With a few good recipes, some common sense, and a
little bit of get-up-and-go, you can be . . .
AT HOME IN THE BAKING BUSINESS
Do you make your own bread? If so, the delectable flavor
and aroma of hot-from-the-oven loaves are familiar to you.
There are many folks, however, who have never even tasted
— let alone baked — homemade bread.
Well, you can introduce such people to the joys of
"the staff of life" . . . watch their nostrils quiver at
the irresistible fragrance . . . know they're savoring all
that whole-grain goodness . . . and make yourself
a tidy part-time income to boot! How do I know? Because I
do it . . . you see, baking and selling bread is something
an "ordinary" housewife like me can do to fight the
Some people do market studies, and investigate all manner
of possibilities, before setting up in business. Well, I
wish I could say that's how I got started, but it wasn't.
The fact is that baking for profit more or less crept up on
me. My enterprise actually began when a friend stopped by
to visit one day as I was preparing our family's bread.
Well, she was so tantalized by the aroma that I insisted
she take a loaf home with her.
"My family devoured your bread!" she exclaimed the
next time I saw her. "If you'll bake me two loaves a week,
I'll pay you anything you want to charge!"
Needless to say, her offer was tempting. After
all, baking two more loaves a week wouldn't make a lick of
difference in my schedule, and a little extra money would
certainly come in handy . . . so I agreed.
But the next thing I knew, her boss wanted a weekly loaf.
Then her sister asked for one . . . her babysitter wanted
two . . . and other folks began to get a "whiff" of my
activities. In short, I soon figured out that there was a
large — and largely untapped — market for
homebaked bread, so I gathered my recipes and embarked on a
My preliminary strategy session consisted simply of
calculating what each loaf cost me. Then I listed a few of
my favorite kinds of bread, together with prices that I
thought were fair, and had that sheet copied. Finally, I
took a deep breath and got a business license under the
name "Gail's Bread Alone".
TO MARKET, TO MARKET. . .
Since I was officially "in trade", it was time to try to
round up the customers. To begin, I gave a bread list to
each of my friends and asked them to spread the word (and
to buy a loaf or two). Next, I posted the sheets on every
bulletin board I could find, and took copies into all the
restaurants (a grand total of five) in our little town.
Soon the orders began to come in.
When summer arrived, I rented a space at the Saturday
farmers' market in a larger town nearby. The modest $2.00
weekly investment paid off handsomely . . . I was able to
pocket between $50 and $60 nearly every weekend.
Furthermore, the farmers' market introduced me to the
delights of barter. One Saturday I parted with a dozen
cinnamon rolls and two loaves of bread in return for a
ferocious banty hen and her nine chicks! Other friendly
swaps kept me well supplied with such luscious local fare
as blackberry honey, eggs, and sweet corn. I was sorry when
the farmers' market closed in the fall . . . but my
home-based enterprise continued — and continues
— to grow.
MAKING IT WORK
I was an enthusiastic home baker before I went into
business, and I still am, but producing goods for sale does
involve a little extra effort. Here are some tips that can
help you do what needs to be done to "earn some bread" with
your own homemade specialties.
 If your state or county issues licenses, get one. It's
not hard to do so, probably not expensive (mine costs $25 a
year), and may well be mandatory. A license will testify
that your kitchen is sanitary and that you're serious about
your work. Best of all, it gives you the privilege of
buying your raw materials at wholesale prices.
Home kitchens might be licensed through a state
agricultural department (as they are here in Oregon) or
through a county or state health department. Try the health
departments first: If they don't issue licenses, they can
likely tell you who does. [EDITOR'S NOTE: MOTHER'S
state, North Carolina, doesn't require a license for a home
kitchen . . . but it does have regulations — which
are enforced by inspectors from the Food and Drug
Protection Division of the Department of Agriculture
— regarding the facilities and procedures that may be
used in home food-processing operations.]
By the way, your license will probably cover only "plain"
baked items . . . that is, bread, rolls, bagels, etc. It's
best not to sell any cream pies, custard-filled pastries,
or similar items that could spoil and make someone sick.
 Maintain good records! This is vital . . . since such
data will probably be the only tool that can tell you
whether or not you're making a profit on your goods.
