This week we have a short episode about how to make better sourdough bread. This was part of a much longer conversation with Andy Roy of Twin Bears Bakery in Frederick, Maryland. At Twin Bears, they make 100% naturally-leavened bread.
When I asked about how to make better bread at home, Andy shared his tips for making better sourdough, which isn't just reserved for home bakers. The rest of our conversation will be released shortly. Below you can also find links to the books Andy mentions in the podcast
TWIN BEARS BAKERY
Twin Bears Bakery Website
Twin Bears Bakery Instagram
Living Bread by Daniel Leader
The Sourdough School by Vanessa Kimbell
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On today's mini episode of Chefs Without Restaurants, I'm speaking with Andy Roy of twin bears bakery about how to make better sourdough bread. This is the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast with your host, Chris spear. Each week I'll be speaking with food entrepreneurs and people in the culinary industry. If you're interested in learning more about our organization dedicated to helping people build and grow their food businesses, look us up on the web at chefs without restaurants.com en.org and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Chefs Without Restaurants. Now, enjoy the show. Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. Their caterers, research chefs, personal chefs, cookbook authors, food truckers, farmers, cottage bakers, and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. Thanks for tuning in to today's episode of Chefs Without Restaurants. So I recently sat down with Andy Roy of twin bears bakery. They're based out of Frederick, Maryland where I live. And I've had the pleasure of getting to know him over the past couple of years. And he's making some really awesome naturally leavened breads, they're all 100% plant based, just really high quality stuff. So when we sat down to talk, we talked for almost two hours, I'm not going to be able to release that whole episode as it stands, because that's just way too long. This isn't the Tim Ferriss show. So I'm going to be breaking that episode up into a couple chunks. If you're a bread nerd, and in a baking or just starting any small business, I think the main episode is going to be really great to listen to. He's going to talk about his background, how he started a cottage bakery, some of the farms he works with. But that's not what we're getting into today. One of the questions I asked about was resources, and I thought I was just going to get a list of maybe some cookbooks actually asked how to make better bread at home. What I got was a really great if not somewhat different than I unexpected answer as to how to make better sourdough bread and not necessarily just at home. The short answer is make 1000 loaves of bread. And that's how you're going to make better bread. You know, repetition. I've talked about this on the And of course, the show is made possible with help from our sponsor, the United States personal chef association. So show before. How do you get better at anything? You just the show will be coming up right after our word from the USPCA. have to keep doing it and doing it and refining and getting Over the past 30 years, the world of the personal chef has better. But his answer has a lot more depth to it than that. So grown in importance to fulfill those dining needs. While the I'd love for you to listen to the whole episode. It's only pandemic certainly up ended the restaurant experience it allowed about 12 minutes long. And the rest of his episode will be personal chefs to close that dining gap. Central to all of that is the United States personal chef Association, airing probably in a couple of weeks. As always, I'd love to representing nearly 1000 chefs around the US and Canada. USPCA connect with you find me on Instagram at Chefs Without provides a strategic backbone to those chefs that includes Restaurants. If you want more info about the organization that liability insurance, training, communications, certification I built dedicated to helping food entrepreneurs build and and more. It's a reassurance to consumers that the chef coming grow their businesses through a sense of community, go to chefs into their home is prepared to offer them an experience with their meal. USPCA provides training to become a personal without restaurants.org You'll find links to our private chef through our preparatory membership. Looking to showcase Facebook group, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter. And your products or services to our chefs and their clients. if you're a personal chef caterer or food truck operator, partnership opportunities are available. Call Angela today at I'd love for you to opt into our database so I can help you get 1-800-995-2138. Extension 705 or email her at email@example.com for membership and partner info. more work. One of the things I like to talk about on this show are resources. So if someone wanted to make better bread without buying a new oven, just like cookbooks, websites, forums or inexpensive tools like what are some of your favorite things like if I personally just wanted to start making better bread at home right now. Where would you point me?Andy Roy:
