The lonliness of the night baker.

Jeremy's picture

Recently I visited a commercial bakery in New York city where I live and work as a Chef, it's a large scale artisan bakery owned by a successful chef turned entrepreneur and one of New Yorks first "artisan bakers." Let me tell you my whole aesthetic and artsy fartsy dream of owning a bakery was shattered! The machinery and the expansive space filled with racks full of fresh baked breads was enough, but the massive ovens, my jaw was on the floor as he gave me the tour of his factory;there was the recognizable dough in the mixers, proofers, racks, benches, but in my mind I had envisioned busy hands and hard working bakers I had seen in other bakeries where I had staged for the feel and experience! What is a dreamer of the stone hearth and hand shaped loaves supposed to think? Is there space for us or should we be relegated to the home oven producing our one or two loaves for friends and family, or to post frivolously on a bread forum so you can tap yourself on the head and get lauded by your fellow bakers? The owner told me that he had long passed the early adventures of being a night baker, a strange place filled with odd characters that quietly work in the caverns or basements mixing, folding,shaping and finally baking the most basic foodstuff that humans enjoy. So what is it?, that link that makes us endeavor and toil over this gas bubble with it's crust and slashed signature of the baker.Certainly the feel of the dough is a throw back to handling clay I suppose, but with a warmer feel, vivant!Then the stages which are most difficult for me, the folding and fermentation, the pre-shape,the short rest period, shaping for the last fermentation, if need be a long retardation in the fridge if we are a modern kind of baker, then the coupe de grace and finally pop! In the oven it goes!......Oh let's not forget the the snap crackle and pop of when the bread is set free from the hearth and cooled! All a perfect ballet with spins and pirouettes with begining and final act.
I suppose I won't give up on the dream maybe I'll just have to, knead, re-shape it and see where or what comes from the ashes of this rude awakening and dream of the lonliness of night baker!


TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2006 July 14

Jeremy, friends have been encouraging me to open a bakery, but I’ve spoken to the owner of a bakery too. What she tells me wipes out any romantic notions. She doesn’t have the time to make or decorate cakes, which she loves, and has to get them from an outside source. All she is concerned with is making enough for her overhead$$$. *pop*

Let’s hope, that you (and I), will one day find a half-way dream bakery that we can find true joy in producing wondrous breads with our own hands and signature.

Jeremy's picture
Jeremy 2006 July 15

It sort of put things into perspective, I guess dream a little bit smaller and maybe that can achieve the two things, maybe? Although I think you have tremendous talent and it shows!


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