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The End of Bread As We Know It: A Bread Dude Exit Interview

Our crack HR team caught up with Bread Dude to do an exit interview after hearing about his decision to leave Noonday Bread. Here’s how that went down.

So many questions…

So we hear that Series 45 is the last hurrah for Noonday Bread. What’s up with that?

What is up with that?

You’re starting early with the whole “I’ll answer your question with a question” thing.

Hey, you have to play to your strengths.

OK, but Bread Fans will want to know what led you and the crew to stop baking. Especially after the whole TEDx talk you did on how you love bread and all. Did you fall out of love with bread in just one year?

Is the Pope German?

Is this the pope?

Really?? That’s where you’re going with this?

No I’m serious. I keep forgetting who the current pope is. They change so often. But I like them because they wear white uniforms just like me.

I think he’s Argentinian. But you digress. What should we tell the peeps?

It’s pretty simple. We still love making bread and we adore Bread Fans. But most things in life come to an end at some point. We wanted to go out when we still loved it and when our Bread Fans still wanted more. We think it’s that time.

This project was always about learning as much as possible from a small-scale business. We’ve milked A LOT of learning out of Noonday Bread over the years.

How long have you been doing this anyway?

Let’s put it this way: when we started, our boys were still sopranos. Now they’re taller than I am and one is in college.

Really? That long?

Yup, when we end, it will have been seven years since we sent out an exploratory survey to some of our friends before building the website and doing a soft launch. That’s 45 series, approximately 180 baking dates, and thousands of Bundles of Joy.

OK I have to ask you some typical HR questions because that’s what they teach us in HR school. Let me see… What did you most enjoy about Noonday Bread?

Look at that beauty!!

Where do I start? We loved beautiful mounds of dough being turned into enticing loaves through the choreography of a happy team backed up by a grooving soundtrack. We loved introducing hard-to-get varieties of bread to people who otherwise have to buy plastic-wrapped lies in supermarkets. We loved meeting hundreds of people in our community that we wouldn’t have otherwise known. We loved partnering with Marti the Cookie Lady and John and Mica at Cook, Cork, and Fork.

But most of all, we loved the look on Bread Fans’ faces when they cradled their super-fresh Bundles of Joy. If we could bottle that moment…

Wait… are you tearing up, Bread Dude?

(Pause) That’s just flour in my eye.

OK… erm, what did you enjoy least about your time at Noonday Bread?

Exit interviews.

How Bread Dude feels about exit interviews

OK… moving right along. My HR manual says I should ask you about the strengths and weaknesses of your supervisor. I guess that means The Boss?

Not happening.

Do you want to say anything about your team?

Our crew absolutely rocks. Think of it this way: since they were in elementary school, our boys have woken up earlier on Saturday than on school days. They’ve washed hundreds of dishes, cracked thousands of eggs, shaped thousands of loaves of bread.

Crew at breakfast

After those first couple of years, we got to work with many friends and Bread Fans in the kitchen – too many to name. But over time we had a faithful all-star crew that included Bekah S., Mati K., Rebecca H., and Ed D. We developed a lot of gluten together.

And The Boss? This never would have happened without her. She did everything from purchasing materials to printing labels for bags.

What’s next for the Bread Crew?

First, we’re doing a massive last series as a farewell tour. We’re jamming the most demanding and popular breads into one series as a mic drop of a finale.

Then I’m retiring to sit by a pool in Barbados.

Seriously?

You’re in freaking HR. You know I don’t have that kind of money!

No, The Boss and I have some new creative ventures we’re cooking up. We plan to teach occasional bread classes at Cook, Cork, and Fork. And the Crew will probably get together often on Saturdays to bake in our wood-fired oven. Bread Fans may even get the occasional tweet with the offer of a free loaf.

So is this the end of Noonday Bread FOREVER?

In the words of an old song, forever is a long, long time. It’s for sure the end for now. But I could imagine picking this back up in the future as an every day business. Believe me, in the board room of my mind it’s all mapped out…

 

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Ed Takes the Bake – November 19, 2016

Ed the Intern, aka Fournier
Ed the Intern, aka Fournier

We always look forward to this bake date, the last time we bake before Thanksgiving. It’s become tradition that we do two favorites for this time of year: Anadama Bread (a traditional New England loaf) and Cranberry Walnut Bread, which we only do once each year.

What made this day even more unique was that our intern, Ed aka Le Fournier, was in charge. Ed has been working with us since last winter, taking what he learned in culinary school class about bread and doing it at scale. Today was his informal final exam – a day where he was in charge from start to finish. And he did great! The big challenge of today’s bake was managing the logistics, especially when making nearly 70 braids. Any leader tries to place players in the best position so that the whole team succeeds. So the more aesthetically gifted did the braiding (thank you, ladies) and scoring (led by our teenage girl crew members).

