Friday, May 25, 2012

Walk In, Wires and Wind . . . Oh My!

As I was trying to put my thoughts together regarding our second week in business, I found that my days all ran together and it was hard to pinpoint what happened when!

After I posted last Monday, we prepared for our first Wednesday market. There were several decisions that had to be made. Wednesday's market is known to have light foot traffic, so we only went with what we thought would sell.

Mom getting baskets ready.

The weather forecast for Wednesday was warm and windy. The wind was to arrive at 11am. OK, it sounds odd that they predict the time of wind arrival, but let me tell you, when they say 11am they mean it, and just like a Swiss Watch . . . the wind arrived at the Market - packing 45mph gusts! We had secured our tent, and fortunately most of our bread was sold at that point - we ended up taking only 8 loaves home.

Wednesday's bread ready to go to the market!

Our booth before the wind hit. If you look closely, you'll see where we are anchored down to keep the tent from blowing away. We also anchored the tables together. A big thank you to all our friends old and new who came out on Wednesday to get their bread!

You can just see the Organ Mountains peeking over an Adobe church.
The flag tells the rest of the story!
Tom was frantically working on the walk in unit. The temperatures during the day are starting to push over 90° which is forcing me to work with cooler and cooler water temps to try and control the dough.
I'm also not retarding the loaves overnight since the walk in was not complete, which means I have to hone my skill at making sure the oven and the loaves are both ready at the same time. I've had a few loaves get away from me and over proof - but so far it's been manageable.  I have to admit, I was looking forward to the walk in being compete. Managing all that dough and then baking the same day is a bit frantic.

Fortunately we don't have the humidity that we had in New Jersey, so I'm finding it a little easier to keep the dough cool. But with that said, the new challenge I face is lack of humidity! Things dry out really, really fast in the desert's dry climate. We'll be putting what's called a Swamp Cooler in the BakeHouse. This simple unit actually puts humidity back in to the air and cools the room.

I was able to get the inside of the Walk In painted during
the week, early in the morning when it was cool.

When Tom was ready to install the compressor for the Walk In, what became the big frustration was an oversight by the contractor in regard to the wiring. So Tom had to do some reworking of the wiring to accommodate the unit. I'm sure grateful for all that Tom knows how to do, I think I would have gone nuts waiting for the contractor to return to fix the problem!

I think this photo was taken at around 10:30 PM!
Feeding Tom Oreos seemed to keep his spirits up as he fought
with the rewiring challenge. Big hands, small space . . . ouch!
Walk In is now ready!

Baker's racks fit like a glove.
Walk in will fit 5 racks at one time.
Wow, now that I've gotten all this in writing with photos in place I'm realizing just how crazy the week has been. Today we'll be preparing 75 loaves, which will keep me on my toes as I'll be firing the oven at the same time and baking later this evening. Starting next week, with all the pieces in place i.e. the walk in, the thermocouples, the air conditioner, I'll be able to start our prep and bake schedule based on what I did in New Jersey. Which is mix our dough, proof overnight and then bake the next morning. With each passing day it feels as though the kinks are getting worked out. So much feels familiar, but in a new location there is a lot which is new. As we work through each challenge, I'm finding that the wonderful rhythm that I so enjoy as a baker is starting to reveal itself little by little under the sunny skies of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Thanks to all of you who journey along with us, share your kind words and purchase your loaf of bread, we are truly blessed. Thoughtfully - Kath

Monday, May 14, 2012

Our first Las Cruces Farmer's & Crafter's Market

Wow, what a whirlwind! Now that I'm looking at the photos I'm realizing just how amazing this Saturday was. We were welcomed into the market with open arms. Within 2 1/2 hours we had sold out of the 60 loaves we brought. As much as we wanted to bring more, the oven is still not ready to bake off more. I had to be very, very respectful as the oven is still "scorchy", so it's easy to end up with charred bottoms and anemic crusts if I wasn't careful. With each firing and bake, the heat will penetrate the cladding deeper and deeper making each bake better and better. It's during this time that I really get to know the BakeHouse oven! It reveals it's personality slowly, which gives me time to learn.

The bake is done.
As I was putting the last loaves into the oven, I kept thinking of that line from the first Indiana Jones movie when Karen Allen's character is alone in a dark tomb with the torch yelling "Indie the flame is going ouuuttttttt"! Whew was I grateful when I finished.

My mom, Jolan and me ready to sell bread!
Last night Tom and I had to empty out the BakeHouse building so that it could be insulated today. We chose to go with spray foam insulation to get the best R value for the walk in unit. At first only the walk in unit was going to be done, but the Contractor hired for the job felt it would be more cost effective to do the whole building since it wasn't very large. I'm so glad that we won't have to deal with the Fiberglass Insulation! I've decided that the BakeHouse building that Tom has built is a better building than our actual house!

The pieces are a bit like styrofoam peanuts if the wind catches them!
No firing the oven today!
We're now planning for Wednesday's market. The foot traffic won't be nearly as heavy as Saturday, but we did received prepaid orders for Wednesday, which is what we were hoping would happen. So there you have it - it's so exciting to share it with all of you! Thank you for all the wonderful emails and Facebook posts we've received - they are awesome! I'll look forward to our next post and keeping you up to date with The Adventure of the BakeHouse! Thoughtfully, Kath

Saturday, May 12, 2012

All Sold Out in 2 1/2 hours ! Wow!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Business Starts!

