Thursday, December 26, 2013

Navigating 2013 ~ a year of growth . . . .

"Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States" ~ Ronald Reagan

As I pulled up a new page to start this blog, I realized how quickly the last four months has passed and how quickly the end of the year is approaching!

If you would have told me when we fired up the oven here in New Mexico in 2012 that we would have a workforce of 5 people plus Tom, my mom and myself, I would have laughed. But here we are and each person plays a vital role in the BakeHouse.

What I feared the most in managing our growth was that I'd end up hiring someone to do what I do. But with the insight and wisdom of other artisans and entrepreneurs, I was able to navigate the road of growth without giving up my roll as baker.

So as the BakeHouse enters into it's 2nd year in Las Cruces, NM I am looking forward to what's ahead.  I'm excited about the lessons to be learned, the new breads to create and the new people I'll meet because of our shared love of bread!

Thank you for an amazing year!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Thursday, August 1, 2013

BakeHouse Bread for everyone!

Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one ~ Nikolai Berdyaev
There is not a bake that goes by that I don't think about the many, many customers on the East Coast that purchased BakeHouse Breads. The customer's of Nature's Harvest in Blairstown, NJ; Sussex County Food Co-Op in Newton, NJ; The Health Shoppe in Morristown, NJ and also in Chester, NJ.
And the Farm Markets - even though they were held only about 5 months out of the year. There was the Bernardsville Farm Market in Bernardsville, NJ at the Bernardsville Train Station, our booth was right next to Valley Shepherd Creamery from Long Valley. The Madison Farm Market in Madison, NJ where we'd start out at the High School and then when school sessions started, we'd move to the public pool parking lot. The mid-week Market in East Stroudsburg, PA where we'd set up by the train tracks close to the Old Train Depot. And just before we relocated to New Mexico, a small market in Hackettstown, NJ that was set up at the Livestock Auction house.
Then the special events! The biggest was the Hope Christmas Craft Fair in Hope, NJ. Then the Northwest Christian School's big Christmas Craft Show and there was also an event in Califon that brought in many fine crafters from all over the State of NJ.
So with all my reminiscing completed - I am thrilled to let you know that if you are a BakeHouse customer from the past, and you've missed your daily bread, or if you had a taste of our breads maybe once or twice and then we moved, or if you just want to see if BakeHouse Bread is something you'd like to try - you can now order and pay for your breads on line! 
You can now access our online bread store at:
Take some time to navigate the site and feel free to email or call with any questions you may have.
A SPECIAL NOTE to local Las Cruces customers. Please do not order on line, since you'll be charged shipping. Just give me a call and we'll take your order over the phone and you can pick up and pay at the Saturday Market.
I'm looking forward to hopefully reconnecting with many of you. And for those of you who are new to BakeHouse, welcome! 
Thank you in advance and remember to make sure you always have your daily bread.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A day of test baking . . . the humble Bialy.

"When I was an adolescent in Auschwitz lying on the hard shelf that was my bed and hallucinating from hunger, I would often try to recall the shape and savory aroma of the kuchen we used to eat at home in Bialystok."    Samuel Pisar - Holocaust survivor

Today I had a date with bread history. With each of the breads I've baked, the process of test baking is like attending a History Class. I find myself eager to learn about the bread through the process of making it. Such was the journey today with the humble Bialy. Bialystok, a town in Poland, which is believed to be the birthplace of the Bialy.

Because of my passion for baking with sourdough, I converted the simple Bialy formula, that uses commercial yeast, to a formula that would use sourdough for leavening. I'm very, very pleased with the result. As they came out of the oven, I felt like a little girl on Christmas morning, walking into the living room, before anyone woke up, and seeing the lit Christmas tree with all the wrapped gifts underneath! It was magical to see these old world treasures come out of the oven and smell the wonderful aroma of caramelized onion! Here's my journey with the Bialy - Enjoy!

All ingredients into the mixer and mixed for 10 minutes on slow speed.

