Noble Bread at the market…
Sean made me one of my favorite breakfasts last week. It was simply toasted and buttered bread with avocado smushed on top and a little sea salt. It is ridiculous how simple it is or even more so, how happy it makes me, but there you go. What made it stand out last week was the bread. Sean had sliced a piece from a loaf of country bread Bob brought back from the market from Noble Bread. It was the kind of bread I love most (and I LOVE bread!), at its center it was chewy, filled with holes and rich in flavor, with an outside crust that tasted faintly smokey from the wood-fired oven. Bliss!
As much as I loved that breakfast, I love the story behind Noble Bread even more. I have found since I have started writing about food that truly good food always has an equally good story behind it. When there is a little love and care put into making something, you can taste it, and when it really stands out, then you know there is a story there too. Jason Raducha, the baker/brainchild, behind Noble Bread grew up on his Nana’s cooking. She would make him pepperoni bread and pan loaf breads when he was a boy that tasted like nothing you could find in the supermarket. When she would visit, he would beg her to make bread for him, and when she did she would teach him how as well. Jason’s Nana taught him about different flours, the importance of the temperature of liquids, how yeast worked, and to have patience. Over time, Jason began to experiment with baking on his own. He wanted to create the perfect pizza crust, and would spend weekends with his cousin trying to tinker with the recipe. He bought a small, wood-fired oven and learned how cooking with the heat of the fire changed how he baked breads. He read books on it, went to different bakeries to talk with their bakers, tried different types of flour, all in the quest to create a loaf of bread with the flavor profile he was seeking. He had one baker offer him a starter that he calls a “bread awakening” to the idea of naturally leavened breads. He also researched flours and began having his own organic, GMO-free flour custom milled for him. Over the years, Jason has been everything from a hockey instructor to an arena manager to an IT solutions provider, but it was bread that called to him. As he tested and tried new recipes, he found that he needed an outlet to start selling all of the bread he was baking. He soon became the neighborhood “bread man” and had won the rave reviews of his friends and neighbors. Dough is his medium, and he finally realized that he needed to give himself over to it completely, following the passion for cooking that his Nana had inspired in him.
Jason knew how to make bread, but he realized that making it his business would take some help. Rather that find investors who may want to change his recipes or his vision he choose to raise money through Kickstarter, an online funding platform for new creative ventures, in order to find people who shared in his dream. His plan was simple; feed people quality. Jason wanted to take Noble Bread out of his neighborhood and in to farmers’ markets, CSAs and local Phoenix restaurants. He asked for help in funding the building of a mobile, wood-fired pizza oven and for the forming baskets and other necessities to get his dream off the ground. As of last August, he reached his funding goal. The oven is a 5,000 pound fire brick oven on a dual axle trailer that is powered completely by wood. With 20 pounds of wood, Jason can make about 200 loaves of bread. He can make made to order pizzas in it as well and even chocolate chip cookies.
Right now Noble Breads offers Country Levain (my new favorite!), Walnut Cherry Levain, Semolina, Whole Wheat with Honey, Sandwich Rye, Spelt Baguette, Pan de Mi, Cinnamon Rolls, Focaccia and a Monkey pull apart bread. Jason can also make special order kaiser rolls, hot dog and hamburger buns, and pretzels. The best part is all of the dough is made with organic, GMO-free flours, naturally collected yeast and purified water. I have now tried several varieties of Noble Break and you can taste the old world traditions and the care for details that Jason puts in each loaf. They would make his Nana proud.
But the best part about it was a little secret that I didn’t know until today. We are going to start selling Noble Bread at the Town and Country Market on Wednesdays! Noble Breads is already offered at the Old Town Farmers’ Market on Saturdays at the Brat Haus booth, but now you can find them with us at the Wednesday market too. I have already put in strict instructions with both Sean and Bob, so they know not to return without a loaf of the Country Levain.
Make sure you come by early and pick up a loaf for yourself, because you are going to want to try Noble Bread for yourself.
Available Wednesdays at the Town & Country Farmers’ Market at the McClendon’s Select booth.
Available Saturdays at the Old Town Farmers’ Market at the Brat Haus booth.
For more information about Noble Breads, you can visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NobleBread.
(Bottom three photos courtesy of Jason Raducha.)