All the inspections have taken place, we attended our Farm Market Orientation and we're thrilled to announce that we will be at the Las Cruces Farmer's and Crafter's Market this Saturday, May 12th, 2012!

As I type this announcement, it all sounds so simple, but there is one final step to the construction of the oven that was holding me back . . . . Thermocouples!

We're still waiting for ours to arrive from Ovencrafters, and this was proving to be a true test of patience for me. With the end of each day, and no package arriving at our door, I was becoming, well . . . . cranky!
And then, it happened, again! Another home run hitter stepped up to the plate! A "brother in Christ", Paul, from our church calls me and shares that he read about our plight in the last blog post, then states, "I have Thermocouples, would you like to borrow them?" I have to admit, I was a bit dumfounded, I mean how many people call you and say "oh yeah, I have thermocouples, wanna use them?" It's like, oh yeah, I have a bicycle pump, wanna use it! Ha! So a big shout out to Paul! What a blessing his phone call was. And it's because of Paul that we are able to now commit to the Saturday market. Without knowing where the heat was in this new oven, I was very tentative about baking more than just a few loaves.

Such a simple looking wire!

Tom has inserted the Thermocouples in our new oven so that they
can be replaced if they fail. We had several fail after about 2 years in our
first oven but had no way to replace them. 

They work!

Tom replaced the outlet so that the unit could be
turned on and off. When kept on all the time, the
little transformer can get hot. We found out from our
Electrician that the little transformer was similar to those in
doorbells, and overheating is a problem with those also. 
This past weekend we enjoyed a wonderful break while celebrating Dad's birthday with the whole City of Las Cruces, it was Cinco de Mayo! We had fun with family as Tom's Aunt and Uncle from Nevada came through on their way to Denver, CO. I think we basically ate our way through the weekend!

Aunt Helen trying out the peel! 

We're all having fun at the Farmer's Market! 
We've all heard of Brad and Jolie right? Well here is Bradley and Lilly. Mom and Dad's little girl is Bradley's most favorite Canine in the world. When we visit mom and dad, Bradley comes to have his play time with Lilly. They really have a blast. 

Two little "Angels" 
I fired the oven yesterday, and again this morning. I'm seeing an immediate difference in our new oven in regard to the insulating aspects. Our new oven is holding heat longer. I can only imagine that a big part of this is the foamglas. The cladding over the oven chamber hasn't been covered with insulation yet and it's still holding heat. I've gone over all my journals from our first oven and it's amazing to compare the two. I'm really excited about the immediate changes I'm already seeing.

I'm only going to bake 60 loaves for Saturday since our proofing unit isn't completed yet. So the loaves will proof on the floor and I'll bake them late Friday night for Saturday's market. We'll bake in this manner until the proofer is complete which at that point I can bump up to 100+ loaves. My two years of being a home baker have taught me well. I learned how to read the dough and determine it's readiness for baking without the overnight proofing I had grown accustom to.

Firing the oven early this morning. If you look closely,
through the window, you can see the fire:)

This morning's Sunrise. We had heavy rain last night so the morning is crisp and
fresh with the smell of the desert's Creosote Bushes permeating the air along with the
fragrance of Juniper burning in the BakeHouse oven!
We're looking forward to having all of you with us as the BakeHouse is introduced to Las Cruces, NM! For those of you who will want to find us at the Market, we'll be sure to post our location/status on FaceBook and Twitter so you can find us among the many vendors! 
Thoughtfully ~ Kath

Friday, May 4, 2012

We're Official!

We've received our two pieces of paper that make the BakeHouse a legitimate COMMERCIAL business in Las Cruces, NM! I stressed Commercial since this is the status that will not only allow for us to sell at the Farm Market, but also allow for us to sell to restaurants, stores and to ship bread. I also had to register with the FDA, but there is no certificate to display - only a number :(

We felt like we'd graduated from school when we put them in their frames. This morning we found ourselves looking at them with a sense of awe - we did it!

Our Board of Health Certificate

Our City of Las Cruces, Home based business License
So when is there going to be bread? I met with with the Farm Market office and my mom and I have to attend an orientation meeting on 5/8/12. At this meeting we'll find out when our first day at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market will be. I've been firing the oven daily and next week I'll be producing small bakes since our Walk In for proofing isn't completed yet.

We're waiting for the Thermocouples to arrive from Ovencrafters in California. These will assist me with the larger bakes in helping me establish just how much heat has been stored in the oven mass. The first couple of bakes will be a bit tricky until I get acquainted with the new BakeHouse Oven. It will have it's very own personality, but it will take some time for it's true self to be revealed to me, the baker. The Oven will have no issue with humbling me if I don't respect it :)

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there. We are looking forward to several family celebrations coming up in the next two weeks. It will force us to take a much needed break. Then we'll regroup and get ready to tackle the "To Do" list again!

The BakeHouse prep room waiting for action!

So stay tuned. Next week we'll start to transition over to the Oven and Bread production. 
It's so awesome to share this particular Blog with all of you! Thoughtfully, Kath