The dough temperature was a bit higher than I wanted.
But the small amount of dough cooled quickly to the desired
76° once I placed the dough bucket in a cool room.
The dough came together nicely. It was firm, but not overly stiff after the 10 minutes of mixing. It then went into a dough bucket to ferment for 2 hours. I stretched the dough after the first hour of fermenting.

I was excited to see wonderful fermentation from the sourdough
showing up after the first hour of fermenting.
Once the two hours of fermentation was done, I then scaled the dough into 12 - 3oz balls and prepared them for another hour of fermentation. The dough at this point was filled with life. It's one of the experiences as the baker of sourdough bread that I enjoy, the feel of the living dough.

I placed the dough balls onto parchment sprayed with non-stick spray.
I then covered the pan with a flour sack towel and then
put the whole tray into a plastic bag.

After the two hours of fermentation was complete, the dough balls were ready to be made into the unique form of the Bialy. Basically, forming them is like making mini pizzas!

The dough was extremely pliable but strong.
The trick was to make sure the middle was pressed down so that it was paper thin.
This would assure that as the Bialy baked, it would not pop up in the
middle and push out the onion mixture.
I used a fresh, big, juicy yellow onion from the Mesilla Valley.
I minced the onion very fine and then added some plain
breadcrumbs to the onions. 

The Bialys baked for 15 minutes. It was hard to wait for them to cool enough before taking a bite!

The aroma in the kitchen reminded me of being in New York City
and walking by a Bagel and Bialy shop.
So it's just like we say "a little taste of Brooklyn in the Land of Enchantment"!

I was so pleased with the flavor. And the crumb was nice and light.
I felt as though the first test bake was a success.
 Tomorrow I will test bake the Bialys again and then bake them in the wood fired oven! I'm already looking forward to tomorrows breakfast - a hot bialy with butter!

I will be sure to post the results! Stay tuned - Kath

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Seems everyone wants us to have a storefront!

Making mistakes and learning from them is crucial to winning. Learning from the mistakes of others is less painful 
Dave Ramsey

The last three months have been filled with growth and change. It's been exhilarating to say the least. Owning a business can make you a bit seasick if you're someone whose not up for the challenge. You need to be willing to take a road less traveled, think outside the box and have the ability to reinvent yourself over and over again and know when to say "no"!            

There are so many snares along the way, and if you're not paying attention, you can really get yourself sidelined. At first it's very subtle, you don't even notice them. You are busy keeping up the pace and focusing on growing the business. As each Saturday approached the customers were coming. New ones, repeat ones, tourists and even folks from as far away as Deming, NM and El Paso, TX! And between the hours of 9:30am to 11:00am at the market it was busy. And over the chatter you'd hear "do you have a storefront?", "is there any place else I can get your bread?", "do you ship your bread?", "do you sell your bread to restaurants?", "will you open a shop in El Paso?", "when are you going to open a restaurant?"

Our response: "this is our storefront - we're here every Saturday. ". It seemed to come out almost like an apology. Hum . . . why is that I questioned myself.

Let the search begin:
We needed to investigate this for ourselves. You cannot make a good decision about something, especially a business move, if you do not gather information. We started out by talking with a Bank, a long time landlord, who had owned several business properties and leased them out, two Realtors and also made notes of other vendors, like ourselves that had opened up shops and then closed them.

1) The Concession Trailers. Every shape and size. New, used, barely used (a lesson to be learned there). Several things kept making the concept unappealing. The cost being the first hurdle, the loss of our wonderful space at the market and the barrier that a vending coach presents. With the coach concept we would be inside a box looking down at our customers and handing them their food through a window. Very unappealing to us since seeing our customers, talking to them, joking, laughing and sharing our business with them is so much a part of who we are. So check that one off.

2) The brick and mortar. We looked at several buildings and spaces that were for lease. We had problems right from the start. We didn't want to have a landlord, and we didn't want to pour a huge chunk of money and our own blood, sweat and tears into someone else's building to retro fit it to our needs. And no matter how we looked at it, we had to be honest, our new location at the market was proving to be a huge success without being in a building.

