Vila Verde's BakeryWhere bread making is a family business
One of the best memories I keep from childhood in the small village of Vila Verde, Seia, Portugal, was to go late in the evening to Mr. Fernando’s bakery to buy freshly baked bread just out of the oven, run back home with the bread inside a closed bag in the hope none of the heat would escape, spread it with butter and indulge myself with this most delicious treat.
Almost 40 years on Mr. Fernando Carvalho’s bakery, with the help of his son, Rui Carvalho, his daughter in law, Márcia Carvalho and one more employee, Clarisse Salema, keeps producing bread on a daily basis.
But, despite the long period that has passed the bakery has not changed much from what I remember and most procedures are still quite manual.
In February 2015 I was in Vila Verde and decided to do a photographic essay about this family business which, for its history and impact in the local community, deserves to be remembered and celebrated.
9:00 AM. Márcia Carvalho carries a bag of flour from the warehouse to the mixing machine.
After the dough is made of flour, yeast, salt and water large chunks of it are manually cut with the help of a knife and then removed by hand from the mixer.
Fernando Carvalho, the owner and founder of the bakery, poses for a portrait by the dough mixing machine.
Márcia Carvalho watches Fernando Carvalho throw a chunk of dough into the scale and splitting machine.
Márcia Carvalho operating the scale and split machine. Here she creates larger portions by merging three smaller portions.
Fernando Carvalho prepares the workbench by sprinkling it with flour.
Fernando Carvalho works the bread dough. He flattens larger portions of it to place them on the cutting machine tray.
Clarisse Salema aligns the individual portions of dough on the machine which will shape them into their final format.
Márcia Carvalho places the individual portions of dough on trays which will later be carried into the oven. These trays simultaneously turn around by means of a manual lever and the dough falls on the oven surface for baking.
The trays carrying the individual portions of dough are placed in refrigerated rooms and the dough will ferment until late in the evening.
Baking starts 10:00 PM. The wood oven is started and the trays with the fermented dough are brought out. Clarisse Salema steers the fire to speed up the oven’s heating process. The dough is about to enter the oven.
The bread is baking. Clarisse Salema takes a short break while waiting for the first batch of bread to be ready.
Rui Carvalho takes the baked bread out of the oven. He tells me about industrialized bread factories where is produced in one hour more than 10 times his daily production.
Rui Carvalho puts the bread buns into plastic boxes and Clarisse Salema moves the full boxes to the distribution area where they will be loaded into trucks and dispatched to the final customers. Early in the morning Rui will be driving one of these trucks and shortly after a new cycle will restart.