You’re missing out if you haven’t had their sour dough bread or my favourite, their wood fired granola! I find Jess and Graham inspiring, down to earth, passionate artisans who work hard for the simple joys of food and life!! Here you can read a little about them and their beautiful business. If you’re not following them, well you just should!! Here are a few of their links to keep you in the loop! FaceBook Instagram Twitter
“SIMPLER TIMES, NATURAL INGREDIENTS + A LOT OF HARD WORK”
Occupation: Many different roles; business owners, bakers, accountants, bosses, wood choppers, cleaners and sometimes artists (Owner’s and Baker’s of Hard Winter Bread Co.)
Where: Just outside of Lakefield, ON
Bio: Hard Winter Bread Co. is a wood fired sourdough bakery located in Lakefield Ontario. We sell our wholesome bread and pastries at two local farmers markets as well as at restaurants and specialty food shops. We are family run and pride ourselves on using great quality ingredients and producing food the way it is meant to be, simple and healthy.
1. You sell your products mostly at Farm Markets, why is that? We love many things about farmers markets including the social/community feeling of them. Farmers markets overwhelmingly support local producers and growers, which we think is very important. We also really like the immediacy of them, meaning that we can sell all of our baked goods in a short period of time. Our customers buy fresh products directly from us. This way we know they are getting our absolute best.
3. Most Markets run during the summer. Do you find it hard in the winter to keep the business going? We don’t find it hard in the winter to keep things going, things slow down for sure, however we enjoy the more relaxed pace of the couple of months following Christmas. We are so lucky to be a part of the Peterborough year round farmers market, which has an amazing attendance even in the winter months. No doubt, we work much harder and longer hours during the six warmer months of the year and we often say “make hay while the sun shines”, meaning we gratefully take advantage of summer farmers markets. Additionally, during the winter we try to pursue other interests as well like art making and spending time together as a family.
4. Where did the name Hard Winter Bread come from? Graham came up with the name one day when we were on a walk dreaming of our future company. Hard winter is a type of wheat as well as a small homage to many winters we spent living in north west British Columbia.
5. Jess, you’re an artist as well, do you find the two worlds of baking and painting similar? We are actually both artists, we met at university fourteen years ago while completing a bachelor of fine arts. Food and art are very similar and we think that often creative people are also food lovers. In the end I think it comes down to process, loving the process of making something wonderful whether it is food or art (click here to see Jess and Graham’s art).
6. What’s a typical day in the life of Graham and Jess? There really is no typical day. Our week has a flow though- from food shopping to preparing long shelf life products. We check the weather a lot for farmers market days but also because the temperature and humidity play an important role in naturally leavened bread. The oven is fired two to three times a week depending on the season. Jess spends most of her days with our new son Remy. Jess still works a lot for the business but works around Remy’s schedule. We are always busy, I think that when you own your own business there is always something to be done!
7. You have an amazing outdoor brick oven that you built yourself, can you tell us a little about it and how it works? It was a huge project. It works by loading it full of wood and lighting a fire directly on the hearth the night before we want to bake bread in it. It heats up to one thousand degrees and warms up the many layers of the oven, including the brick on the hearth. We start baking more heat tolerant breads like focaccia in it around 700 degrees. It slowly cools down over a bake cycle and we use all the heat we can from it. A few days after a firing the oven is still 350 degrees and we bake our popular wood fired granola in it.
9. What’s the hardest part of your job? The long hours. All of our food is made by us and is one hundred percent from scratch. There is a lot of preparation that goes into making so many different kinds of products, we often underestimate how long it takes to make so much from scratch- so much of the time we work seven days a week. That’s why January- March are such welcomed months as we work a five day work week (or at least try to!)
10. Where do you get your recipes from? A lot of them are developed by us, certainly modified a lot by us to fit our quantities and unique wood fired bake oven. When we first started baking we used a lot of tartine recipes.
11. What tool or piece of equipment could you not live without? Our Hobart mixer and of course our wood fired oven. Those two things are very important to our operation. Also, we can’t forget our sourdough starter “luceille”, which is really the backbone of our business.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1½ cups warm water
- 2 packages of active dry yeast (16 grams)
- ¼ cup sugar (divided)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- egg wash
- seeds for topping (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, add warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon on the sugar. Let rest until the mixture starts to foam and creates small bubbles, about 5 minutes
- Add the rest of the sugar, flour and salt and blend with a wooden spoon. Turn out mixture to a work surface and kneed until blended and glutens have developed, about 5-7 minutes.
- Grease a large bowl, place the dough in the middle, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for up to an hour (depending on ambient temperature) until dough has approximately doubled in size.
- Meanwhile prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside (you may need two baking sheets)
- Preheat your oven to 450˚F, with the rack placed in the middle of the oven
- When dough has doubled in size, bring a large pot of water to a boil
- On a lightly floured surface, press down the dough, and divide the dough into 10-12 pieces, shape dough into round discs. Take a wooden spoon and use the handle to poke a hole in the centre of the dough. Slip the dough half way down the wooden handle and then spin it around to create a large opening (you can do this with your fingers/hand as well). Repeat with the other pieces, meanwhile keep your dough covered with plastic wrap so they don't dry up.
- Place up to two bagels in the boiling pot of water and boil for 1 minute on each side. Using a slotted spoon remove bagels onto your prepared baking sheet, brush with egg wash and sprinkle desired seeds on top. Cover with plastic and continue until all the bagels have been boiled.
- Bake for approximately 18 - 20 minutes turning the pan half way through baking.