Saturday, December 20, 2008

The price of success...

On Thursday, I was doing up a test batch of Belizean Creole Bread when my mixer broke.  Considering how many hundreds of pounds of dough it's done this year (over 250 easily), it's no surprise that something broke.  The bolt that holds up the head assembly that rotates around snapped, lucky for me the bread was done kneading when it gave.  

I'll start off with the most important part, the bread.  The Belizean Creole Bread is made with coconut milk, and came out tasting sweet and delicious. It reminded me a little bit of challah with the sweetness and slightly chewy texture.  Tomorrow some slices are destined to become French Toast for breakfast.

On the part of the mixer, there is a repair place only about half an hour from me, and I'm able to pick the wife up from work so she doesn't have to take the commuter bus back.  In about 7-10 days it should be fixed, and the cost is under a third of what a new mixer costs.  I do now realize that about 10% of the sales should go into a fund to pay for future equipment upgrade and repairs, so starting after I get the mixer back the fund will start.

One other thing I learned is that there are at least 3 patron saints of bakers.  I chose Saint Elizabeth of Hungary as mine, in case I ever need one.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Market Success!

I sold the most bagels ever at the Holiday Market this past Saturday, taking 16 dozen and bringing home only 5 plain (which maybe I could have sold, but feel silly sitting at a nearly empty table with just 5 plain bagels that may or may not sell in the last 2 hours).  I got to see many of my regular customers, and several friends that wandered in from out of town.

I'll be doing special orders during the off season, and the Lawrence Farmer's Market opens up again on I believe May 2nd of 2009.  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

year end report

I just realized that I didn't do a post for the end of the regular Farmer's Market season.  It was cold, but sales were still decent.  My wife purchased me a hat from another vendor because my ears were about to fall off my head.

Overall I sold over 2900 bagels this season, learned much about what sells and doesn't at the Market, and have gained regular customers and earned a good reputation.  

I will be at the Winter Market on Saturday the 13th, at the Knights of Columbus building in Lawrence.  I'll post more about this next week.  

Friday, October 31, 2008

No market for me this Saturday...

I'm feeling ill, and there is no way I'm going to handle over a hundred bagels destined for consumption by other people when I may have a stomach bug or food poisoning.  Sorry to all my regulars, but I think you'll forgive me for not wanting to spread the ick around.  See you next weekend, the final weekend until Winter/Christmas market.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Market Nearly Over

Only 2 more weekends before the Lawrence Farmer's Market is closed for the season.  I will be selling at the Winter Market in December, details to follow.  

As the weather cools and traffic at the Market slows down,  I've been downsizing the number of bagels I make for each weekend.  I peaked at somewhere around 16 dozen, but have been scaling back to the 12 dozen range as people are reluctant to get up early on a cold Saturday morning (I'm sure reluctant to do it).  

I am also considering doing some off-season bagel baking and local delivery, details and minimum order numbers to follow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New and Improved Flavors!

After taking a weekend off (I was in St. Louis at a convention), I have returned with a new but evolving bagel flavor and an improvement on an existing bagel.

The new one is currently Tomato Basil with Feta, but will probably become the Italian Bagel with Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Parmesan. The bagels are good, but it just doesn't carry the feta well enough for top billing. So I'll play with the tasty elements and make it worthy of the regular lineup.

The improved flavor is the Cherry Almond. A better dried cherry appears to be all this one needed. I also added some imitation almond extract, but the flavor doesn't shine through and will probably be left out of future batches.

Only about a month left of the Lawrence Farmer's Market.

Monday, September 29, 2008

2000th Bagel Sold!

This past weekend the 2000th bagel (normal size, didn't bother figuring in the large or giant bagels into the equation) was purchased by the daughter of a fellow Lawrence Farmer's Market vendor.  As a bonus for making this landmark purchase, she also received one of my giant everything bagels (has the same amount of dough as 6 regular bagels).  

So far this year I have used over 450 pounds of flour between all the bagels and breads made this season.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Record Breaking Weekend

This weekend I will be selling my 2000th bagel.  Whomever purchases this bagel (assuming I can keep accurate count) will get a surprise with a giant everything bagel I'm saving for the occasion.  I'm also increasing the number of bagels I'm bringing to market by a dozen of the sweet flavors and with a couple more large bagels.  We'll see if this means that I bring something home rather than selling out before 10:30am like I have for the last couple of weeks.

Just a reminder (assuming anyone actually reads this blog) that I will not be at market on October 4th, and I may be away the Saturday after Halloween.

Friday, September 19, 2008

That was a lot of rain.

I didn't attend last week's Market because I was going to be out of town.  Foul weather kept me from that road trip, but it also saved me the hassle of baking for a slow market in heavy rain.

