abchome2-0686
abceats2-0853
abcbread2-6020
abcsweets2-0781

Gluten Free Offerings

We have ABC classics- Flourless Brownies, and Chocolate dipped Macaroons, made without flour of any kind.

We also have the newer Gluten Free Brownies with Milk Chocolate Chips and Dried Cherries, and Gluten Free Apricot Crumb Bars; both are made with a gluten free flour blend.

Our newest gluten free item is also our first vegan pastry- Vegan Gluten Free Cranberry Walnut Oat Bar.  It’s dairy free and egg free and uses a gluten free flour blend.

20160825_072319 Chocolate dipped Coconut Macaroons

20161102_090327Take your pick of these decadent brownies!

20161028_103025 The Vegan Gluten Free Cranberry Walnut Oat Bar is slightly tart with a hint of sweetness!

Gluten Sensitivity and Sourdough Breads

Celiac Disease has increased 400% since the early 1940’s; at that time Celiac’s affected 1 person in 2500, now it’s about 1 person in 133.  Why has the number of people with Celiac Disease mutliplied at such an astounding rate since then?  Humans have been eating wheat for 10,000 years, what changed so drastically in the last 70?    Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disease.  People with Celiac’s are allergic to a specific part of the gluten protein found in wheat.  The gluten protein is composed of glutenin (believed to be relatively harmless to celiacs) and gliadin proteins.  The ammino acid sequencing in the gliadin protein causes an immune response in the small intestines in individuals with Celiac Disease.  Their body produces anti-bodies that attack the villi in their small intestines.

Something else that’s becoming more wide spread is gluten sensitivity.  Gluten sensitivity is much harder to pin down; there is no blanket reason why people are gluten sensitive.  For some it is intolerance to the gliadin protein in gluten, for others it’s the herbicides and pesticides used during the growing and harvesting of wheat, for others it’s the nutrients added to enriched flour, some people are actually allergic to the types of carbohydrates in flour (monosacharrides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides)….and that’s just a few of the many reasons people have gluten sensitivity.

The industrial revolution, changed so much about the American way of life.  It changed our food, and the way we eat.  Large flour mills popped up.  Not only was flour able to be milled in large quantities very quickly, the end product was finer and more consistent.  In turn, wheat was developed to be more resilient and have higher and faster crop yields.  Along the way it was decided that white flour and a longer shelf-life was the desired product.  This started the change in bread.  Commercial yeast came along and completely turned bread baking on it’s ear.  From start to finish, instead of a loaf of bread taking days it could be made in a couple of hours.  Goodbye tasty wholesome bread; hello wonder bread.

In the past couple of decades people have started to care about their food again; where it comes from, what’s in it, and how it’s made.  Small farms, artisan craftsmen and small businesses are stepping in to fill the gap between the convenience of mass production and made at home commodities.

Not only is artisan bread delicious, it’s better for you!  We take the art of old fashioned bread making and present it in a way to fit into the modern world- the artisan bakery.

Sourdough breads are made with a sourdough starter.  Flour and water are mixed and left to ferment.  The naturally occurring yeast and spores in the flour  are activated in a warm wet environment (a warm room and the added water).  The yeast feeds on the sugar and starches in the flour which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.  The elasticity of the gluten in the flour traps the carbon dioxide bubbles that form, allowing the dough to expand and develop a fluffy airy texture as it rises, the gases also add flavor to the dough.  The more sour the flavor, the longer the dough has been left to rise.  Using a preferment (the starter) and allowing the dough to have a lengthy rise (ferment) helps break down the gliadin portion in the gluten protein.  This in turn makes the bread much easier to digest.  Some people with gluten sensitivity, and some people with arthritis are finding that they are able to eat sourdough breads with no ill affects.

 

More Than Just Aesthetics, Designs on Bread

Image

 

 

Have you ever wondered why there are designs and patterns in the crusts of artisanal breads?  It’s a technique called ‘scoring’ and it’s not purely for aesthetics.  Scoring proofed dough helps control how the bread will expand during baking.

A lame is used to ‘score’ (cut) the top of the proofed dough right before it’s loaded into the oven.  Lame is a French word for blade, many bakers use a razor blade, some use a small sharp knife. They come in many different styles!  Curved or straight blades, single and double sided blades, metal, plastic and wooden handles, there is a lame for everyone!

photo 3  photo 1 (2)  photo 4              

We use the lame on the left, just a razor blade on a flat metal stick, the way the blade is put on gives it a slight curve.  These other two lames are ones that we have tried in the past; but the simple razor on a stick seems to be the preferred lame.

