Customers ask me all the time at market if I bake in a wood fired oven. Maybe this is because my breads are large and rustic, but I like to think it's because I look like the kind of baker who would work with masonry and fire. “No,” I reply, shaking my head and grimace-smiling. “I don’t have a wood fired oven.”
What I have is a slightly run down commissary kitchen in downtown Bellingham that I share with two restaurants and a handful of other food businesses. On a winter night the kitchen temperature might dip to 45 °F (I keep my sourdough buckets on a plant heating mat); in the summer, temperatures rise to 95 °F , even with the hood on. There’s no proofer to rise the bread, no walk-in cooler space to hold the dough cold, no mixer, and certainly no bread oven. But it’s affordable, and has approval from the various goverment agencies that have to approve such things. It’s a few blocks from the Saturday market, and within a 15 minute ride of most of my wholesale customers. It’s been my incubator: a safe place to learn and grow as I’ve felt my tentative way into this business.
I’m immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to build Raven Breads to this point on a shoestring budget, and without debt. The commissary has made that possible. But there’s only so much bread I can shove through its little convection oven, and only so many hours I can bake in a day. Now (or at least soon) it’s time to move on. Bakers and business owners, if you have advice on growth and finance, old business plans to look over, opinions about local real estate and contractors, or even if you just want to kvetch about the struggles of bread and business, I'd love to talk to you.
Next week, I'll tell you about my dream for the new bakery.
Owner | Baker
TODAY AT MARKET
Red & White + Garden Herb Explosion!
Mountain Rye + Vollkornbrot
Malted Chocolate Chip + Bittersweet Cookies
Oatmeal Marmalade Scone
Buckwheat Rhubarb Scone
Breakfast Scone (oat + fig + hazelnut)
Lemon Poppy Berry Tea Cake
PRE-ORDER for Wednesday 5/16
(place order by Sunday night for Wednesday pickup)
Mountain Rye ($7)