Tag Archives: sourdough

Day 6: We’re hiring for the 2016 season!

Our business is growing fast, so we have created a new position for 2016! We are hiring a second intern to work closely with Heather in the bakery.

Apply now for 2016 by sending a resume and cover letter to littlehatcreek@gmail.com.

General description: Little Hat Creek Farm is a small diversified vegetable farm and wood-fired bakery. 2016 will be our third season of selling at three farmer’s markets and through a 25 member CSA. We use ecological farming practices on one acre of annual vegetables and a small fruit orchard. Our bakery specializes in naturally-leavened breads made by hand with local flours. We also produce pastry using the fruits of our farm. This winter, we are expanding our business by building a self-contained bakery building to house the oven, which will allow us to take on additional sales outlets for our baked goods. We are hiring an intern to help us grow and develop these outlets. This is a training position.

Skills desired: You are a good fit for this internship if you love making and sharing good food and if our farm+bakery business model excites you. You get as much pleasure out of mastering a technique as you do in creating new recipes using ingredients from our farm. You also want to have a hand in producing those ingredients. You are creative and a self-starter who can also perform routine production tasks. You are consistently attentive to cleanliness and organisation. You are able to work quickly and efficiently while attending to detail, and you are able to problem-solve on the fly. You are punctual, able to safely lift fifty pounds, and able to meet deadlines.

Duties: You will be responsible for routine bakery tasks like mixing, shaping, and baking bread and pastries, dishwashing, oven and firewood management, ingredient restocking, and general cleanup. Beyond this, your experience will be shaped by your interests and our needs. We currently fire the oven and bake bread three days a week, but this may increase as we take on new accounts. On some days, additional duties may include farm activities, including greenhouse work, harvesting, mulching and weeding; post-harvest processing like pickling, jamming and drying; deliveries; marketing and developing new sales outlets; and/or recipe development.

Duration and Hours: April 2016-October 2016 with the possibility of continuing into the winter. Working hours will not exceed 50 hours per week and may include late night or early morning shifts in preparation for our Wednesday and Saturday farmers’ markets. You will have 1.5 days off each week.

Meals: You will have access to our farm produce, including eggs and bread. Should you live on the farm, you will have access to a shared kitchen and the possibility of also sharing meals with us and another worker.

Compensation: Stipend TBD. Indoor housing with a shared bathroom and kitchen is available as part of your compensation. You will have access to the food the farm produces, and receive training in marketable skills.

You will learn how to:
-operate a large wood-fired oven
-make pastries and naturally-leavened bread on a commercial scale
-adjust recipes to account for weather and ingredient variation
-develop new recipes
-handle food safely
-grow, harvest and process fruits and vegetables
-market farm products
-successfully grow a small local food business

You will also have access to the logic behind everything we do. We make a point of sharing the details of our farming, baking, and business practices, so we encourage you to ask about all aspects of starting and running a business like ours. And because there are many ways of doing things, we also take you on visits to 2-3 other farms and bakeries over the course of the season.

We will consider proposals that give you creative space while meeting our needs.

We look forward to hearing from you!

How winter bread deliveries will work

Thank you to all of our customers for making our first season a success!  This winter we will be selecting crops to grow for you next year and fine-tuning our bread recipes to make our sourdoughs even better.  If you like our bread and can’t wait until next spring, we will be baking bread this winter on a pre-order basis only.  See below for the details!

Starting in January, we will be baking bread once a month for on-farm pickup and for delivery to Charlottesville and Lexington. Please subscribe to our list if you would like to pre-order. Remember, our bread freezes very well, so be sure to stock up!

How it works: When you subscribe to our list, you will receive an email one week in advance of the delivery date with a list of breads that we will be baking. Please reply to that email with your pre-orders no later than midnight on the Monday prior to your pick-up date. Then, on the delivery day, look for your bread in a bag with your name on it!

Delivery days: January 9 (*previously January 8*), February 5, and March 5.

Lexington location: we will deliver to Farm to You at 2 pm, located at 637C Waddell St. in Lexington. You may pick up during shop hours (2-5 pm).

Charlottesville location: we will deliver to the front porch at 215 5th Street NW. Pickups will be between 10 AM and sundown. We ask that you please drive slowly through this neighborhood and respect the privacy of the homeowner that is allowing us to use this space. Thank you!

Nelson location: Bread will be available for pickup starting at 10 AM at our farm. Look for your bread in the first outbuilding you come to, on your left as you come up the drive.

Payment: When you email us with your bread order, we will send you an invoice confirming the details of your order. You may remit payment via Paypal, by mailing us a check, or by giving us cash (Nelson pickup only). If you opt to use Paypal, please email your payment to “littlehatcreek@gmail.com.” We would appreciate it if you would please use the “friends and family” option to avoid fees. If you opt to pay by check, please make it out to “Little Hat Creek Farm” and mail it to 163 Shaeffers Hollow Lane, Roseland, VA 22967.

That’s it! Thank you for your business!

Its a strange day in the bakery

Its a strange day in the bakery. On a normal day at this time, a little before 10 AM, I would be baking my third load of bread for our two markets tomorrow, but today I slept a blessed bit longer because my doughs weren’t quite ready when I checked them around 4:30 this morning. My first load is still a good hour away from baking.

I make naturally-leavened breads using a living culture of yeasts and bacteria that was started at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab by my dear friend Jane Ogilvie.  This “mother” lives in our fridge on a mixture of rye and white flour until two days before I bake, when I bring her out and feed my little friends, expanding the starter to a volume necessary for baking 64 loaves of bread.  The microbes in the starter digest the starches and proteins in the flour, releasing nutrients and producing flavorful acids that condition the dough and create the open, elastic sourdough structure we adore.

On a normal day there is usually a little something different about one of the doughs–it’s a little stiffer, or takes a little longer to ferment, or perhaps the additions don’t incorporate as well. I delight in this variation in my bread. It attests to the living nature of the dough, its responsiveness, like any living thing, to changes in temperature, humidity, and quality of food. As with an infant, my billions of little microbial babies can’t tell me what they need, so I have to guess, judging from the smell, the feel, the appearance, and from what I know I’ve already tried.

But today, there is a large something different about all of the doughs. It’s as if I’m making them for the first time. The honey oat is much stronger, which bodes well for its final shape, but the oats cooked more than usual, making them more difficult to incorporate. The raisin rye is taking much longer to ferment than usual, despite its having the greatest bulk (and thus thermal resistivity) and a rye starter in addition to the usual levain. Even the country white–the most straight-forward and dependable of my doughs–is different today, with a looseness to its structure that I have only ever seen with my miche dough.


On a normal day, I tweak my recipes slightly, to try to make them even better, to correct little defects in the crumb, or in the flavor. Two days ago, in preparation for mixing, I made what I thought would be a small tweak, mostly for my convenience. I had liked how my younger-than-usual starter had performed for the Lexington market bake earlier in the week, and I didn’t want to start mixing until the afternoon, so I put my still-young starters in the fridge to hang out until I was ready. When they emerged some six hours later, they were a bit further along, but smelled sweeter, and had a much stronger structure than normal. I confess I have been somewhat lax in controlling the temperature of my starter, mostly because the practical difficulties of baking in a home kitchen in a wood-heated house give me anything but control over temperature. But this change is dramatic, and exciting.  Perhaps the cascading force of this small change is what I am now reckoning with.  I can’t wait to try it again next week!