Scoring proofed dough not only helps control how bread will expand appearance-wise while it bakes, it also controls how the crumb (interior) will expand, which can change the texture and flavor of the bread.  I asked the bread team to bake some improperly scored baguettes to demonstrate how scoring effects the appearance and texture.  First, we’ll start with exterior appearance, then follow with the crumb.  In the baking world, ‘crumb’ refers to the interior texture; how coarse or fine and the quality and size of the holes.

 IMG_4529  correct vs incorrect scoring

The front baguette is a perfectly scored baguette, the middle baguette has been scored too deep and at the wrong angle, the baguette at the back has not been scored at all.  Below I’ll discuss each baguette separately.

ears  classic

This baguette is perfectly scored, you can see the almond shape associated with Classic Baguettes and the dark edge of the ‘ear’ (a raised flap of crust on the edge of a cut, most commonly seen on baguettes and batards).  Baguettes are traditionally scored almost parallel to the long axis (a handful of very slightly diagonal cuts going down the length of the baguette).  A properly scored baguette will have well defined ears and the angle of the score will allow the baguette to widen as it bakes.  After baking, our baguettes are almost 3 inches wide.

IMG_4561  classic cut

As you can see here, this baguette has a great crumb!  Big airy holes, with smaller ones throughout.  The texture is soft, light and spongy.  Look at the detail and beauty of those holes; a promise of great bread!  If you click on these photos you can see a larger image; you can see there’s almost a thin membrane of dough moving throughout the big holes in the baguette.  It’s not just a hole in bread, it’s so much more!

IMG_4537  horizontal score

This baguette has been scored horizontally.  You’ll notice that the cuts didn’t expand much, just opened a little where the scores are; there are no crusty ears.  In fact, there wasn’t any real ‘crustiness’ to the crust.  This baguette widened only slightly after baking, it measured barely over two inches wide.  It’s not awful looking, but it’s definitely not the perfect classic baguette.

h cut  h crumb

You can see there are still a number of holes, but they don’t vary in size or character.  This baguette had a much denser crumb.  It was chewier, and not in a pleasing way.

h score

The baguette with no scoring is pretty boring, no crusty ears, no variation in the crust at all.  After baking this baguette measured around 1 3/4 inches wide, the size increase was negligible.  When you don’t score bread, it either has blow-outs (expands and bursts through the crust where you don’t want it too),  or it doesn’t expand at all.  This baguette stayed small; without the scoring it didn’t have anywhere to expand to.  The scores in the dough encourages the bread to spread and sort of grow before the crust forms.

no score  no score cut

With this baguette, you can see that there all some very small holes; but nothing even remotely approaching complex.  In our baguettes, there will always be at least some small holes, our recipe is excellent, but without the scoring the bread can’t fully expand and develop; each step is important!  This bread was extremely dense, tough and very chewy.  It was not something you’d want to serve with cheese or make a sandwich with.

 

This was just a basic overview of what scoring accomplishes with crust and crumb.  When scoring, bread bakers have to take a few things into account, such as how wet or dry the dough is (this affects how deep they need to cut), or how they angle the lame when they score (this determines how the cut will open when it bakes).  Scoring is all done free-hand, it’s not something people can master on their first try!  It’s a technique that takes a lot of practice!

With a handful of our breads, employees use can use the number of scores to help determine which bread it is:

photo 1 (2)  The Pullman on the left has 3 vertical scores, this tells us it’s Sourdough.  The Pullman on the right has 1 vertical score down the center, this tells us it’s French Country.  I don’t know how we would ever tell Raisin Walnut and Cranberry Walnut Pullmans and Batards apart if it wasn’t for the different scoring!

 

While scoring does serve a very important part in the development of the bread,that doesn’t mean it can’t look good too!

photo 2 (15)      IMG_4477  IMG_4503  IMG_4508

 

 

Made From Scratch, Made In House

All ABC breads and pastries are made by hand from scratch, in house, with the highest quality ingredients.  We take pride in the great breads and pastries we produce, and the fact that from the very idea of a new item to the finished product we completed each step right here in our kitchen!  It’s very important to us to use ingredients without chemicals and preservatives.

Croissants are made completely from scratch right here with layers and layers of real butter, never shortening.

Sandwiches and Salads- All of our sandwiches are made fresh each and every day on fresh ABC bread.  Walnut Basil Pesto, Baba Ganoush, Balsamic Reduction, Cranberry Relish, Stuffing, Tuna Salad; it’s all made right here.  All of our dressings, sauces, and Hummus are made in-house.

