Baking in San Sebastián : The Loaf

This is how it all began, in a container. The brainchild of three guys in San Sebastián, brought to life by their friend the Spanish architect and their acquaintance the English baker...The Loaf. 

I've been waiting for the perfect moment to talk about my work at The Loaf, where I have been baking everything but bread since this pop-up bakery transformed into a bricks-and-mortar store last July. Turns out the perfect moment must be now, since after nearly a year of baking, I'm moving on to other endeavors here in San Sebastián (more on that later).

So, now becomes the perfect moment.  I could go on and on about the techniques and ingredients and behind-the-scenes at the bakery, like a good blogger. But honestly that makes me feel lazy. I suppose I am just too close up, to deep in, to really step back and do it from a hipster foodie POV.

This is where I stood, every day for many hours, cutting butter into flour, whipping cream, melting chocolate, and doing all the other things that bakers do.  The major risk that Andoni, Nacho and Xabier took (along with the architect, Javi) was placing the obrador at street level, making a strong statement that baking takes precedence over the client. What that meant for me was beautiful views while I mixed my sweets. And being the star of curious onlookers' Instagram accounts.

One thing I can say is the real star at The Loaf would have to be the bread.

I can declare without bias that it is the best bread in the whole city. Made like bread should be made, all natural and from sourdough starter.  With a lovely crust, dense crumb and a tangy flavor.

But my domain was the sweet stuff.  I mixed a lineup of perennial favorites (carrot cake, banana bread, scones, muffins, brownies) with ever-changing special items.  Show-stopping layer cakes (my favorite was a brown-butter buttermilk cake with brown-butter honey frosting), tarts made with whole grains and various fruit-nut combinations, and seasonal desserts (like that time I got a tiny bit strawberry crazy).

One of my favorite items to perfect was, of course, The Cookie.  Chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar, oatmeal raising, double chocolate, molasses spice and corn-blueberry were some of the perfect cookies I served up to the hungry customers. UGH, I LOVE COOKIES.

Sometimes I got a little fancier, like eclairs filled with pistachio pastry cream, which I made by soaking and blending up my own pistachio milk. Followed by about a million more steps.

And, you heard it here first...I invented the croissookie, a croissant stuffed with cookie dough.

The bakers, along with all the cooks and staff in the bistro and the store, make The Loaf what it is. Without them, this extremely exciting, extremely difficult, and totally worth it journey wouldn't have been possible.

Special thanks to La Salsera and everything they have done for me.