February 18, 2015
We got a new oven last week. This one is what's known in the trade as a "deck" or "hearth" oven. It is an oven specifically designed to bake the old world style artisan breads in which we specialize. We're very excited about it.
The oven utilizes four "decks" with composite stone floors that radiate heat upward through the loaf, causing the upper surface to split open along the cuts in a most appealing way. It yields a loaf that is simply superior in every way to that what we've made in recent years in our older hybrid rack ovens.
About a year ago I awoke in the wee hours one morning to the sound of our baker pounding on my front door to tell me that not one, but both of our worn out, walk-in sized convection rack ovens were broken. Last fall we replaced the first of those two aging rack ovens with a similar but far newer model. And now we've invested in a legit deck oven -quite simply a long time dream of everyone associated with Texas French Bread. And with two new, current-generation, state of the art ovens now purring at the bakery's heart - I can only say that it feels like we've undergone a renewal of vows of sorts, a recommitment to the product at the spiritual center of our business.
I write a lot about the restaurant side of what we do - obviously I love the bistro food, and sitting and drinking crazy artisanal wines with friends in the evenings. But this year is going to be about a genuine renaissance in our bakery. The team is still learning to work with all of this new equipment (we also brought in a new proofer and a water chiller that meters both volume and temperature of water used in our breads), but we've already had days where even the baguette (the most finicky and temperamental of all breads) is showing vast improvement and loads of new character.
And to continue our focus on quality sourcing, we are now actively seeking out flours from local and organic suppliers and those growing ancient grain varieties. We're even looking at options to filter and condition the water we use in the breads - the same way we do for our espresso.
So pick up a baguette, or a raisin pecan bread next time you're in the shop or at one of the farmers' markets - I think you're going to notice a difference.