I am sure many of you know Tartine Bakery, run by Chad Robertson in the Mission in San Francisco. His miche is unsurpassed. Robertson is one of ½ a dozen artisan bakers here in Northern California that had radically reshaped the way folks think about bread. I found his description of how to develop a sourdough loaf very helpful when I was starting out a couple of years ago.
I recently came across this blog post about his next planned evolution, which has caused quite a stir in the artisanal baking community. Essentially, it sounds as though Robertson if figuring out ways to scale his operation, bringing his bread to a much larger audience, which will inevitably require a fair bit of mechanization. Some folks view this as a threat to the local food movement, an act of selling out.
However, I wonder if this is a small part of the necessary next step – a big step to be sure - in changing the way our industrial food system works. While it offers much to criticize, the modern “farm to fork” food industry is a miracle of efficiency, quality and consistency; it has removed malnourishment from the public health agenda and families spend a much lower percentage of their income on food than they used to.
But, the industry has become dependent on corn, sugar and preservatives with little regard to the health problems these cause (e.g. obesity, type 2 diabetes). Time for a change.
This Saturday’s Bake
This Saturday, I plan to make a whole grain loaf for you using fresh ground Khorasan (Kamut) berries. Khorasan is one of the “ancient grains” that have recently gained popularity in the artisanal baking community (others include Emmer, Spelt and Einkorn). Some folks claim that these ancient grains are much easier for people with gluten intolerance to digest.
Khorasan likely originated from the Fertile Crescent and derives its common name from the Afghan historical province of Khorasan. It has probably been continuously cultivated at small scales and for personal use in Near East and Central Asia and in Northern Africa, but not commercially.
Khorasan wheat is well known for its smooth texture and its nutty, buttery flavour. Its content of tannin is lower than modern wheat’s; hence, it is not as bitter. Consumers generally like Khorasan wheat products for their visual appeal, their texture and their moistness.
I make my whole grain bread with 40 – 60% whole grain, which I fresh mill within 24 hours of mixing. The fresh milling means that the loaf contains all the components of the wheat berry and gives it a sweet, slightly earthy taste.
Your Canadian Baker