St. Francis Bread Maker Finds Hungry Customers Through Social Media
Posted at 6:01 am CT on April 9, 2020 |
Fork. Spoon. Life. Stephane Blanchard
When his first day of sales at the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market was canceled on one day’s notice, Stephen Blanchard was unsure of what to do. Stuck with a surplus of sourdough bread and nowhere to go, he took to social media.
The response was immediate and it sold out this weekend. Word has spread and he is now making specialty sourdough breads for delivery and pickup.
Each week, he also makes sure that he has his campaign wheat. Priced at $ 3.50, it only covers the cost of its ingredients. It was his wife Christine Burke’s idea, and it’s their way of saying thank you and giving back when families are struggling.
I am in St. Francis and grew up in Bay View. I’m actually closer to a mortgage post. After you’ve taken out the mortgage, my job is to clear the loans for another bank to buy.
I wanted a challenge. That’s why I chose to bake bread. When I was 20, I learned to cook on my own. I tried basic breads, like banana bread. Then I started making a sourdough sourdough, which is what you use to create the dough that I have now.
Sourdough is just flour and water, and it stays there until you get wild yeast. It is the yeast in the air that allows your bread to ferment, rise and fall. I started with that.
He completely failed the first time. I put it aside for a bit, then came back to it. Now I have had the same starter for the past seven years.
Start a parallel business
The bread was a side project. It becomes something that everyone expects from me. I sold at my office here and there for about six months. I would sell to my family and friends. I would give my things away. I was looking for farmer’s markets… In Wisconsin… a home baker can bake non-hazardous products and low-moisture baked goods in his home kitchen.
When I contacted the winter farmer’s market, they called me back late in the season and asked if I wanted to sell. It was early March. I said yes and signed up for the latest markets. Then the coronavirus hit and that’s it. I made 70 loaves of bread that week for the market, and it got canceled.
Facts about flour
My standard at the moment is country wheat, whole wheat bread. I grind my flour myself. I get my wheat from Anarchy Acres (in Mount Pleasant), this is one of them, and the other is Janie Mill, as far as Illinois. They have been a big supplier to me.
Pleasure of flavors
I have country wheat, and I’m offering it to the community for $ 3.50, just the price of my flour, to help with whatever is going on here. I make dill and white cheddar, cinnamon raisins, roasted garlic and Parmesan, as well as a few varieties of nuts, a date, a walnut and an orange. I made winter spices with nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger and cinnamon. I made a bacon, an apple and cheese which was very popular, but the bacon is expensive so I haven’t had a lot yet.
Everything I use I try to find local sources. I use Spice House for the spices and cheese from Clock Shadow Creamery.
When I first started making this, I didn’t always like some of the flour I used. I was using King Arthur, and I liked it. I used cheaper flours before this, and I didn’t like it. King Arthur tells you the level of protein in the flour. It is important. The higher protein content means it is good for breads. Lower protein content is good for cookies and pastries. Most flours don’t tell you that.
Then it was “what about the Wisconsin flour?” I’ve heard of Anarchy Acres, where they grow heirloom wheat. Red Fife and Marquis are two older varieties of wheat, both have unique flavors and make completely different types of bread when you taste them. I thought it would be nice to do (the grind) myself, so that I could control what is in my bread and what is not. My wife gave me a Kitchen Aid Grain Mill, then I went to see Charlie Tennessen and asked him if I could buy some grains of wheat, which he sells to the public. Since then, I’ve only made whole wheat in my breads. It’s not the whole wheat that you find in most stores. The whole wheat berry is in the bread. I’ll sift some of the flour to remove the heavier lumps and allow for a lighter bread, but it’s still 100% whole wheat and I can mix different flours for any flavor I want.
A batch of bread takes a day and a half… I used to always bake in Dutch ovens, as this allows consistency even if you mess with the shaping. As I now bake in the amount I bake, I have two large baking sheets that allow me to bake six loaves at a time.
Make your mark
I always shoot for a slightly darker bread. More and more I am also rating my round breads with an S, just because it’s simple and I know it’s my bread that I made.
How to order
I am ordering online and by email at the moment. I posted an article earlier this week telling people what varieties I’m going to make and asking for orders.
Fork. Spoon. Life. explores the daily relationship that local notables (within and outside the food community) have with food. To suggest future personalities to profile, send an email to [email protected]
Read or share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/life/food/fork-spoon-life/2020/04/09/st-francis-breadmaker-finds-hungry-customers-through-social- media / 294761300 /