|Bread coming out of the oven at Grand Central Baking in Portland Oregon.
Now that we are doing the 7 Days 100% Local Challenge again, I knew it would be critical to come up with a solution to the bread issue. So I reached out to Grand Central Bakery. Knowing their commitment to local sources, I was hoping they would be into the challenge. You can imagine how happy I was to get an email back from them saying they were in!
The Grand Central Tour
|Mixing dough for ciabatta.
On Thursday, Kim and I were treated to a tour of the main Grand Central bakery. Mel Darbyshire, their master baker, gave us a tour of the facility and explained how they source their ingredients. It was impressive the lengths she goes to to support local growers and producers as much as they can. For instance, they now get 100% of their wheat from Sheppard's Grain. Their honey comes from Hood River. They source potatoes from local farms as much as they can. Mel is constantly on the look out for new local sources that can replace as many of the industrial products as possible. It's not as easy as it might seem. Commercial bakeries need quality, consistency and volume. Not many small farms can deliver on all these fronts.
Mel's commitment to keeping the production of the bread as close to "by hand" was also impressive. Because of the size of the operation, some automation is necessary. But the criteria is always to ensure that the product does not become a "machined" loaf. For instance, only the baguettes and buns are shaped by a machine. All the other loafs are done by hand. This is amazing considering the number of loafs that are produced there 24 hours a day.
|Getting ready to shape some loaves
At the end of the tour, we got a real treat. Mel has created a special 100% local bread loaf. It's a wild yeast loaf made with a corn levain and subtle honey sweetness.
It's delicious. Especially toasted with butter.
We were treated to a sample. Mel is still finalizing the formula, but the results so far cannot be denied. And it's a beautiful looking loaf.
Once the recipe is finalized, the loaf will be available for sale at all Grand Central locations. Huge thanks to Grand Central and Mel for a great tour and for taking a personal interest in 100% local food.