The Soul of Bread Furst

March 24, 2014

You must be tired by now of reading about what foods we aren’t going to make – bland food and Frenchified pastries.  It’s time as we prepare to open to write about what you will find at Bread Furst.


I really think that each of our major products – breads, desserts, and foods – will have a certain character and this is the first of three little essays about our opening menu.  Certainly nothing else is as important as that.  Why else would you ever come?

First, our breads.


photo photo

People say all the time that Washington lacks neighborhood bakeries and I think they mean mostly bakeries that bake bread on premises.  Certainly pastries and desserts are available elsewhere in the city and there are really good bakeries like Praline in Bethesda. But our city doesn’t have an abundance of neighborhood bakeries like those in other cities and no bakeries that do it all.

But we will.

We’ll begin baking at 4 am every day.  The first bread into the oven will be a country bread of rye, whole wheat, and white flour, giant loaves, four or five pound loaves that will bake for 90 minutes until their crusts have a shiny color of chocolate brown, almost black.  We’ll sell that bread by the pound.

While those loaves are in the oven, we’ll be able to bake the breakfast breads – English muffins, brioche rolls, and bagels.  And then by 6 am we’ll turn to the first bake of baguettes so that customers who want an impeccably fresh bread for breakfast will be able to buy one at 7 am – still warm.

That’s how it will go through the day – mixing dough, baking breads meant to be eaten right away and breads meant to cool – some for 24 hours – before being cut.

We will do a small range of familiar breads – brioche, for example – and we will make breads that celebrate and remind you of the historic meanings of bread – challah, Easter breads, stollen and matzoh.

In addition, we are going to make two lines of bread not so familiar perhaps – a whole grain bread and an ancient grain bread.  Eventually, after we feel confident about our consistency, we will make a different one of each every day.  Vollkornbrot, Swedish rye, and Sonnenblumenbrot will be on the whole grain menu and breads make with amaranth and quinoa on the ancient grain list.

An ambitious agenda lies ahead for us.  We know recipes for these breads – “formula,” bakers call them – but we have to learn how to do them with our 25 year old levain (sour) occupying a new environment with a new mixer and a new oven that we can’t even turn on yet as we don’t have enough gas.

I – in case you wonder – am not going to be the head baker.  That position will be held by Ben Arnold who worked at Cathal Armstrong’s Society Fair in Alexandria and then at Range, Brian Voltaggio’s restaurant in Chevy Chase.

photo           Those are his breads, not mine that you see above and he will preside over our bread making establishment.

He began work today.

  1. Merry Richon says:

    We can’t wait to try everything you and the team will be baking!

  2. Katherine Stevens says:

    I imagine what your readers would most like to know is: when are you going to open? Looking forward to it!

  3. Corinne Roberts says:

    When do you open?

    Sent from my iPad


  4. says:

    Many moons ago when Marvelous Market first opened you made a wonderful fig and pine nut boule….any chance it might reappear??….i still have fond memories….kate hill

  5. Marc Sklar says:

    OK, so now we know where, and we know what so the only question I have is WHEN?

  6. Mark – I’m not sure what’s wrong with “Frenchified pastries” – unless you mean inauthenticity – but this was a delightful, mouthwatering post. I can’t wait to visit BreadFurst.

  7. Ted Pochter says:

    Mark- I am in Paris this week and have been loving the baguettes (and Traditional type) this past week. Also wonderful miche loaves and great tartes and flans. If tartes are prepared with flakey puff, it can be like heaven Done poorly, it is not worth the calories. I hope some of the best French patisserie methods can be baked at Bread Furst. I am looking forward to your opening, the sooner the better!

  8. Lyle says:

    Mark – Couldn’t be more excited to have a proper bakery in DC. Do the world a favor: please consider distributing some of your loaves to local markets. Most of us don’t live near your store, and while I will certainly go out of my way to get your goods on weekends, it’s not a trip I can make daily. Please, please, please consider teaming up with some local coffee shops (Peregrine?) or markets (Smuckers? Glenns?). One more time: Please. And: thank you.

    • It’s a conundrum. On the one hand, some other stores may want to buy our bread. I want to give preference to the neighborhood and be a real neighborhood bakery. On the other hand one is tempted after having invested $200,000 in bread-making, to use the oven more. But then, of course, there’s transporting the bread to those who want to sell it elsewhere — and that is very costly. And then there is eroding the purpose of the neighborhood bakery by tailoring production times to the needs of restaurants and stores that might buy it.

  9. Dawson Nash says:

    I am eagerly awaiting the opening of Bread Furst as I pass by everyday on my way to the metro and home again thinking about buying bread for breakfast and soups and salads for dinner. Bring on the sour tamarind soup! David Hagedorn’s article was good for capturing the events leading up to the opening of Bread Furst, but did he have to use such words as “eye-rolling and exasperated sighs” and “Furstenburg bristles”? Reading the stories on this blog makes one know that the Bread Furst team is not as dramatic as all that and seems to take away from all the positive energy that appears to be taking place.

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