Soups- All soups are our recipes and made right here at the bakery.  All vegetables are peeled and chopped, meats and vegetables are roasted here; nothing comes prepared.

Breads-  Using starters (that the bread team carefully feeds and keeps alive), all ingredients are weighed out, mixed and shaped by hand!

Scones- made with heavy cream and the best dried fruits.  Our Bacon Cheddar Scallion Scones are praised far and wide for a reason!

Muffins- no mixes here either!

Cookies- Again, everything is weighed out and mixed right here.  Not only can members of the pastry team attest to all the thousands of cookies scooped, many staff can claim this monotonous task; in the busy summer the simplest thing someone with a spare bit of time can do to help is scoop cookies!

Pies- We do use a combination of butter and shortening in our pie crusts.  It comes out perfectly flaky and crisp with fluted edges.  An all butter crust would be a little lighter and fluffier but you’d loose all shape to the edges.  While an all shortening crust would still be light and flaky and the edges would have great shape, it would lack the buttery flavor most people associate with pie crust.

Cakes- Our cakes are some of the lightest, moistest cakes you could hope to have!  Buttercream is what we use to frost our cakes.  What’s in our buttercream?  Butter, Eggs, Vanilla, Sugar and flavoring (melted Callebaut chocolate, fruit zest, or real extracts); that’s it, no shortening, no artificial flavors.

We use the highest quality ingredients –  Callebaut couverture chocolate (all chips chunks, and callets), dried frozen and fresh fruit, King Arthur’s unbleached un-bromated flours, organic wheat flour, Maine milled wheat flour, heavy cream, whole milk, 83% butter, etc.  It’s very important to us to use ingredients without chemicals and preservatives!

Simple syrups, Royal icing, fondant, marzipan, caramel, marshmallows, ganache, doughnut glaze, and jams are just a few of the ingredients we make here to add to assorted pastry items!

Artful Bread

It’s great working at a bakery when the holidays roll around; bread can be quite decorative!

A Challah Heart for Valentine’s

IMG_1638

Cornucopia and turkeys for the window display at Thanksgiving

cornucopia    turkery display

Halloween saw a spider added to the window display

halloween spider

The winter holiday season has brought us snowmen, snowflakes, wreaths, and a Christmas tree

tree    winter bread collage

But it’s not just during the holidays that the bread team likes to get creative!

Fougasse is made with baguette dough and is great for dipping in oils.  It can also be used as a center piece!

fougasse

Epi is one of the traditional French shapes for the baguette.  It looks like a sheath of wheat to represent harvest time.  Another great center piece, and it’s a fun way to have break apart rolls!  *We have Epi Baguettes every day!

IMG_0107

We can add shapes to boules with a stencil and a touch of flour on the top.  The apple signifies this as Apple Cider Sourdough.

IMG_3229

 

Sometimes it’s fun just to be silly!

This note was enjoyed by customers and employees alike!

IMG_3141

This sad face Fougasse was created on a snowy day during a particularly stormy winter and was really appreciated by all!  Everyone really needed a laugh that day!

IMG_1586

This lobster was created for the summer window display.  Maine is known for it’s lobsters, this bread lobster was a hit with locals and visitors from away!

Lobster

Mini Meat Pies!

Starting October, 13 2015 we’ll be starting up the Mini Meat Pie season!  Mini Meat Pies are something we started offering in January 2015 (through to the end of April). This lunchtime treat was greatly enjoyed by customers and staff alike!

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at lunchtime we’ll have piping hot mini meat pies!  We’ll have our three weekly staples- Classic Chicken Pot Pie in a Savory Herbed Crust, Steak with Mushroom & Guinness in a Savory Herbed Crust, and Roasted Root Vegetable in a Savory Herbed Crust!

We also plan to have weekly rotating mini meat pies.  A few we’re currently working on- Montreal Steak & Cheese in a Savory Crust, Indian Butter Chicken Curry, and Chicken with Spicy Thai Green Curry!

At $8.95 these mini pies are a delicious, filling, fun lunch!

photo 1 (45)      10896904_10152985039731215_2768537087695310962_n

The Three Ovens

At ABC we are lucky to have 3 ovens, and we use all three everyday.

We have:

 

The Wolf

IMG_3162

We mainly use the six burner range – all of our soups,  eggs for breakfast sandwiches, Friday Fritters, and Saturday Doughnuts are fried in that brazier you can see on the range.  When we have a lot going on during the day, we can bake small batches of items in the conventional oven.

