Loafing Around

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
—Robert Browning (1812-1889), English poet

I spent Friday morning at Harvestyme Bread, an artisan bakery in north Edmond, Oklahoma. Pat Kelley is the owner and baker; he was kind enough to let me hang out and ask silly questions, like, “What’s this starter thing about?—I don’t get it.”

Harvestyme has been in business for about 1.5 years. Pat sells directly out of his bakery, as well as at area farmers’ markets. He’s quite the entrepreneur, even though he doesn’t see himself that way. He’s always cooked and baked, but before he decided to make a living at it, he was a woodworker, electrical contractor, and maintenance man. His grandmother taught him to cook in 3rd grade and he has been inspired by his restaurateur-friend in Kansas.

DrivewayThe bakery is definitely unexpected. Country roads and a short stretch of gravel lead you to his house and adjacent bakery, which are tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac. His herb garden is alongside the driveway. There, he grows the herbs used in his breads and pizza rolls. On this late summer day, the cicadas are humming and the sprinkler systems ch-ch-ch-ch-ing neighbors’ tidy lawns.

Pat tweaks formulas for European breads; he’s anxious about a Tuscan bread he is trying out—the recipe doesn’t call for salt. Salt is crucial. “I just don’t see how it’s going to be any good,” Pat said. He scurries around checking and restarting timers. He’s juggling at least four types of bread, all at different stages. The cranberry walnut celebration dough (a temperamental bread) was in the proofer, rising, actually almost overflowing. He pulls it out and punches it down. Once the dough has finished, he separates the dough into balls of two weights: 6-ounce and 4.5-ounce pieces. Every step requires precision, as to standardize baking times and fit into the bake ware. The 6-ounce pieces are for the bottom braid and the 4.5-ounce pieces are braided and placed on top. They are beautiful!

Proofer

Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread

Meanwhile, the cinnamon raisin walnut bread is ready to come out of the oven. He pops the loaves onto the cooling rack. I comment on how it’s never that easy for me. “Hon, you’re not doing it for a living,” he tells me.Cinnamon Raisin Walnut
Fresh

I get an intro to bread-making. A starter must be fed, Pat explains, and is a mixture of flour and water, plus wild yeast that is everywhere around us. And starters vary by geographic location, because yeasts vary by climate. One of his is 12 years old and smells very sourdough-y. Like one of those pungent cheeses, that at first might be off-putting, but simultaneously enticing. Water, like salt, is crucial, hence the fancy steam-injection oven that Pat mimics through manual techniques. Moist flour helps, too. He makes due, but says that European flour is preferred because the moisture content is ideal. But, FDA regulations make it difficult to procure.

The pizza rolls are probably his most popular item, he says, but the white chocolate raspberry brownies, Mediterranean apricot cranberry walnut loaves are popular, too. And the cinnamon rolls are euphoric. Oh, but the blue cheese walnut bread, paired with some red wine is heavenly. Oh, forget it! It’s too difficult to pick… Try them for yourself. Harvestyme Bread is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. He’s also at the OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. You should make the trip to his bakery, if not for the smell alone!

Cinnamon Rolls

More pictures of Pat and the bakery are here.

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4 thoughts on “Loafing Around

  1. YUM-MY!! That’s awesome that you went there and that he was more than willing to have someone watch his art. My mouth is drooling for all that bread…and I want to dive into that raspberry-walnut dough. If those cinnamon rolls are the same ones we had when we were at your house, I can attest to their magnificence. I’ve been craving one ever since 🙂
    So cool!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hey, I’m happy that you got to do the piece you were thinking of with him. Your words tantalize my tastebuds. Mmmmm, mmmm!

    Meow

  3. Thanks for this great post about a great cranberry walnut bread (one of my favorite breads). I also appreciate the Blake quote. Your entire blog is intriguing to me because I’m a writer for whom “bread” is an important motif. In fact, my newest blog A Limited Forker Girl’s Tines has as its first post: “Neurological Winter: 1. When I Was Bread” about an episode of a neurological disorder in which I experienced the sensation that my thighs were turning to bread. I’ll be soon posting more about that neurological season of transformation. By the way, years ago, I made simple cakes and simple bread in the oven of an Empire electric toy stove –none as good as the cranberry walnet bread I now love. I hope you get a chance to check out my neurological winter bread post.

  4. Pingback: Hodgepodge Soup «

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