Wholesale baking isn’t for everyone, but Kim Boyce, owner of Bakeshop, a specialty wholesale bakery in Portland, Ore., enjoys the challenges specific to large-scale production and plans to continue growing her wholesale business.
“I have a very methodical mind,” Boyce says. “I love taking a two-cup recipe and bringing it up to wholesale size. The idea that we can scale up and maintain the quality of these recipes I developed in my home kitchen is very cool.”
Boyce is the former pastry chef of fine-dining restaurants Spago and and Campanile in Los Angeles. She left the pastry kitchen to have children and began experimenting with whole grain flours, which led to a cookbook deal in 2008. She and her family moved to Portland, and she approached local coffee shops about selling her pastries. After 18 months of running a wholesale baking operation out of her home, she opened Bakeshop on Dec. 24, 2011.
She doesn’t miss being a pastry chef despite the knowledge and skills she gained from it. “Being a pastry chef provided a great foundation for my baking ability,” she says. “As a pastry chef I was always developing plates and components on a plate; that has transferred into my baking style. A muffin has to have many components in my mind, but I don’t want the customer to have to think about that.”
One of the challenges of running a specialty wholesale bakery instead of a restaurant pastry kitchen is less flexibility when creating menus.
“There’s a big difference in running a wholesale business when it comes to seasonality,” Boyce says. “I came from a restaurant and we always shopped at farmers’ markets. Running a wholesale business has limitations in terms of space, and there are times of year we can’t buy stuff.” Thus, her menu doesn’t depend on seasonal fruit during the fall and winter months–relying instead on ingredients like crystallized ginger, flowers, dried figs and nuts.
The bakery is best known for Boyce’s figgy buckwheat scones, which surprises her. “It’s so funny. The buckwheat scone is a recipe from my book with figs that are cooked in port and red wine. It’s a sophisticated flavor. There is this assumption that whole grain flours taste so assertive, but I love that it’s popular because it shows people are ready to eat these whole grains.”
Additional menu items include seasonal handheld pies, cookies, bars, muffins, Danish and cakes. Product is delivered to 11 shops each morning, in addition to Bakeshop’s retail sales, which are quickly catching up to wholesale. “The retail counter allows me to develop products and get an immediate response,” Boyce adds.
Bakeshop is located in the city’s Northeast district, bordering two neighborhoods. While that stretch of town isn’t an especially desirable walking neighborhood, Boyce prefers the area because it’s inexpensive and lets her run her business as she likes. “The biggest reasons I chose the space were the rent was affordable and it allowed us the ability to remain a bakery and not become a café. When we looked at the more desirable walking neighborhoods, I would have had to become a café.”
Bakeshop has four employees, with production running on two staggered shifts. About 200 sq. ft. of the 1,200-sq.-ft. space is devoted to retail, with the rest for production. Major equipment includes two double convection ovens, a 15-tray rack oven and a 60-qt. mixer.
While she aspires to continue scaling up to eventually run a “factory”-size operation, Boyce always strives to maintain the rustic, handmade appeal of her products.
“I bake pastries in a very rustic fashion,” she says. “They appear to be very homemade, and you can see handprints on the pastries. I ultimately want customers to take away that my products are very comforting.”