We live in Silicon Valley and I don't remember ever seeing bread bakeries like the ones appearing now. I'm lucky because I don't think whole grain breads are evil carbs and that's a very good thing because fresh, warm loaves are like cocaine.
Which explains what happened yesterday. I walked past Manresa in Los Altos, spied some beautiful loaves that looked impossibly unique and yummy, and walked out with four. 😎
The first was the easiest to understand: whole wheat heavily encrusted with seeds. Tastes like it's sourdough.
The chef must have had fun with this one. I'm not sure what's in it but as you can see only half the loaf survived the 10-minute drive home. I'm going to say flax and sesame seeds, walnuts, maybe a few almonds, and apricots. Adventurous and so delicious.
I had no idea what this was. It's about an inch high. I assumed it was some white flour thing, but I asked anyway. It's whole Einkorn wheat. Eh? I know something about Einkorn, the earlier form of wheat that is still dominant in countries like Turkey. It doesn't rise as far but people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance rarely have problems with this version of wheat.
For the record, it was delicious. Slightly sour, I wondered if it was a sourdough recipe.
So what do you think? Are we going through a bread renaissance?
There's certainly growing interest, just like it happened with coffee, beer and others. An acquaintance is just opening a similar place in this very different part of the world (Eastern Europe), and I've become quite addicted to trying various sorts of bread.
I sure hope so! I work for a company that supplies bakeries (small mom and pop to large commercial type) with enzyme/flour blends that make bread products softer, give them a longer shelf life, etc. You'd be surprised at the technical aspect of making bread; I was when I first stated there.
I don't know if there's a renaissance, but most of the new customers I see are smaller, more specialty bakeries. Keep eating those delicious loaves, it's job security for me 😁
I think if you look around, there have been great bread bakers around for a while. Some of whom sell at the local Farmer's Markets. Stores like Whole Foods may have helped people discover artisan breads. Maybe you're right and there are more bakeries producing different breads?
One of my favorites is Beckman's German Farm Bread. Beckman's bakes in Santa Cruz and have a pretty good selection
I bake our own breads. No bakeries in the area or even close , use all kinds of flax, quinoa, chia ,poppy, sesame, caraway, sunflower. I try to make as healthy as possible . And they don't rise as high as unhealthy breads.
Turns out the company my wife works at has a whole Slack channel dedicated to bread because baking artisan breads has become such a thing. They're comparing recipes, showing fresh-baked loaves, etc. She downloaded a few images of their awesome breads.
I heard that at the farmer's markets bread has become so popular you have to get there early or they sell out of the most popular loaves. This is what the Acme Bread tent looked like this morning. There were no lines like this for vegetables or fruit.
This is what the whole spelt looks like. Surprisingly light and bubbly. I didn't know you could make such a leavened bread with sourdough or a heavy old grain like that with a lower gluten content than modern wheats have.
Sadly, here in South East Minnesota it's very challenging to find good naturally leavened bread. There area a few places that specialize in sourdoughs, but they just aren't as good as any I've had from California. I was lucky a coworker from the bay area let me take some of his starter home with me after a work trip a little over a year ago. I've been baking at least once or twice a month since.
Just this morning, I was looking over photos from my first bake and comparing it to this mornings loafs. The bread just doesn't come out as well as it did when I was just getting started. I'm starting to think the bay area yeasts, that make such awesome bread, just don't survive in this less hospitable environment. I am happy though that when I don't have time to bake, there is a lot more variety than there was even 5-6 years ago. And I agree, warm bread warm bread is like cocaine.
They used to be over on Independence. Most afternoons it was a question as to whether Esther's German Bakery or Acme was going to tease the neighborhood with the sweet smells of baking...
And, here's the finished product from today's effort. Unfortunately for Chris, I went for a lighter crumb this time and made them only 70% whole wheat, so he'd consider them poisonous. Once I figured out the sourdough technique, I pretty much stopped making bread with commercial yeast. It takes more time but the process is pretty forgiving and you can work around your schedule without much difficulty.
It's interesting what giberti said about Bay Area yeast surviving elsewhere. I've wondered about that since I've given my starter to friends in Salt Lake City and Albuquerque and I don't think either survived. Although, they may not have been careful enough about feeding it since I've had local people kill their samples as well. Which is a shame since supposedly this starter has a long provenance. But that's another story.......