How I Became a Bread Baker



It was many years ago, on a visit to San Francisco, that my dear friend Flo Braker invited me to lunch at Scalla's in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, to meet pastry chef and bread baker Kurtis Baguley. His signature dessert, the Bostini (which I featured in Rose's Heavenly Cakes) was based on my chiffon cake from The Cake Bible so Flo thought it would be fun for us to meet. We started with the bread basket, laden with so many fabulous breads I don't even remember what was for lunch. My favorite of the breads was the olive bread. Not only did Kurtis give me the recipe, he also gave me some starter to take home. It was so active it burst through the zipseal bag in the airplane. I didn't understand starters in those days, so though I fed it with flour and water occasionally, it was not enough. Eventually I realized that although it wasn't moldy, it was no longer viable to raise bread. It was Kurtis's olive bread that made me determined to delve into the mysteries of bread baking. And the recipe was included in The Bread Bible, using a biga as the starter so that everyone, even without having a sour dough starter, could enjoy experiencing this bread. (A biga is an easy to make mixture of flour, water, and a minute amount of yeast that is allowed to sit for about three days to develop flavor.) Over the years I have kept in touch with chef Baguley and was delighted to discover, a few weeks ago, that he has finally opened his dream bakery, Pane D Or, in Groveland, Florida. He also sells his breads in farmers markets in the area. Even if you don't live in Florida, I encourage you to check out the beautiful breads and information about bread baking on his site. Note:The above photo has been in my kitchen since I made the bread. It was way before digital technology so I had to photo the photo to post it here!