 

The Deck Oven

IMG_3157         IMG_3155

The Bongard deck oven is what we use for all of our non-Pullman breads – Batards, boules, baguettes, Ciabatta and more!  This is a steam tube oven; steam distributed throughout steel tubes radiates a smooth, uniform heat to the surrounding area of each deck, duplicating a brick oven environment.  We also use it for baking pizza, meats, crackers, roasting vegetables; and sometimes cookies and croissants.  We mainly use the bottom three decks (powered by gas), very rarely do we use the top deck (electric).  The decks are 6ft deep and 5ft wide.  On the top right side the left photo you can see part of the manual conveyor belt.  It moves up and down and from one side to the other.  We use the conveyor belt to set up the proofed doughs and pizza and then load the oven.  We use an 8ft bread peel to remove the breads and pizza from the deck oven.

 

The Oscar

IMG_3158      IMG_3160

The Oscar is a convection oven.  Not only does the Oscar use fans to circulate heat, the entire rack rotates to better circulate the heat.  We bake all of our croissants, muffins, cookies, scones, and Pullman loaves in the Oscar every day.  Some other things we use the Oscar for – baking pies, dessert bars, granola, roasting vegetables, and cakes.  The Oscar can hold 32 full-size sheet pans (16″x24″).  To put it in perspective, we can bake 480 cookies at one time!

What About Leftovers?

Here at ABC all our breads, pastries and sandwiches are made fresh each and every day.

A question we hear a lot- Do you throw the leftovers out?

No, we never throw the leftovers away.   Various local food pantries and soup kitchens pick up our leftover bread, pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups!  Sometimes the leftovers go to benefit suppers and various fundraising dinners.  We also use a portion of our leftover baguettes and Pullman loaves to make crostini and croutons.

We try to have very minimal waste.  Daily leftovers are given away to benefit the less fortunate in our community.  The kitchen scraps are picked up by a local pig farmer.  We’re huge on recycling – plastic containers, paper, metal cans, glass containers and cardboard go into our recycling bins.  Bottles are returned.  We use heavy duty plastic bags to protect prepped product in the refrigerator and freezer, when these items are taken out to be finished the café area re-uses these bags in our trash bins.  Various plastic tubs with covers are always repurposed in the kitchen!

Laminating Croissant Dough!

We make all of our croissants and Danish from scratch in-house.  In the kitchen we refer to it as ‘laminating’.  Lamination is a term for the process of alternating layers of dough and butter when making certain pastry dough- croissant, Danish and puff pastry. Laminating the dough makes for rich, airy, flaky croissants and Danish!

The first step is making poolish. Flour, yeast and water are mixed together and left to ferment for 18-24 hours.

photo 1

 

Then the poolish, flour, water, salt and milk are mixed to form a dough.

 

The dough is divided by weight and moved into the proof box to rise. The proof box is a closet-sized box with controllable temperature and humidity.

proof boxproof box open

 

One pound packages of butter are unwrapped and pounded into large 2 1/2 pound flat squares.

butterbutter 6butter 7

 

The dough is taken out of the proof box and rolled through the sheeter.  The sheeter is a wonderful piece of machinery that assures even and consistent rolling of doughs. If we didn’t have a sheeter we could still make the light airy croissants we’re known for, it would just take a lot longer! After the croissant dough is rolled into a rectangle the 2 1/2 pound butter square is set on the dough and the dough is folded around the butter.  Roll through the sheeter, fold and repeat.  Each time the dough is folded it’s called a “turn”.  We turn our croissant dough 3 times.  Between each turn the croissant dough is placed in the proof box to chill.  If the dough is too cold the butter breaks apart, if it is too warm the butter may squeeze out of the dough while being rolled out.  The proof box really is an invaluable piece of machinery!

butter on doughphoto 5photo 3 (4)photo 4 (4)photo 5 (4)photo 2 (6)photo

 

Then the croissant dough is shaped and placed into the freezer.

 

Freezing the shaped croissants suspends the activity of the yeast, allowing us to make croissants a few days ahead of time and pull them out of the freezer when we need them.  When we take the croissants out of the freezer they are moved into the proof box where they will thaw and rise.

photo 4

 

When the croissants have risen they are brushed with an egg wash ( that gives the outer layer of croissants their shiny rich brown color) and baked.

photo 3               photo 5

The heat of the oven causes the water in the dough and butter to turn to steam which puffs up the layers of the dough creating the delicate flaky croissants we all love!

 

This article about laminating croissants from The Kitchn has more information!