In the International Artisan Bakery Expo (IABE) session, “Sourdough Secrets & De-Mystifying Pre-ferments,” Melina Kelson, baker at Bootleg Batard, points out that the beauty of artisan breads, is that with a little planning and understanding, one can easily enhance their results.

Often, the answer is as simple as strategically applying the correct preferment choice. Weak flour? There’s a preferment for that. Want to extend shelf life naturally? Bring out richness or tanginess? Gain elasticity or extensibility? All of these results and more can be achieved by learning strategies to apply the right preferment to the appropriate application.

“Yeast is a microorganism. We want to harness what we know,” Kelson says.

An edible landscape surrounds her wood-fired oven, where she operates a weekly micro-bakery, Bootleg Batard, just outside of Chicago.

Born to a family of food critics, Kelson has always been happiest making, discussing, and enjoying thoughtfully prepared foods. she is a Certified Master Baker, Certified Executive Pastry Chef, a Certified Bread Baker, Certified Sous Chef, and Certified Hospitality Educator. She spent 17 years teaching baking and pastry arts. Now in her fourth term on the Board of Directors of The Bread Bakers Guild of America, Kelson is the three-time Director of WheatStalk and serves on the Certification Committee. Her deep commitment to sustainability informs her approach to baking and living.