Fully loaded Cranberry Walnut dough
Fully loaded Cranberry Walnut dough
Braiding wizardry
Braiding wizardry
Final product
Final product

A few fun facts about today’s bread:

  • Cranberry Walnut Bread packs a huge punch. Nearly 1/3 of each loaf is made up of dried cranberries and walnuts. In today’s batch, that meant a whopping 8 pounds of walnuts and nearly 24 pounds of dried cranberries!
  • That beautiful aroma from the Cranberry Walnut Braids can be traced back to not only the cranberries but also a generous dash of orange extract. You know Thanksgiving is coming when you get those two together.
  • Cardamom Bread - There is nothing to fear here!
    Cardamom Bread – There is nothing to fear here!

    We baked up a couple of demo loaves of Cardamom Bread. Some people are scared of this bread for some reason. But really, why be scared? It’s Swedish! What could possibly scare you about something from the Swedes?? We hope you tried a sample when you picked up your bread…

 

 

 

Vital Stats of The Bake

  • Crew: Ed aka Fournier (lead dog), The Boss, The Lovely Apprentice, The Artist, Mad Scientist, The Sweek Goddess, Bread Dude
  • Timing: In the kitchen at 5:30; Out the door at 11:30
  • Sound Track (DJ): Snarky PuppySylva and We Like It Here  (Bread Dude), Dvorak’s New World Symphony (Mad Scientist), 80’s Mix – Chicago, Yes, Supertramp, Talking Heads, etc. (Mad Scientist/Bread Dude)
  • Extras: 4 Anadama, 6 Cranberry Walnut (all sold)
  • Orphans: NONE! Well done, Bread Fans!
Crew at breakfast
Crew at breakfast
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Series 37 Preview

What is that I feel? Is that… warmth? At last? Huzzah! Anyways, the summer is approaching, and a new subscription with it! We’ll be putting out some long-awaited loaves like Sonoma Sourdough and Chocolate O’Babka – Remember, this is the only time each year that the babka appears, as we have to celebrate our mothers somehow!

May 7, 2016:

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread – Mix oatmeal, brown sugar, and other whole grains together and you get a moist winner with a great shelf-life. Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast anymore! What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Oats, Brown Sugar, Yeast, Wheat Bran, Oil, Salt, Water

Chocolate O’Babka – MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL –  Requested by Bread Fan Dan O. (hence the O in the name), made famous by episode 77 of Seinfeld, and named after the Russian word for “grandma,” this sweet treat is packed with a chocolate-cinnamon filling. But don’t be left out like Jerry and Elaine – quantities are limited.
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Milk, Butter, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Yeast, Salt, Vanilla, Chocolate Filling (Dark Chocolate, Butter, Cinnamon)

May 14, 2016:

Multigrain Extraordinaire – With delicate hints of honey and buttermilk, this everyday loaf combines a sweet flavor and a wide variety of whole grains. And with a French word in the name, it has to be magnifique!
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Buttermilk, Brown Sugar, Corn Meal, Honey, Rolled Oats, Wheat Bran, Brown Rice, Salt, Yeast

Portuguese Sweet Bread – Remember that Hawaiian Bread you loved as a kid? This is like that, just fancier. Use it for that spinach artichoke dip or the ultimate fondu bread. Trust me.
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Sugar, Eggs, Water, Powdered Milk, Butter, Shortening, Vanilla, Citrus Extract, Salt, Yeast

May 21, 2016:

German Farmer’s Bread – A touch of rye flour and a smidge of yogurt makes this bread soft, hearty, and tangy. Like you’re on the farm.
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Rye Flour, Water, Yogurt, Sugar, Salt, Yeast

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – Bread Dude’s famous version of the classic loaf. Finished with a cinnamon and sugar cap. Ideal for French toast if it lasts that long.
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Water, Buttermilk, Eggs, Oil, Sugar, Salt, Yeast, Cinnamon, Butter

May 28, 2016 – No bread!

