The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Farmers Market Baking

Verc0003's picture

Farmers Market Baking


My name is Christine and I will be baking for my local farmers market next Saturday for the first time. My goal is to make 33 loaves out of my house kitchen. My oven only fits 2 Dutch ovens.

This  is a BIG FEAt for me. 

Questions- should I grow my starter to get to 3,300 grams of starter. I currently have about 500 grams in the fridge.

2. How to store 33 loaves in regular fridge? Can I just put a bug container of dough to ferment overnight in my fridge and then shape the next day in bannetons and bake? Has anyone had success with shaping after ferment in the fridge? 

I keep rocking my brain about all these things. Please help. 
‘Thanks so much!!!


foodforthought's picture

You are obviously an adventurer. First of all, let’s get #2 out of the way. You can mix and bulk ferment your dough then refrigerate it en masse for up to 5 days. I do this regularly, though probably best to shape and bake by day 2. Of course you need space and containers for 25+ kilos of dough. I like for my dough to fill no more than 50-60% of my refrigerator container since it still rises (sometimes a whole lot!) as it cools. That quantity of dough will have significant thermal mass so your refrigerator will be working overtime to cool it all down.

I never madd more than 3-4 kilos of dough at a time, but if I wanted 3.3 kilos of levain I’d plan to build it over 3 generations as I always do. So 36 hours before scheduled dough mix time, I’d build my first generation. Assume 1:4:4 ratios to support 12 hour intervals.

  1. Gen 1: 5 g of starter + 20 g of water and 20 g of flour, ferment 12 hours
  2. Gen 2: Gen 1 (~45 g) + 180 g water and 180 g flour, ferment 12 hours
  3. Gen 3: In a 5 gallon bucket? Gen 2 (~405 g) + 1500 g water and 1500 g flour (just shy of 1:4:4), ferment 12 hours...should yield ~3400 g levain
  4. Get mixing

You might want to experiment a bit with baking stone and steam. You might be able to bake 3 batards per oven cycle, cutting your bake sessions to 11 from 17...
Good luck,


Verc0003's picture


Thank you so much for responding and helping me with this, yes I am an adventurer and thanks for seeing that in me! I have some questions because I’ve never done a bulk fermentation before. I would need to refrigerate about 16.5 kg which is about 16,500 g. How would I shape that,  like how long would I leave it out at room temperature before shaping and proofing and putting it in bannetons? I’ve never done this process before so it’s a big risk but I think that it has to work in order just because I need to save the space in my fridge. I can’t put all of the loaves in bannetons and put them in my fridge so I’ll have to put them in a large container and then shape after. So if you can share with me how or what your process is after it comes out of the fridge raider that would be great.

Also,  thank you so much about growing my starter I saw that your third step was 450 g. I already have 500 g worth of starter that’s in my fridge could I just feed that the 1500 and grow from there?

Or do I have to start small and then grow? 

Let me know your thoughts.


thanks so much for your help! 

foodforthought's picture


my standard practice is:

  1. separate/cut 800 g of dough from the cold dough mass
  2. preshape, rest 45-60 minutes
  3. shape, rest 30-45 minutes
  4. bake

YEs, you could just grow your levain in a single or double generation.

I use 3 gens to ensure my levain is lively and ready to go. Works for me. Many paths to enlightenment...

I hope you’ll let us know how the adventure turned out.


Verc0003's picture

Awesome! I tried this but maybe I need to let rest less because I live in South Florida. 

it was hard to score. Felt like I was tearing into the dough. 

foodforthought's picture

Agree, you can probably play with pre-shape, shape timing. Your humidity levels (I grew up in northern Florida and well remember my sheets sticking to me...ugh) probably run 70-80%+, nearly double my typical 45% here in California. All that airborn water vapor is warming your dough faster than mine. Maybe try, pre-shape with 10-15 minute rest then shape and 10-15 minute rest. Many people shape their bread, refrigerate overnight and bake straight out of the fridge so you might even try pre-shape, short rest, then shape and bake to see if oven spring is as good as with longer rests. It is definitely easier to score cold dough. Good luck. And keep us updated.

dbazuin's picture

So to deliver it fresh enough you need to bake the whole friday. 
I would love to here how it worked out.


Verc0003's picture

Yes! Thank you!

ciabatta's picture

I think the key is to sort out what needs to happen exactly when to compact your timeline. but at 2 loaves per bake. that's a lot of hours.

if you assume 20 mins covered, 30 mins uncovered and then 30 mins to reheat the dutch oven. you're looking at 80 mins between bakes.

80 mins x 17 bakes = 22 hours 40 mins

if you're able to go down to 60 mins per bake (20/20/20) - you're still looking at 17 hours.
if you can get to 3 loaves per bake that will be - 11 hours 

but i think 60 mins between bakes is a very light crust at 800g/loaf

assuming a 80 min bake cycle, you may have a schedule that starts like this:


00:00 - cut out dough from fridge, weight 800g each x 2 and preshape (#1)

00:40 - preheat oven with dutch ovens (#1)

00:55 - final shape dough (#1)

01:20 - cut out dough from fridge for next batch and preshape (#2)

01:40 - load dough into dutch ovens to steam in oven (#1)

02:00 - remove lids from dutch ovens (#1)

02:15 - final shape next batch (#2)

02:30 - remove loaves from oven to cool, and put dutch oven lids back into preheat (#1) - end

02:40 - cut out dough from fridge for next batch and preshape (#2)

03:00 - load dough into dutch ovens to steam in oven (#2)

03:20 - remove lids from dutch ovens (#2)

03:35 - final shape next batch (#3)

03:50 - remove loaves from oven to cool, and put dutch oven lids back into preheat (#2) - end

04:00 - cut out dough from fridge, weight 800g each x 2 and preshape (#4)

04:20 - load dough into dutch ovens to steam in oven (#3)

04:40 - remove lids from dutch ovens (#3)

04:55 - final shape next batch (#4)

05:10 - remove loaves from oven to cool, and put dutch oven lids back into preheat (#3) - end

05:40 - load dough into dutch ovens to steam in oven (#4)


i wonder if you can keep your dutch oven tops heated on the stove to reduce the reheating time.  any case, it will be a long hot day.

