Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hungry Ghost Bread

A friend from West Hartford, Connecticut, took me the other day to this enchanted bakery located in Northampton, Massachusetts. I say enchanted because it looks like a bakery from a fairy tale. It occupies a quaint little brick house in front of a grassy patch and when you step in, you travel back in time. The bakers are at work right in front of you, you could extend your arm and check the consistency of the dough. Some are cleaning baskets, others are shaping boules, another yet is stoking the fire in the great brick oven. The smell is heavenly. This is how bread has been made and sold for centuries.
I had tried to contact the owners a few days before to see if I could meet with them but my email came back as undeliverable. The day we went being a Saturday, I didn't pursue the interview idea as I could see things were in full swing at the bakery and all hands were needed. So if you'd like more details about how the bakery came to be and what philosophy is behind it, check out the website, including the Boston Globe article, as it contains a wealth of information.
As for me, I can tell you the breads we bought and tasted were astonishing. All made with starter, some of them tasted like nothing I ever had before as the flavor combinations were uniquely delicious. My friend bought a spelt loaf which unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of. She gave me half of it though and it was exquisite. Chamomille flowers had been mixed in the dough, giving the spelt a deep honey flavor.
We didn't get to try the double wheat boule pictured above but it took a lot of self-control on my part (and the memory of my full freezer and of the dough rising at home in the refrigerator) not to purchase it on the spot. Another time...

We did buy this beet bear paw, which tastes like vegetable soup baked into rye and wheat. Although not for the faint of heart, it was extremely good-looking and very good (albeit a bit salty).

As for this handsome semolina-fennel loaf, it looked and tasted exactly as it should with an airy crumb and a delicate licorice aftertaste. We had it for breakfast with honey the day after and it was a big hit with the family.
Stay tuned for more breads on another visit. Meanwhile if you already know the bakery or if you have a chance to go and check it out yourself, please let me know which breads you tasted and which ones you liked best. I will make room in our freezer and go back for more!

1 comment:

  1. Hi MC, I read about this bakery awhile back and so wanted to interview the baker, interesting story!

    Jeremy

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