June 4, 2016 – You might think there would be bread here, but there isn’t. We’re very sorry. Bread Stud graduates from high school this weekend, so we’re a little tied up…

June 11, 2016:

Honey Whole Wheat Bread – Straightforward and scrumptious, this whole wheat has the goodness of whole grain and the slight sweetness of honey.
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Buttermilk, Brown Sugar, Honey, Salt, Yeast

Sonoma Sourdough Bread – Inspired by the great bakeries of California’s wine country, this bread combines tangy sourdough, toasted walnuts, and chunks of melted blue cheese.  Fabulous with wine and cheese – or a little honey.
What’s Inside: Wheat and Rye Flours, Water, Salt, Wild and Commercial Yeast, Blue Cheese, Walnuts

June 18, 2016:

Anadama Bread – A classic New England bread with cornmeal and the sweet taste of honey. The bees will be chasing us for this…Why do want it to be warm, again?
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Corn Meal, Honey, Water, Butter, Salt, Yeast

Pretzel Rolls – Back in the lineup by popular demand, this bread combines a soft crumb with a dark, chewy crust. Each Bread Fan gets six Pretzel Rolls perfect for sandwiches. Limit 2 orders per customer please to spread the joy:)
What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Water, Butter, Salt, Yeast, Malt Syrup

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Baked Caramel French Toast

"Darling, would you make me some French toast?" "Why yes, yes I will..."
“Darling, would you make me some French toast?”
“Why yes, yes I will…”

Hanging out with Bread Fans in our new digs at Cook, Cork, and Fork today reminded me of a recipe I love when we have Lemon Spice Braid for Easter brunch. We learned it at a cooking class years ago and it’s become a tradition.

Here it is, Bread Dude style!

For Caramel:

  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1 T corn syrup

For French Toast:

  • 6 or more slices Lemon Spice Braid. Don’t dare try this with plain old bread bought in plastic from a store. Trust me…
  • 1/2 C raisins (optional since Bread Dude loads up the Lemon Spice Braid with golden raisins:))
  • 1/2 C toasted pecans (ditto above comment – but hey, can you really have too many pecans?!?!)
  • 1 ripe, firm banana, sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t grated lemon or orange rind (yet again, see above comments)
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350F

For Caramel: Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Yes, everyone tastes this “to be sure it came our right.” Hahahahahaha….

For French Toast:

  • Pour caramel into buttered or sprayed 8 or 9 inch cake pan.
  • Arrange bread slices over caramel, cutting to fit. Eat the trimmings when your wife isn’t looking.
  • Sprinkle raisins and pecans over bread.
  • Sip coffee.
  • Top with rest of bread slices. Toast any leftovers to eat with coffee.
  • Combine eggs, milk, cream, sugar, citrus zest, vanilla, cinnamon.
  • Pour over bread slices. Slosh a little in your coffee at your own risk. The health department requires us to tell you that eating stuff with raw eggs can be hazardous to your health. So can eating too much Caramel French Toast. Period. Consider yourself warned.
  • Ta da!!
    Ta da!!

    Let the French toast sit for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator to allow bread to soak up liquid.

  • Bake 20-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  • Place a plate upside down on top of cake pan. Take a deep breath and then flip the whole contraption upside down. Wow your friends. You just cooked, baby.
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Series 36 Preview

Guest Poster: Duncan Harro, aka The Mad Scientist
As we head into series 36, you may realize an important fact: there’s no bread for two weeks! Well, they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder…
Anyways, series 36 includes some of our all-star and/or seasonal loaves – Lemon Spice Braid, Anadama, Potato Cheddar Chive, and Breakfast in Copenhagen! The series will run for 4 weeks from March 26 to April 23! Now, the calendar-savvy among you loyal fans may say that there are five weeks in that time period. (Hint: you’re right.) We’re taking a week off on the 9th of April because given a busy social calendar, the Bread Crew would keel over from exhaustion – and that could get messy! Now, on to the descriptions…

3/26/16 – Easter Special
  • Five Grain Bread – This loaf combines the healthy goodness of 5 whole grains in one fabulous bread.  Used most often for sandwiches, at the table, or as a snack.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Water, Rye Chops, Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Oats, Honey, Yeast, Salt
  • Lemon Spice Braid (Easter Special) – This braided loaf carries the aroma of lemons, the flavor of raisins, and the crunch of pecans.  It makes killer French toast or sits nicely on your Easter Brunch table. This might be why we’re making it at Easter. I don’t know, I just do what the Boss tells me to do.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Low Fat Milk, Golden Raisins, Sugar, Eggs, Pecans, Oil, Yeast, Salt, Nutmeg, Lemon Zest

4/2/16

  • Anadama Bread – A classic New England bread with cornmeal and the sweet taste of honey. Thankfully, the bees are still hibernating, or they would be after us…
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Corn Meal, Honey, Water, Butter, Salt, Yeast
  • Potato Cheddar Chive Bread – Cheddar cheese erupts from the pillowy softness of a classic potato bread.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Potatoes, Salt, Yeast, Water, Cheddar Cheese, Roasted Onions, Chives

