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Bread Making, Part 1: It Feels Right

Bread Making, Part 1: It Feels Right

Have you ever considered the difference between handmade and homemade? We believe that everyone deserves the chance to experience the joy of baking handmade bread and all the sensory pleasure it holds. The smell of bread in the oven is amazing and there’s nothing like it! But you don’t have to be the baker to enjoy aromas from the kitchen. We’re talking about unleashing your inner baker with the power of touch.

Hands are the Best Bread-Making Tools

When it comes to making bread, your hands are your greatest tools. Nothing can rival the power they give you. Bread making has a long history, tens of thousands of years old, and it began long before the arrival of shiny utensils and power mixers. All that time between then and now is filled with hands-on trials and errors. The process is still pretty much the same, with no qualifying age or previous knowledge. What a relief to know that anyone can do it!

Put Your Hands in the Dough

The dough itself has a lot to do with feel. Learning the texture and consistency of good dough can only be achieved by using your hands, from the palms to the fingertips as you feel your way through the process of mixing, rolling and kneading. Engaging your hands and arms as you find your rhythm will quickly become a game of relaxation and it’s fun to develop your own method and style as you go. Eventually your sense of touch will help you determine if the dough is too sticky, crumbly or just right.

Handmade Bread is Unique and Delicious

Like with all finished hand crafted projects, true artisan bread will turn out a little different each time you make it. That’s expected, so don’t let it discourage you! The same is true for us at House of Bread Bakery Cafe and we are proud of the varied results we get from using fresh ingredients kneaded with care. It makes us confident that the taste is more satisfying and it results in wholesome goodness.

You will never regret the decision to make your own bread or to let your hands guide you in the process. We’re pretty sure that even your first loaf will turn out  better than a mass-produced loaf from the grocery store. Our very own Grandma’s White Bread recipe is great for beginners and it’s so delicious you’ll make it over and over, experimenting with different ingredients to suit your dietary needs and taste preferences.

If you’re still hesitant to get started, check with your local House of Bread Bakery Cafe to ask about group or private bread making classes. Or just drop in for some smells, samples and selections that will inspire you to go home and give it a try.


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What’s So Great About Being Your Own Boss

What’s So Great About Being Your Own Boss

Eric Breeze has always been a man of action. A Vietnam veteran who later became a star performer in a fast-paced business world, he was the one his company sent from state to state when they wanted to turn around financially troubled stores or open new ones. Breeze had a solid career, a family and a nice house on a golf course in Carson City, Nevada. His wife had already retired from nursing and Breeze seemed to be well on his way toward a cozy retirement, too.

It wasn’t until he was in a hospital bed, taking calls from a barely sympathetic employer who was pushing him to get back on the road, that Breeze decided it was time to work for himself. He was 53, full of determination and experienced at making major business decisions. In October 2001, Breeze opened a House of Bread Bakery Cafe franchise operation in Reno. As the owner of the company’s longest-running franchise, he has years’ worth of stories and opinions to share.

How important is previous experience for a House of Bread Bakery Cafe franchise owner?

“You’re talking to a guy who knows how to push ‘start’ on a microwave,” jokes Breeze. “I went through the class and learned how to bake but I will never be a baker. That’s not what I set out to do. I am a good business man; I knew I had the where-with-all to run my own business. No, you don’t need the experience but you do have to know the basics. And you surround yourself with the right people.”

Eric places emphasis on building relationships and responsibilities so employees know they are important to the business. His baker has been with him for 10 years now, and some staff have passed the five-year mark.

What sets House of Bread Bakery Cafe apart from other franchises?

Once he began exploring business ownership in 2000 and 2001, Breeze was impressed by the House of Bread Bakery Cafe franchise model, and especially the products. It was the first bread business of its kind in the area. Breeze has watched similar establishments come and go but his bakery business has stood strong for 14 years.

