Zak the Baker's popular multigrain and country wheat loaves are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Everything in the bakery is certified kosher.(Photo: Platonic Studios)
Bread has suffered a bit over the past few decades, derided for being full of carbohydrates and no nutrition in an age of Atkins and low-carb diets. Recently though, Americans have come to realize that carbs are not all that terrible. And, bakers across the country are using whole, heirloom grains and long fermenting wild yeasts to create healthier, nutritious loaves. Some even have their own stone mills in order to provide the freshest grains possible.
One of the south’s biggest proponents of heirloom grains, David Bauer makes some of the best bread you’ll ever taste at Farm & Sparrow Bakery in Candler, N.C.
“Heirloom grains are important to me because they have a genetic wildness that gives them the potential for greater expression of place in their flavor and qualities,” says Bauer. “They are not inherently better, but they are more dynamic and have a great potential for expression.”
Graison Gill, owner and master baker at Bellegarde Bakery in New Orleans, agrees. “Just like wine grapes, which are hundreds if not thousands of years old, there are also heirloom grains," he says. "Corn, wheat, rye, rice, durum, spelt — every ingredient and food that we consume descended from an ‘heirloom,’ wild parent. A good loaf of bread, I like to say, starts in the soil.”
Bauer and Gill, as well as several other bakers in the south, have stone mills on-site at their bakeries. When flour is industrially roll-milled in large quantities, the germ is destroyed, and the bran and endosperm are separated out so the flour can have a longer shelf life. But small-batch stone-ground flour preserves the bran, endosperm and germ — highly nutritious parts of each kernel — and is used that day. And while nutrients are important, thankfully, taste is the primary concern for many bakers.
Here’s our list of the best bread bakeries in the south. Browse the gallery above for bread that can turn you into a carb fiend in no time.
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