Thank you…

…for a wonderful first season of baking bread!  Running this little business baking and delivering bread to you all has been an awesome experience. I had so much fun, I learned a ton, made some mistakes and learned some more. But the best part is that Pannier gave me the confidence to start another business, this time on a little farm in the beautiful mountains of Virginia.

I am deeply grateful to the very many folks who have supported me in this adventure. Matt, Heidrun, Anna, and the rest of incredible staff at Dufferin Grove Park, thank you for who welcoming me as a volunteer, training me, inspiring me, and then creating room for Pannier.  You continue to embody everything that is wonderful about that particular park.  My dear Pannier members, it was such a treat to bake bread for you!  Your enthusiasm and feedback was fuel for my creative fire, encouraging me to continue to take risks on recipes, which meant that I learned more than I hoped to about bread.  Mark, Sara, Sarah, Debbie, Anne, Peter, and John, thank you for your cheerful company and able assistance in the bakery.  Laurie, Colin, Bradley, and the couriers at Red Riding Goods, thank you for collaborating with me to make bicycle delivery possible!

Mimi, Simon, Bennett, Jesse, and Calantha, you welcomed me unquestioningly as a baker and demonstrated the generosity of that profession by sharing freely of your knowledge and resources.  I will do my best to continue that tradition.  Debbie and Peter, thank you for creating the perfect logo and web design, and for building my gorgeous custom oven peel. I am grateful for your friendship, and for the time, skill, and aesthetic you contributed to my project.  Jane, thank you for your delightful enthusiasm, and for Sky Pilot, your delicious and indefatigable sourdough starter. Cheryl, Janna and Dean, Justin and Danielle, Rebekka, and Christina, your business advice and encouragement was invaluable!  And thank you, my beloved friends and family, for believing in and supporting me, and what felt to me like an outrageously outlandish idea. This little seed would not have burst into life if it weren’t for you.

Some spring changes

Spring is finally here! Just about everyone’s leaves are fully expanded, and at least the promise of warmth is in the air, even if I am still wearing my woolies now and then.

Spring means change here at Pannier too.  In the last week or two I’ve been sorting out an oven schedule that will work with the summer programming at the park.  If you’ve never hung out at Dufferin Grove in the summer, there is much fun to be had: campfire parties, pizza oven parties, Friday night suppers, and the Thursday market of course.  The ovens get used four or five times a week, which is wonderful, but that heavy use means I have to change my bake day.

Starting the first week of June, I will be moving my bake and delivery day to Mondays, so the schedule for the next four weeks is:

  • Wednesday May 22
  • Wednesday May 29
  • Monday June 3
  • Monday June 10

One sad consequence of this change is that Laurie will no longer be able to deliver bread to you.  It has been amazing working with her, and I so feel lucky to have gained a friend as well as a collaborator. I am in the process of working out the details of Monday delivery, so I will keep you posted. My goal is to make the transition to Mondays as smooth as possible!

Pannier week 7: Mimi’s ramp sourdough

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Those of you who know me know that I can’t stay away from West Virginia.  I am in love with the music and dance of course, and the ancient mountains and valleys. But last summer I also fell in love with the people.  I spent a month on a small market farm near Elkins, WV, which is where I met Mimi and Alain.

Mimi was the first baker to welcome me, a complete novice, into her bakery.  And what an inspiration!  Mimi bakes twice a week out of her–dare I say gorgeous–garage, supporting herself and her artist husband Alain.  With the generosity that seems to go with the trade, she fielded all of my questions and freely shared her knowledge.  Much of what I have put into Pannier can be directly traced to that warm August afternoon!

And what did we tackle that day?  Oh just croissants.  Three different recipes, no less!  Yes, there was a tasting, in the garden of course, with coffee served on a tray. There is nothing I would have changed about that day!

Once a year Mimi makes a ramp sourdough for the customers of LaFontaine Bakery.  Ramps are wild leeks, that show up for a week or two in early spring.  They are nearly always foraged; I am getting mine this week from the good folks at Forbes Wild Foods at the Sorauren Farmer’s Market.  Mimi has generously shared her recipe with me, which I have modified to work with my mixing method and schedule.

Here’s to you Mimi!  Thanks for everything.

Pannier Week Four

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I spent the weekend on a mini-vacation in West Virginia visiting friends and playing music—my perfect holiday!  It was a little odd heading south into snow, but life was nevertheless stirring.  And did I mention there was a butter tart tasting? My personal favourite and the hands-down winner in the neo-trad category was appropriately created by OMG.

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This week I will be making the multigrain again, for Conny who requested it, and little baguettes that combine wild yeast and commercial yeast starters to create an aromatic bread with a crisp thin crust.  Eventually I would like to tell you more about the ingredients, but for now, here is a simple list.

Multigrain (except where noted, all of the ingredients are organic and locally grown and milled).  Oh, and Sky Pilot is the name of my starter.

K2 sifted red spring wheat flour, water, levain (P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, Oak Manor sifted stoneground wheat flour, Sky Pilot), multigrain mix (in equal parts: Hack Farm flax seeds, Oak Manor stoneground yellow cornmeal, conventional pumpkin seeds (somewhere), K2 rolled oats, K2 millet flour, K2 purple cornmeal, Cedar Down Farm whole unhusked barley, Forbes Wild Foods wild rice, whole K2 rye kernels, whole K2 spelt kernels), K2 red spring wheat flour, conventional K2 white winter wheat flour, sel gris from (France).

Mini-baguettes

P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, K2 sifted red spring wheat flour, levain (P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, Sky Pilot), poolish (P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, yeast), sel gris (France).

Sparrow, Raven, and Red Tail

I confess that part of what I love about buying flour from K2 Milling is that the flours are named after birds.  Last week I used sparrow spelt flour and raven rye.  This week, those two birds will show up again, along with their pal red tail, the red spring wheat.

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These birds have personalities.  Red tail is red, and dark, a sturdy and reliable wheat.  Sparrow is quirkily clumpy, lighter in colour, and high maintenance.  Raven is the darkest of all, with fine dark bran, and a mysterious nature. One of these days I will figure you out, raven.

I feel like celebrating this week! Pannier is more than 50% sold out (thanks to you!) and it is soon to be Easter weekend, so there are two special breads on deck.  The miche is special because it has a high percentage of white flour compared to my other breads, at 70%.  The rest is made up of our friends red tail wheat (18%), sparrow spelt (9%), and raven rye (3%).  I grew up baking almost exclusively with white flour because it is easy and because it is a joy to work with in its pillowy softness.  Most of the time at Pannier I prefer to keep white flour to a minimum for several reasons, not the least because there is no white flour that is both local and organic, but–it is a special occasion.  The miche that I make can be traced back to Gerard Rubaud, a venerable baker in Vermont that I would dearly love to visit one day.  I learned it from Shiao Ping who has generously shared the recipe on her blog.

The miche will be paired with my ever-so photogenic little poppy stars and sesame braids.  So much fun to make, and to eat!  These pretty little buns are made with 60% red tail wheat which makes the cut of being both organic and grown and milled in Ontario, but the rest–the seeds and the white flour will be merely organic. I am looking for local replacements for the seeds, but until then, I will use what I have.