There sure isn’t anything like fresh baked bread, especially when it’s made by our Bread Manager and Lead Baker, Nick Hays! Read on to learn more about him and his journey.
Tell us about your journeys to where you are now as a Bread Baker. Have you always had a passion for baking?
I was fairly young when I discovered good bread tasted better. My mother had purchased a baguette and I remember eating it and thinking ‘wow!’ It didn’t taste like that tasteless Wonder Bread you find everywhere. As I got older I developed an interest in natural fermentation and began reading all I could. I started baking, making mistakes (and learning from them), then more reading and more baking. Opportunities arose to work in various bakeries which helped to solidify what I had been learning. It’s still a continuous learning process, but that’s the beauty in it! There’s always some new idea to lose sleep over or some finicky formula to perfect.
So, about my philosophy… Gosh, where to begin. To state it in the simplest way I basically just want to make bread the way nature intended. This means handmade and with natural fermentation no commercial yeast! The process is slow, but the rewards are great! This slow, natural fermentation develops layers of flavor that you just can’t create with fast rising industrobread. Many studies also show that bread made in this manner also contains higher amounts of bioavailable nutrients, but I digress. 🙂
If I could pick two things, I would say 1) our Country Sourdough because of its simplicity and the fact that it can be used for so many things and 2) Enriched breads, namely Challah and Pain de Mie, for their tenderness and, obviously, their deliciousness :). Tip: Pain de Mie = stellar grilled cheese and French toast!
Bread at its foundation is rather simple. Breads like our Country loaf and Four Star Farms whole wheat only contain flour, water and salt + our natural ferment. The difficult part is attempting to master every stage of the process grain procurement, grinding, mixing, fermentation, shaping and baking. There are other little subareas in between these, but that’s another post! We (bread bakers) spend our entire lives trying to achieve perfection, but it’s always dangling a few inches from our grasp; there’s always something we can improve upon. It’s a little maddening at times, but that’s why most of us do what we do – for the thrill of the chase!
That’s easy – my hands! The beauty of bread is that you really don’t need much in the way of stuff.
Hmm, cardamom latte, please. If you love cardamom as much as I do, you probably won’t get anything else!
Beans and rice + salad! It’s been a while. Most of the time it’s all about the simplicity of the meal.
I would have to say it’s the ability to make the types of bread that bring us back to simpler times. Jen and Tucker have totally embraced the wild notion that it’s still possible to make bread in this way, and I’m very thankful for that.
The meal I just ate! My wife is from Brazil, and her beans and rice are like whoa.