Two parts to that. There are there are a lot of great resources that are out there. There are a lot of great books that are out there. are, you know, we're a big fan of all of Daniel leaders books. He's got a number of of great books that are out there, there is another book put out by the sourdough school. But you know, there are a lot of great books that are out there. That is only one part of the resource. And again, I'm going to go back to the glut of available information. Show, there's so much great information that I think it's problematic as you tap into these people, whether it'd be, you know, Chad Robinson, and everything he's done with Tartine, or, you know, whatever knowledge lineage you want to tap into, inevitably, you're going to end up with a couple different books, and they're all going to have different takes on things. There was an individual that had left Tartine, who was a he was a head baker there. And he started midnight bagel in San Francisco, which is a naturally fermented bagel company. And I was reading an interview with him once. And at the end of the interview was like, this is like, beginning COVID times, he's like, Hey, by the way, I've got a thing that I'm doing. It's called the Home homebred helpline. If anybody has any bread questions, they can email me and I'll I'll do my best to to respond. Then I took that invitation, and emailed him. And it was a he was a hugely transformative exchange, because, you know, here's somebody that I look up to, right. At that point, I was, you know, pretty passionate about everything that our team was doing. And you know, if you're in a sourdough bread, everybody knows Tartine and what they have created. So a couple of profound pieces of information, but one of the things that he talked about just kind of casually in passing, I was struggling with a build I was trying to do what eventually became our first seeded loaf. And I was just having a hard time I was having a hard time with the soaker, I was having a hard time with the flavor profile. And we were going back and forth. And he helped me troubleshoot it quite a bit, you know, and that became our seated loaf, which is called the neck, which is named after Nick, that was the person that was helping us. But one of the things he said in passing, which was really profound to me is, you know, you just need to bake 1000 loaves of bread. After you bake 1000 loaves of bread, you're gonna have a comfort level with bread production. And he said, If I can recommend one thing, pick one type of bread and just bake that one type of bread as much as you can. Do, you know a standard dua 75%, hydration 2%, salt 20% lower than in just bake that as much as you can master that loaf. And once you get comfortable within that context, then you can expand out and start experimenting with more stuff. And going back to the glut of information that's out there, I think a lot of people struggle, they order these books, there's 20 different recipes, they do a recipe, it doesn't work. And so instead of trying to reverse engineer where the failure point is, they just select another recipe and try to make that recipe as if the problem exists within the recipe, it's typically not the recipe where the failure point is, it's typically the lack of either mechanical skill, or, you know, some of the engineering and expertise that goes through to, you know, if my house is 68 degrees, and I'm trying to maintain a dough temp of 75 degrees over the course of six hours. How am I going to keep this dough 75 degrees when it's 68, right? So there's all these little nuts that you need to crack to really get your bread to a good point. So by just constantly looking online or picking different recipes or whatever, you get distracted from the core mechanics, from the muscle memory from the technique from all these things you need to develop to do a successful piece of bread. So for resources, tons of resources that are out there, almost to a point of where it hinders new bakers, right. So what I tell people all the time, you know, get your books, the you know, Vanessa's book from the sourdough school, touches on some amazing stuff. I think that's probably the most comprehensive, approachable, sourdough book that's out there. It's called the sourdough school from the sourdough school, and I mean they even tell John making your own malt powders and you know, just really helps equip people with a good understanding. Tartine is really popular. Tons of great books out there, awesome pastries. Also, Chad's approach with a higher hydration sourdough is very daunting, especially for a new Baker. And that was one of the things that I got sucked into is, all these people are like, you know, 85% Hydration with these really wet dos. Well, if you don't have the mechanical skills, right, you don't have the muscle memory yet to move into these dos, it's really challenging. And in, you know, you're online, and everybody has these gorgeous open crumbs, and it's, this is 87% hydration, and you're working through it, and it's like slop, nothing makes sense. It's sticking to everything. It's just a disaster. I tell people all the time, you know, you don't need to have an 8587 90%, hydration bread, to have a good bread, make a 70% Hydration sourdough, the dough will be easier to work with, it's going to be a little more forgiving. If you overproof a little bit, it's not going to just fall apart when you come time to when it comes time to bake it. You know, there are a lot of easier approaches that help you understand the basic mechanics of sourdough bread baking, that I think us as experienced bakers within the community. We're not like the bar to entry is too high for a lot of these new bakers because, you know, they're seeing everybody Oh, get Tartine you read this, like you're starting people out at 80 