I love coming into an interview on a clean slate, meeting a stranger you know one or two things about, and somehow ending up with a connection you never thought would develop. It’s a fun part of writing this column, and it’s exactly what happened when I met Kate Warner of the Vineyard Bread Project.
I attribute that connection to bread. As a graduate of culinary school, where I majored in baking and pastry arts, bread baking made me fall deeply in love with this career. There’s just something about it, the way it reacts to your hands and the environment around it, the way it breathes life, and how it spreads joy when you give someone a loaf of homemade bread, or invite them over for dinner and serve it. Bread has been a force that unites people since ancient times.
Kate Warner has embraced that in a local way. Her company, Vineyard Bread Project, hosts small bread-making classes in her home, and bakes loaves for her bread CSA. Customers order bread online (two-loaf minimum), and on Tuesdays and Fridays, it is picked up freshly baked.
Ms. Warner is an environmentalist by trade. A deep care for the earth led her to shift careers and dedicate her life to making bread.
Bread, in essence, is “slow food.” Not only because it takes a couple of hours to make, but as you are making it, bread forces you to slow down. And lots of Americans are shifting their lifestyle to focus on slowing down, minimizing, and simplifying. Ms. Warner hopes Vineyard Bread Project will help Islanders slow down through the art of baking bread.
Some of the tastiest breads require you to make a pre-ferment even before you measure your ingredients. Then concentration is key: A misstep while measuring the salt can kill your yeast, while undermeasuring the sugar won’t feed the yeast enough to create a gorgeous crumb structure. Working the dough until it’s perfect takes skill and experience. Shaping it, letting it rest, and baking it off — it’s all a process in mindfulness.
You can experience the joy of bread baking at these upcoming classes: Flatbreads (Jan. 15), Pre-Ferments (Jan. 29), and Introduction to Artisan Bread (Feb. 12). For tickets and more information, visit vineyardbreadproject.com. The best part is, you take home all the bread you make!