The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I think maybe I'm studying the wrong thing

JuneHawk's picture

I think maybe I'm studying the wrong thing

Ugh.  Here I am, making bread to avoid writing an anthropology paper that is due this week.  Bread baking is just so much more fun!  My husband suggested that maybe I'm just studying the wrong thing.  If only I could afford baking and pastry school...



srfrench's picture

I'll take that anthropology paper and raise you an advanced educational psychology one....procrastination is grand!  :-)  (and in this case, oh so tasty!!!)



Johni's picture

Hey all, and hey Sherri,

I know you left this posting years ago, but to you, and those admitting they would rather bake than study, I recommend 


In fact I recommend the whole academic blog

I have resumed studies after many years because of this blog and I too studied the wrong thing (medicine)

Regards and take care

Johni's picture

I gave the wrong link, sorry. Here is the correct one ( I left parts out of the first one)

Henry's picture

  Yikes! June!

Years ago, photography was my passion and hobby and

I thought how great it would be to make a living at it.

Guess what, I eventually ended up working as a commercial photographer in a large studio… and burned out.

 It was always fun as a hobby but after a few years, not as a job.

I’ve taught a few classes of very basic bread making and people that had what I thought to be terrific jobs (one woman was an art restorer working for a government gallery…35 hour week, full benefits too numerous to mention) would come up and tell me she was thinking of getting into baking full time because she loved to bake at home…and what did I think about that?

Last year I had a space at the farmers market selling bread. A busy day meant about 175 loaves. Scaling and shaping that many loaves the night before by hand took time.I was doing my best at the table selling my products, bleary eyed, hungry (no time to eat) and thinking of nothing but nourishment, then sleep when a customer says to me:“You are so lucky, you have the best job”

“Pray tell, what is it that you do”? I asked.

“Oh, I’m a lawyer and have been for over fifteen years. It’s so uninteresting.I’d love to be a baker and work the market just as you’re now doing.”

I could only look at her in disbelief. June, blame the food network.I can assure you most of us do not walk around with chef whites, mingling with guests while sipping wine and receiving accolades from the media.  Stick to the study of man and bake for your self, husband and friends.If you one day decide to jump into the deep end of baking schools, be wary. They can be so very expensive.I’ve heard enough people say what a waste of time and money they can be.You’ll probably learn way more by visiting TFL


JuneHawk's picture

Hey H, funny you should mention photography.  I enjoyed photography as a hobby for some years and then decided to do it full time as a wedding photographer.  Man, did I not know what I was getting into!  Needless to say, I am no longer a wedding photographer.  Mind you, I did move countries and I haven't done anything to pick up some business here.  I decided I was going to go back to college full time and that's what I'm doing.  I still have no idea what I want to study though.  I guess I need really need to think about that cause I'm not getting any younger!


Glad to know I'm not the only one who can't make up her mind!



mkelly27's picture

I have known for some time this basic tenet;  "The minute it becomes work , it is no longer fun".  As much as I would like to fantasize about dropping everythig and opening a bread bakery, I realize that it would eventually become as onerous a task as my everyday job.  I have even looked into the business model end of it and without the right demographics, it will almost certainly fail. 


Redundancy is your friend, so is redundancy

JavaGuy's picture

My problem with baking or cooking for a living is that I couldn't stand to do it the same way every time. I've been working on my pizza crust recipe for three years. Last weekend, I made the best yet. I'll make it one more time that way, then I'll have to figure out how to make it better.

Baking is fun as a hobby because I get to make what I want, when I want to. If it comes out wrong, it's a learning experience, not lost time and sales.

I'll stick to writing computer code for a living. I think I used to love doing that. 

leemid's picture

You must study whatever it is that you think will earn you a good living. Do that for a few years before changing to something else. Continue either in the first course, or the second and third, etc. for a lifetime. Then, when you have spent your life at it, change to what you 'have always wanted to do', in this case, baking. Your 'retirement' years are spent in euphoric days believing that you should have done this all of your life, not knowing that had you tried to you would have burned yourself out at it.

It is a matter of perspective. As previously stated, without the proper demographics and more luck than anyone has a right to expect, most food enterprises fail early in the game. But when you do it as or in retirement, you have different perspectives that allow success to be defined differently. You no longer expect to make a 'good living' required by up and coming strivers. You no longer have to support a family, purchase new cars and houses. You only have to come close to breaking even. And all of your efforts are for self-gratification first, and then most likely you wouldn't even try this without a lifetime of chops from friends who have eaten your bread for all these years to prove you can make it well. So you expect that the general public will accept your efforts. Because you don't have to get rich, you only strive to make rent which is small because you have rented a hole-in-the-wall storefront just large enough for your brick oven in back and a glass display out front. Because it is so small, it is too cute for people not to fill it up and make it the new hotspot. Things mushroom until either a financier offers to pay for the expansion and run the Starbucks side, or you have to sell your wares in the local Safeway too. 