“We are the last standing made-by-scratch, made-from-hand bakery in Reno. We make a good quality product, sell it at a good, reasonable price, and provide excellent customer service. If we can continue to do that we’ll continue to do well,” says Breeze.

Over the years, the bakery has increased the number of selections and become more diverse in its offerings of savory breads and sweets, along with plenty of healthy food. The signature item of the bakery remains central to its identity, however; and quality is just as important as ever.

“No two loaves look exactly the same. There are no preservatives or artificial sweeteners,” explains Breeze. “That sets us apart because we make an extremely good loaf of bread and it’s good for you. Sheila [McCann, founder] has found the magic bullet that sets us apart from everybody else.”

Finding Bliss in Serious Business

“I always said I will do whatever it takes to make this business successful,” says Eric. “I don’t look at a start time, end time, day off – I don’t look at this as a job.”

Breeze points out that there are many responsibilities to take seriously. Ask him what he likes best about being a franchise owner, however, and you’ll get a running list that is hard to narrow down.

“I enjoy running my business, I enjoy working with my people,” he says. “I enjoy the schedule, and setting my own hours for the most part, but I enjoy working too. I enjoy what I do.”


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Must-Have Recipe: Grandma’s White Bread

Must-Have Recipe: Grandma’s White Bread

Grandma’s White Bread
Learning how to bake Grandma’s white bread will give you a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, even though the recipe is quite simple.You only need five ingredients to find baking bliss and master a delicious, wholesome recipe. Just five! Can you imagine looking at the label on a loaf of store-bought bread and seeing just five ingredients listed? Yet with this bread, which we also call “the old standard,” simplicity is the key to its versatility and wide appeal.

For the optimum flavor, always try to purchase the finest quality ingredients possible, starting with the right flour. High-protein unbleached bread flour is the best choice, as the lack of protein in all-purpose flour will result in a short, squatty loaf.

This recipe will make one large loaf using the approximate 9 x 5 x 3 inch pan, or two smaller loaves, using the approximate 8 x 4 x 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups of warm water (approximately 100 degrees)
  • 2 packages or one and 3/4 tablespoons of active dry yeast
  • 4 cups of unbleached flour (approximately a pound)
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

First, test the yeast to make sure it is still active. To do this, place the yeast in a large mixing bowl, and the required warm water amount until the yeast dissolves. Add the honey to the mixture and within a few minutes small bubbles will appear as the yeast ferments. Place the salt into a large mixing bowl and then slowly add the flour.

HAND KNEADING: Stir the mixture with your hand or a wooden spoon until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and tend to form a ball that breaks away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough feels sticky, then add more flour. If the dough feels stiff and doesn’t stick at all, then add a teaspoon of water at a time until the dough feels good. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface. Begin the kneading the dough, using a process of pushing, folding and turning, until the dough has a smooth, satiny elastic texture. Again, add more flour if the dough feels very sticky. Expect to knead for approximately 8-10 minutes.

MIXER KNEADING: Start with mixer on low for one minute and then increase the speed to the medium setting for approximately 4-6 minutes. With your bare hand, feel the dough; add a tablespoon of flour if it is sticky. If the dough feels tough and not sticky at all, mix a couple of minutes longer.

After kneading, place the dough back in the mixer bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for approximately 1½ hours or until the dough doubles in bulk. Punch the dough down with your fist. Place on a flat floured surface, shape as desired.

Place the dough in thoroughly sprayed pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the dough has risen slightly above the pans, place them in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes. Check to see if the loaf has baked long enough by tapping the bottom of the loaf. It should be somewhat firm and sound hollow.

Place on a wire rack and cool for a couple of hours before slicing – if you can stand the wait!

Grandma’s White Bread Recipe is an excerpt from “House of Bread Made Easy,” by House of Bread Bakery Cafe founder Sheila McCann. The book is a collection of recipes and stories, and features tips on technique and ingredients.

