What we do:
Quite simply, the ingredients for our breads are the finest obtainable. We use hard and soft wheats, rye, and spelt. We buy wheat from a local Champlain Valley grower and from organic farmers in Quebec and the midwest. The sifted, “white” flour that we use is really more of a creamy, off-white color due to the fact that it is unbleached and totally untreated, retaining the rich flavors of the grain. These flours also are organic. And always have been.
Our commitment to organic agricultural products was made in the very beginning, as the best way to promote sustainable farming and human durability — in personal, societal, and ecological ranges.
We also use organic raisins, cinnamon, sesame, flax, fennel & poppy seeds, and olive oil in our breads. In other cases, where an organic source may be unavailable, the global marketplace allows us to offer the choicest selections from the world over — sweet butter from Vermont farmers, Belgian chocolate, and olives from Provence and Greece.
All of our breads are made by lengthy processes, allowing the alchemy of fermentation to work its wonders of tastes, aromas, and textures. As with fine wines and cheeses, good things are worth waiting for. The skill of our bakers lies in their intuition and knowledge in interpreting the conditions on any given day, on how to apply “the manipulation and the fermentation” as M. Poilane points out. Each type of bread has its particular character.
What makes bread baked in a brick oven so good? The biggest difference in baking in a traditional-type masonry oven is the high amount of radiant heat available to the baking loaves. This, coupled with the initial use of steam makes for a bread with colorful, complex crust and moist crumb. Our French hearth oven does the job beautifully.