Bakers audition new recipes at bread-tasting

March 12, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER


Baking and selling bread is more than just a neat way to raise some dough for members of the Peter Burr Bread Bakers' Guild.

Bread made at the historic Peter Burr Living History Farm in Bardane, W.Va., in a special wood-fired brick oven also helps illustrate an important history lesson about life in the region more than 200 years ago, said guild member Bill Theriault.

"The bread that we bake out there is the way they baked it in the 18th century," said Theriault, who also serves as a member of The Friends of Peter Burr Farm, Inc, an historical preservationist group that organizes events and programs at the Peter Burr House, the oldest wood frame house in the state.


"It's probably as close to the kind of bread they made during that period as you're likely to get," Theriault said.

Theriault said the guild's bread is mixed by hand using a live yeast culture, flour without preservatives and natural ingredients. One batch takes about eight hours to complete, Theriault said.

Now in their third year of selling bread, which is used to raise funds for the group's programs, guild members held their first bread tasting event in the Charles Town Visitors Center on Saturday in anticipation of the group's breadmaking season that starts in April.

Theriault said the bread tasting event was conceived as a way to gauge responses from the public to some new recipes which could find their way on to this year's menu.

Among the new batch the group presented for sampling Saturday were loaves with names like Four Pepper Cajun, Pear Pecan, and Scottish Baps, a flat bread with a sunken center suitable for seating a dollop of jam.

Another new addition is a Rye loaf, which guild member Wayne Braunstein said would have been an important bread made in the region in the past.

Braunstein said part of the group's efforts is to raise awareness of the significance of bread in a meal. Historically, it functioned much the same way rice functions in other cultures, as an important source of carbohydrates, Braunstein said.

"It wouldn't have been something you add to the meal," Braunstein said. "It would have been a primary part of the meal."

Other breads the guild promotes include a Portuguese corn bread, Kalamata olive bread, and a simple whole wheat bread.

Despite the different recipes, bread is essentially the same all around the world, Theriault said.

"Wheat bread has been baked in the same kinds of ovens for thousands of years," he said. "A lot of breads, even though there may be regional differences because of the materials available, they all share a basic quality; wheat flour and active yeast cultures."

A 2-pound loaf of guild-made bread sells from $5 to $7. Guild members say they'll bake once a month until October.

More information about the guild and its loaves is available by calling Theriault at 301-582-2846.

The Burr House, which sits on an 8-acre farm, is owned by the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission. It was built by Burr, uncle of Aaron Burr, the country's third vice president, in the 1750s.

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