Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good bread: Hard to find but spreading

One of my former co-workers at The Sacramento Bee, Dave Jensen, had an unusual post on his stem-cell research blog: a tout for his brother's bakery, Serious Bread, which opened for business after Hurricane Katrina. Bay St. Louis is a little far to go on a regular basis, but I salute him and his philosophy of bread:


I was raised years ago in the West, where sourdough was king. The bread had good taste and texture. In the years following college I spent a lot of time in Europe enjoying wonderful bread. Upon returning home I was faced with the dilemma of finding good bread, that earthly kind I had learned to love overseas. Whenever I returned to Mississippi from a California vacation, one of my suitcases would be loaded with sourdough bread or I would get a care package at Christmas containing sourdough. In the end I always ran out and faced with by bread problem. About 10 years ago I visited my sister-in-law, Sharon, in San Diego and she was making this great bread……..and I started to bake.

In my other life I was an oceanographer and towards the end of my career I took a bread class at King Arthur Flour to see if I really wanted to bake better bread. I followed this with a week at the John Campbell Folk School learning about sourdoughs. My wife and I are going to Colorado in early October to learn about starters, more sourdough, and New York bagels. Old time bread making is generally considered a lost art. We make our Serious Breads from scratch and do a lot of hand kneading. Most of our bread is made with a poolish or a biga. We have found doing it this way provides the bread with a better taste and texture. In other words good healthy eating and that’s what we are about.
Keep safe.

The Breadman at the Mockingbird Café
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

And, in case your travels bring you that way, here's a little about the Mockingbird Cafe that houses Jensen's bakery:
Business is perking up for a new coffee shop in Old Town Bay St. Louis. "Mockingbird Cafe" opened exactly a year after Katrina hit.

"We came home and there weren't any of our coffee shops open. Everything was destroyed," said Alicein Chambers.

Alicein and Martin Chambers bought the pre-Civil War house on Second Street, and restored it.

"We wanted to make sure that this building in particular was protected, and not torn down and turned into condos or whatever else people might have planned," Chambers said. "There are so few buildings left." "Some of the buildings in Old Town are probably 100 years or so," said Councilman-at-large Bill Taylor.

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