The Baguette

The uses for the versatile baguette vary widely enough that you can serve it in almost any situation. Use for bruschetta, slice as table bread or simply rip chunks off the long and skinny loaf for dipping into your favorite soft cheese. The baguette adds elegance to all meals and works well for a between-meal snack. Regardless of the way a baguette gets eaten, it’s a staple for any bakery and should stock the shelves regularly. Move bread out the door and cash into your register by offering this traditional and historic bread at your bakery.

An official, clear and precise definition of the baguette does not exist. The vision of bicycles in Paris carrying 2½ ft loaves in their baskets at all times of day is what comes to mind. Although exact lengths and weights may vary, and ingredients are up to the discretion of the baker, a baguette can be defined as the long, skinny loaf the Parisian image portrays.

In France, the birthplace of the baguette, the popularity has grown enough that modernity has crept into the ways bakers distribute it to their customers. A vending machine containing pre-baked baguettes offers customers a quick and easy way to get the bread when pressed for time. In January 2011 the machine sold 1,600 baguettes, and by July 2011, it sold 4,500. The numbers prove that customers want the baguette no matter how they have to get it.

When The Acme Bread Co. was established in 1983 in Berkley, CA, it baked four different kinds of bread. Among the four types was their sweet dough baguette. As Acme Bread grew, so did the products they produced.

Acme is principally a wholesale bakery, but it also has two retail shops. One is the original location in Berkeley, CA, and the other is in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero. The bakery supplies bread to dozens of restaurants around the Bay Area, including Chez Panisse as well as grocery stores and farmers’ markets around the Bay Area. Now offering more than 100 different products, Acme still produces the sweet dough baguette along with sourdough baguettes and sweet-rustic dough baguettes.

The sweet dough baguettes are not “sweet” in the common understanding of the word. Not a breakfast or dessert item, the word sweet refers to a crust texture and flavor that is mild when compared to a sourdough. Acme’s sweet dough baguettes make a great all-purpose bread and accent the flavor of olive oil or mild cheese very well.

Hand-moulded and baked in a stone-hearth oven, the sweet rustic dough baguettes have a somewhat irregular interior structure. The baking process also produces a chewier crust than the baguettes made from the sweet dough. The sweet rustic dough is leavened with a long-fermented baker’s yeast-based liquid starter.

All of Acme’s sourdoughs are leavened with naturally occurring wild yeast starters rather than baker’s yeast. The white sourdough baguettes are probably the closest to what people think of as San Francisco sourdough.

A magnet for progressive thinkers, the Bay Area bears a commitment to sustainability, health and all things organic. Acme takes this mindset to heart in all of its operations and the way it produces bread. Acme makes its baguettes using only organic unbleached wheat flour, water, sea salt, yeast and malted barley. The sourdough baguette also contains a sour starter, and all Acme products have a clean label.

Acme has always used organic whole-grain flour, and since the 1990s, it’s incorporated as many organic and locally sourced products as possible. In 1999 it made the switch to using organic flour in all its products, and the company makes every effort to operate in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Acme’s largest wholesale location installed photovoltaic solar panels and generates a large portion of its own electricity. It’s experimented with natural gas and bio-diesel to fuel delivery trucks and offers all customers a 5¢ per loaf discount to forgo all packaging on bread bought at the retail locations. All leftover bread is donated to schools, charitable organizations and non-profits, with the remainder going into organic livestock feed.

Locally sourced and organic products at The Acme Bread Co.

Organic olive oil from Tunisia and Spain.
Organic walnuts (Franquette, Poe, Hartley, and Chandler varieties) from Lake County, CA.
Organic raisins, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds sourced by flour provider, Keith Giusto.
Organic butter from Petaluma Creamery in Petaluma, CA.
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