Contact Sheila to get your own copy of the Recipe Book at http://houseofbread.com/contact/


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Passion + Profits: Doing What You Love

Passion + Profits: Doing What You Love

House of Bread Bakery Cafe Serves Up Passion and Profits

The most compelling stories we hear are usually the hardest to believe. They are tales of seemingly ordinary people made extraordinary by difficult choices, admirable actions, and the willingness to share meaningful experiences without the expectation of reward. What feels better than knowing that good things really do happen to good people?

Early in her career, House of Bread Bakery Cafe founder Sheila McCann was already in the position to say she was doing something to benefit society, a career she felt was meaningful because it gave her the chance to help people. McCann was a criminal trial attorney who chose the tough path of public defender. She spent six years as a legal advocate before the heavy emotional aspects had her questioning the career path she had chosen for herself.

In the introduction of her current cookbook, “House of Bread Made Easy,” McCann recalls the moment of realization that completely changed the course of her life. The courtroom was her arena, and it was in that spot where she’d dedicated so much of her life that she decided it was time for a drastic change. McCann yearned for more peaceful days and comfort of baking bread during her youth. Was it realistic to think the memories that fed her passion for quality, nutritious bread could successfully carry her from the courtroom to the kitchen?

“Somehow I had to recapture the feeling I had with my Grandmother and still make a living while adding to the quality of other people’s lives,” she says. McCann poured all her resources and attention into doing just that, and soon after she opened the first House of Bread in San Luis Obispo, California. There was no doubt that she was making the right choice on a personal level. And financially? After all the determination, when the final decision was left to the public, McCann got a winning verdict. The bakery was hugely popular.

It only took three years before House of Bread sold its first franchise. McCann’s passion-fueled business has been serving up inspiration for nearly 20 years and shows no signs of fading. Today there are seven franchise locations known as House of Bread Bakery Cafe and the demand has never been greater.

At some point, every working person imagines breaking free from the daily grind in pursuit of his or her dreams. While some of us shake our heads at the likelihood of making it happen, McCann made it possible for herself and gives others the same chance by becoming a franchise owner. It’s understood that a delicious menu is instrumental to the bakery’s history and reputation. Perhaps the best part of the story is knowing that McCann did not have to sacrifice one ideal for another in order to build her franchise business, since passion and profit are both essential to House of Bread Bakery Cafe’s recipe for success.


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Up and Coming vs. Already Established Franchise Systems

Up and Coming vs. Already Established Franchise Systems

So, you’re thinking about buying a franchise, and wondering which way to go—up and coming franchise system or an established franchise company? There are pros and cons to both; do you want to get into a company early and be on the ground floor, perhaps helping to shape the system of a successful business model?  Or are you looking for a business with a well-oiled system, strict guidelines, and not much wiggle room when it comes to innovating?  Either is great, but on a personal level, which environment will work best for you?

When it comes to large franchise systems, there are some definite pros.  They’re well-established, have great brand recognition and a proven system for franchisees that gets results.  If you’re looking to buy a franchise that will already have the drapes picked out and carpet laid for you, then go big.  But if you’re looking for a franchise that will give you some space to make it your own, maybe you should consider a smaller system.

Each franchise will have a system in place to guide franchisees through the process of opening and successfully running their specific franchise business.  There will more than likely be a certain look, size, operating system, support, ordering, etc.  That should all be in place for you, big or small; but some smaller franchises, like House of Bread Bakery and Cafe, for example, don’t mind giving their franchisees some leeway in making their location their own.

House of Bread Bakery Café has 7 franchise locations.  Originating in San Luis Obispo, California, they now have locations in Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas.  Founder and President, Sheila McCann, has a system in place that has made each of her franchise locations successful.  She demands compliance in quality products and ingredients and customer care.  She wants people of high integrity and high standards.  She’s not looking to grow for growth’s sake; she’s looking to grow with people who value the same standards that she does, people who care about their customers and communities; and if you, as a franchisee, want to make your location your own by putting your personality into it, by bringing the community you serve into the feel of the place–do it!  Sheila doesn’t think that each House of Bread location should be cookie cutter correct.  They should have things in common, but they are not carbon copies.  Each location is individualized.  More than likely, you won’t get that with a large franchise system, but maybe that’s not what you’re looking for.

