(My snobby but truthful 2013 comment in a ToledoTalk.com thread.)
"good bread is a real hard thing to find in the Toledo area"
I agree with that statement.
"a few of the artisan options at The Fresh Market. Anderson's has a few worth the trip"
I disagree with that statement. Those options don't qualify as bread in my book.
If you have experience with the many options of Zingerman's bread, then you would realize that "real" bread does not exist in Toledo, or it's extremely hard to find.
My definition for workhorse bread:
- It should contain only three ingredients: flour, water, and salt.
- It should be naturally leavened and not contain commercial yeast.
- It's never pre-sliced nor wrapped in any kind of plastic, including the so-called special plastic with tiny holes.
- It's stored at home, unprotected at room temp with the cut-side facing down on the cutting board. At most, it can be draped with a paper sack. (bread can be wrapped in plastic and frozen)
- The workhorse bread is built large, 3-plus pounds, and it will last for several days.
- A favorite way to eat the bread is plain, untoasted, but it can be used for many applications.
Zingerman's does make some bread that uses the instant yeast, but they also make many varieties that are built with the natural leaven, which taste better.
The darker the crust, the better the bread tastes because of the carmelization of the natural sugars in the flours. People who lack a sophisticated breaducation may think that the dark-crusted breads are burnt, but they would be wrong.
Visit the Zingerman's Bakehouse, located on the south side of I-94, off of the State St. exit. The Zingerman's line of businesses is located at a business park, across from the new Costco.
If available, buy the big Z bread, as I call it. It's their French Mountain Bread. The 4-pounder has a big Z cut into the top. This is my favorite Zingerman's bread. It's Zingerman's version of the Poilane loaf, made by the famous bakery in Paris.
If you prefer something a bit lighter but still built with their natural leaven, then try the Zingerman's Farm Bread. But select the darkest crust.
You can call ahead and request that your bread be baked a bit longer so that the crust is darker.
The Roadhouse Bread is delicious too, but because of the additional flavors from the cornmeal, rye, and molasses, it has fewer applications.
Once again, if you want the best around here, sometimes you have to make it yourself. That's why I make my own naturally-leavened sourdough bread. But it's a multi-day process because I cold ferment the dough in the frig for up to four days, based upon ideas from Peter Reinhart's book titled Artisan Breads Every Day
I recommend taking the all-day, Zingerman's bread baking class called Naturally Leavened breads
Have you wondered exactly how naturally leavened bread is made? What is a starter anyway, really? In this class we will demystify naturally leavened bread for you, teach you how to make your own starter, mix and treat the dough and finally bake a loaf of crusty, flavorful, chewy- textured bread. You will make 3 of our signature breads: our famous farm bread, the nutritious 8 grain 3 seed bread, and our popular pecan raisin bread. We will also tour the Bakehouse and taste all kinds of sourdough breads in order to understand the nature of the sour beast. We will even feed you a great Bakehouse lunch.
My starter is now 3.5 years old, and it began in that class, although we made a fourth bread: the San Francisco-style Sourdough.
I have morphed my starter to 100% white whole wheat flour. My main, workhorse bread that I make at home is 100% whole grain. My flour combo is 70% King Arthur white whole wheat flour and 30% spelt flour that I buy at the Phoenix Earth Food Co-op. I use a 90% hydration. Because of the whole-grains, it does not spring as high as it would if it was made with all-purpose or bread flour.
The regular whole wheat flour comes from red wheat. White whole flour contains the same nutritional values as the regular, red whole wheat, but because white whole flour lacks the red pigment, white whole flour does not contain the strong grainy taste.
(If you ever want to sneak whole grain goodness into your baking, use white whole flour and/or some spelt flour.)
I prefer not to use all-purpose or bread flour when baking bread.
I want to try the red whole wheat and whole spelt flours from the Westwind Milling Company, located in Linden, MI.
Zingerman's now sources their flour from a place in Fostoria, OH.
A book that I recommend: The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens
Yes, it contains info on building brick ovens, but it also contains chapters on bread science and the many different bread-making methods.
Some people who have a mild wheat allergy can eat whole grain breads, provided the bread was naturally leavened. Naturally fermented foods are easier for the human body to digest.
"I'm just not sure the market (those willing to pay what truly great breads cost) in this area is large enough to support a top shelf bakery."
I do think that a bread bakery that focused on only a handful of naturally-leavened breads could survive in Toledo with walk-in traffic and mainly by providing bread to other businesses, such as restaurants and markets. The bakery's delivery area would encompass locations out to Findlay and Sandusky.
The Poilane Bakery in Paris that I mentioned above only offers four types of breads:
- Poilâne Loaf
- rye and rasin
I think it's best to specialize on a few breads.
Another bakery that we like to visit is Avalon in Detroit, located near Wayne State University.
If I had a baking hero, it would probably be Lionel Poilane. I make my small, delicious sugar-butter cookies like this.
It's interesting that today when a business replicates the old baking methods and recipes of poor people from long ago, the finished product costs more than the mass-produced, mechanized product.
Happy Birthday to My Sourdough Starter - Mar 17, 2015
Naturally leavened sourdough bread - Jun 02, 2016
Notes - Easter Weekend - Apr 18-20, 2014 - Sep 10, 2014
Jim Lahey No-knead Bread Baking - May 17, 2016
New Grumpy's food truck - June 2014 - Jul 17, 2014