What a day! I had grand ambitions to finish up early, knock out this newsletter, and spend the evening outside. But I got to the kitchen this morning to discover that yesterdays power outage had reset my bread retarding coke fridge (aka Stevie Nicks) to a chilly 33ºF. As you might guess, bread doesn't rise well when frozen. It took hours to warm it back to life (four hours, in fact), and there went my evening. Ah well.
At least I had a wonderfully distracted week of playing in the dirt. Every time I tried to settle into researching equipment, or catching up on bookkeeping, or updating my webpage, I remembered another urgent project in the garden and went outside instead. This is the beauty and danger of self employment: if I want to build a new garden bed for my overambitious starts, or sketch designs for a solar food dryer, or run away with any of the other endless projects I dream up, I can. So long as I also remember to feed my sourdough, there are no immediate repercussions. Of course, the mess of sorting through two months of receipts after all that avoidance is its own form of punishment.
In other, more relevant news, I'm joining Growing Washington's CSA! Starting in mid-June you'll be able to order Raven Breads through their fabulous and ever abundant Local Choice box. I'll be starting simple, with just the Hard Red and Smoky Vollkornbrot, but once I get a feel for the increased production I'll add more options.
For those who need midweek bread, and aren't in the CSA, I'll also add a limited number of loaves available for pre-order and Wednesday pickup. Pickup location and payment method are yet to be determined. If you have any ideas, send them my way.
Hello Bread Eaters,
I have a new goal: I'm going to start writing regular newsletters. Actually, this is an old aspiration, but I've decided it's time to move it along from idea to execution.
So, here goes:
Returning to the kitchen this spring I've had an easy transition back into market production and, as so often happens, discovered that I absorbed far more on my winter bread tour than I realized at the time. All those bakery visits, watching other bakers move through their kitchens and routines, made me more confident and efficient in my own kitchen. I'm starting to feel like I know what I'm doing, and when things go wrong, I (usually) know the what and why of the problem. It's pretty great!
Since I was starting to feel mildly competent, I decided it was time to add a new challenge: no more white flour! White flour was a useful ally last year while I was still sorting out the vagaries of sourdough because it's more predictable and has more strength than whole grain flour, making it much easier to work with, but why bake with less flavorful, less nutritious white flour when I can get fresh-milled whole grains right down the road at Fairhaven Mills? There's no reason at all. So, Raven Breads is now an entirely whole grain bakery. Huzzah!
As a result, I've made some menu changes. If you haven't yet visited the market (shame on you!) here's the current lineup:
Hard Red – the simplest sourdough, made with hard red wheat flour, water, and sea salt.
Polenta – the best toast bread, with a dense, creamy crumb from the toasted corn porridge.
Ancient Grains – or more accurately ancient wheats: a whole spelt bread with sprouted einkorn and emmer.
Smoky Vollkornbrot – dense, smoky rye.
Mountain Rye – the seedy, caraway & coriander scented landbrot that will make you want to pick up your lederhosen (or dirndl) and head for the hills.
I have some other breads I'd like to introduce to the market lineup on a rotating basis: an oatmeal bread (oat porridge, a little honey, and you have a seriously kick ass breakfast/snack bread), a farmhouse bread (I'm picturing a crackle crusted half wheat, half rye, with a bit of cider vinegar), and, come pressing season, a scrumpy bread, perhaps with a cinnamon raisin swirl? Yum! The problem is choosing which of the current lineup to let go in order to bring new breads in.
In the meantime, I'll save my experiments for the pastry case. If you have an overabundance of rhubarb (or, later in the season, berries or tree fruit) I would love to glean the surplus in exchange for market credit and my immense gratitude. I've been collecting fruit gleaning sites since moving to Bellingham, but I can always use more!
All right. That's it for now.
See you tomorrow.
Owner | Baker