LeFevre Bakery

HEALTH / LAND / COMMUNITY

LeFevre Bakery is committed
to promoting health & caring
for the land while contributing
to its local community. 

And Sometimes the Loaves Burn

A couple weeks ago I had one of those days. One of those days where every move I make produces the exact opposite result I had in mind. With each floundering step, burnt loaf of bread, and wasted minute I wished more and more for a restart button on the day. 

I'd venture to say no matter what our work, we all have days like this. For me, its a trash can full of burnt bread. Maybe for you it's forgetting to prepare for that meeting with a client, missing pertinent details in your lab experiment, saying all the wrong things at all the wrong times to all the wrong people, reaching an insurmountable wall of writers' block. If you're anything like me, these days call into question every decision you've made up to that point. Dramatic, I know. But I am confident I'm not alone in this.

By now you may be wondering why I'm telling you, my customer, this. Expounding upon my occasionally floundering certainly undermines an image of perfection so often touted in the world of sales. 

It's true. Vulnerability is not common in business, but I'm not a fan of false images of perfection in any sphere. And as I processed my terrible day with fellow craft workers and entrepreneurs I was reminded of the fruitfulness of failure and I seemed important to share this wisdom.

Micah, farmer at Plowshare Produce, shared his stories of hardship and stories that inspire him. Stories of resilient farmers who stayed faithful to their work through huge setbacks--fires, drought, huge crop failure.

Jay, co-owner of McBurney Manor where I bake and a craft woodworker for over 20 years, reminded me that we need these days. They inspire us to hone our craft, remaining humble and committed to the work we've been gifted.

Within the pages of a beautiful novel, A Place on Earth, Wendell Berry writes about a father teaching his son:

"I remember the first crop of his own that Virgil ever tried to raise... There was an awful rain one night after his crop had been out, I guess, two weeks. I hear it begin and lay awake listening to it, knowing what was bound to be happening. And the next morning I said, 'Let's go look at your crop.' So we went, and walked all the way around it. It was hurt. Bound to have been. There's no way to plow sideling ground so it'll hold in a rain like that. 'Virgil,' I said, 'this is your fault. This is one of your contributions to the world.' That was hard for me to say. And he took it hard. I saw he was about to cry... I knew he was hating the day he ever thought of raising a crop, ready to give up.

"Finally I put my arm around him and I said,

" 'Be sorry, but don't quit. What's asked of you now is to see what you've done, and learn better.' "

Whatever your work may be, be it farming, higher education, songwriting, nursing, counseling, parenting, accounting, woodworking, researching, painting, policy making, or baking may you never stop honing your skills, learning from your mistakes and using your work to better the place you are.

A beautiful crust! This disheartening day inspired some more research about crust and how to best steam a wood-fired hearth oven.  (Steam is what creates the dark, shiny crust and microbubbles pictured here.) The research led to some necessary and refining tweaks in my baking and steaming process!

A beautiful crust! This disheartening day inspired some more research about crust and how to best steam a wood-fired hearth oven.  (Steam is what creates the dark, shiny crust and microbubbles pictured here.) The research led to some necessary and refining tweaks in my baking and steaming process!


Simplifying the Pantry: Why Less is More

Last week I heard an NPR story that "Panera Is The Latest To Drop Artificial Ingredients From Its Food." The story explains:

"Panera's head chef, Dan Kish, says that as he and his team pored over the hundreds of additives in the ingredients that Panera uses, they asked two questions, What is this? And why is it used? ... 'We think a simplified pantry is a better pantry,' he says." 

Regardless of Panera Bread's obviosu marketing strategy behind this announcement, I'm glad that consumers are asking for less additives and preservatives and that the commercial food industry is responding. I'm not particularly interested in putting myself and my product in Panera's camp for a variety of reasons, but in this instance I couldn't agree more with Kish's statement that a simplified pantry is a better one.

That's why I can count the ingredients in my pantry on two hands: Four different kinds of flour, spelt kernels, rye kernels, and salt. That's it. 

The Pantry: Every loaf of naturally leavened bread you buy from LeFevre Bakery will include only these ingredients, plus water, of course! The one exception is ciabatta which contains commercial yeast, but is still made with the Daisy Organic Flour.

The Pantry: Every loaf of naturally leavened bread you buy from LeFevre Bakery will include only these ingredients, plus water, of course! The one exception is ciabatta which contains commercial yeast, but is still made with the Daisy Organic Flour.

Part of what allows me to keep my pantry so simple is because the art of bread making is so complex. The ingredients are few, but the proportions of different grains, varying fermentation times, and increased or decreased levels of hydration will alter the flavor of the bread. Even baking in a different location, which results in a different community of yeast in the sourdough, will impact the final bread's taste.

When it comes to baking, less is truly more and it's the complexity found in simplicity that makes this craft truly exciting.

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