Furthermore, some of your expenses can be deducted from
your bread income at tag time (yes, you do have to give
Uncle Sam his cut), but you won't be able to take advantage
of deductions that you forget . . . or can't
Record-keeping needn't be a formidable chore if you simply
make it a regular practice. For instance, before I bake
anything for sale, I figure the cost of the ingredients and
make up a price sheet for each recipe. Of course, that
calculation does involve spending some time weighing and
measuring the contents of standard-sized packages of flour,
spices, etc. so that I know exactly how many cups, ounces,
or whatever are contained in each package. Once that's
done, though, I simply divide the price of the package by
the number of cups or ounces to arrive at the cost of each
unit. Then it's easy to figure up what I've spent for the
ingredients in any one recipe.
I also write down all my orders in a 35¢ receipt book
— the kind with carbon paper attached — and
total them at the end of each month. I then subtract the
ingredients cost of each order, and my mileage expense for
the month (which I record in a little notebook in my car),
and what's left is my profit !
 Keep track of your supplies. After all, a frantic dash
to the midnight market to pick up the molasses you thought
you had could really eat into your net income! I shop for
perishables once a week and purchase staples, on a monthly
basis, through a food co-op or (sometimes) a grocery
 Stick to what you do best. Early on, I tried to offer
every kind of bread I could think of . . . from bagels and
brioches to Swedish limpa. After a few charred fiascoes,
though, I narrowed my list. My mainstays now are whole
wheat bread, oatmeal bread, and cinnamon rolls.
 Scout for customers. Distribute your flyers wherever
you can. Get to know potential buyers who work in local
offices, and members of civic clubs that meet over coffee
and — all too often — store-bought, soggy
doughnuts. You can offer such people better fare!
Most areas have craft festivals and farmers' markets going
on much of the year, too . . . just keep your ears open,
read the newspapers, and talk to your local chamber of
commerce to find out about forthcoming opportunities.
 Don't be afraid to charge a fair price for your wares.
You're providing a product that people probably can't get
 Bake with love . That may sound corny, but
it's really important. If you lavish the same care on a
to-be-marketed coffeecake as you do on your own family's
bread, the treat will have a special touch that commercial
bakeries can't equal.
Of course, the success of my business can be measured by
answering two questions. First (and most important), do I
like being an entrepreneur? My response to that is an
enthusiastic "you bet"! Then, am I making a living at it?
Well, I have to admit that I'm not getting rich just yet.
After all, my baking is only a part-time job. But there's
plenty of potential for more work. In fact, I recently
marked the first anniversary of Gail's Bread Alone by going
into partnership with two other farm wives. We now call
ourselves the Country Pantry, and we offer just about any
kind of baked goody a person could wish for. We're already
supplying a delicatessen, a catering firm, a women's club,
and several private patrons. Maybe, someday we'll even open
our own bakery. . . but in the meantime we're doing a job
that we — and our customers — like very much.
OUT TO LAUNCH
Chances are that at least some of you will want to try your
hands at baking for sale. Well, here's a recipe to get you
started. You can alter it to suit your own taste, or use it
as is . . . to make eight satisfyingly hearty loaves at a
cost of about 65¢ each (depending on your sources of
FARMERS' MARKET WHEAT BREAD
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of light molasses
2-1/2 cups of dry milk
1/2 cup of oil
3 scant tablespoons of salt
2 cups of rolled oats
2 quarts of water
1/4 cup of active dry yeast
12 cups of whole wheat flour
10 cups of unbleached flour
In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Then
stir in 1 quart of boiling water, followed by 1 quart of
cold water. When the mixture has cooled to wrist warmth,
blend in the yeast and allow it to bubble. Now, break in
the eggs and beat the batter vigorously.
With that done, add the whole wheat flour — two cups
at a time — and stir the dough until it pulls away
from the sides of the bowl in elastic strands. Next, work
in the unbleached flour, kneading in the last of it before
you turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and
knead it smooth. Then oil a clean bowl, put the dough in,
and let it rise — in a warm spot — to twice its
original bulk (that'll take approximately 50 minutes).
After it has risen, turn the dough out and cut it into
eight equal lumps. Shape each one into a loaf and bake them
in greased pans, at 325 °F, for 30 to 40 minutes . . .
or until they're well browned and sound hollow when tapped.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: In the course of our taste test —
which, incidentally, resulted in contented comments and
some busy breakfasting around the office — MOTHER's
baker found that the dough produced higher loaves, with a
somewhat lighter texture, when it was allowed to rise a
second time in the pan before being baked.]