It’s not all about aesthetics, either.  It could be marketing or operations.  Large franchise systems know exactly how they want things done, and they’ve come to these guidelines through years of tweaking and perfecting their system.  Do your research and make sure those systems work–for the business and for you.

The beauty of the franchise system is that the wheel has been invented and is ready to roll.  You don’t have to do the heavy lifting of starting a business from scratch–it’s been done for you.  Up and coming franchisors like the House of Bread Bakery Café has a successful business model and is primed to continue growing over the next 5 years. What you have to decide is how you roll.  If you’re looking for a little autonomy, an up and coming franchise may be the way to go; but if you’d rather just put the key in the ignition and go, then buy a franchise with 50 plus units.  Keep in mind, that no matter how large the franchise system, success and failure will still be linked to the franchisee.


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House of Bread Partners with RunFreeSlo

House of Bread Partners with RunFreeSlo

House of Bread Partners with RunFreeSlo To Assist People Transitioning to Healthier Lifestyle

House of Bread is supporting the RunFreeSlo initiative by donating baked good to fuel their runs. The RunFreeSLO network is made up of avid runners who donate coaching time, money for race entry fees and running clothes and shoes to support those who are using running s a tool to better their lives. House of Bread is excited about partnering with the running support network for individuals who struggle with addition, use running as a catalyst for personal change & wellness.


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House of Bread to Bake 100-Pound Cinnamon Roll

House of Bread to Bake 100-Pound Cinnamon Roll

Bakers at House of Bread are preparing to take on their second 100-pound cinnamon roll Saturday. The community is invited to watch the event and eat the confection. “They’ll see us putting it together on the table and how it all comes together,” owner Tom Fitzwilliam said.

Bakers will begin mixing the dough at 8:30 a.m. The rolling and forming of the oversized confection is expected to begin around 10 a.m. Then, four or five bakers will work to put the roll into the ovens for baking. It takes one person on each corner to move it from the table to the oven, Fitzwilliam said. “The scary part is taking it out of the oven,” he said.

GiantRollThe roll will bake for about 30 to 45 minutes and be cut into pieces for everyone to enjoy. He said baking the oversized cinnamon roll is a tradition. Sheila McCann, founder of House of Bread, said the event is something her company likes to host in each community. “It’s our way of connecting with the community,” she said. “People like to see it, and it’s exciting and really visual. It’s a good time to be had by all.” While the cinnamon roll is baking, there will be mini cinnamon rolls available and coffee to go with it.

“It’s awesome to see it come out of the oven,” he said. “Everyone will want a piece of it.” McCann said customers can expect to see the roll again in the future or other large baked goods. “Everyone loves cinnamon rolls. We’ve also done large loaves of bread and other things,” she said.


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Bread for Weight Loss? Yep. It’s True.

Bread for Weight Loss? Yep. It’s True.

Most people, these days, seem to be turning to gluten-free, high-protein, no-carb diets to lose weight, and bread is getting kicked to the curb–and in some cases, downright demonized. What people seem to be forgetting is that bread has been a staple in humans’ diets since Biblical times (if not before), and with good reason.

Bread is made from different kinds of grains, and grains are part of a healthy diet. In fact, the average adult needs about 6 servings of grains (mostly whole grains) every day, so don’t throw that loaf away just yet. Whole-grain breads can, in fact, be part of a sound weight loss strategy.

