On long days in the commissary kitchen, I daydream about my bakery. The fluorescent lights above me hum and flicker, casting my workbench sickly yellow against the tan and stainless steel of the windowless room. I daydream about light: The walls of my bakery, I decide, are warm white, catching light from the high windows even on rainy days. I can watch the sky lighten in the morning through those windows. I can watch the days pass, and the seasons change. There are no fluorescent lights.
The kitchen I share smells of cooking meat, fish sauce, and bleach. I daydream about the smells of my bakery: Baking bread. Butter and chocolate. Coffee. A little wood smoke, as I dump the smoked rye berries into the batch of vollkornbrot in the mixer. And the front windows are open, letting in the sun-hot scent of lavender and rosemary from the brick planters of herbs just outside. One of the neighborhood kids pinches off a sprig of mint coming in the front door, and carries the bright scent with him as he meanders to the counter, crushing it, furtively, in his hand.
Here, in the commissary kitchen, it’s always loud. The lights hum, water runs, the dishwasher whooshes, the fan in the convection oven whomp whomp whomps slightly off-center, pans clatter, the hood roars, and in the prep room, the restaurant cooks are blasting Journey so loud I can feel it through my whole body. I daydream about the sounds of my bakery: I get in early to begin the day’s bake alone. I have a few hours before anyone else arrives. Later, perhaps, we’ll put on music. The bakery will fill with voices as the benches of the long, battered wood table in front fill with customers sitting down together over coffee and pastries, as the regulars stand chatting in line, catching up on the neighborhood gossip, as we stand together over the mixer, talking about yesterday’s dough and troubleshooting the new batch of flour. But in the early morning I work in silence. The sun is just lightening the sky when I pull the first bread out of the oven. It’s so quiet in the bakery I can hear the crust sing.
My days in the commissary kitchen are brutally long. I begin the day up to my elbows in rye, and end some 14 or 18 hours later as I pull the last batch of wheat bread out of the too-small convection oven. I daydream about the bakery’s equipment: We have a mixer, of course, to save hands and wrists from injury, and for the efficiency of large batches. The work benches are smooth maple, and long enough to hold all the shaping dough. And the oven: a real deck oven! With a loader! Perhaps it’s a Bassanina, fueled now by natural gas, but in a few years converted to wood when the mill starts making pressed sawdust blocks from their offcuts (what do the lumber mills do with their waste?). And by that point, we’ll have gotten a grant to put solar panels on the roof (can you get 3 phase out of small scale solar?). And between the waste-wood fueled oven, and the solar/hydro electricity, and our small fleet of delivery bikes and trailers, and our locally grown (with conservation ag practices?) and milled grain, our little bakery will be well on its way to carbon neutrality.
Baking is hard, physical work, even with the help of the right equipment, but in my bakery daydream, our striving to become better bakers, better community members, better environmental stewards, keeps that work engaging. There is space for new dreams in the bakery: a new bread, evening baking classes, a cafe opened next door by a long-time employee. And no one working in the bakery goes hungry for lack of bread. We pay a living wage, from dishwasher to manager, with benefits. This is my daydream, after all. From where I’m standing, anything is possible.
See you soon.
Owner | Baker
TODAY AT MARKET
Red & White Wheat + Garden Herb
Mountain Rye + Vollkornbrot
Malted Chocolate Chip + Bittersweet Cookies
Raspberry Jam & Oat Scone
Sour Cherry & Buckwheat Scone
Lemon Poppy Teacake
PRE-ORDER for Wednesday 5/9
(place order by Sunday night for Wednesday pickup)
Toasted Sesame ($8)
Mountain Rye ($7)