Wade Taylor looks tired. The baker and owner of the Bake Room stands inside a shotgun-style building on Pendleton Street. There’s a small prep table and a collection of well-used machinery arranged on the sides of the space: a commercial mixer outfitted with a bathtub- sized bowl; a reversible dough sheeter for pastries; a rotating rack oven; and a three-tiered deck oven.
It’s 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, but for Taylor, it’s already been a long week on top of a long season. The Bake Room owner began production out of his bakery in April 2016—just in time to get blown away by demand at the TD Saturday Market in downtown Greenville, as well as the Travelers Rest Farmers Market.
At the moment, the Bake Room is just a one-man operation. That means Taylor may spend more than 20 hours on his feet as he works from Friday into Saturday to deliver oven-fresh goods and man the tents at these two markets. That’s on top of baking during the week for local clients like Methodical Coffee and the Village Grind.
Rolling in the Dough // Along with an array of fresh-baked breads, Wade Taylor’s talent extends to tasty treats like chocolate croissants and sweet monkey bread.
“Baking’s one of those things where anyone could do this, but do you want to get up at 3:30 a.m. to mix and pull large amounts of dough?” Taylor asks. As for why he puts in the long and unconventional hours, Taylor offers this: “It fits me. The approach of baking bread, the quiet moments—those are what I enjoy. There’s a peacefulness of coming in when nobody else is on the road. It’s quiet at first, and then it builds over the course of the day. Eventually, it’s this bustling little place.”
It’s almost surprising that Taylor is responsible for this entire operation. A thick but neatly trimmed beard disguises some of his youth, but the 2010 graduate of the University of South Carolina still wouldn’t look out of place on campus. Taylor has wide-ranging experiences to draw upon: Snake River Grill and Persephone Bakery (Jackson Hole, Wyoming); Billy Bread Bakery (Richmond, Virginia); a few days staging for Jim Williams at Seven Stars Bakery (Providence, Rhode Island); a workshop at the San Francisco Baking Institute.
“When you’re baking a loaf of bread, you want it to be awesome for the person who is maybe buying a crusty loaf for the first time, but you also want it to be awesome for the person who knows more,” Taylor says of his approach to quality. “If Chad Robertson [of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery] walked in, I’d want him to say, ‘That’s a pretty good loaf.’”
“When it all goes right, it’s pretty awesome to pull out decks of bread that are exactly how you imagined,” Taylor says. With all the variables that go into making bread—ingredients, percentages, temperatures, humidity, shaping, proo ng—perfection might be an unattainable goal, but it doesn’t stop him from trying. “You’re always striving to make that perfect loaf. That’s what keeps bakers going— knowing that each loaf and each day, there’s an opportunity.”