By Greg Wade, Publican Quality Bread
Food is Relationships
At a certain point in our lives, we all have to ask ourselves why we do what we do. Why do we surround ourselves with the people we do, why do we live where we live, why do we bake bread as a hobby or for a living? It is when Marty and Will Travis, the father & son farmer team at Spence Farm, and I started asking ourselves these questions that Bread Camp was created. For me, and many others, bread is a symbol of community, of friendship, of hard work and of the rewards reaped from all of these things working in tandem. This is why Bread Camp exists. We wanted to create an immersive experience where we take people to the farm and we show them not only how grain is grown and how to bake bread, but also to convey why these things matter in the first place.
How Camp Starts
As with most days, bread camp starts with feeding our sourdough mother. We make some preferments, soakers and scalds in preparation for our mixes in the afternoon. While we wait for maturation, we discuss what we look for in a quality flour. Campers are given an overview of how to read a farinograph and a certificate of analysis, fancy terms that essentially act as the blueprints to a flour.
Quality versus Quantity
Many bakers do everything by feel, which is admirable and I think one of the most rewarding experiences about bread baking. However, in a production setting, where we focus on quality and consistency of the product, I need to be able to give my bakers solid data and instruction when it comes to our mixes. We compare flours themselves. We look at commodity, as well as store-bought wheat, rye and oat flours against freshly milled local farm flours. The easiest way to show qualitative differences is to engage the senses and compare the products side by side. Immersing your hands in flour, smelling the aromatic freshly milled flour compared to the shelf stable packaged flours, even tasting the raw flour familiarizes bakers with the product and gets them to anticipate the breads we will make from those ingredients later in the day. We prepare campers for mixing by talking about using whole grains in dough, how to use gentle mixing methods and longer fermentation techniques. Finally, we mix.
The breads we make are meant to showcase the direct differences between fresh milled, local flour and commodity flours. It is immediately apparent when we look at our preferments from the morning. The farm flours have already started fermenting, bursting with robust and floral aromas, while the commodity grain remains dead and stale. During the mix, bakers take note of the amount of water each flour is able to absorb, followed by how long it takes to develop dough strength and the integrity, quality and texture of each resulting dough. We make oat, wheat, and rye hearth loaves blended with bread flour, as well as some 100% whole wheat and rye breads, we will also make pizza dough for tomorrow’s lunch.
See more posts from this series: Why Bread Camp Part 2 of 3
Regenerate is a regional collaboration between charities, not for profits, culinary educators, restaurants and businesses that seek to build a better food system to serve consumers in South Western Ontario.
What is Bread Camp?
Bread Camp is a 2-day experience educating and connecting growers, millers, bakers and chefs who are creating a rise in demand for local grains. This program will increase a baker’s capacity to procure and utilize regionally grown whole grains to build and develop the regional foodshed.
Greg Wade, Head Baker
Publican Quality Bread
As Publican Quality Bread’s Head Baker, Wade oversees the bread program for all of the One Off Hospitality Group, with a focus on local farm whole grains and natural fermentation. At Publican Quality Bread, Wade received a nomination for the Outstanding Baker category of the James Beard Awards in 2017. On graduation from culinary school, he worked at Taxim, specializing in bread and pastries. From there, Greg joined the opening team at Girl & the Goat in 2010. He excelled under Chef Stephanie Izard’s tutelage, and in 2013, he moved to Little Goat to oversee bread baking at Girl & the Goat, Little Goat and Little Goat French Market. Now at the helm of Publican Quality Bread’s bakery operations, Greg works hand in hand with the company’s chef de cuisines to develop new bread’s to fit each restaurant’s menu.