3) Buying property and building our own shop. In the beginning, this was really exciting! We even had a builder in mind. Since we had built our own home and BakeHouse in New Jersey, taking on a project like this one was something we were familiar with! There was even an awesome piece of property within walking distance from Main Street where the market takes place and it was in a historic district. BUT . . . when we punched the numbers and did the pros and cons we found ourselves saying - if we do this we'll put tremendous stress on our product and ourselves. And the list of eateries that had come and gone, some within a matter of months after opening, served as a serious warning. And once again we found ourselves going back to our location at the market on Saturdays - there would be no way we could match the foot traffic that we received each and every Saturday at the market with a building and a huge pile of debt.

Our search had come to a conclusion, we are very happy and satisfied with where we were at. We like that our storefront was at the Saturday Las Cruces Farmers' and Crafters' Market. Right on an awesome corner in front of The Music Box, a store that has been a long time resident in Las Cruces. We like the buzz that takes place every Saturday morning as we're setting up, with that flutter of anticipation in the pit of your stomach as you wonder what the day will bring. We really enjoy our block and all the vendors that we share it with. And best of all, we like the fact that we are not owned by a Bank. It allows for us to be creative with our menu and breads, it allows for us to take on young employees, to mentor them and see them develop working skills that they will take with them into the world and it allows for us to enjoy what we do without the pressures of owning or leasing a building.

But there was one thing that a storefront would have given us - a place for our customers to sit down, in the shade to enjoy their BakeHouse fare. So we thought outside the box and we've put in our request for a third space that will hopefully become the "BakeHouse Outdoor Bistro" at the Las Cruces Farmers' & Crafters' Market! It may take some time for the concept to come to fruition, but our customers are excited about it and the cost . . . . well, let's just say it does not involve a Bank and Dave Ramsey would be very pleased.

We appreciate each and every one of you. Those of you who are far away and share our adventure with us on Facebook and our blog and those of you who faithfully come to the market each Saturday to enjoy our bread and bagels.

Thoughtfully - Kath

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Batten down the hatches . . . it's MARCH in New Mexico!

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."  Charles Dickens

There really is no way to describe what it's like to sell bread at an open market with the wind howling and throwing gusts of 30+ mph at you. We've had some of our best market days when the weather is difficult. Our customers are amazing! But there came a point this past Saturday that I did consider whether or not we were loosing our minds as I watch the bacon and the eggs Tom was cooking on the grill go flying off in the wind! As one vendor hollered out as the bacon flew by his booth "watch out, the Pigs are flying!"

We did open our BakeHouse Bagel Booth with Grand Success on March 2nd. But it was a difficult day emotionally, for no sooner did we get both the BakeHouse Bread and the BakeHouse Bagel Booth set up, we received a phone call from El Paso, TX that my 27 year old cousin had passed away suddenly. Fortunately, my father-in-law, Tom Sr., was able to pack up my mom, Jolan, right away and take her to El Paso, about a 45 minute drive. 
Tom and I along with my mother-in-law, Rita and our wonderful new employee, Erin, served our customers. It's at times like these, when you have to function while your processing difficult news, that family is so extremely important. I feel in my heart that it's this very aspect that gives the BakeHouse it's unique personality. It is a blessing beyond words.

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door"  Milton Berle

We had no idea when we added our bagels the the bread line up that we were actually creating an opportunity to expand our business. What started out as a simple desire to recreate the "real" bagel, has now turned in to it's very own business! We now have two very distinct Vendor Booths side by side. The BakeHouse Bagel Booth is introducing us to new customers because of the Bagel Sandwiches, which in turn, introduces those customers to our BakeHouse European Breads and vise versa. I have to say that this to me is truly a Win Win business opportunity!

Only folks from the East Coast are familiar with some of the items we serve.
It's been fun putting together all the advertising. It takes me back to all those
years I was a designer in the publishing industry!

And adding to our already exciting venture, we have now received official news that we have been given a permanent spot at the Las Cruces Farmer's and Crafter's Market! We've been told that we are being considered an Anchor Vendor for the block that we've been placed on. This is really, really important to us. Dave Ramsey would love it! It's like having your very own store front, but without all the overhead of having to own your own building. This weekend will be our first time at our new location, so I'm busy getting the word out, this blog being one of those vehicles. 

