MADISON, WI — Every bakery experiences slower months, which can create a lull in business — and sales. Far Breton Bakery in Madison, WI, has found a way to turn those quiet periods into opportunities through workshops for community members to learn and engage in baking.
The concept of opening the workshops to the public was born in 2021 with a four-part series of pastry chef classes. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a lot of customers expressed interest in taking baking classes. As part of Far Breton’s mission is to teach and pass on baking skills, taste combinations and style to the next generation, the workshops have been able to spread the joy and pleasure of baking to the community.
Since the area the bakery uses for the workshops is also a working kitchen, scheduling workshops can sometimes be difficult. However, Marie Young, owner of Far Breton Bakery, has created a timeline that works for the bakery’s schedule.
“January is slow, and February is slow-ish,” Marie said, noting that the workshops are planned around the bakery’s lower-selling seasons. “So, we can do it at the beginning of the year and the end of the year, but during the year, we are really busy running a business. This is my way to utilize the space during the slower times.”
Prep work varies from class to class. For the holiday cookie class, the cookie dough is made in advance to give it time to firm up so that participants are able to hit the ground running when they enter the workshop. There are quite a few workshops that the bakery offers that require little to no preparation or making things the morning before.
“We have an American-style macaroon, which does require cooking for a water bath,” Marie said. “We also do brown butter madeleines, and I do a little tutorial on how to brown butter, which is very useful. Those are some things that we do make the morning of and that is fine.”
The workshops also let Marie’s team see her in another light besides just as boss.
“I think that it helps the team when they get to watch me in a venue where I am not just being the boss in the office,” Marie shared. “They get to watch me on occasion in my element showing people how to make stuff and again there’s no pressure of production, which is a whole different beast.”
Upon moving into Far Breton’s new storefront, each workshop has enough space for 12 participants. With a goal of passing on information to the next generation, the bakery team has found a new way to connect with its community and display its passion for baking outside of selling baked goods.
“I think it improves my profile as a business owner, on the participant’s profile as a baker and it improves the profile that is perceived of my team,” Marie concluded.
The final class for the European Holiday Cookie Class is Nov. 19, with the next workshop consisting of the Pastry Chef Workshop — Laminated Doughs, set for Jan. 14.