Do I have treats for you today! You'd better come to market early, before the rain, and while I still have my full lineup. This week's specials: a Roasted Butternut & Hazelnut bread, inspired by the decadent butternut squash and hazelnut lasagna my mom used to make (You should make this, too! I believe the recipe is in the Gourmet Cookbook), and Pan de Muerto, a few days early, but how can you say no to brioche with a hint of orange and anise?
And speaking of treats, I'm baking some killer breads for next Wednesday's wholesale order. If you want Buckwheat Pear, Honey & Oat, or Rosemary Sea Salt bread for Wednesday pickup, drop me a line. And how could you not want the earthy sweetness of Buckwheat Pear bread? Just writing the name is inspiring vivid toast fantasies.
You can, as always, add on any of the usual treats to your order: Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies, Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sourdough Buckwheat Scones, or Brown Butter Shortbread.
Next Wednesay is the last day to order Election Cake for your election party. Pickup at the Saturday market. I've been working on interpreting this challenging, historic recipe all month, and I'm finally happy with the results: a complex sourdough cake, with a hint of buckwheat, and a mountain of rum-soaked raisins and dried apples. All profits go to the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County. $40. Serves 12-15.
All right, time to pack up and roll out.
See you soon!
The bread today is spot on. Though I know much more about baking now than I did three years ago, the baking process still holds many unknowns, and I'm relieved and slightly awed every time I take a beautiful loaf out of the oven. These days, I'm more often relieved than disappointed, but that doesn't lessen the anticipation. Anyways, today is an good day to mosey on down to the market for Red & White, Cinnamon Raisin, Smoky Vollkornbrot, or Mountain Rye. And of course, a slice of French Apple Cake, because how could you pass that up? This week it's made with rye and some truly lovely russeted heirloom apples.
On the home front, we're losing it. Our home, I mean. We just found out we have to move out in five weeks, which is no time at all, so if you have any leads on rentals or rooms, send them this way! The upside of this upset is that I now have extra incentive to move along on oven building, because no way am I picking up and moving this pallet of firebricks to another house. Next time it moves, it's going to the Alley District.
Time to load up and ride off into the gloaming.
See you at the farmers market.
Despite today's grey calm, I've decided to heed the still nebulous Saturday storm warnings and skip the market. There is, of course, a good chance we won't get a historic storm, but if we do, I don't want to be biking through it against the wind, hauling an absurdly large trailer loaded with perishable baked goods.
To make up for the missed weekend, I'm taking orders for next midweek. Pickup anytime between 11:30 am and 8 pm Wednesday at 1313 N State. You can place your order by filling out THIS SURVEY, and pay at pickup.
Stay warm and dry this weekend. Don't stand under trees in a windstorm. Drink lots of tea.
I have been know, in the past, to state with great conviction that I don't care about cake. This is untrue. I don't care about white cake, split and frosted. Birthday cakes bore me. But give me a dense, citrusy pound cake, or a torte falling under the weight of fresh fruit, and you have my attention. The French apple cake recipe I've been playing with falls somewhere between the latter and a Dutch pancake. It has the custardy texture of a pudding cake or egg-rich pancake, though this may be due, in part, to the fact that right now I'm over-stuffing it with apples, and is scented with vanilla and rum. Were I to choose only one cake for fall, it would be this. It's the kind of cake I can care about.
But while I've been pouring over cake recipes, I've been studiously avoiding other projects, most importantly, the community wood fired oven. I built up an enormous amount of oven inertia this summer while I was consumed with baking and farmers markets, and now that I have a little free time, I'm finding it nearly impossible to get going again. This is mostly because I'm intimidated by the project, and only a little because I've been enjoying slowing down.
I know, logically, that I can learn or reason my way through the unfamiliar parts (which are most of them, since I've never done masonry or worked with a wood fired oven), and while I was planning last winter, and starting to build in the spring, I had the momentum to overcome my fear of being unequal to the task. Having lost that momentum, I find myself paralyzed by it. I'm not always good at asking for help, but here I go: if you find yourself with time on a Wednesday, some basic handiness, if not directly relevant experience, and a willingness to work with bricks in the rain, would you come keep me company? I think that's all it will take, being accountable to someone else, and having another mind to help reason through the process.
And now it's time to suit up and wander out into the rain.
See you at market!
I set a three year deadline for myself when I started Raven Breads. Three years to dabble and explore, to decide whether I want to be a Baker. I'm at the two and a half year mark now, and the answer is yes, I do (with many doubts, caveats, and qualifications). The next step is figuring out how.
Before last winter's bakery bike tour, I was mostly sure I wanted to continue on my current path as a market baker, but those weeks spent exploring different bakery models changed my mind. There were many reasons for the shift, but the primary among them was the uncomfortable recognition that brick and mortar bakery owners, unlike their homesteading, market-selling counterparts, seem to (sometimes) achieve some level of financial security and work-life balance. As idyllic as my imagined tiny backyard bakery was, I aspire to someday pay myself a living wage, to have the flexibility to occasionally escape the mountains in the summer or visit family on the weekend.
It's exciting and scary to imagine taking the leap into a physical bakery, but underneath the normal anxieties about growth and capital and customer base, there's a nagging worry that the fundamental shape of my dreams may be unrealistic. I want a business with a triple bottom line: financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable. This seems so basic, so obvious, that it should be a given. Of course I should strive to build a business that provides a decent livelihood to suppliers, workers, and owner(s), that enriches its community and treads lightly on the earth. But our entire food system is built on externalized costs, on underpaid farmers, farm workers, and kitchen staff, government subsidies for industrial-ag, cheap oil and gas, environmental degradation, and uncompensated work. As I think about internalizing all these costs into a larger business, I worry that price may be too high. Will Bellingham pay the real cost of food?
In the present day, I went a little cake crazy this week. I have Plum Anise, Poached Quince, and French Apple, along with my first try at Election Cake. This old recipe is unlike anything I've ever made (an entirely naturally leavened cake!), and will take some work to bring into line with modern pastry expectations. I'm joining with bakers from across the country make Election Cake this year as a way to embrace our baking history--in colonial America,it was traditionally served in town halls and at polling stations to encourage people to vote--and the power of food to bring people together.
All profits will be donated to the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County, a nonpartisan voters' rights organization. Come buy a slice!