and the light from the windows making your kitchen so inviting - a wonderful place to work in rather than in a dingy space with no natural light available.

And the sinks.

Of course I am looking for space for a grain mill too.  I can't imagine you not moving into that direction at some point now that you have come so far.

In case you can't tell, I am totally impressed.  It has been my pleasure to read all about your adventures here over the years.  You really have accomplished a lot!

Take Care and Thanks so much for posting.

Janet

varda's picture
varda

Janet,

This was a pretty dingy looking driving school when we first saw it, but it cleaned up nicely.   I am getting to know the oven.   Today was the first day when I felt that I could make better bread with it than with my trusty (and very frustrating) Cadco.   I'm still working with the oven company and my contractor on various issues, and I still haven't been able to duplicate my baguettes in it - a pretty critical issue given that they are our biggest item.  It does have steam injection which works really well (that took the oven servicer around a day to get running properly.)   It is also incredibly easy to clean compared with the Cadco even though it is so much bigger.   And things I was really worried about, like loading the bottom deck, are not such a big deal after all.   So yes, it's all about the oven.   Most of the money involved in the construction was about the oven.   You'll notice the big metal box above it, that's a hood which absorbs the heat - and above that is a fan on the roof - which involved going through the roof which then needed to be partially rebuilt, and so on and so forth.   You don't want this baby in your house.   

Janet, I know you are doing a lot of baking for others and that has expanded too, so you have moved along your own path, making wonderful bread, and done it on your own terms.

Thanks so much for your comments, and of course, all your support.

Varda

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Varda,

I am not sure if you have a need for baking tins or not but if you do THESE are ones I found that I love for some of my customers who want smaller loaves.  Small tins in my area are more like tea cake size - not good for a sandwich.  After some searching I found the above ones and they are great.  I wish they sold them in the US but they do not.  Pricey due to shipping but I know Andy/Ananda gets tins the same shape and size for a lesser price from a source in China if you are interested. 

I cannot speak highly enough of the ones I purchased from the UK.  They are solid and the finish is top notch.  I do not have to add any oil when using them and there is virtually no clean up necessary.

Just thought I would mention them….

 

Take Care,

Janet 

v's sis's picture
v's sis

Looks beautiful!  How wonderful to see your vision materialized!  Can't wait to see the bakery in person and taste some delicious bread from that oven!  By then you won't even remember the fight you had with the oven.

Yeah for Varda!

your sis!

varda's picture
varda

Thanks Leah, and hope you'll get a chance to see in person before too long.

BobS's picture
BobS

Looks great Varda. Wonderful to see you taking this step. 

varda's picture
varda

When you have a chance.  Thanks for your kind words.

Varda 

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

Great to hear from you Varda,

I've been wondering what's become of you (and Khalid and pips for that matter) and it's amazing to see the progress you've made.  Congratulations!  No need for a silly TFL "name that bakery" suggestion contest.  Look at you: B Obsession is spot on.

I passed a pleasant few minutes last week staring through the back (sidewalk) window of Tartine watching the bakers (not the master) pre-shaping boules with their signature complicated folds, loops and ties.  Good that passersby can see back into BO's workspace. 

Best of luck with it.  Your products look great on fb.

Tom

varda's picture
varda

Tom,

Here's where the name came from.   I jotted down 10 names in around 20 minutes, and handed the list off to my how shall I say "critically minded" husband, who read through them and said I guess that one isn't terrible.  

Wonderful that you got a chance to look in at Tartines.   That must have been cool.   So far the people who have looked in my window have not been of the high class tourist variety.   Maybe those will follow.   

It does happen that when you are spending most of every day on bread, the first thing that comes to mind in the few breadless moments is not to look at a bread site as wonderful as it.   But I do look in from time to time.

Thanks so much for your comments and encouragement!

Varda

plevee's picture
plevee

It looks like a wonderful set up.

I''ve missed your posts recently. And as well as PIPS & Khalid, Shiao Ping, TxFarmer, Breadsong, Hans Joachim and many others who's baking I used to envy and drool over. What happens to old TFLers? I hope they are all doing well.

varda's picture
varda

I have thought of posting often, and sometimes got as far as taking a few pictures, but so many bread crises, so little time.   Or to quote an old baker (at least I think he was a baker)  "old bakers never die, they just fade away."    Thanks so much for commenting.

