I was out for a walk this morning and came upon a local baker - el Panadero - busy getting cookies and viennoiserie ready. I asked him - he didn't share his name - if he could show me his operation, which he was happy to do.
Baking is done in a large brick oven, rather crudely made, using a fan fed blow torch (The device to the right in the photo) to heat the oven. Funnily enough, when I was experimenting with methods of heating my oven, I tried out a roofing torch, fueled by a propane tank, propped in the opening. Worked fine, sounded like a jet engine, a little hard to control.
The operation felt rough but grounded; not that many steps away from what the process likely looked like 50+ years ago in a small pueblo. Some mechanical mixers, no refrigeration (essential to a bakery operation in the U.S or Europe.) and little other equipment.
My Mexican baking friends tell me that the local flour quality is not great (Remember, we are with the People of Corn) and this, combined with the simpler facilities and equipment, might account for rougher finish of the final product.
A few doors down is a Farmacia, which like our chains in the U.S., sells a variety of grocery products and has a small German convection oven with which to prepare fresh pastries from frozen product, undoubtedly produced at a large factory.
And that is all for now from your panadero.
Your Canadian Baker