Good luck!

(same reason i'm looking into a whole oven cloche... so i can do 4-6 loaves at a time.)



Verc0003's picture

Thanks James I hadn’t even considered the time for preheating. ??‍♀️ Just looked at the whole oven cloche. Where are you thinking of purchasing from? Would you use a stone for the bottom? Sounds interesting!

Verc0003's picture

Thanks James I hadn’t even considered the time for preheating. ??‍♀️ Just looked at the whole oven cloche. Where are you thinking of purchasing from? Would you use a stone for the bottom? Sounds interesting!

idaveindy's picture

- leave DO lids in oven during the "uncovered" phase of baking so you do not need to reheat them. 

- have things staged so that when taking the baked bread out of DO, you put the next loaf in the DO.  If I'm thinking this correctly, then you do not  need to reheat oven.

- Use one or two baking stones as thermal mass so oven loses less heat when opening door. Or stones plus large flat cast iron cookware, like a griddle or skillet.

- if you only have two racks, see if you can get a third, maybe at a used appliance store, and still fit the DOs on the middle rack,  so that the DOs do not sit directly on a stone.  I'm thinking of an upper stone and a lower stone.    .... Or,... use small metal rods or oven safe tiles  to separate DO from the stone, and get air space between.

- suppose you bake at 450 but want the DO to be preheated to 500, sit it on a hot stovetop burner, and check with an IR thermometer.

- My oventhermostat only goes to 500.  But I find that I can save about 10 minutes by preheating to only 490 or 495.  Those last few degrees take the longest "minutes per degree" of the pre-heat phase.  So there seems to be a "performace penalty" for that  last smidgen.

... just thoughts. Good luck on your project.  Keep us updated, please.

ciabatta's picture

Baked 14 loaves today. 2 or 3 at a time. But these were small @ 500g each or less. Took from 8am to 1pm. Now my back is sore.  Was able to reheat DOs in 15 mins with broiler and convection going. 

Verc0003's picture

Looks great!!!

Verc0003's picture

ok so my 33 loaves was a fail. 

I did the same recipe i usually use for 2 loaves. 

1000 grams of flour

800 grams of water

200 grams of starter 

I just increased the same recipe for 33 loaves and the dough just never took. It seemed way too liquidy. I added more flour and all I got was rock hard bread. 

I was in a pickle because now its Friday and I have no prepared dough to bake. In the end I slept only 3 hours and baked 15 loaves ambient style.

I sold out in 40 minutes and got 14 delivery ordered for this week. 

Tomorrow is a delivery day and I have started to prepare dough for 8 loaves. just increased the same recipe above and same thing again. I can tell the dough is not binding or taking. 

When i baked the 15 loaves I mixed only in 4 loaf batches and then combined after leavin was already in.


What am i doing wrong!?@ 

I am preparing another starter to hopefully get some new dough going in time for tomorrow bake. 

Help!!! what goes on when increases number of loaves and recipe? are there any books i can read for increase baking at home?

ciabatta's picture

Were you doing the entire 33 loaves worth of dough in one batch?  do you use a mixer or are you mixing by hand? what are you mixing and bulk proofing in?

i would do them in smaller batches. it's hard to mix a huge batch of dough well without commercial equipment. probably difficult to get even water absorption without a ton of work.

there's been posts here that says a large amount of dough will ferment faster than a small one. i dont know about that first hand. but you'd have to monitor the progress.  




Verc0003's picture

Yes I mixed all in one batch. It seemed too watery. 

Mixed it all by hand. 

I mixed in a large plastic container. 

Do you know of any resources for increasing volume recipes mixing by hand at home?

ciabatta's picture

i would recommend mixing in smaller batches, just to make sure everything is evenly distributed. it probably seemed watery because the water is not all absorbed yet.  You should definitely autolyse (or 'fermentolyse').  i dont think the recipe would change at all, just the timing and effort.   

after mixing you can probably combine it back together for bulk, but would be difficult to stretch and fold in a single batch.  

Watch Proof Bread videos on youtube to see how big a batch of dough Jonathan makes at a time. He has a 'micro' bakery out of a garage.




retired baker's picture
retired baker

I'd say it was too cheap if it sold out in 40 minutes.

Verc0003's picture

that is so awesome!!

thanks for helping with the time frames.

i was thinking of cooking with quarry tiles and creating steam in my oven to be able to cook 3 loaves at a time. 


ive never not used the Dutch before.

ciabatta's picture

I have had some successes with steaming on stone without a dutch oven. but the results were never as good or consistent as with a dutch oven. could never get the same shine on the crust.  I think it's definitely something you should try if you have time and easy access to the tiles (or get a piece of granite cut from a kitchen counter place, often you can get it cheap. the scrap the cut out the hole for kitchen sink is perfect size to trim from)  It really depends on how well your oven can hold in steam.  

Verc0003's picture

Which way did you find the most success in creating steam?

ciabatta's picture

I think many others on here are much more qualified to help with that. but for me. i have a metal pan on the oven floor. and i put in a cup of boiling water after i load the bread. and i do 3 or 4 fine mist spritzes into the oven at the same time.

just search here for oven steam and you'll find a lot of posts.