Varda

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Ohhhhhhh, you've been busy!

So nice to see and read from you again, Varda! Was wondering about your whereabouts. As somebody mentioned, all the fine bakers, long time members of TFLers seem to have vanished. Looks like a few of us have plummeted into a deep, bread baking vortex. 

Keep it up! You'll master that oven in no time!

Zita 

P.S. Attached below is my baby "Poppling". She was delivered earlier last year. Since then, she's been cranking out breads every day for bake sales & clients. 

varda's picture
varda

Your oven looks very familiar.   Are you making baguettes by any chance?   If so, I have some questions for you.  Thanks for checking in and glad to hear that you are still in the bread vortex.

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

Just recently I started producing baguettes for my clients. There's a few hurdles I need to overcome concerning that. But feel free to ask whatever question..

varda's picture
varda

What do you set bottom and top temperature to?  Do you adjust the temperature during the bake?  Do you have steam injection?    How do you load the baguettes?   I have been getting good results in the new oven for all but baguettes.   

Thanks.

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

No steam injection, just the ol' fashion chuck in the hot, boiling water with a pitcher.

I don't have an oven loader either (oh, such a nice thing to have!) so I load the baguettes with a wooden oven peel. You can also use a wide, thin but robust, wooden plank to load a bunch simultaneously. Like so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUuKstAWof4&t=9m13s

Also, I'm not a fan of baguette pans. For aesthetic reasons. I dislike the dimpled look on my baguettes.

Temperature, top 250C, bottom 200C, continuously for 18 to 20 minutes. I find there's no need to adjust the temperature during the bake. For your consideration, my oven contains slabs of stone on the bottom, retaining heat very well, and runs on gas.

Below is a pic of my demi-baguettes freshly baked 2 days ago. Even colour all around. 

Hope that helps!

varda's picture
varda

Yes, very helpful.  Thank you. 

isand66's picture
isand66

So great to hear from you again and see you've taken the next step into madness!

I'm confident you and your partner will be successful and I look forward to coming to see you when the weather thaws out.

Good luck and happy baking!

Ian

varda's picture
varda

We would be delighted if you could visit!

Varda

Syd's picture
Syd

Varda!

I knew you could do it!  I was so thrilled to see your post this morning.  What an achievement.  You have come so far from the days when you started posting on The Fresh Loaf, asking questions, experimenting, persisting.  I admire your tenacity and determination.  Good for you, Varda.  Keep on going!

And what a clean setup you have there.  I notice no wooden surfaces.  How do you form loaves that require a little bit of friction to shape?  Does the stainless steel provide enough friction?  If not, you could always have a carpenter make up a removable wooden top with sides (to stop it from moving around) that could fit over one of the tables.  It wouldn't have to be very thick wood so it would still be light and easily picked up by one person.

I also notice you only have a spiral mixer.  No smaller planetary mixers for smaller batches of dough?  Or is that still to come?

Do your ovens have steam injection and stone bottoms?  

Are those fridges opposite the ovens?  Do you use them for retarding?

Can't say how happy I am to see how much you have achieved!

All the best,

Syd

varda's picture
varda

Syd,

Let's play a game - how much of what you see in the picture is mandated by state health regulations?   Whatever isn't covered by health regulations is there to satisfy city fire, electrical, and plumbing codes, with some extras thrown in to ensure proper construction and efficient resource usage.   The result of all this is a very clean, safe, energy efficient, and well constructed kitchen, so I'm not complaining, just broke.  The great state of Massachusetts in which this kitchen is located frowns on wooden surfaces, so there are none, and so on.

After using these stainless steel tables for a couple weeks, I must say I'm pleasantly surprised.   They are actually very nice to work on.   I just scheduled the move for my planetary mover, so that is coming.   The oven does have steam injection and stone platforms.  Short of some gas level adjustments which will hopefully happen this week, I am very happy with it.   And that is a reach in refrigerator across from oven.   We'll use it to retard most doughs overnight, as well as store the few ingredients that need it - milk, eggs, butter, yeast, malt.  Thanks for the questions - I was hoping someone would ask.

