Producing small runs of more than 100 different breads and breakfast pastry items can be an expensive proposition. But the more than 500 wholesale customers of Hyattsville, Md.’s Uptown Bakers are willing to pay a premium price for custom-produced bakery products.
|Uptown’s loaves contain no preservatives, instead the natural acidity resulting from long ferementation prolongs shelf life.|
Operating on the principal of “mass customization,” Uptown develops distinctive product formulas, production and delivery schedules to suit customers’ specific needs. Operations Director Didier Rosada mixes and matches various preferment formulations to achieve artisan loaves with flavor profiles unavailable anywhere else.
“I’ll use as many as three preferments in one product, maybe combining a poolish for a nutty flavor and a levain for a hint of acidity,” Rosada says.
Rosada, a French native who received a master’s degree in baking from the Institut National de Boulangerie-Patisserie in Rouen and was an instructor at the former National Baking Center as well as the San Francisco Baking Institute, constantly scrutinizes every ingredient that goes into Uptown’s more than 100 varieties of breads and breakfast pastries. To prolong the shelf life of his loaves, for example, Rosada eschews preservatives, instead relying on the natural acidity produced during long dough fermentation times to slow down the staling process.
European-style butter and hand-rolling give the croissants, which Uptown produces in quantities upwards of 1,000 a day, their authentically delicate texture. High volume muffins are a combination of scratch and high quality bases boosted with fresh ingredients, such as butter, and customized blend-ins and toppings, such as berries, chocolate chips and house-made streusel.
Maintaining product consistency in such a complex and exacting environment is definitely a team effort, explains Uptown Bakers’ owner Michael McCloud. From production flow choreographed by Plant Manager Jose Lopez to quality assurance and safety procedures developed and enforced by General Manager Theresa Rizzo, each step in the process is carefully monitored by a highly skilled staffer.
The availability of multiple deliveries each day by the bakery’s fleet of 14 trucks also assures customers of optimal freshness, McCloud says.
“One of our customers gets pastries and start-up breads first thing in the morning, lunch baguettes and bread basket selections at 10:30 a.m. and another [delivery] of dinner breads in the late afternoon,” he adds.
Producing short runs of as many as 30 different doughs a day and a “fresh delivery” commitment that requires non-stop baking and drivers on the road seven days a week make operating Uptown a costly proposition. As a result, it is “the most expensive bread bakery” in the area, admits McCloud.
Geographically, Uptown’s commitment to just-from-the-oven freshness restricts the bakery’s delivery area to a region that reaches from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. But neither price nor physical boundaries have inhibited the bakery’s sales growth. Company revenues surpassed $9 million in 2006 and McCloud is anticipating an increase of $10 to $10.5 million by the end of this year.