A few more giant steps forward this weekend. With the plumbing finally completed and the sinks in place I was ready to put the bakery through its paces. The maiden voyage of my spiral mixer went smoothly, although I can tell it will get even better with larger batches.
My work table is on backorder, so I had to divide and shape baguettes hunched over a folding table. Not ideal, but it worked. The new stones in the oven heated up nicely. The only piece still missing is the steam generator, hopefully shipping this week, so I am still manning the oven with a squirt bottle in hand just like I do at home. The end result was very respectable!
At the end of the day, Becky and I took a walk up Main Street with a basket of baguettes and shared them with everyone we passed. Hopefully we will see them again in a few weeks!
We are gearing up for the first Community Market on Saturday May 2nd, then opening the bakery on the following week!
Today is one of those days I have been dreaming of for years. This was my last day at work on campus at the Mississippi State University Extension Service. When the sun rises tomorrow I will be a full-time bread bakery owner! I want be sure to mark the occasion, because it is a really big deal, but mostly, I feel that it is just one more step in a march I have been on for as long as I can remember.
I promise I won’t get in the habit of going on and on about myself here, but this is the kind of day that makes one look back on the the road that led to this point, so maybe you can indulge me for just this one time.
I grew up in southern New Hampshire (Wait! Don’t go. I swear I have a point to make.) As a kid I thought that being surrounded by suburbia made me desperate for escape, but looking back now I see that being just a short drive from the White Mountains, the NH seacoast, and everything that Boston had to offer inspired an insatiable desire for nature and culture. I was fortunate to have great teachers and alumni from my high school that turned me onto art leading me to the Rhode Island School of Design. I earned my degree in Fine Arts, but what I came away with was much more valuable. I learned how to learn.
I think the world is pretty great place and I want to see as much of it as I can. I want to know how people live, how they feed themselves, how they find joy. I want learn what works and try it! This is the desire that inspired DeRego’s Bread. Bread is universal. Every culture has taken the same handful of ingredients and created some form that is unique and yet somehow familiar. Bread is nourishment, and the process of harvesting, milling, mixing, and baking creates community and connects people with the land.
I know those are some pretty lofty ideas, but I do think pretty highly of bread when it is done right. Providing all of this to my community, and making a living doing it, is my American Dream. This is the destination of the march I have been on all this time.
There are more “big deal” days coming up soon, and these will include some that will be of more interest to you, including the day we open the doors to customers! Please stay tuned for that big announcement and thanks for indulging me as I get misty eyed for a moment. There. Now I can get back to work!
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.
Check us out on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date and don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter down there in the footer of this page!
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→