In our November issue, we profile 25 of the nation's most progressive retail bakeries. Five of those are bread bakeries. The goal of these profiles is to celebrate the successes of a select handful in order to bring inspiration to the collective many who are working each day to make their bakery business stronger.
Erika Record Baking Equipment congratulates these highly skilled bread bakers in their prestigious achievement of being included in the twentyfive issue. The team is honored to promote and support the passionate artisan bread community.
Publican Quality Bread's baking team is led by head baker Greg Wade, who was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Baker Award in 2017. The bakery's main focus is whole grains and natural fermentation, something that has been mastered over the course of just a few short years.
“We decided on what we wanted our bread program to be known for (whole grain and naturally fermented hearth breads) and learned about efficiencies of scale,” Wade says. “We’re doing an incredibly amount more now with less staff.”
That staff consists of six bakers producing bread for 65 locations in Chicago and surrounding areas. “We are still very ingredient focused — first and foremost we feature local farms. The wheat crop this year was amazing,” Wade says.
Bread is often a source of invention, and Roger Gural, owner and baker at Arcade Bakery in New York City, is a master of a signature bread known as the laminated baguette. “We laminate a baguette dough into a thin sheet, which is cut into strips and wrapped around the outside of our regular baguette dough,” Gural says. “This creates a baguette dough with a crispy, flaky and buttery crust.”
Years of experience with some of the top bread bakers in the world have brought Gural to where he is today, overseeing one of the most inventive bread shops in the United States.
Manresa Bread was born out of the kitchen of Chef David Kinch’s Michelin 3-star Manresa restaurant in Las Gatos, California. Head baker Avery Ruzicka loves bread and it shows in her work.
“I realized that seven years ago and it is still true. What I particularly love about bread, beyond the delight of eating it, is that there is always more to learn. There are endless variables. Getting a recipe to be consistently what you envision is just one of the challenges. I love to make laminated doughs — croissants, inverted puff pastries, and biscuits with a fold or two. I do not have the same amount of experience with them as I do sourdough bread, so it is particularly exciting to work on them,” Ruzicka says.
For decades, Seattle has enjoyed the status of being home to some of America’s greatest bakeries. Columbia City Bakery owner Evan Andres, a three-time semifinalist for James Beard’s coveted Outstanding Baker award, knows the Seattle scene well after baking bread here for the past 20 years.
His shop may be small, but it continues to produce some of the best bread in the country. Bon Appetit magazine heralded Columbia City’s baguettes for being among the top 10 best in America, and locals voted their baguettes as best in Seattle in the city’s first-ever French Fest in 2013. “We really try to push that line everyday with what the flour can handle,” Andres says. “We try to take it to the edge. We want it to be the best experience for the person who came into buy our bread that day.”
When bread fans talk about local food, it does not get any more local than the current arrangement at 1900 Barker, a bakery that opened in June 2015 in the contemporary college town of Lawrence, Kansas. Owner Taylor Petrehn, who exhibits a knowledge and passion for bread baking way beyond his youthful age of 25, is buying certified organic Turkey Red wheat that is grown 1½ miles from his bakery at Moon on the Meadow, a small farm in Lawrence owned and operated by Jill Elmers.
When asked how one develops a keen palate at such a young age, Petrehn says much of the credit goes to working in productive surroundings and learning to develop strong opinions about the details of what goes into producing great flavor. “Having strong opinions has led me to be a better baker,” he says. “That has helped me consciously improve my palate. When I taste a croissant, I’m always thinking about what it needs. Dissecting the crust and the crumb, and thinking about the hydration.”