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A local bakery let down

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My wife and I got our taxes done today and while we were driving home I noticed a small bakery. The bakery was new (within the last year) and I hadn't noticed it before. With the economy like it is I'm trying to support local businesses more than ever so I decided to stop in.

The first thing that I noticed was that the selection of baked goods (cupcakes) and candies was all over the place. It really didn't seem to specialize in one thing...but had alot of everything and not a good selection of anything. Things weren't looking too promising.

Thanks to you guys and gals I usually make some bread at least twice a week. But I didn't have anything ready for homemade bread today. So I asked if they sell any bread. The man replied "sure, we have a 36" french". Sounds good to me.

He asks me how I would like it packaged, because they didn't have any bags that were long enough. This seemed odd to me (as they are a bakery) but I stated he could just cut it in half. He said "Ok" and point to the bag he was going to put it in, a plastic bag. As I was standing near the cash register I noticed that they had a small container of Pillsbury frosting that they were using on their cupcakes.

I was beginning to wonder about the whole bread thing so I called for him in the back part of the store. When he came up front I asked him if they made the bread at the store. He replied the brand, it was a less than mediocre grocery store french bread with no crust. The very reason I started baking my own bread.

I've been running into a number of stores in my area that are supposed to be specialty shops, but are putting together products that I'd expect to find on Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade episodes.

UGH! Have you guys and gals run into anything similar where you live?
:mad: dan
post #2 of 17
Back in the days when I had my little bakery, the sales reps were constantly trying to get me to buy this that and the other pre-made product; icings, fillings, toppings etc etc. One guy was particulary nice and we would discuss trends etc. He was able to show me that in the USA, one could have a bakery with no ovens, no mixers, no proof boxes and no scales. All that was needed was a large walk in freezer, tables for thawing and display cases. Maybe a few decorating tubes to "personalize" a cake. Consequently there is no understanding of what the crust on french bread really is supposed to be. Its all really very sad and pathetic IMO. Then these business owners wonder why they have such poor sales and end up going out of business.
post #3 of 17
When even the supermarkets are carrying artisan type breads, and some even baking on premises, there is absolutely no excuse for a "specialty" shop to offer that kind of mediocre products.

Plus, it seems to me, that the "baker" doesn't even understand what the products he sells are supposed to be like; nor how they should be packaged. But I bet he's charging a premium price.

Is it any wonder so many of us have started baking our own!
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 17
I live in the deep deep south and it seems that the bakers in this area never even heard of unbleached flour. And talk about anemic looking, pale white turnovers and other baked goods. Yeeeech.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #5 of 17
i have come across some bakeries that serve really weird almost plastic looking items, or sometimes raw looking items.. why would their pastries be pale? ive seen it and dont understand.
post #6 of 17
Paleness: either undercooking or lower oven temperatures. Wannabees, you know.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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post #7 of 17
where I live, you can throw a rock and hit four donut shops. seems like they are everywhere. What is funny to me is I always try to get a peek in the back and everytime see the same type of pre mix donut flour.

We drove an hour away to try this "legendary" donut shop (the one by the airport with a HUGE donut arch over it). Salivating, anticipating, as I drive up to the window, ready to order and what do I see??? like 20 bags of donut pre-mix proudly piled next to the guy at the window.

OMG, I just drove an hour to get the same gosh-darn donut I coulda got a block from my house.

Doesn't anyone make "their own" anymore???:crazy:
Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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post #8 of 17
having struggled for years with my do-naught addiction . . .

both types of donuts - cake and yeast - are exceedingly subject to technique.

catch a trout, cut it in half, give half to two different cooks, you get two different fish dishes.

same with doughnaughts - except it's more like forty or fifty different outcomes.

the premix is not the same for cake and yeast - so you're only seeing a part of "the back"
and that said, the pre-mix is probably actual flour + preservatives + anti spoilage + anit-caking + pourability additives. for some reason, the home d-naught maker can abide without all those chemicals; the big guys who go through 50 lb sacks per day vs my five pounds per week can't manage without better living through chemistry.

if you're talking chain shops, they're probably contractually obligated to buy their chemical crapified stuff from the franchiser. independents don't have that issue.
post #9 of 17
When I had my little bakery I made my donuts from scratch, as with all the rest of my products. Never did understand how it could be considered too difficult to make the dough from scratch and obtain consistent results. The other selling point for mixes was labor savings. The downside of mixes is that no ones finished product is unique or special.
post #10 of 17

Re

I going to keep this short, because it's late but, In the economy right now. people are getting laid off. the shop i work at, 28 was cut down to 15! less people means less stuff can be made at the bakery. and it's hard to keep a good product that takes a long time to make. so breakfast pastries are now bought frozen and thawed out and baked. it's just the times we are living in. be glad that it's not like it was in the great depression. bag donut mix tastes ok. would you rather have frozen donuts? that's all. thanks. I don't agree with using pillsberby frosting but as I said before....
post #11 of 17
I own and operate a small patisserie. And I am proud to say that we offer an extensive product line and it is all handmade and from scratch.

