18 years of Farm bread

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Today happens to be our birthday. We’ve been proudly baking Farm bread, among many others, since September of 1992. It’s funny to think back to that time and consider what experience I had with European breads – nearly none. I had grown up eating Italian bread that was packed in a paper bag and was intended to have a crust but didn’t.

Learning to bake Farm bread was truly a life changing experience for me. Taking just a couple types of flour, water, sea salt and some living micro-organisms in our sour dough starter and following a centuries old 18 hour process, we were able to create a bread with a delicious flavor, hearty crust, and beautiful appearance. It immediately became my favorite and has remained so.

A few years ago we started our baking school and I began to bake our recipes in the small quantities that someone would bake at home. This was another life changing experience as I really began to understand the potential results one could achieve mixing bread dough by hand and rolling all of our loaves by hand.

Most of the time in the bakery we hand roll the loaves, but sometimes we use a machine called a molder. We have always been relentless in trying to improve our quality and processes and after seeing the results of totally hand-produced loaves in our class room setting, I was inspired to make a change.

After using a French bread molder to shape our French baguettes since 1993, we put the machine away and began to hand roll them all. We eliminated that piece of equipment because it was clear that the only way to achieve the precious crumb structure that we look for in that baguette is to hand roll them. We bake between 200 and 250 French baguettes each day so this wasn’t a small undertaking.

Then I began to think about our Farm bread. What possible improvement could we make to the flavor and texture of this signature bread if we hand rolled it? Our challenge was a bit larger since we bake between 200 and 1200 loaves per day. I was fortunate to be called back into production full time at the beginning of May. I challenged our staff to give it a shot with me. So ever since, we’re hand rolling our Farm bread and baguettes. Do they look very different? I wouldn’t say the visual change is dramatic. But slice a loaf and each slice has a much improved, open crumb and better texture. So we'll celebrate our birthday by toasting a slice of farm bread, even better after all these years.

Frank Carollo
co-owner and baker