Monday, August 6, 2012

The Art of making Organic Sourdough Bread: A Summer Apprenticeship with Zak the Baker, Miami, FL

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I surely baked over a thousand loaves of bread this summer (including the gorgeous picture above of an organic walnut and cranberry sourdough bread) and overall, it was a stimulating experience. Summers are opportunities for me to try something different. Whether it is backpacking in South East Asia, volunteering with non-profit organisations or learning the intricacies of organic farming in Puerto Rico, I relish these unique opportunities to broaden my perspective. While surfing wwoofusa.org, I stumbled upon a rare opportunity to be a summer apprentice with Zak the Baker in Miami, FL. Zak the Baker is in his mid twenties. He spent years in Italy, Sweden and other European countries learning how to bake the perfect village artisan sourdough bread. In other words, he is enormously talented at baking. Because of my French background, I am familiar with artisan bread. I mean it is simply the best. Unfortunately, I have never been involved with the baking process, so an opportunity to learn was too tempting to ignore. I began my apprenticeship in the second week of May.

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Hello Miami

I lived in a surreal antique house. Every day was like waking up in a museum because there was always an eye-opening antique sitting on a corner, just waiting to be discovered.

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A 1947 Western Union telegram I found lounging around. Adorable ain't it?

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An original 1963 copy of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat equally lounging around.

Ok, back to baking. The art of baking organic sourdough bread is more complex than people realise. Zak the Baker just started his business so it is very small, local and independent. The entire process is hand-made and in order to make the perfect loaf with the perfect crust, texture and taste, we have to pay close attention to the entire process: from the temperature of the fridge, to the mixing, shaping, threading to the mathematical calculations of the ingredients and other scientific elements like the retard. One seemingly simple mistake, like miscalculating the necessary grams of water needed for a certain amount of bread, can have a huge impact on texture and taste. My first week was definitely a daunting experience. Watching Zak the Baker in the bakery is an intimidating experience because he is very good at what he does. However, as weeks progressed, I became comfortable with the process and by the end of my apprenticeship, I considered myself a legitimate artisan baker.

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Baguettes fresh from the oven

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Shaping bread with the master

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At the Sunday Pinecrest farmer's market.

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It usually takes about 20 minutes for this to happen. Yes! the bread is that good. If you are ever in the city of Miami, do yourself a massive favour and try a slice of Zak the Baker's bread. Check out his website for more information and just so you know, he also delivers bread to Michy’s Restaurant which is like what? only the most highest rated restaurant in Miami owned by renown chef Michelle Bernstein and her husband David Martinez. Once again, the bread is that good.

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When I wasn't at the bakery, I was hanging out with my best friend Gideon.

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Staring at the waterfall in the backyard

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Bike riding

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Working on the garden

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Stalking the ducks

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and of course, chewing with the goats. And there you have it ladies and gentlemen. I will be spending the weekend in New York City with friends before returning to complete my FINAL SEMESTER. I am only months away from getting my Masters degree and I cannot wait. How was your summer? I want to hear about your adventures.

4 comments:

  1. cool pictures! what an awesome trip! I just went to Canada for the first time!

    <3

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  2. luv your photos! ^^ and hope you will include Philippines on your list ^^

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  3. Lovely photos ! I love bread and especially artisan bread, really nice.
    I think your friend Gideon is really cute :)
    Glad you had a great time.

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