I think there are two reasons why places like mine are few and far between these days. I think the first reason is people aren't being trained the way I was any more. I studied with an amazing French pastry chef. The things he taught me cannot be learned in books....only by hands on work with an old world master. I still practice the things he taught me to this day. I know what a real croissant should look, feel, and taste like...and I KNOW how to make one. I KNOW what brioche SHOULD be like....etc, etc....and if for some reason I make a batch of something and it's not up to par....it goes in the trash. I try to live by a motto that I once read in a Gordon Ramsay book "Never let your mistakes leave your kitchen". I have found that to be very, very wise.

Secondly--to run a shop like mine COSTS alot of money. Labour costs are crazy....but in order to keep the quality up it's important to pay well. There are only two of us that bake at my shop....but we have things down to a system and work as a team. If I were to lose my sous....I think I'd sit down and bawl for a day or so...she was a great find. I pay her well and I treat her well because she is invaluable to me.

It would be SOOOO much easier (and probably cheaper) to just buy in frozen crap from Sysco....but where's the skill in that? They are forever trying to sell me pre-fab this and frozen that. No thanks--you can get that at the other bakeries in town. Now Sysco brings me in samples and asks for "your opinion....because we know you make all your own stuff here". Cracks me up--I KNOW they're hoping I'll fall in love with the stuff and start buying it.

And yes my butter and cream costs are probably more money than what they pay for other bakeries' frozen crud....but I can stand behind my product and be proud of it...and know that I am putting out the very best product I am capable of. If I am going to work this hard....and man! do you work hard in this industry...I want to be able to hold my head up high and say I gave my customers the best quality workmanship that I am capable of.

Just last week I sent a few friends of mine on spy missions to buy a sampling of stuff from the other bakeries in town. My sous and I sat down and sampled everything just so we had an idea what was out there. What we found was very, very sad......it seems few people care about quality any more.

If there comes a time when I can no longer afford to run my shop the way I do now...I'd rather close it than go to frozen or mixes.

I am not criticizing the choices of others...I feel each proprietor must do what they feel is in the best interest of their business in these tough economic times. But this is my choice.
post #12 of 17
Having lived in the SF Bay Area and Paris, the **** I see in bakeries here in the deep south is way way worse that one could purchase frozen.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #13 of 17
Very nice post chefelle. This was the same sentiment I had when I had my little bakery. Its not a mind set one finds very often anymore.
post #14 of 17
Thank you for your kind words, JBD. I feel that the man who trained me entrusted me with a gift and it is my duty to use it wisely.

These are tough economic times. Some days the books look really good...other days...not so good...and some days down right frightening. But I stay true to what I have learned and somehow we always manage to stay afloat...and even prosper. I feel very blessed indeed.
post #15 of 17
Standing and applauding.

and yours is the only pastery shop I would even consider giving my money to.:bounce:
Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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Chile today, Hot Tamale!
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post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
I almost feel like making a trip to Nova Scotia now :lips: It's nice to see that there are still people who put an emphasis on not only quality...but tradition as well.

I suppose the market will dictate if this shop will stay in business using cupcake mix, small consumer made frosting and selling a low quality grocery store brand french bread. But I would ask...please don't call yourself a bakery!

I suppose I'm not entirely surprised that quality has been pushed aside in this day and age. I don't think there was one scratch made item in the store, and worse I don't think the owner or employees gave it a second thought. :(

hooray ChefTalk! you inspire me to eat better :)

dan
post #17 of 17
i work at a golf course, and im not ashamed to say that yes, we use frozen cinnamon rolls and frozen danish, and puff pastry. they actually are of good quality and i like to eat them from time to time. now, thats not the only product we put out, its just a fraction of what we do. so i think that there IS some good product out there, but if i was working at a bakery, and those items represent my company, i'd definitely make my own in house.
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