Like most of us, David Norman grew up consuming packaged white bread.
The top baker at Simple Tiger Bake Store & Beer Backyard is aware of extra about European breads than simply about anybody in Texas, or the U.S. for that matter, however as a child rising up in Minnesota and, later, Florida, he principally ate the squishy slices with the bleached crumb and suspiciously lengthy shelf life.
It wasn’t till he studied overseas in Sweden in highschool that he found crispbreads and rye breads and nation loaves and sourdoughs and cardamom rolls.
That was 33 years in the past, and it was the beginning of what has develop into a lifelong pursuit that Norman has chronicled in his debut cookbook, “Bread on the Desk: Recipes for Making and Having fun with Europe’s Most Beloved Breads” (Ten Pace Press, $35), which comes out this week.
Norman will shut out this weekend’s Texas E book Competition with a presentation at three:30 p.m. Sunday within the Central Market cooking tent, however his e book is a useful resource that baking college students and residential bakers will likely be finding out for years to come back.
Norman says it took greater than three years to put in writing this e book, however the analysis began greater than three many years in the past, when he acquired his first baking job at a small boulangerie in Gainsville, Fla., the place he went to highschool and faculty.
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He’d already fallen in love with consuming refined bread whereas residing in Europe, but it surely was at that small store that he began studying easy methods to bake it. That curiosity (and ability) led him to quite a few jobs at the most effective bakeshops and baking faculties in Minnesota, Seattle, New York Metropolis and San Francisco, the place he both labored as a baker or taught baking college students the fundamentals of French bread, which was the dominant fashion of bread that cooks and high-end restaurant shoppers needed.
He couldn’t shake the reminiscence of these Swedish and German breads, although. “French baking is a superb place to start out, but it surely’s not the one sort of baking that’s on the market,” he says.
In Scandinavia, households will serve a handful of various breads for every meal, every kind serving a objective. Some are delicate and darkish, others are spiced and crispy. Some breads are finest fitted to open-faced sandwiches, whereas others are made for sopping up soup.
“Every tradition has its personal bread tradition, which grew with the delicacies and made sense inside it,” he says. “There are 300 sorts of rye bread in Germany.”
Some breads transcend their originating cultures, whereas others keep fastened in place. “You don’t see French bakers baking German breads, as an example, however ciabatta is wildly widespread everywhere in the world.”
He continued to discover the world by its breads, visiting each bakery he may discover wherever he traveled, on the lookout for clues about why sure breads made sense inside that tradition.
“I used to be so considering bread and culinary pairings,” he says. “How the breads replicate the culinary traditions of every place, and even every household.”
In Mexico, as an example, you don’t see many sourdoughs, however in Guadalajara, he discovered a torta ahogada made with pork carnitas and a sourdough fortified with eggs and beer that’s then dunked in a tomato sauce. “(The addition of eggs) makes a hardier, sturdier bread for all that soaking, and it offsets the wealthy pork flavors,” he says. “It’s a selected cultural sandwich made for a selected dish.”
One other instance is a salt-free bread discovered solely in Tuscany. “There’s tales of why it began, however why does it persist? Why do they preserve this custom?” he says. It seems that Tuscan meals is usually saltier than different Italian meals, together with their ham, so the salt-free bread acts as a counterbalance to make the meals itself much less salty. “If you happen to eat the bread with the dishes, you perceive, however by itself, it doesn’t make sense.”
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Norman remembers doing a baking demonstration a number of years in the past the place he taught this salt-free bread, and afterward, a person who occurred to be a baker from Tuscany approached him. “My coronary heart went in my throat I used to be so frightened,” he says, “however he shook my hand and stated, ‘This jogs my memory a lot of house.’ That made me so completely satisfied.”
When he ultimately landed in Texas along with his spouse, fellow cookbook writer Paula Disbrowe, he continued baking as many sorts of bread as he may discover prospects to purchase it.
Eight years in the past, he helmed the ovens on the opening of Simple Tiger, a restaurant that doubled as a wholesale bakery. Norman employed bakers to work in a single day so they might present sufficient bread for the restaurant and for the wholesale shoppers that included Entire Meals, however the firm rapidly outgrew the Sixth Road location.