85% hydration, that's debts, I fell down that path to you know, it was just I tried my lows are failing the dosa disaster, you know, and it wasn't until I started to interface with, you know, some of these other recipes, especially older recipes. You know, my mother has an old bread book, from a Higgs from the 60s. It's a talk that Tassajara bread book and it was like, it was like really famous especially at all like the hippie hippie communities and stuff like that. And I have the I have the original one of the original printings of it up on our bookshelf and, and I had that before I was ever a bread Baker and I pulled it out and they have a sourdough recipe in there. And their sourdough recipe is like 65% hydration. It's a really dry dough. And I'm like, wow, what's, what's going on here. So I for the first time made a, you know, 68% Hydration bread. And like, oh my gosh, my, my loaves weren't falling apart. I got this beautiful oven spring, I got a nice open crumb. It was like, What the heck is going on here? You know, and and so I post that to one of the online forums like, Hey, I just made a 68% Hydration bread. It worked perfectly. It was easy to handle. The bread is gorgeous. Why aren't we recommending that? And it was really like crickets, right? Like nobody was like, I don't know. So yeah, I think simplifying your recipe, you know, come up with a simple 70% 75% Hydration bread, and just bake that like 20 times and just work on the mechanics of it. Just approaching that in a systematic way is going to be more beneficial than you know just about any book that you can buy, or anything like that, because the basic mechanics of what we're doing is is easy, right? Like it's flour, water, salt, ferment it, pretty shape, you know, final shape into baskets proof a little bit bacon, right. So that's, that's a lot of, of what we're doing here is basics. But within those basics, there's a lot of nuances. So taking notes, I talked about that a lot. I still refer back to when I've got to when I started baking, I would take copious notes, right, like, today's dough temperature was this, oh, it felt, you know, stringy, it felt sticky, you know, whatever. And it was so it's so interesting, because I can actually like, track the development as we laid the groundwork for what our Bread Company is today. And I can just watch the evolution also, knowing what works well and knowing what doesn't work. Well. You know, remembering what happened a week ago, you know, as a dad as a husband and business owner. I don't remember what I did yesterday, you know, so like having those notes to be able to go back and that's still a big part of our company today. So we in every big log, take copious notes of that. dough temperatures, when we're folding, we've got a really high end, designed for industrial food production pH meter, right? So we are testing pH all throughout our process, and logging all of that. So if we've got a bake that worked really well, we can go back, oh, the lavande was, you know, 4.07, Ph. Temperature was this throughout, we had a slight descending arc and temperature and all of this data, we're still consuming that data and using it to continue to refine our process, which, you know, it's always a funny juxtaposition, right? Because we're like, we're traditional bakers, we only do stuff, you know, by hand. And then at the same time, we're here with this, like, $700 ph meter, like obsessively logging our dough pH throughout the process. So as traditional bakers, we do incorporate some technologies that help us really understand our fermentation process. Because you know, I think with bread, like with anything that you do at a high level cooking, whatever the case may be, we're always learning. Right? You Chris, I'm sure you can identify with that. We're always evolving through techniques or learning how to manipulate new ingredients or new processes, it's always an evolution. And I think once we become stagnant on that evolution, that's when it's like, the, the beginning of the end, right? Like, we just kind of get in our little mode. And, you know, our menus don't shift and we become stagnant. So that's really important for us is just really approaching everything we do with beginner's mind and trying to trying to learn and understand this process of dealing with bacterias and yeast and microbes and, and stuff, which really, sometimes have a personality of their own.Chris Spear:
Well, and the repeatability is something that's very familiar to people who work in restaurants, especially if you're on a line, I mean, you know, I found that just take something like a crab cake like you make it tonight, you put it out, it's pretty good. But you look at it, and you're like, it needs to be cooked, maybe five minutes more. Or maybe it needs to go from cooking at 400 down to 375. And because that's a menu item, and you're making it multiple times a day, multiple days in a row, you can refine that. So you know, a month after putting it on your menu you really have ratcheted it down. And that's what I hear you talking about what the bread is just like, put it out there, assess it, eat it, take some notes, and then maybe make some tweaks for the next time and then make tweaks the next time and that's how you're gonna get better. Thanks for listening to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. And if you're interested in being a guest on the show, or sponsoring the show, please let us know. We can be reached at chefs without firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks so much.