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.
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.
He began work today.