Red’s Recommendations: Purebread Bakery
To eat bread, or not to eat bread? One of the biggest questions in today’s nutrition community. In fact, it is a topic that we have been debating for years, and I’m sure that it will continue for many more. Historically speaking, bread has been a staple in the human diet for many years. A staple food that people have been eating for generations, made of four simple ingredients; flour, water, yeast and salt. It is a wonder that one simple food, could be oh-so controversial.
To be honest, in my opinion the current bread bashing does have some validity, however there are many parts to this equation. We are constantly talking about what the bread is made of. What type of grains? Is it white bread? Brown bread? Whole grain bread? Seed bread? Or even gluten-free bread? But the part I find we often forget to consider is how the bread was made, and what else the bread might contain. In fact this rule applies to any type of food: the process and the production are just as important, if not more important, than the food itself.
From the dawn of civilisation until the industrial age the process of making bread dough was roughly the same. Now, I am not a baker, but from what I understand, the process of making traditional bread works something like this. First, a sourdough culture is nourished with fresh flour and water, and the mixture is allowed to slowly ferment. That natural leaven is then used to make the dough rise. Rising is a multi-stage process that can take hours, and by the time the loaf goes into the oven, it can have been up to three days in the making. (Woah!) The interesting part about making a traditional sourdough loaf, is that unlike the active dry-yeast or instant yeast we can buy today, the yeast used to make sourdough is wild. (Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?! Well, it actually kind of is.) Wild yeast is everywhere; the air, flour and even our food. For years, until the advent of technology, bakers used wild yeast to culture their breads. Apparently wild yeast is fussy stuff, and for a baker it can be like a shepherd guiding it’s flock to get it where he wants it to go. Today, most commercial breads are made with domesticated active-dry yeast, or instant yeast. The reason for this is that it is simpler for commercial use and mass production, easier for bakers to use and store, and speeds up production time.
So, what’s the difference between wild and commercial yeast? The answer is simple: a lot.
When you use wild yeast, the natural fermentation and production of sourdough bread preparation actually makes the grains more digestible and the nutrients more bio-available to the body. The simple fermentation process helps to “pre-digest” the grains, remove anti-nutrients, increases the content of beneficial bacteria in the bread, and therefore helps to make the bread more easily digested. It is this beneficial bacteria that helps to increase the nutrition content of a sourdough bread making it richer in vitamins and minerals that can actually be absorbed by the body. And the best part? A delicious and distinctive flavour that will leave you wanting more.
Today, you can buy bread at just about any supermarket, grocery store, corner store or even convenience store. There are endless varieties of bread, from various combination and proportions of ingredients to different types, shapes, sizes and textures. However, the bulk of these breads are quickly made with commercial yeast, full of additives and preservatives, making them hard to digested, and much less nutritious. For that simple reason, there are very few bread brands that I would recommend simply due to the quality of the product. That was until I found Purebread Bakery.
Purebread Bakery is a local, small scale bakery in Ottawa specializing in traditional naturally leavened sourdough breads. Their products are simple, yet magnificent. Purebread owner and baker, Andy Lofthouse, focuses on making the best quality bread with the best quality products from Eastern Ontario and Quebec. The very best organic flours with sea salt, water and wild yeast, with no additives and no preservatives. I personally met Andy at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, and I can confidently say that he is just as lovely (if not more) than his bread. He is an incredibly kind man who is passionate about his product, which I am sure is what makes his bread so amazing. Andy has only been baking in Ottawa for just over 2 years, and currently does most of his business out of the Ottawa Farmer’s Markets. In fact, Andy is so passionate about his bread that every weekend he is up at 3:00 or 4:00am to bake his breads in order to ensure that his customers are getting the freshest and best quality product. As a customer, there is nothing more delightful than being handed a fresh, warm loaf of bread to take home.
People always ask me if I eat bread, and the answer is yes, but its got to be the best stuff. This my friends, is the best stuff, and exactly why Purebread Bakery makes the list as a Red’s Recommendations. I recently caught up with Andy to learn a little more about himself and his breads. Check my interview with him below, as well as an amazing short video all about Purebread Bakery.
How did you get into bread making?
I began as an obsessive home baker, as many do, and had been baking rather seriously for 6 or 8 years. It was to the point where I was working from home, and doing a micro-baking thing; making one or two dozen loaves for family in friends, who were appreciating it, selling a couple of loves at the school gate. A really nice community thing. At the time I was still living in the UK, and I eventually went to train with a well known baker in the UK, Andrew Whitley, doing a bakers business course just outside of Edinburgh. Finally, when we moved to Ottawa about 2 1/2 years ago I was able to start this business.
What do you think a common misconception of bread is?
You can’t expect people to have any instinctive respect for bread as a product given what we have been exposed to, certainly in North America and the UK, for the best part of 60 years has been 99% absolute crap. So it is totally reasonable for people to be suspicious of bread. So when they taste really good bread for the first time, people become really obsessive about it. We live in a world with so much mass produced rubbish, it’s nice to be part of getting some good real food out to people.
What do you love about bread?
The terrific thing about really good bread is an affordable luxury. It’s the type of thing, that even a really, really amazing loaf of bread is not going to cost you more than $5 or $6, and there are very few foods that you can buy the best quality product for that price. And not only that, but it’s the type of thing that you will want to enjoy every day.
What suppliers to you work with?
Being a small scale baker, and living in an area with so much local produce, its nice to use as much of that as possible. Our grains are from Against the Grain, and I try to get as much organic and local ingredients as I possibly can.
What is your most popular bread?
Classic Sourdough (It’s Andrew’s favourite too.)
Where can customers buy your breads?
We are at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market every weekend at Westboro on Saturday, and Sunday’s at Lansdowne. Our rye breads are also available at The Red Apron and the Green Door Grocer in Ottawa, and we are looking to expand to some more locations in the New Year.
Any new breads we can expect from you?