happy spring, chickens
we’re about a quarter of the way through 2015, ya know what they say when you’ve been having fun… if i do say so myself, and i do, i’ve been having the best year of my life. i’ve just been soaking up so much learning about baking and living and loving and it’s landed me in a place where i’m so very aware of how much more there is to learn, how much richness there is to be sopped up out of these moments of life. is that too gushy for you? i hope so, but in a nice kinda way that makes you giggle, not think, ‘jeez that baker boy has been spending too much time smelling roses or something.’ anyway.
the past few weeks have been particularly inspiring, and have led me to something i’m very excited to share, something that i dare say may just be the next big thing in bread.
but hold your horses there kiddos, i can’t just go cutting right to the chase, that would really spoil all the fun now wouldn’t it? come along, hold my hand and i will take you on a little journey with me so you can fully appreciate my tale. i’ll start at no particular starting point, and by that i mean with a trip out to see Mr. Dave Miller.
every time i hang with Dave i learn something simple and powerful. it usually involves something that we’ve talked about before, something he’s mentioned in the past that i wasn’t ready to understand, but then all of the sudden it clicks into place and i find myself saying, ‘ohhhhhhhhhh, that’s what you meant!! of course.’
other than taking a breather from SF life and enjoying the deep pleasure of gas station cappucinos with one of my lovely bakers, Ms. Blair Cardigan Smith (pictured below), i was reminded of the importance of starting each and every loaf with the highest quality flour you can find, which is much more complex than i could have ever imagined. this involves sourcing your grains well, but then you also have to mill your grains well. neither of these things are easy to do. it seems like the deeper into grains and milling and bread that i get, the more there is to learn. and that’s just fine by me, because if there’s one thing i don’t like, it’s being bored.
i came back from Dave’s and had a lovely week baking bread with my oh-so-very badass crew at the bakery, and then the next weekend i took a trip out to the woods with a group of dear friends, led by my dearest heartbrother Rafi. together we built a sweat lodge.
i’d never built a sweat lodge, nor sweat in a sweat lodge, but i am a full convert – it was one of the most powerful and nourishing things i’ve done.
if the opportunity presents itself, hear my voice in the back of your mind saying, ‘it’ll be worth it.’
back to the bakery for another week of bread baking and jogging in golden gate park and hanging out with my beautiful pregnant wife (yup, t-minus 2 months my dudes!!). and then off on another adventure, this time to the east coast. specifically, i just returned from an epic trip to North Carolina + Virginia where i visited with a handful of bakers, some of whom i have literally met in my dreams. goodness gracious, i was absolutely floored by the welcoming i received by each and every one of them.
i started out visiting Dave Bauer at Farm + Sparrow, right outside of Asheville. Dave’s been milling his flour and sourcing grains direct from local farmers for about a decade, and my my my, he knows what he is doing.
he’s a master of his craft, and i feel truly privileged to have been able to spend a few days in his company. can’t wait to go back.
after Farm + Sparrow I head to Raleigh, where i had the pleasure of hanging out with the crew at Boulted Bread.
these boys are making some phenomenal bread + pastry, and my only regret is that i had barely 24 hours in their company.
after getting in a quick car accident i proceeded to Richmond, VA, where i spent about 16 hours in the ridiculously loving arms of Evrim Dogu and crew at Sub Rosa Bakery.
Evrim and I are quite obviously long lost brothers, and we quickly delved deep into some of life’s more personal and mysterious topics, such as Peter Chang’s Chinese food, the tragedy of of love long lost and the resulting flickering eye lids, and whether or not “2000” should ever be uttered following the word “pizza.” i miss you already Evrim.
ok, so, enough of that trip down memory lane – are you ready for it? i’m not sure you are….
so we all know that overcooking your veggies leaches many of the most nutritious bits, while also rendering them less pleasing to your palette. for many foods, the optimum way to ingest is to avoid cooking altogether, to just eat that carrot/kale/tomato/sunflower seed raw. over the last year i have been exploring what this could look like in our bakery, and today i am ready to share some of these discoveries.
since i started baking bread i have always favored the ‘bold bake,’ appreciating the nuanced flavors/textures/aromas it allows you to coax from the loaf. however, as is the trend in coffee roasting, i’d become curious about what it might mean to go for a lighter bake, to let the flavors of the grain speak for themselves, instead of being overshadowed by those produced during caramelization and the maillard reaction.
we’ve been secretly experimenting with ‘light baking’ and while it’s proven promising, i now believe that we have stumbled upon the true next frontier in bread. my friends, i proudly present to you here and now what is sure to be the next big thing in bakeries across the world: raw bread.
the act of baking bread dough robs it of many of its beneficial probiotic cultures, not to mention solidifying gluten into its much more abrasive form. did you know that gluten is totally harmless if it’s consumed raw? also, the wild yeast and bacteria present in sourdough culture are able to thrive fully throughout the digestive process so long as they aren’t exposed to the cruelty of baking temperatures, thereby lending a helping hand throughout the entirety of their journey through your digestive tract.
it is for these reasons that from here on out we will not be baking our loaves, instead opting for the more nutritious raw form of sourdough bread dough.
also, i am pleased to announce that from here on out we will no longer be toasting our bread, as we believe that consuming raw toast is the superior approach.
and you thought $4 toast was a big deal.
all my love sweethearts