People get in trouble with bread when they are consuming too many refined grains, like white bread, crackers, pretzels, etc. In fact, research suggests that the more refined grains you eat, the more you want. So, stick to whole grains rather than refined: Whole grains have an abundance of vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber, and they’re low in saturated fats, in addition to being high in complex carbohydrates. Refined grains lose much of their nutritional value in the refining process, and end up as empty calories in your diet. Complex carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread, are burned more slowly by the body, take longer to digest and don’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly as simple carbs (like refined white flour); they also leave people feeling full longer than simple carbs. According to a study published in 2011 in Nutricion Hospitalaria, subjects who included bread in reduced-calorie diets experienced greater satiation after meals than study participants who consumed rice or pasta instead of bread.

So, let’s look at this: Whole grains are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and leave you feeling full longer. So, why do so many people think that the road to obesity is paved with bread? Well, maybe they’ve been sticking to breads (and other processed snack foods) that are made with only refined white flour, maybe they’ve been slathering their bread with butter, margarine, jams, mayo, etc. that are high in fats and/or sugar, or maybe they’ve simply tipped the scale of the food plan too heavily to the grain side. The key to maintaining a healthy weight is moderation, and too much of just about anything will throw off the balance.

So, if you’re looking to lose weight, you don’t have to pinch your nose when you walk by a bakery, you simply have to make wise choices, choose whole grain breads, and keep a balance in your diet. Bread is one of the most nutritious ways to get your calories every day, and the 60 to 80 calories you’ll consume in an average slice of whole-wheat bread will keep you fueled and leave you feeling sated longer. A healthy meal, complete with a serving of bread will help you kiss those sugar crashes and afternoon vending machine runs goodbye–and you won’t have to give up one of the oldest and greatest food joys of all time. Saying hello to bread again won’t open the doors to love handles and larger sizes, but it can help you say goodbye to the extra pounds you’ve been lugging around.


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Perfecting Your Bread’s Crust

Perfecting Your Bread’s Crust

There aren’t many things more satisfying to eat than a slice of warm homemade bread, especially when you bite into a crispy crust followed by a soft, chewy middle. But if your bread baking at home is not yielding that crunch, how can you fix it?

The ideal oven temperature for getting a good crisp crust is 425 degrees. Start by ensuring that the temperature in your oven is accurate. You can find oven thermometers at the grocery store. Why is the right temperature so important to the crust of your homemade bread? Gases in the yeast cause the fermentation process during baking. If the temperature of the oven is too low, the structure of the bread won’t set up properly, and ultimately the bread will collapse and the crust won’t brown the way it should. However, if the oven is too hot the opposite happens—the bread sets too quickly, before the gases have a chance to expand the way they should, and your loaf will burn.

Once you have the accuracy of your oven temperature resolved, the next thing to consider when perfecting your bread’s crust is the ingredients in your dough. High protein flour, instead of all-purpose flour, is the best choice for bread making. The higher protein levels allow for more moisture to be absorbed in the bread as it bakes. More moisture equals a thinner crust, which is more likely to be crispy and crunchy.

Your oven is ready; you’ve used the right flour. What is next for perfecting your homemade bread’s crust? A baking stone can help disperse the oven’s heat more evenly for a browner and crispier crust. You can also introduce a bit of steam into your oven, the way commercial bakers do, to promote a crunchy exterior on your loaf. The best way to do this at home is by placing a cast iron skillet on a lower rack in your oven before preheating. Once the oven temperature is right, place the bread in the oven on the baking stone. Then standing away from the oven, fill the cast iron skillet with about half an inch of hot water. There will be an immediate burst of steam (that’s why you should stand as far away as possible). Close the oven door, and do not reopen it for at least 10 minutes.

To keep your loaf crusty after it is baked, store it in a paper bag or simply out on the counter. Sheila McCann, founder of House of Bread, offered some of her own tried and true tips. “Bakers also can place an upside down cookie sheet in the oven, and let it get hot. Then transfer the dough on to the cookie sheet. The key is to have the dough begin the baking on an already hot surface,” she shared. And of course, for those times when you want the immediate gratification of a perfectly baked, crunchy loaf of bread, House of Bread offers a wide selection of tasty options.