This week will include the regular selection, including the new lemon ginger bagels that have been so well received.  I've been selling out early, so don't wait until late if you want bagels. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Flavor and Away Dates

This past Saturday I introduced a new flavor, Lemon Ginger.  It has gone over well and will be in the rotation from now on.  

I won't be at Market this Saturday, or the first Saturday of October.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Bagel Flavor-Salt Bagels!

This weekend I'm introducing salt bagels, a plain bagel topped with an egg wash and pretzel salt.  I'll only have half a dozen, so if you want to try one I suggest you get to Farmer's Market early.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Bagel Pretzels for Market

After a couple of prototypes, I've decided that although I might make a good home pretzel, they just don't stay good long enough for market.  I'd have better luck just making a salt bagel.  This does free me up to make home pretzels with lots of melted butter and the pretzel salt added last, which is as it should be. Unfortunately they don't stay fresh overnight well enough to work for market.

Today I got a cherry pitter, and may try the cherry almond bagels again with fresh cherries to see if that improves the flavor.  Dried cherries just don't convey the flavor enough to my liking.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bagel pretzels

My new project are bagel pretzels.  Larger than usual, stretched out into a big open ring and salted.  The test bagel pretzels had sesame seeds and kosher salt.  I'm going to order some pretzel salt online and continue the experiment.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Irregular Update

I'm updating mostly because I haven't in awhile.  

I have a new vinyl banner that says "FRESH BAGELS" that I got on ebay.  Ironically enough my canopy hangs too low to hang it above, so it's on the front of the table.  Works for me.

A few weeks ago I did a cherry almond bagel that looks pretty but I think needs better cherry flavoring before putting back in rotation.  I've done bacon cheddar successfully and included it in the rotation, changed the jalapeno cheddar so it's easier to produce and only rotate it in occasionally, and have switched to all bagels and no bread at the booth for production reasons.  

I also introduced a new size of bagel, the large.  It is equal to three regular bagels, the giant is equal to six.  I generally only bring 2 larges and a giant to market each weekend.

I'm experimenting with a sort of pretzel, the starting ball of dough is 6 oz (my regular bagels are about 4 oz), and I'll try combinations of sesame seeds and salt on them.  The objective is to get a good savory taste that is sorta pretzel, but lasts longer.  Real good pretzels aren't much good the next day, and I have to bake the previous evening.

More later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

New Bagel Flavor-Bacon Cheddar!

This week I did a test batch of Bacon Cheddar Bagels, with much success.  Only four made it to market, as is my custom I made a half dozen for the test batch.  One was the taste test, the second was traded for the use of a window AC unit when the house AC went out on Friday.  The other four sold at market and were enjoyed.

I have also received a new banner for the booth, which proudly says FRESH BAGELS.  This will help everyone find my tiny canopy as I'm moved around the Market (don't blame me, first year vendors are floaters, shoved into whatever spot they can find).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rotations of the Flavor

I've decided to rotate out the jalapeno cheddar bagels for a few weeks due to lower sales, and to swap out blueberry for cinnamon raisin for a bit.  I hope this will better serve everyone who has requested my blueberry bagels for the last 2 weeks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Bagel Flavor-The Everything Bagel!

After getting a few requests, I have created my version of the Everything Bagel.  It is a plain bagel topped with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes, garlic flakes, caraway seeds and kosher salt.  The results are tasty, and I plan to add it to this weekends Farmer's Market selection.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tweaking the Recipes

This week I'm touching up the recipe for both the jalapeno cheddar bagels, and the sunflower bagels.  I'm hoping the results will be a better product for my customers, because I just hate serving less than my best.

Friday, June 6, 2008

New Bagel Flavor-Jalapeno Cheddar!

Jalapeno Chedder bagels have been created and added to the lineup for test marketing.

They passed the Wife Taste Test, now let's see what the rest of Lawrence Farmer's Market customers think.

A side note, I dropped the white bread loaves from the lineup because the wheat and rye seem to be what people are looking for. One less thing for me to bake makes for an earlier bedtime on Fridays.

Monday, May 26, 2008

No Market Day

I missed this past Saturday's Farmer's Market due to being out of town.  The original plan was to bake on Friday and have my mother and sister vend for me, but as it happened I was so busy with travel plans that there was no way to get the baking done in the time allotted.  

So far the weather report isn't very friendly for this coming Saturday, but I don't pay too much attention to the forecast until around Wednesday, and even then it can change several times.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Bagel Flavor-Blueberry!

After working out a few kinks in the recipe, I've added blueberry bagels to the list that I'll be making for Saturday's market.  I'll also try sunflower seed as a topping, but I have no idea if the egg wash will hold on the seeds well.  