Then life goes south on you because the demand is greater than you can meet. But some kid comes in the door and offers to work for nothing if you will teach him how to make your bread. So you oversee the operation and engineer new breads, he helps you expand into lunch-only pizza and the whole thing eventually moves into a new equally charming larger location and the new kid pays you a fortune for the business. One of the clauses to the sales agreement is that you can come in any time to satisfy your desire to make bread. Out of respect for your 'contribution' the new owner keeps the bakery's original name and tells everyone what a genius you are/were. A legend is sustained for 40 years. The original story is eventually lost to antiquity, but the bread never wanes.

That should be my story,


staff of life's picture
staff of life

I do bake for a living, although I don't have a bakery bakery.  I raise my three school-age kids and bake out of my home for a local grocery and farmers' market (a legit business; everything's insured, inspected, TAXed) several days a week, dependent upon the season.  Although I do love it for the most part, and it's been very successful, I do sometimes daydream about a job that would require me to get out of the house, wear decent clothes, and not have to keep my day on such a strict schedule.  And college--oh how much I want to go back to study....anthropology!!  But when my thoughts veer in that direction, I remind myself that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


TRK's picture

I still don't know what I want to do for a living.  At one point I thought about culinary school.  Luckily, Kitchen Confidential came out at just the right time and I thought about all the reasons I didn't want to do that for a living.  As so many have said, as long as it stays a hobby, you do it on your terms and your scale and continue to love it.  I briefly did a small bread subscription based on the CSA model at my work.  Subscribers paid monthly and picked up bread once a week.  I chose the recipe and made about 20 loaves each week.  I more than broke even (though I never wanted to calculate my hourly wage).  Still, I finally decided I wanted my Sundays back.  Even at that small scale I was spending most of Sunday preping, baking, and cleaning. 


I still dream of building a brick oven and selling bread at a Farmer's Market on a small scale someday, but I intend to keep my day job. 

sparks's picture

Hi I did baking for a living for 50 years and owned my own bakeries for 37 years. I loved baking and owning bakeries, I never minded the long hours, weekends or holidays. However their is one thing that I did mind, that is the small margin of profit for the hugh investment, labor and time. One year only I made a profit of 20% when I owned a small bakery, but I worked 365 days that year. But other than that it was always  5 to 8 percent of gross sales after all the expenses, labor, ingredient cost & overhead. I went broke twice, but somehow my suppliers refused to foreclose on me, said I worked to hard. When I hear the margin of profit other industries work on, it really makes me sick. I would suggest to any one going into the bakery business, know your cost, I operated on 40% total payroll (it tough) 30% raw material & paper, & 20% overhead. And beleive me it is tough to come out with a bottom line of 10%. As far as I am concerned bakers work on to  small a margin, and yet I was about the highest in prices in the state of N.J. I would suggest make a top knotch product, sell fresh only, and close your eyes and ignor what others are charging, and put a price on it that you are happy with, because even if you sell it just to break even, the customers always says you charge to much and you are making a killing. But in the end I must say I made a very good living and I was very fortunate that my wife loved to sell bakery products. I am now retired, living in Florida, and making my own bread, I am not pleased with what I can buy in my area. Good Luck and I wish anyone going into the bakery business to be successful and enjoy it.  Sparks

Bart's picture


School should never be expensive.  I went to culinary school and yes, it was not cheap, but it did not cost an arm or a leg either!  The clothing, books and baking materials such as knives, piping bags, and other stuff was a one time cost only.  Train rides to school were expensive too. I was lucky that  my parents got some money back from a scholarship.

Going to a school like école Lenôtre is something else.  Courses over there do cost a lot of money.  But a regular culinary school never should be expensive.  That is my opinion...  It is not right when people are not able to study what they want because of the high cost!

So I ended up in a chocolate factory working as an operator doing 3 shifts (I currently only work in weekends -12 hours twice.)  Why did I start working there?  Because I was sick and tired of earning nothing in the bakery and being several bosses slave.  18 years ago I earned 2 bucks an hour working as an apprentice (even though I had a degree) every night and every weekend.  I had a friend who worked at the Tupperware factory 8 hours a day and he made at least double what I made...  I was glad to get decent pay in the chocolate factory.  

Since a few weeks I do work two days in a bakery again and I love it.  Do I regret not having my own business? Sometimes I do...   A school friend now is a chef and works for a competing chocolate factory over here.  Some others started their own bakeries, and one fellow who graduated a year ahead of me opened his 3th bakery this summer, he centralized his bakery (got this small factory like place.)  Did I fail?  No, I am glad I am in love with baking again.  Most of the dudes I went to school with are not in the food industry at all.  I still am and I am glad.  But sometimes I wish....

 I would suggest you keep on doing what you do right now and enjoy baking at home. Hope you guys did not found my story too boring.




Jude_Denz's picture

So I'm a Law graduate who is thinking of taking up a career in 'bread-making'.
How about that, eh?