North Carolina should change its nickname from the “Tar Heel” state to the “Artisan” state. And Asheville, NC might rightfully lay claim to the Artisan Bread Capital of the World. Nowhere else will you find such a assemblage of talented bakers and quality hand crafted breads.

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AABF_LogoOnce a year, most of these bread artists gather at the Asheville Bread Festival to showcase their goods. The event is busy and there’s a lot to take it, yet it’s still intimate enough to enjoy interacting and chatting with the bakers. This years festival also attracted some of the most respected big name bakers in the US — Craig Ponsford, Peter Reinhart, and Lionel Vatinet. Several workshops and lectures could be attended for $10 each, representing one the greatest bargains in the history of the world (don’t tell the event organizers).

I attended both of Craig Ponsfords excellent classes. I’m a big fan of Craig and love what he’s doing with with whole grain flours. Assisting Craig was fellow bread savant Mike Zakowski (check out this cool video). Meanwhile, Denyce enjoyed Peter Reinharts class on gluten free baking.

Asheville is a great town in its own right, so plan to go next March and spend a day in artisan bread heaven. For us, it was an absolutely wonderful day.

 

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Meeting Treska

Meeting Treska

We met Treska Lindsey and her daughter at the Asheville Bread Festival in March. Treska, now 88, is an author and illustrator, mostly of children’s books, who survived the Nazi occupation of her native Belgium as a teenager. After WWII, she came to the US, married Bob Lindsey and settled in the mountains of North Carolina.

We were especially enchanted by “How Batistine Made Bread,” a book about how a six year old makes bread from scratch (starting with harvesting the wheat!) Besides having children help you make bread, the book is a wonderful way for children to connect with making bread at home.

BatistineOriginally published in 1985 under a slightly different title, “How Batistine Made Bread” was picked by the “New Yorker” for its yearly list of best children’s books. In 2010, she had it reprinted due to popular demand.

You can check out it and other books by Treska on her website — www.treskalindsey.com. You will not be disappointed.

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Kristian Tapaninaho

Uuni Now Available in Our Store

Here’s something exciting for the gazillion people who love wood fired pizza. Pizza enthusiast and inventor, Kristian Tapaninaho (right), has invented a light weight portable wood fired oven named Uuni, designed to replicate world class pizza at home. Only this one will set you back a mere few hundred bucks vs many thousands for a brick oven.

Uuni Pizza

Uuni (meaning “oven” in Kristian’s native Finnish), burns the same wood pellets used for pellet stoves and can bring the oven to a near ideal temperature in the 7-800F degrees range in a just 15 – 20 minutes, hot enough to turn out your dream pizza in under 4 minutes. The finished model is expected to weigh about 11 lbs and measure 5x14x19″. An accompanying user manual will include recipes for pizza dough, naan (an Indian flat bread), Finnish flat bread rieska and more. (Pizza baked in Uuni oven pictured above.)

Here’s a video from the Kickstarter site that Kristian use to raise venture funds:

My first two thoughts when learning of the Uuni were, “wow, I want one” and “wow, if these really work well, I’d like to offer them in the Breadtopia store.” I can’t recall the order of those thoughts, but I did pre-purchase one and was soon on the phone with London based Kristian, inquring about dealer opportunities. BreadtopiaOvenHe has yet to decide on how they will be distributed, but whether or not we carry them, I’ll demo mine and report my findings here on the Breadtopia site. I’ll compare the Uuni to our existing wood fired oven, our outdoor grill with grilling stone and our regular kitchen stove. Should be loads of fun.

uuni_pizza_ovenAs of late January (2013), Kristian was still refining some design elements ahead of the Feb 28 pre-order deadline. Delivery is expected sometime this summer.  If you wish to be notified of my review, use the Contact tab above and send me your email with the word “Uuni” in the message box.

Note: Detailed images and exact specs on the Uuni are purposely unavailable while Kristian secures patent protection.

July 14, 2013 Update: As is common with just about any new product launch, this one is taking a bit longer to roll out than originally hoped, due mostly to a couple of late design tweaks. However, the first production run has shipped to early Kickstarter investors. Here’s a photo of them from the Finnish manufacturer ready for shipping: UuniReadyToShip

I received a preproduction model with scant little instruction but found the set up and operation fairly straight forward. Got the oven up into the 700’s F degrees quickly and knocked out a few test pizzas with very encouraging results. Im taking the oven on vacation later this month and will post more details when I return. See this post: http://www.breadtopia.com/2013/02/10/uuni-wood-fired-pizza-oven/#comment-315193

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Gray

The holidays were made especially fulfilling with a wonderfully long visit from the “kids” and grandson Gray.

With 22 month old Gray’s mamma wisely preferring to to delay serving him sugary treats, we found an opportunity to develop some holiday cookies that we could make with him that involved no sugar at all (if you don’t count the fruit). We made Fruity Pie Crust Cookies! (Click the link to watch the video)

Gray making Pie Crust CookiesOk, so the real purpose of this post is to show off Gray, but it just so happens the pie crust cookies were really good and scarfed in a rapid heartbeat.

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