A Day in the life of: An AFM Baker

Alfredo Moreno is as unique as his breads.

Baking has been a part of Alfredo’s life for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Mexico, he worked in his father’s bakery learning the basics of bread making.

 Working for different bakeries helped Alfredo refine his process, and now he’s proud to be self-employed and baking for the Athens community. While he loves being able to meet and sell to all of the “beautiful, interesting and fun people” that come to the market, his job is not as simple as you may think!

 In order to bring us, “beautiful people,” fresh and delicious bread each week, Alfredo works hard for many long hours. He shared with me a normal day of preparing for a Tuesday market.

 Preparations begin on Monday morning; the first thing is to establish the amount of bread he will make in order to check and restock supplies and ingredients. Once everything is accounted for, a little math determines how much starter is needed to build the amount of bread desired. By Monday evening, Alfredo builds these starters and must wait for them to rise. This waiting period only lasts until about 3 a.m.

 That is when the long day truly begins. A fresh brew of coffee gets Alfredo started. He first weighs the recipe’s ingredients: different flours, water, the starter and some salt. A few hours and a lot of mixing later, and the dough has started to proof, or rise.

 Now, at the late hour of 7 a.m., Alfredo can begin stretching and folding the dough. He does this a couple of times in intervals of one hour. This process helps the dough develop the gluten and volume needed to bake to perfection. Between working the dough, Alfredo attends to his own needs and fuels up with a good breakfast to prepare for the day of baking still ahead of him.

 By 9 a.m., the risen dough is cut into pieces and shaped into loaves. An hour later, these loaves are rising again, and final preparations are made to bake the bread. Alfredo scores—cuts the surface of the loaf to allow for expansion—each loaf with their respective designs and sprays them with water. This will help give them the golden, crispy crust we all look forward to!

 In the oven, the breads only bakes a few hours, and by 2 p.m. the baking is complete—Alfredo’s work, however, is not. He does make sure to squeeze in a few tacos for lunch while the bread cools. This cooling process is important, and the bread is not bagged until right before Alfredo leaves for the market.

 Now, 13 hours of laboring finally comes to an end, and Alfredo gets to enjoy his favorite part of the day: interacting with market visitors and sharing with them his extraordinary bread Alfredo became involved in the market long before he started selling his own bread; he has volunteered at various local farms and worked for current vendors. Now that he is selling on his own, he is “loving it!!!!!! I am so glad to be a part of this wonderful community,” he says.

 Whew! Who knew baking bread was so exhausting? To Alfredo, the process is well worth the outcome, and I think anyone who has tried his loaves would agree!

 Besides both the Tuesday and Saturday markets, Alfredo also sells his bread at The Daily Groceries CO-OP, Athens Locally Grown, Lindsey’s Culinary Market and The Healthy Gourmet.

by Carly Nash - AFM Public Relations