The sustainable bakery
Bakers across the nation are stepping up their efforts to embrace sustainability. Artisan bread baker Roger Gural opened Arcade Bakery in 2014 in New York City. As the owner and baker, he bakes in the morning shift, does some work at the oven and more time shaping and dividing. After a few hours, he prepares the retail area and then works up front for the rest of the day. In particular, he enjoys working with wheat flour and sets a goal to make his bakery more sustainable.
“I try not to respond too much to trends,” Mr. Gural said. “For a while, the biggest impact was coming from anti-carb, anti-gluten dietary fads but that has settled down some. For the most part we focus on the European bakery staples with occasional twists.”
He draws inspirations routinely from dining at restaurants and studying baking books, and is driven to succeed by his strict attention to detail.
“I suppose I am not easily satisfied, but I am not sure why I am like that,” he said. “I enjoy repetition and paying attention to details.”
Others have similar passions. At Manresa Bread, Ms. Ruzicka started out making 500-plus loaves out of Manresa’s two small combi ovens. One year later, Manresa Bread was founded as its own brick and mortar bakery, and Ms. Ruzicka became partner and head baker. Manresa Bread was born out of the kitchen of chef David Kinch’s Michelin 3-star Manresa restaurant in Las Gatos, California.
“The customer’s increased curiosity and knowledge about where ingredients come from is one of the biggest trends I’ve seen recently,” she said. “We use fresh-milled organic flour grown primarily in California and the Pacific Northwest. Our milk, cream, butter and sugar are organic. Our produce is all local and organic. We are very proud and fortunate to use some beautiful ingredients, so a more informed public is just a wonderful opportunity for us to share the ingredients we have been and will continue to use.”
As a near-term goal, Ms. Ruzicka said she would love to create a panettone that incorporates fresh milled flour and is filled with candied citrus from local citrus trees.
“The two major ingredients in either my bread or my pastries are flour and butter,” she said. “Listed on the back of an ingredient list, those two little simple words seem somewhat plain or pedestrian, but fresh-milled Yecora Rojo red wheat grown organically in California differs immensely from Italian flour used in panettone.”
Lisa Ludwinski, head baker and owner of Sister Pie in Detroit, is equally inspired by the growing seasons in Michigan.
“What our farmers are growing is what we are using,” she said. “Beyond that, my inspirations are all over the place — food shows I’ve watched, magazines I’ve read, places I’ve worked, etc.”
Her favorite ingredients to work with include buckwheat flour and groats, tahini, rye flour, pistachios, cardamom, rhubarb and coconut.
In Seattle, Columbia City Bakery owner Evan Andres is excited about the attention the artisan bread community is receiving from what appears to be a growing number of food lovers in America who appreciate local bakers who produce great bread. He’s a big fan of breads of the world (his shop sells Volkornbrot, a German rye), and he is impressed by the work of Washington State University’s Bread Lab led by wheat breeder Stephen Jones.
“What they are doing is super amazing,” Mr. Andres said of the work by The Bread Lab to bring more value to local wheat and grain farms in the state. “All of this flour was being shipped out of the country, and now we are enjoying many more sources of local grain.”