There are no shortage of reminders of how difficult it is to start a new business, especially a bread bakery. It is like climbing a great big mountain. Not only that but when you reach the top you realize that the real work is just beginning!
What keeps me going is running into friends and acquaintances that are super excited about having a bread bakery right here on Main Street in Starkville. I can’t wait to start baking and serving up healthy delicious food to my community. It is definitely a goal worth fight for, and so every free minute I am toiling away trying to get up that mountain.
This weekend marked a couple of big mile stones. First of all, I have finished cleaning up 3 of the 4 decks on my giant oven. It is a major restoration project and I don’t if she is going to be a Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang or Stephen King’s Christine, but either way, a great transformation is taking place!
The other big one was the installation of a very, very, very (I can’t stress this enough) important piece of equipment. Aside from the oven, the most essential item in a bread bakery is the sound system. You may not realize it, but each loaf from DeRego’s Bread absorbs rhythm and melody from the air, as well as directly through me. My best baguettes have been the result of some serious rocking out!
So the “front of the house” is coming along. Here is a look at the before and after:
I am very fortunate that members of the bread baking community are almost always eager to share knowledge and give advice. One name that comes up again and again is Michel Suas, founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute. The school was founded in 1996 and has played a role in training many of the bakers who have inspired me. I knew that in order to successfully follow my dream of opening a bread bakery, I would have to make a trip to SFBI.
I enrolled in “Sourdough, Levain, and Natural Yeast,” or Artisan Bread II, and last month spent a week in a wet and stormy San Francisco. The class exceeded all expectations. I learned many new styles and techniques that I can’t wait to share with you when my doors open this spring. In the meantime, here are some highlights!
After years of planning and searching, we have taken a giant step forward in becoming your neighborhood bread bakery, Starkville! For the past few weeks we have been busy sprucing up our new home at 109 W Main Street.
The target date is the second week in April. So far everything is on schedule, but of course there are a ton of things to do before I even bake the first loaf there.
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There is a website out there that will sell you sourdough starter culture from exotic places all over the world. This concept has lead to many heated debates in the bread making community about whether this is even possible or if the minute you expose your exotic mother to the air in your kitchen it will become contaminated with local species of yeast and bacteria resulting in exactly what you would have it you had simply started a culture on your own. It seems that all of this arguing could very easily be settled by a microbiologist, but maybe it is more fun to let it remain a mystery.
The past few months have been all about the rye. I never would have imagined rye flour could be so different from wheat, but from the first earthy whiff I knew this was a whole new world! Continue reading Sourdough Rye→
“Artisan” has become an all-too-common term when describing bread. You find it everywhere from the names of small specialty bakeries to the buns surrounding fast food products. The meaning is diluted. I try to find more specific words to differentiate between my hand-made bread and what you find in the supermarket, but there are times when “artisan” is the most efficient word to convey this idea, and before I can edit myself, I hear the a-word slip out of my mouth. Well, if I am going to use the word, let me take a moment to explain what I mean when I say it. Continue reading What is “Artisan” Bread?→
Last year the Mississippi legislature passed the Cottage Food Law allowing home bakers such as myself to produce baked-goods and other non-hazardous foods in the kitchen of a private home for sale at farmers markets. This provided a great opportunity to test the waters and see if there is interest for my bread here in Starkville, and if long hours baking large quantities of bread would be as much fun as I kept telling my wife it would be. Continue reading My Dream of a Neighborhood Bakery→