My only regret with this recipe is that the vanilla didn't seem to do anything to the flavor, because I think Blueberry Vanilla would have been a much cooler name for the bagels.  

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This Week in Bagels

I finally learned what makes pumpernickel what it is as opposed to just being rye.  Pumpernickel uses the entire grain, much like whole wheat.  There is also molasses added to darken it, but that's a side thing.  I'll play with rye and pumpernickel bagels later.  

This week I'm hoping to do a little side project just for fun.  I'll make an extra couple bagels and trade them around the market for ingredients to make bagel bruschetta.  Which means I'll need tomatoes and basil at the very least, probably garlic.  

Sunday, May 4, 2008

State of the Booth

My big accomplishment for this past weekend was an upgrade to my booth structure, and the introduction of a new flavor.  The Cranberry Orange bagels seemed to go over well, and I will definitely make it at least a semi-regular flavor.  

For the booth I made weights for the canopy.  At Home Depot I purchased 4 one gallon paint buckets, four threaded bolts with screws, and a 60 lb bag of cement mix.  In less than an hour I had four buckets filled with cement with a bolt sticking out the middle, which screws onto the foot of each canopy leg.  Even with the aggressive winds yesterday my canopy stayed grounded, unlike a couple of my unfortunate Market mates.  

I am happy to say that I took 6 loaves of bread (white, wheat and rye) and 8 dozen bagels to the market, and came home with less than a dozen.  The market continues to pick up, and greens are now available at various booths.  

This past weekend I was in a nice location between the worm poo guy (natural fertilizer) and Pendleton's.  I have fond memories of when they had corn mazes at their farm.  And as always, it's good to see a few customers who seek me out at the market for their Saturday morning bagel.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Sweet Flavors

I consider my Cinnamon Raisin to be pretty good, but I want more sweets to balance the savory bagels.  Yesterday I did up my first two test batches (lucky for me, I figured out how to do the recipes so that my test batch is only 3 bagels, rather than 6 or 12) of Orange Cranberry and Blueberry Vanilla.  They were OK, but not enough sweet to complement the fruits.  The next batch will increase the sweetness with a little added sugar (doesn't take much for bagels, maybe a tablespoon or two per pound of flour), and I'll confirm that the vanilla does something to help the Blueberry Bagels, if it does nothing for the flavor, then it doesn't need to be in there.

Sales were good at the market, and I have started seeing some regulars.  A couple go for multiple bagels, and an increasing number seem to be coming for their bagel breakfast. The sales of cream cheese packets is also increasing, although I sell them for my cost I use it as a gage for on-site eating as opposed to takehome purchases.  

I'm also eyeing a bigger boil pot, mostly so I can boil more bagels at once for faster production, but with the added bonus of making an even bigger giant bagel.  Because the picture of me holding the giant bagels is really funny.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Expanding Flavors

Besides wearing my overalls at the Farmer's Market today (much to my wife's chagrin),  I introduced a new flavor, Basil& Chives.  They sold quickly and got the approval of my friend's child, who has the biggest brown eyes seen outside of a cartoon.  

The market is picking up and the weather is improving.  And I need to remember sunscreen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ka'Kat Results

The results were interesting, but not really that good.  The spice gives the dough a slightly bitter aftertaste, otherwise nothing special.  The look of the sesame rings is pretty cool but really reduces the amount of bread I can cook at once.  

I may use some of the methodology to do some tasty pretzel rings in the future, for now I'm calling it interesting, but probably not what ka'kat's are supposed to taste like.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ka'Kat, Arabian Sweet Bread Ring

I'm on a research quest.  After seeing a picture of a bread ring covered in sesame seeds taken in a middle eastern market, I searched out what kind of bread it was. After a few false leads I found ka'kat, a bread made with spice mahleb in it.  So I found the spice at our local Mediterranean Market, ground it and am waiting on the first rise.  

Most dough is pretty much the same. The difference are in the flavor ingredients and how you treat the dough. This one gets divided, rolled into ropes and made into rings.  Then covered in sesame seeds.  I'm looking forward to seeing if the spice really makes it taste different, and if the flavor lasts for more than 12 hours.  For the market, the flavor really needs to stay around for a day or two, since I have to bake the night before.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bagel Pizza

Bagel pizza is great for a snack or a quick dinner.  Just take a plain or savory flavored bagel and slice it in half, put on the toppings, and pop into the toaster oven until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Here is a little Pizza 101, which works for bagels or for regular pizzas.  When you apply sauce and toppings, less is more.  If you pile on toppings and cheese, it'll congeal into a solid layer that slides off with the first bite.  

