Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Problems with Good Bread

1. It's time intensive.

2. Basic cost of goods is relatively cheap, and everyone knows it, so you can't charge enough to make much of a sustainable living off bread alone.

3. It has a very, very short shelf life. And you had better be able to come up with something to do with the leftovers when you have them.

4. The labor to make 15 loaves and 25 loves is similar, but you need to have something you can do with the other ten loaves, see #3.

5. Once you start feeding the bitch, you can't stop. It needs feeding at regular times, gets finicky about the day, the time, even the weather. And even if you are nice to it, there is no guarantee that your bread will be as nice today as it was yesterday. And if the bitch dies, it takes a while to get a new one going again. (Don't ask me what happened to the employee who threw away all the levain one morning.)

6. It requires special equipment. Not that a spiral mixer or a deck oven can't be used for other things, but for really good bread, that's thousands of extra dollars.

7. Every baker knows these things. They also know that there are wholesalers that they can just buy bread from and with everything else, it would just be so, so easy....

8. Everyone wants it. Why is this a liability? If you make enough to fill the need, it tends to be a dedicate your life to it or let it go choice. In this industry, which do you think works best for most small bakeries?

Scary list for a bread geek like me.

Find a bakery. If they make their own bread - and I said "make" not "bake" - start buying it. This is an affordable luxury even just once a week, and I don't think I need to list all the reasons why good bread is better than the preserved flour sponges that sell at the big chains. It's better than the "artisanal bread" from those same grocery chains because you know who made it, and can ask all the necessary questions, like, "Has this been frozen?". If the baker looks affronted at the thought, buy the bread.

I mean, look at the crust on this. I make good bread, but this? Totally worth $3.50.

1 comment:

ThePooh said...

I am suddenly stricken with a feeling of guilt that I haven't made any edible bread since I returned from Orlando. I think I'll bust out my breadmaker tonight. Not the same, I know, but for a novice like me, it's all I can manage. :)