I thought it was funny that of all the things that I bake, baguettes, croissants, all these other cultural breads, it was the pan de coco, which is MY roots, that got people to see me. And that was the point where I was like, hold on a sec, I’ve always been a proud Honduran, but I was like, well, I definitely need to be more in touch with my roots in baking and try to find out what, if any, bread culture is there.
Dr. Emily Buehler
Author, Baker, Scientist, Teacher
On this episode, Emily Buehler, author of Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread, joins us to help unravel the mysteries of naturally fermented bread. She shares her journey from scientist to baker, to becoming an author and publisher - writing and working with renowned bakers like Peter Reinhart and Francisco Migoya. She helps explain why enzymes are the unsung heroes of fermentation, addresses some common misconceptions surrounding sourdough, and answers listener questions on the topics of water, refrigeration, proofing, and starters.
Take a bread baking class with Emily at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC
Check out the following links to articles and experiments Emily and I discuss in the podcast.
Photos From Emily’s Bread Classes in North Carolina
...billions of people have daily relationship to bread. The bakeries, the restaurant owners, the home bakers - we all have a duty - to raise our voices and start making demands on the flour industry and the distribution of it, the whole process chain, to make it more sustainable and to help our planet.
If you think about it, without Instagram there would be no pan. I mean, even if I invented it, would would I have done with it? How would you reach bakers? Without the community that sustained me and that I’m giving back to, there really would be no pan. There would be no way. It’s really unbelievable to me.
“I wake up in the morning and wash my face with soap that my friend made, I pour myself a cup of coffee that’s coffee roasted by somebody I know, every step of my day is built around the people that live here…. that’s my heart and soul… they support my business, I support their ventures and it's like a huge collaborative effort … and feel like that's step one. It’s laying the ground work within your community to create a web of support”
I have tan grains, brown, rust colored grains, blonde grains, something in between. Sometimes buckwheat that can turn it different colors of purple. Thinking of that as a baker, you don’t want all your breads to look the same...
It’s ARTISANAL. We’re artists too...
...I like to make bread that looks like my desert - the desert where I live. It’s kind of this initial picture I have of the loaf I want to create and I can just go LIKE A PAINTER into those grains and get the pigments and draw them out and that’s what I did with the line up of breads...
“Sourdough taught me….that it’s OK to do things differently…it’s OK to mess up, it’s OK not to have the perfect score on my loaf, it’s OK not to have oven spring somedays. All these things teach you valuable lessons and they take you to the next level. I really think it’s a journey that is ongoing for everybody and it’s so powerful to share with others because you end up learning so much from each other.”
“…and FLAVOR, ya, that’s kind of our mantra. It’s all about the flavor. Why do this? There’s plenty of cheap flour out there, why would you bother? Because we really think heritage and ancient grains have a lot of flavor and growing them differently, really taking care of the soil, you’re going to pull different micronutrients - you’re really creating a nutritionally dense product that really packs a lot of flavor.”
Maurizio Leo of the Perfect Loaf
2018 Saveur Magazine Blog Award Winner, Maurizio Leo and I discuss his thoughts on the artisan sourdough movement. He explains how he got started baking sourdough, the evolution of his blog, and his relationship with the Instagram and online sourdough communities. He shares the secret to getting that perfect sourdough flavor and answers some of the most common sourdough questions he receives.