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adoxograph

The Bread of the Future!

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Thank you, indeed, for this Q&A - if it weren't for American Pie, I wouldn't have convinced my Illinois-native sweetheart that there is life after Deep Dish, although I nearly caught a plane back to CT for New Haven pizza.... but here's my question.

We, as a species, have gone from unleavened, to leavened, to sliced, with a recent dip into low-carb, yet it is all still variations on flour, salt and water. If you had to imagine what will happen to bread in the next hundred years, where do you think our bread is headed next?

And, as an offshoot of that, where is your bread headed next? Now that you've explored crust, crumb and toppings, are you ready for something different or is the mystique still alive?

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Thank you, indeed, for this Q&A - if it weren't for American Pie, I wouldn't have convinced my Illinois-native sweetheart that there is life after Deep Dish, although I nearly caught a plane back to CT for New Haven pizza.... but here's my question.

We, as a species, have gone from unleavened, to leavened, to sliced, with a recent dip into low-carb, yet it is all still variations on flour, salt and water.  If you had to imagine what will happen to bread in the next hundred years, where do you think our bread is headed next? 

And, as an offshoot of that, where is your bread headed next?  Now that you've explored crust, crumb and toppings, are you ready for something different or is the mystique still alive?

Hi Adoxograph,

New Haven is, in my opinion (which I share with you and with so many other pizza freaks), the true epicenter of pizza in America (though Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is my favorite pizzeria in the world--and there are more artisan pizzerias of this caliber coming our way in a number of cities).

As for the future, well you can see from my opening letter that I'm doing a lot of barbecue exploration right now, having recently moved to North Carolina, where such things are taken quite seriously (plus, I've always had deep love for both barbecue and chili--how could anyone not?).

In terms of bread, I definitely am in favor of the emerging trend towards whole grain. As bakers apply slow fermentation methodology to this category (which has always been the case in Europe--we're just getting skin in the game recently), these breads will rightly regain prominence in our diets.

Futuristically, there will always be a battle or tension between technology that replicates natural processes vs. natural processes themselves. Inthis heavily populated and starving world there is probably a need and a place for both. That said, I think even a hundred years from now there will still be craft bakers putting out superior products and finding a niche market for themselves. But it will be tough and it will always be a challenge for craftspersons to stay relevent in a technological and digital world. Fortunately, and I'm more optimistic than some on this, I believe the human soul will always have a hunger for true craft and will honor both our inner need and those who fill it by supporting it when possible. I hope I'm right; the alternative seems quite unappetizing. This is why, by the way, the mystique really doesn't ever get old for me--it just gets deeper and riper.

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Thank you for your answer - and if I can sneak in a follow up....

Do you think that the niche market for the Bread of the Future will be a bakery? Or do you think that bread makers may need to find another way to market their product in the face of pre-baked mass production super giant Sam's Club not-croissants? I'm trying to look past the current low-carb market and its effects on small bakeries, but I think that even when, thanks to history, this trend reverses itself, the days of the small bakery may be numbered.

Do we need to start selling specialty bread like Avon products?

Thank you again!

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Thank you for your answer - and if I can sneak in a follow up....

Do you think that the niche market for the Bread of the Future will be a bakery?  Or do you think that bread makers may need to find another way to market their product in the face of pre-baked mass production super giant Sam's Club not-croissants?  I'm trying to look past the current low-carb market and its effects on small bakeries, but I think that even when, thanks to history, this trend reverses itself, the days of the small bakery may be numbered.

Do we need to start selling specialty bread like Avon products?

Thank you again!

Great question and I can't say for sure. I like the notion of the door to door artisan baker, kind of like the ice cream truck (should they have some kind of bells or chimes?). I think it will take out-of-the-box thinking like that to survive in the future, but I also think there will always be a place for a beautiful, cafe-like venue where people can congregate around great baked items and warm beverages. The Pearl Bakery in Portland, Oregon is a good example of such a place, simple yet elegant. In NYC there are more upscale places like Payard, and they can work in teeming metropolises, but in mainstream America we need gathering places appropriate to the various communities. The marketplace is one of the most creative environments ever conceived so whatever does break from the pack to set new benchmarks is probably still just a speck in someone's imagination (if that person is even born yet). In the immediate future, look at the new artisan pizzerias as the harbinger of how it can happen in nearly any food genre.

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The economics mean it is very hard for a small artisan bakery to survive, unless it is part of something else, such as a restaurant or wine bar. A good model might be St John's Bread and Wine. Still tough however.

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