“The scope was at all times to do wholesale and produce artisan bread into the Austin market,” he says. “Three years in, we had a ready checklist.”
To accommodate that progress, Simple Tiger opened a second location final yr on the Linc in North Austin that features a massive manufacturing kitchen.
For the primary time in a few years, Norman says they’ve the capability to develop, however he’s additionally fast to level out that there are a number of different nice bakeries on the town, together with Swedish Hill, Bitter Duck and Abby Love’s still-under-construction bakeshop, Abby Jane.
“We have now elevated consciousness for artisan bread in Austin, however we may stand just a few extra actually good bakeries on this metropolis,” he says. “Portland has seven bakeries that I can consider. We don’t have that many.”
The low-carb craze nonetheless scares some folks away from bread. Norman says Individuals haven’t embraced the concept of shopping for or making bread day by day, which is what number of cultures incorporate bread into their every day meals life.
Simple Tiger had an outlet at Fareground meals corridor downtown, surrounded by condominium and workplace buildings, however “we didn’t change folks’s habits to cease by and purchase bread on the way in which house,” he says.
Norman is at all times bringing house baguettes loaves of bread, however his two younger kids haven’t beloved the extreme rye breads that Norman fell in love with as a teen. “They do love levain, which makes me completely satisfied.”
Norman says Central Texans are fortunate to have entry to high-quality flour from Barton Springs Mill, an area mill that makes a speciality of heritage and heirloom grains, however, alternatively, despite the fact that conventional grocery shops might need 10 sorts of gluten-free flour, a lot of them aren’t carrying primary rye flour anymore, even in his native Minnesota.
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Austinites embrace among the avant-garde loaves that Norman sells at Simple Tiger, however not all of them. Though Simple Tiger’s common German rye bread is pretty widespread, as an example, when he experiments with a 70% rye or a Danish pumpernickel, European expats will are available in, however individuals who have by no means had them usually assume they’re just a bit too unusual, he says.
“Semolina sells like loopy in New York,” he says, “and most of the people who attempt it assume it’s actually good,” however after the bread didn’t promote very effectively, he pulled it off the menu.
Pan au levain is one other bread he hopes prospects will hunt down extra. “It’s like sourdough 2.zero however with the entire spelt and rye in it,” he says. “It’s a terrific, totally flavored bread and it digests higher, so when you’re selecting sourdough for well being, why not add some entire grains in there?”
“Bread on the Desk” isn’t an encyclopedia of each bread Norman has ever beloved, but it surely’s deep dive concerning the ones he finds important to a handful of areas, together with Central Texas. Fantastically written with Norman’s dry humor and vivid particulars of meals he loved 25 years in the past, the e book is stuffed with tales you could take pleasure in studying, even when you by no means make any of the dishes, however severe bread bakers will relish the technical directions that take you from easy yeasted nation breads and flatbreads to sophisticated ryes.
Norman says his Instagram feed is stuffed with “crumb photographs” from these science-minded bakers, who can let you know the hydration share of each loaf they’ve ever baked, however that wasn’t his target market when he wrote the recipes.
“I hope that my e book can educate folks you could nonetheless make nice bread with out worrying about all that technical stuff,” he says.
Though lots of the recipes in Norman’s e book are exacting and particular, there are additionally simpler non-bread recipes, together with stews, gravlax and Simple Tiger’s well-known beer cheese, to go together with the pretzels and sourdoughs and boules.
On the Texas E book Competition on Sunday, Norman goes to show easy methods to make that ahogada sandwich. He gained’t have time to point out all of the steps in making the bread, however he’ll present a primary mixing method after which present easy methods to make the salsas and put collectively the sandwich.
If you happen to can’t catch him this weekend, Norman is keen to reply bread baking questions by Instagram, the place you could find him at instagram.com/doughpuncher, and he’s additionally instructing extra pretzel-making lessons than ever out of the brand new Simple Tiger on the Linc, which you’ll join at easytigerusa.com.
That’s additionally the place Norman is internet hosting a cookbook launch social gathering from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday that may characteristic dwell music, samples of breads featured within the e book and the choice to purchase flours from Barton Springs Mill.