4/9/16

Did you think I was going to list bread here! Wrong! This is the week that will be exhausting without bread! Enjoy my awful comedy instead – and kudos for actually reading through this preview in its entirety. All three of you.
What’s Inside: A whole lot of nothing, Longing, Wistfulness, Staring at an empty bread box

4/16/16

  • Grandma Sally’s Oatmeal Bread – Here’s an oatmeal bread recipe handed down the generations of one of our Bread Fan’s families. Super soft, chock full of whole grains, and sweetened with old-fashioned molasses. It will take you back to the bread grandma made. If she made any. If she didn’t, then it won’t.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Water, Molasses, Oats, Butter, Wheat Germ, Wheat Bran, Salt, Yeast
  • Wheatberry Pecan Bread – This hearty wheat bread is chock full of pecans and whole wheat berries.  Useful for sandwiches or with soup. Who knew healthy could taste so good?
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Pecans, Honey, Wheat Berries, Oil, Salt, Yeast

4/23/16

  • French Country Bread – The simplest bread we make, including just flour, water, salt, and yeast. Its flavor is developed through long fermentation, which is combined with a crunchy crust to make an excellent soup or sandwich bread.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Rye Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast
  • Breakfast in Copenhagen – Loaded with figs, hazelnuts, and rosemary, this bread packs a flavorful punch. When one of our Bread Fans tasted a test loaf, she smiled and said wistfully, “It tastes like breakfast in Copenhagen…” We named it on the spot. This bread is unique for not having the work “Bread” in its name.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Hazelnuts, Dried Figs, Salt, Yeast, Rosemary
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Series 35 Preview

As we head into the depths of winter, (brr!) we’re all going to enjoy some of our most popular bread varieties, including Pretzel Rolls and Irish Soda Bread!

February 13

  • Honey Whole Wheat Bread – Straightforward and scrumptious, this whole wheat has the goodness of whole grain and the slight sweetness of honey.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Buttermilk, Brown Sugar, Honey, Salt, Yeast
  • SwirlCinnamon Swirl Bread – Bread Dude’s famous version of the classic loaf. Finished with a cinnamon and sugar cap. Ideal for French toast if it lasts that long.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Water, Buttermilk, Eggs, Oil, Sugar, Salt, Yeast, Cinnamon, Butter

February 20

  • Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Bread – Loved by The Boss and other moms we know. A classic oatmeal bread sweetened with brown sugar. Great shelf life. Oatmeal’s not just for breakfast anymore. (Naturally Vegan)
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Oats, Brown Sugar, Yeast, Wheat Bran, Oil, Salt, Water
  • Spinach Parmesan Bread – Inspired by a loaf at our favorite cafe on the north shore of Lake Superior, this loaf combines a classic Italian bread with garlic, spinach, and a cap of melted parmesan. It’s one way to be sure your kids eat their greens.
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Water, Spinach, Milk, Olive Oil, Sugar, Roasted Garlic, Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Yeast

February 27

  • Pumpernickel Bread – Named for the coarse rye flour at its core, this Pumpernickel is perfect for a classic Reuben or with a bowl of soup on a chilly day.
    What’s Inside: Water, Bread Flour, Coarse Rye Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Oil, Molasses, Brown Sugar, Salt, Yeast, Cocoa Powder, Instant Coffee
  • Pretzel Rolls – Back in the lineup by popular demand, this bread combines a soft crumb with a dark, chewy crust. Each Bread Fan gets six Pretzel Rolls perfect for sandwiches. Limit 2 orders per customer please to spread the joy:)
    What’s Inside: Bread Flour, Water, Butter, Salt, Yeast, Malt Syrup

March 3

  • Vienna Bread – Bread Fans simply love this loaf (check out the ratings!). A rich, chewy loaf from the Old Country, complete with a sweet Dutch crumb topping. Perfect for soup night. You’ll be saying “Ja” all the way home.
    What’s Inside:  Bread Flour, Water, Eggs, Butter, Malt Syrup, Rice Flour, Sugar, Oil, Salt, Yeast
  • Leprechaun NoondayIrish Soda Bread – We rarely do non-yeasted breads. But when all of your Irish friends (and even Scottish friends) ask for it , you do it around St. Patrick’s Day to get everyone in the mood for the season. Try it plain or with raisins soaked in Bailey’s.
    What’s Inside: Flour, Buttermilk, Sugar, Butter, Salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda (Raisins and Bailey’s in Raisin variety of course:))

We hope you join us!