A couple of weeks ago, I attended the eighth annual Asheville Bread Festival. Asheville is a neat place nestled in the mountains of North Carolina. I love Asheville and when you add bread to the mix, it just doesn’t get much better than that. Even though Asheville has a small population, they have more artisan bakeries than most states. For bread enthusiasts, the place and the event is just awesome!
The theme of this year’s festival was “Local Grain, Local Flour, and Local Bread”. It featured experts on local grain production, milling, and baking with local and heirloom wheat. It was a fun event!
The festival started with the bakers’ showcase where 20 local, artisan bakeries displayed their breads. I met some really neat bakers and tasted some of their wonderful breads. I lot of beautiful and delicious bread was sold and eaten that day.
I particularly liked these Bavarian Pretzels. My friend and I enjoyed some pretzel balls (pictured on the left) with spicy mustard. They were so good I kept going back and getting more. I even took some home. Yum!
During the bakers’ showcase, I met Emily Buehler, the author of Bread Science. She did an experiment with some sourdough bread. I will be conducting this experiment myself and posting about it soon so stay tuned for that. Emily also led a “Hand Kneading for Beginners” class which I didn’t attend, but I’m sure it was fun! I did get her book, and I’m excited to learn more about the science of bread.
There were so many breads and so little time to enjoy them all. Believe me, I tasted as many as I could, but there was only so much room, even for small bites. I took photos of the rest of the breads to enjoy later and to share with you. I wasn’t able to get photos of all of the breads on the tables because there were a lot of folks vying for those breads, but I think you’ll get a sense for the types of breads that were there. They were awesome!
Be sure to scroll down to see the rest of my recap.
After visiting the bakers’ showcase, we attended a couple workshops. Some of the workshops were full by the time I registered for the event, but we were able to attend a very informative session on growing wheat. This session was on Developing non-commodity wheats for local uses and flavor. I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for the past year or so to grow wheat locally and this session only heightened that desire. We’ll see if I can actually do it, or better yet, get someone else to grow it for me. More to come on that… hopefully!
As I mentioned in my previous post on Gluten-Free Waffles, I also attended a session on Milling for the Home Baker: fresh flour from local grains. Here is a shot of one of the hand mills that was demonstrated during the workshop.
The gentlemen that was supposed to lead this session was unable to attend due to a rare illness where he couldn’t be around flour for awhile. Pretty ironic, if you ask me. So, Debi Thomas, a local baker from Wildflour Bakery in Saluda, NC led the workshop. Debi has been running her bakery for 20 years. They grind their flour daily so she has a lot of experience baking bread and milling her own flour. It was very interesting to hear her thoughts on milling. They also make some interesting breads in her bakery. One of their signature breads is called Boogie Bread. It’s made with all kinds of grains and ingredients, including kelp and molasses. It’s from an old recipe that I hope to obtain someday.
Several other workshops went on that day that I didn’t get the opportunity to attend.
- Peter Reinhart hosted a workshop on New Frontiers in Baking: Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free. He has a new book coming out this summer (with his co-author, Denece Wallace) that addresses these techniques.
- Dave Bauer, of Farm & Sparrow Bakery did a workshop on Baking with Southern Rye: From Milling to Bread, Pastry, and Pasta. They milled locally grown wheat and baked pasta in a brick oven.
- Lionel Vatinet held a session on Ciabatta and Pizza. He covered some Old World methods for making Ciabatta and pizza. I would’ve loved to attend this session. I attended one of his sessions last year and he is a hoot.
- Sharon Burns-Leader did a workshop on making pretzels and English Muffins using local and whole grain flours.
- One workshop demonstrated the Carolina Ground Flour Mill in action. It was the same time as another session so I couldn’t attend. I’ll have to go back and visit so I can see the mill.
All in all, it was a very informative day. I learned a lot of new things and met a lot of interesting people. I look forward to going back next year.