A gorgeous, chewy, crunchy, aromatically-hypnotizing marvel, baking bread is magic and science all in one. Ever wondered what makes Bonterra’s bread so amazing? Pastry Chef Erin Vrba spills the details.
Developed uniquely for Bonterra, Erin’s recipe finds its magic through the combination of old world flavours and new world textures. This is achieved through a sourdough starter leavened with wild yeast – resulting in a bread with all of the fluff and tenderness of modern bread alongside the uniqueness of flavour found in sourdough.
“So what we are doing is adding a depth of flavour, while maintaining that fluffy, light texture that people love,” Erin explains.
Today, most breads are leavened by the use of commercial yeast, a practise that only started at the turn of the 19th century. Before that, breads were traditionally started with a sourdough base.
Like any living organism, sourdough needs exposure to air and a feeding schedule of water to thrive. Through the air and water around it, each batch takes on qualities of its surrounding environment. For us, this means that a batch of dough created at Bonterra will always taste just a little different than a batch of dough created at our sister restaurants, Cibo, Posto and Scopa — despite starting with the same ingredients.
“In artisan bread, the starter has a soul… It’s alive,” explains Erin. “If you don’t feed it enough it will starve and die, and if you feed it too much it will binge and get lazy.”
Mixed with fresh basil and topped with olive oil, Bonterra’s bread is baked fresh in the restaurant every morning and cut as needed throughout the day.
As the cornerstone of our bakery program, which includes hand-made pasta, pizza dough, crackers, breadsticks and desserts, each loaf of our house-made basil focaccia represents the evolution of many years of love and talent.
Because in the end, once science has done its part, the rest comes down to emotions.
“If you’re having a bad day, your bread is having a bad day,” laughs Erin.