Instead, for a half bagel use just enough sauce to cover the bagel in a thin layer.  Spread on any veggie toppings sparsely on the sauce and under the cheese.  Spread cheese evenly over the bagel, but not in a solid layer.  You should still see sauce when you are done putting on the cheese.  Meat generally goes on the very top, and should be precooked.

Pizza sauce is easy to make.  Here is my quick and easy pizza sauce recipe.

1 can tomato sauce, 8 oz
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon onion flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Just stir it together and use.  

Toaster ovens vary, so keep an eye on your bagel pizza the first couple times you make them to prevent burning and possible fire (I think we all have set something on fire in the oven, mine was garlic bread.)

Baker Daddy in the (Local) News!

The Lawrence-Journal World, our local paper, sent out a photographer to record those of us crazy enough to attend the opening day of Farmer's Market, even with the temp in the low 40's and the occasional snow flurries.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Opening Day at Farmer's Market

Today was the opening day at the Lawrence Farmer's Market. The weather was very cold, low 40's average. My sister was insane enough to work the stall with me, for the low cost of some leftover bagels.

I took a smaller inventory since it was cold, opening day, and few stalls open this early in the evening. 2 dozen plain bagels, a dozen sesame seed bagels, half dozen each Asiago cheese and poppyseed bagels, 2 giant bagels and 4 loaves of artisan bread. Everything except for 7 plain bagels sold. For an opening weekend, I'm very satisfied.

Next weekend I'll include some cinnamon raisin and garlic onion bagels, and some rye artisan loaves.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth and got a bagel or three. In the near future I'll have some new bagel flavors to rotate in, and in addition to cream cheese I'll have some packets of Nutella available for purchase so the bagels can be eaten on site.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Oh joy, another round of editing labels. You'd think that typing in a few ingredients, attaching the graphic and hitting print would be easy. It is, but somehow I keep doing something slightly off, either a slight misspelling or saving under the wrong name.

I think I have it done, 10 labels for bread and bagels. Only 3 days until the opening of the Downtown Lawrence Farmer's Market, and the weather is possibly going to be cold and wet. Joy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

To Glaze or Not To Glaze

I've figured out that for bagels, an egg wash is really only needed if you want something to stick to the top. It makes the crust slightly shiny and a touch darker, but otherwise is not required.

What does this do besides make me redo my ingredient label? It means that more of my bagels are vegan, and it reduces the cost of production a touch. If there was another way to stick on the toppings without egg I'd probably do that too. The only other option I know of is a milk wash, which also goes against the vegan thing.

Edit-After doing up a batch of bagels, one boiled in sugar water, one boiled in regular water, and one glazed normally with egg, and topping them with sesame seeds, I have confirmed that if I want stuff stuck to the top I need to use the eggs. The vegans will have to be happy with untopped bagels.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Working Logo

Among the many fun things to do before opening day is to make ingredient labels for everything. Lucky for me the Avery website has an online label maker, where you input all the text and even a logo and it saves it as a pdf. I found an online logo generator, and created this working logo for the labels.

Tomorrow I get more flour, and a folding card table.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Giant Bagels

While playing around with the bagel dough, i realized that it's easy to make giant bagels. I just take the same amount of dough that would make 6 bagels and make a real big one. They work great for big sandwiches, sharing, etc. I do them because I like showing off.

I gave one of these bagels to my friend, who took it to work. Now I'm making 5 giant bagels to order for them. I was planning on making a couple of giant bagels for the Lawrence Farmer's Market, just to see how they sell. I'm starting to think that they may be more popular than I originally thought. It will be interesting to see.

I have three thought related to baking these 5 giant bagels. One, it is not easy to flip them over during the boil because they take up most of the width of a typical 6 qt pan. Two, I can't fit two giant bagels on a sheet pan, but I can probably fit 2-3 regular bagels along side them, so I won't be wasting baking space in the future. Three, I forgot the raisins I need to finish the last batch of bagels.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bagels at the Lawrence Farmer's Market

I've been baking for several years, and recently I started making bagels. One goal that I pursued was to bake and sell at the Lawrence Farmer's Market, but exactly what I'd sell was undecided.

With a typical home oven, I can make about 4 loaves of artisan bread at a time. Then while baking 3 dozen bagels for a weekend trip (feed people, they will love you) it occurred to me that bagels was something that I had not seen out there.

So, several hundred bagels later I have several flavors and a good methodology. I also discovered how to make giant bagels easily, and have plenty of experimentation to expand my recipe base.

I'll also do some of my artisan loaves, those are just too darned good to not include. I got the call from the Market Coordinator on Monday, so by Saturday I should have the paperwork, and be preparing for my first weekend at market. I must dig out the sunshade my parents gave me last year, find a sun hat and remember some sunblock.