I suppose if I were like the Mast Brothers I would expunge all evidence of my long learning curve from Fresh Loaf, so I could say I sprang fully formed into a bread maker, but the truth seems more interesting, so I'll leave as is.

Thanks so much for your comments and questions and kind words.

Hope that all is well for you!

Varda

Syd's picture
Syd

Just had to add one more:

WAY TO GO VARDA!  GO, GIRL, GO!

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I very rarely check in here at TFL and decided I needed to look back and see what I have missed. I am so pleased for you. Your tenacity and talent are in every loaf . I hope you have great success and look forward to seeing many more posts in the future. c

varda's picture
varda

Appreciate your comments so much, and hope you are doing well.

Varda

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Might seem like a slog to you, but you have come a really long way in a short time! I am mightily impressed. 

Your work environment looks really nice, and you still have room for future additions to the toy box tool chest.

Congratulations and best of luck! And thanks for the vicarious pleasure.

David

varda's picture
varda

David, 

I am going to have to figure out how to use these ones before I get any more "tools."   Thanks so much for commenting.   I appreciate the encouragement.   If you happen to be in these parts I hope you will stop by for a visit.

Varda

embth's picture
embth

and best of luck!  I am in that "neck of the woods" once a year or so.  Next trip, your shop is on my "things to do" list…and I look forward to meeting you.    Embth

varda's picture
varda

Hi Embth,  What you see is just a kitchen.   We are not selling out of it.    A bum wandered in the other day when we forgot to lock the door,  and other people come knocking at the windows, some looking for the defunct driving school whose owner seems to have collected people's money and then left town.  If you would like to visit, message me in advance, so I don't just wave you away.  Thanks so much for commenting! -Varda

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Hello Varda:

I have read and follow your post in the Fresh loaf a long while back . I am so glad that you are now a full fledged " Professional baker" . When I go to Boston ( Marlboro) I will look your store up. Too bad I live so far away(VA). I would volunteer to help you ( so I get more hands on training) in a heart beat.

Congratulation.  

varda's picture
varda

This morning alarm was set for the earliest time I've ever set it, for our first big Saturday morning bake in the new kitchen.   Thanks so much for your comments.  

Varda

Joyofgluten's picture
Joyofgluten

Your set up looks wonderful, if the countertops were laminated maple, I'd say everything was perfect.

I wish you success and satisfaction in your bakery endeavour.

cheers from Switzerland

Daniel

varda's picture
varda

Hi Daniel,

I am actually learning to love these stainless tables.   They have a surprising amount of friction and require very little flour.   thanks for your commenting, and love your user name!

Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

What a pleasant surprise, seeing this months later! You've persisted, planned well, endured, and still enduring odds, and will come out victorious. 

i love the Kitchen setup, and the oven looks amazing. new toys, new challenges, but i'm sure you'll master them.

Like you, i've been working hard to get the bakery project off the ground, but there has been setbacks, and i'm now in search for another investor. 

You've inspired us all on TFL with your tenacity, Varda. I'd love to visit your bakery one day and have some of your breads.

Till then, i wish you and your partner all the best.

P.s your doing great on Instagram and facebook!)

Khalid

varda's picture
varda

Khalid,

Sorry to hear about your funding, and hope you are able to find investors worthy of your bread.   It isn't easy to get these bakeries going is it?

Would love to have you visit.

Have to ask how did you get your thousand+ instagram followers.   I think I'm in the 40s now.   

Varda

Mebake's picture
Mebake

To be honest, at first i wanted to boost the followers, and since i had no prior experience with IG, i did what most amateur users do, bought my self into the + 500 followers. 

later on, i realized that many followers on IG does not mean real ones who are genuinely interested in your product. i still get un-follow from the ones whom i paid to get them on, but that does not matter anymore. I learned that actively engaging with other users of similar interest, and  proper hashtag-ing results in far more followers, likes, and engagement. 

However, IG, like most social media need constant content activity, and full engagement, which adds up to your duties, and as Baker and business owner, you'd be better off paying someone to do it for you.

Whatever you do, keep posting those wonderful pictures of your bakery and  breads! 

best of wishes to you, Varda!

Khalid

 

 

varda's picture
varda

Interesting points Khalid.   Thanks for the advice.  -V