Bread Houses Network | Gabrovo, Bulgaria
For Dr. Nadezhda Savova-Grigorova, there’s no greater healing process than kneading, shaping, and baking a loaf of bread. The therapeutic quality of bread making lies at the core of her global Bread Houses Network, a group of community centers that offer people of different backgrounds a common goal: to bake and break bread together. Nadezhda opened the first Bread House in her great-grandmother’s home in Bulgaria in 2009. Today, there are physical Bread Houses in eight Bulgarian cities, and programs led by trained bakers in more than 15 countries. So why is bread making such effective therapy? Nadezhda claims it lies in its universality. “It inspires in people associations with the most valuable and, at the same time, most basic things in life,” Nadezhda says. “I have led hundreds of community baking events around the globe. In all of these experiences I have seen people literally change in just an hour or two. Everyone leaves with a deeper understanding of our shared humanity.”
The Milling Master
Carolina Ground | Asheville, North Carolina
A leader in today’s local milling movement, Jennifer Lapidus brings the artisan treatment to grains. As the owner and operator of Carolina Ground, Jennifer is devoted to cold stone milling regional grains grown in the South, and in doing so, has facilitated lasting relationships between Southern farmers and bakers.
Here, a few of Jennifer’s favorite flours:
Whole Wrens Abruzzi Rye Flour
Rye is such an interesting vibrant grain. When rye is roller milled industrially, it loses its body. Our mill was built in Austria, and I think there is a connection there between the large amount of rye Austrians eat and how well our mill grounds it. This rye is a Southern heritage variety that produces a bit darker and spicier results than other rye varieties grown in the North.
Crema Pastry Flour
This is our most refined flour. Cream colored with a tender, silky texture, it’s best for making cakes, tortes, piecrusts, and flaky biscuits. We did a baking project where we made two pastries with the same recipe using industrial roller-milled flour on one pastry and our stone-milled flour on the other. Comparing the pastries side by side was like looking at a windowless room and a sunny day.
This one was born from a happy accident in the mill room. One day, I looked inside the hopper to see this beautiful blend of rye and soft wheat (pastry flour) and hard wheat (bread flour). We milled it. It turned out to be what I consider the perfect all-purpose flour. It delivers fuller flavor to cake and piecrust, and even pasta.”
The Canelé Queen
miki | State Bird Provisions | San Francisco, California
Petite, delicately garnished, and imbued in a rich golden crust, Mikiko Yui’s canelés are the harbingers of our new pastry obsession. She’s not the only pastry chef baking canelés, but the magic of her canelé pop-up, miki, featured at San Francisco’s Pinhole Coffee, resides in her signature playfulness. Filled, garnished, and even served upside down, her canelés represent a master’s tongue-in-cheek interpretation of a classic.
Take her Matcha Canelé. Infused with the popular green tea, filled with cherry blossom cream cheese, and topped with California strawberries, this custard offers a unique blend of French technique, American produce, and Japanese flavors. She uses the traditional French pastry as a vessel to merge her two cultures: her childhood in rural Ehime, Japan, and her adult career in San Francisco as head pastry chef at Michelin-starred State Bird Provisions. We like to think of it as the American Dream, in one decadent bite.