Letting folks know where to park is key!
Our new location gives our customers quick, easy
access to our booth.

The access alley is welcoming and will literally take
our customers right to our booth. No longer will they
have to wander up and down the long stretch looking for us!

We will be located in front of a store that has been a part of the Las Cruces
Downtown Mall for many, many years. We feel it a privilege to call this new
location our home! So on Saturdays, you'll find us at 200 S. Downtown Mall, Las Cruces, NM!
This is the weather forecast for this coming weekend: 

Saturday, 3/16/2013
clearClear. High of 84F. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph.

It is our hope that it holds true! My plan is to take lots of pictures, and I'm excited to have help in doing that since we'll be blessed with some extra help. A student from Germany, Tim, will be joining us for several Saturday's as part of his work study time here in the US. I'm looking forward to when some of our German customers come and Tim will be there to welcome them in German. What a surprise that will be!

Thank you to all of you who have joined us in this journey. Thoughtfully, Kath

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A little bit of Brooklyn in the sunny Southwest . . .

This NYC icon has been recreated into a Porcelain Mug and serves
as our Business Card holder!
"It seems that when you travel or go abroad you'll have these wonderful culinary experiences, only to come home and find yourself talking to everyone about them, knowing that you'll not get them again unless you go back to that location. You know Kath, you seem to have brought the experience to us." as quoted to me by a wonderful, sweet spirit, Abby. It's not her exact quote, but I think I've captured the heart of what she was sharing. This was while we were eating BakeHouse Bagels at a breakfast gathering at our church.

This has indeed been our project for the last several months, and why I've not had many updates on the Blog. There has been a lot of prayer, thought, Board of Health meetings, Block Captain discussions, reviews, family conversations and test baking that has gone into our desire to bring to Las Cruces, NM the wonderful, traditional Bagel from the days of the Bagel Bakers Local 338 Union of New York City, which was primarily in the borough of Brooklyn, established in the early 1900's.

As I had shared with you several blogs ago about introducing the Bagel to our lineup of bread, you'll remember the Tom, the over builder, was the instigator. Once we had our bagel production underway, Tom then set his sights on the BakeHouse Bagel Booth.

Again I have been inspired by the history of this "poor peoples" bread. I have such a passion in bringing this simple food, in its original form, to the wonderful City of the Crosses, Las Cruces.

Check out this wonderful video: 

Bringing the idea into fruition has been another amazing journey, which will have us now holding two permits. One for the BakeHouse, which is a food processing permit and the second is a Caterer permit which will allow for us to have our BakeHouse Bagel Booth at the Farmer's Market, which is literally a portable Bagel Shop! How cool is THAT!

So along with the bagels, there will of course be the . . . schmears, and a few other things that are uniquely Brooklyn!

We will offer the refreshing and traditionally
made Egg Cream Soda (which contains no eggs)

And a Bagel Booth that's tipping it's hat toward NYC
wouldn't be complete if it didn't offer the
Heavenly Coffee . . . In the traditional 10oz size cup.
No mega sizes offered here.
The 10oz to go cup is easy to carry along with a brief case,
newspaper and bagel as you hustled to get on the Subway or Path.
Remember, our goal is to capture a tiny part of the true NYC experience!

We did have to sneak one major New Jersey icon into our menu - Taylor Ham, also known as Pork Roll. We will showcase this in our Jersey Boy Bagel Sandwich. As you can see, we are having a blast putting the BakeHouse Bagel Booth together and can't wait to share it with Las Cruces.

We have found that our lives with traditional European Bread and Jewish Bagels is so interesting, like reading a really good book . It's the people that they bring into our lives. Each person, unique and sharing with us their experiences with bread. And while they are sharing with us, I find that I'm getting a small glimpse of into their heart . . . . what a privilege.

Thank you for coming along with us . . . thoughtfully ~ Kath

Monday, January 7, 2013

The BakeHouse is getting some Radio time!

Tomorrow morning at 7:30am I'll be giving an interview with Michael Swickard about the BakeHouse and the European Sourdough Breads that we make. Hope you can join us!

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