Friday was the last of three days of baking, we were doing our largest order yet and it would take two firings to bake all the bread ordered. We were ecstatic with the bread that came out of the oven, beautiful golden loaves that shined. I excitedly made pictures for the website. Up until now it was an uneventful week, aside from the normal chaos of starting a new business. We were finally finished around 9:30pm, Sarai and I headed our separate ways to deliver the bread. The experiment this week was to try baking the evening before the day of delivery. Mostly because it was proving to be almost impossible to get the bread to the shops before 10am, even when we started at 3am.
We both got home around 23.00, exhausted but fulfilled. We could just imagine all the people eating our delicious (and nutritious) bread the next morning for breakfast with jam, for lunch with a bowl of soup or as a snack through the day. We both felt like we were finally getting the hang of it. We still had a few deliveries the next morning, but other than that, we could sleep in more than usual. Slowly we started our day with coffee and toast, planning on doing some admin work. Sarai totaled how much we should be getting from the previous day of baking; 350 euros!!! Maybe we could make a living off of this... Everything finally seemed within reach.
Then the fateful email arrived, all of the large loaves of one customer were undone in the middle. Silence, a weight hung over us. Sarai was heartbroken and immediately sent out an email to all of the customers apologising, asking for feedback. Yes, several people also had similar experiences. Some customers had even been getting undone bread for several weeks, but just decided to go along with it because they were so excited about what we are doing.
Absolute failure! Bread that is not done in the middle? What kind of amateurs are we? From the feedback we received, we learned that some loaves in the same batch were perfectly done and others weren’t… The conclusion: our oven does not provide equal heat… What a bummer! Our outdoor oven and forest bakery is proving to be romantic yet impractical. Maybe we need to better insulate the oven or fire it in a different way. We will have to keep trying. Perhaps a sacrificial load is necessary in order to see where the oven is hot and where it is not.
Just as we get going, something happens to humble us. Big-time. Smooth seas do not a great sailor make. Could it be the same logic that cooked bread does not a great baker make? No! Cooked bread would certainly make for a better baker!
Our customers have been surprisingly understanding and supportive of us. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are still learning, that there is still so much to learn. Clearly our oven has distinct character, a mind of her own. Something needs to be figured out, yet there is so little information out there on Haüssler wood fired ovens. Does anyone know a pro out there?
For now we will just give it our very best again this week. Try and make up for our mistakes. We're working on our subscription scheme and have it almost ready for a test audience, but we’ll have to wait, of course, until the bread is consistent. We have a new system which will help us to better track orders and sales. It will be good to know what is selling well, if we are growing, how much we are making… all of those things that are probably obvious to any competent business person, less so to us.
One huge upside that came out of this rather embarrassing feat is the great feedback we have been getting from all of our customers. That has been super helpful in so many ways. So a big shout out to everyone, thank you so much! Please keep giving us feedback, and not just positive feedback.
That’s it from us for this week, we are back to figuring out our oven and cherishing our dough.