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Rich In Bunly Goodness

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  1. At the bakery, we sometimes get a bubble right in the middle of our sourdough baguettes. Some days close to half have a bubble; but most days it is around 10-20%. The baguettes with bubbles turn out with a crater where the bubble was, and the score that goes across the bubble is often irregular. The crater is typically about 4 cm across and about 2 cm deep. I've never noticed the bubble with our yeasted baguettes even though we use the same equipment for mixing, dividing, shaping, proofing and baking. Typically we can see the bubble right after it comes off the shaping machine. The person picking it up and placing on the couche rack will know that there will be a bubble the next morning when it is baked. We use a shaping machine that sends each piece of dough between two rollers to get the baguette shape. I can take pictures if it would be helpful to diagnose.
  2. By fresh flour, do you mean flour that hasn't been aged for a couple of weeks after milling?
  3. This may seem like an odd question, but I work at an artisan bakery here in Madison and we're interested in expanding our business with restaurants. We currently deliver bread to about half the top restaurants mentioned in this thread, but what would be some restaurants where the food is really high quality but the bread is somewhat lacking in Madison? Those would be good candidates for us to see if they are interested. Our breads are heavily influenced by French techniques, but we want to start experimenting with other styles as well. But for now, Asian and latin and Mediterranean would be out of our current level of expertise.
  4. The way I typically do buns at home is to proof them on a silpat or parchment, then slide it onto an upside-down sheet pan, then slide the parchment or silpat with buns on top into the oven onto the stone. That way you can get them in a lot quicker than one at a time, which keeps the oven temps high, and you also don't need to use much if any flour or other substance to keep them from sticking.
  5. Very legitimate question. Here's what we would be buying: 1. Non-trivial sales volume. 2. equipment. 3. The rights to a spot at the farmer's market. (Have to apply in fall for a spot the following year.) This is the most lucrative part of the business in terms of profit margin. 4. Very good reputation with the people who do know us, few though they be. If my partner and I were to leave and start up on our own, it would take approximately the same amount of initial capital, and we'd be looking at several months or perhaps a year before we'd be breaking even, esp. without the market until next year. In my opinion, the risk is much higher starting from scratch compared with buying this company. Plus, it would be a crippling blow to the owner of the company if the two of us would leave and start up a new company. He'd take that as a personal kick in the crotch and would probably do anything possible to discredit us. We have a good relationship with him and wish to carry that forward so that we can use him as a consultant and someone who'll put in a good word for us with our key restaurant customers.
  6. This is an option we're considering. My business partner is good at cakes. But it would be very tough to do from our current location. And we probably need to change the name of the business, as it is very clearly a bread-specific name. But changing the name is something that I'm convinced will be best for us in the long run in any case, given our desire to do lunch, catering, etc. I have an MBA in Entrepreneurship, so doing this myself is right up my alley. The only thing is the long hours are very draining and it is slow going doing this 2-3 hours per day, but we are working on this, as part of our complete business plan.
  7. Actually, our rent is now about 80% of the highest rent in the county, without the benefits. So it couldn't go up like crazy. I live in a high income area in the midwest, a university town with a lot of transplants. So comparatively speaking, this is the type of small city where an artisan bakery should be able to thrive if they do things right. I do believe that most people have just never heard of our bakery.
  8. I'm a big fan of business names that do not limit you to a specific location or a specific line of business. That way, it gives a business owner more ease of expanding the "what" or the "where" should you choose to do so later. As a business grows, you want to keep building the brand identity, without radically changing the business name. I'm also a fan of names that are short and roll off the tongue. An example: Starbucks is a good name for a company, whatever you think of the company or their business model. They could easily expand into sandwiches or gelato or whatever and it wouldn't be inconsistent with the name. Geographically, well they've obviously gone way beyond Seattle.
  9. We are doing the farmers' market and we basically do the max possible given our equipment on market days, double what we do on week days.
  10. Let me ask another question: Fact or Fiction: The Atkins diet fad has forever altered the food landscape in the US and artisan bread bakeries have to adapt by offering pastries, pan breads or less artisanal products.
  11. I don't want to say too much about it, since I don't want to give away the name of the bakery, but we are selling very little out of the front of our bakery right now. The type of people who buy artisan bread/pastries just do not live near our bakery. Yet, we are paying retail-level rent for our production facility. We sell mostly to restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and farmers markets. We would be buying a lot more than just equipment. There's a lot of "blue sky" value in an existing business. People know our product. We have some very valuable wholesale clients. We'd be turning a profit on day 1.
  12. I am looking at the possibility of buying the artisan bakery where I work, together with a coworker. It is a relatively small operation now, but we make really good breads and pastries. The demand is there for us to sell a lot more, but the current owner didn't really want it to grow, so he kind of kept the lid on the volume. I'm wondering what you all think--is this a good time to be in this business? Obviously, location is very important. We're in a good city for this, but the location within it is horrible. So moving to a better place more conducive to retail sales would be our first priority. We have put a lot of thought into it and have a number of other ideas as well for growing the business. What do you think?
  13. I know very little about a low GI diet. However, I'd stay away from commercial mixes regardless of low GI requirements. What I would recommend is that you get a copy of Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. Most everything in that book should be good for you. Use lots of preferments, and lean heavily on whole wheat flour and medium/dark rye flours. Play around with soakers of cracked wheat, rye meal, steel cut oats, etc. When you are going heavy on whole grain flour and whole meal, soakers and pre-ferments take on added importance. Get the best flour you can find. You may have to go to an artisan bakery to get the good stuff. (Our bakery sells flour to the public--you would never find the flour we have in a grocery store.) Try adding toasted flax and sunflower, and/or sesame seeds. Learn to bake with sourdough, if you can. Don't rush the proving.
  14. I work in an artisan bakery, and while we don't make ciabata, we do have some high hydration doughs. We never use flour when pulling from the mixer and putting into tubs for bulk fermentation. I do moisten my hands a little, though. It would be easy for anyone watching to be mislead as to the hydration rate. We do use flour when dividing and shaping, though. As others have stated, you have some sources that are giving you bad info. There's no need to proof instant yeast. If your sources say to proof yeast, it worries me what else they are telling you that is wrong. The books that say to do so probably say to add sugar to the proofing yeast and water. If so, ditch the sugar, unless you are making a sweet bread. Definitely get a scale and get acquainted with baker's percentages. Once you start doing that you will take your bread making to a whole new level. Plus it is a lot easier to get feedback if you say you are making bread with a 65% or 70% hydration rate or whatever it is. My guess as to your problems are: 1) not enough water 2) too much kneading 3) too much proofing the shaped loaves When you are getting started, pick a simple recipe with just flour, water, yeast and salt. Use a scale and document your weights and your procedure. If you don't get the results you want, change one variable at a time till you get it where you want it. Keep making it over and over again. Once you get consistent results, then you can start playing with other recipes or modified procedures.
  15. Can you describe the recipe(s) and the procedure(s) you are using now?
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