Artisan Bread

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I never thought I would consider a loaf of bread to be dinner, but in late winter when the cold is still stubbornly refusing to relinquish its grip, that’s exactly what has happened. It’s a modern peasant move and one of my new favorite things to do is slice into a fresh-baked, crisp loaf of Vermont bread. It’s gotten to a point where my boyfriend will call roadside markets ahead of time so they can put fresh loaves aside for us. He grabs them on his way home from work. They sell out quickly and for good reason: it’s simply the best bread, ever.

There are two companies that bake incredible breads near us – Bread from the Earth in West Townsend and Earth Sky Time in Manchester. These breads cost almost eight dollars a loaf and worth every penny. You are paying for purity, quality, and craft. There is nothing artificial or questionable in them. They’re hearty, whole, made with care, and beautifully executed. Bread from the Earth breads are rustic and densely robust. They’re made with organic ingredients, naturally leavened, and wood-fired. They make an incredible sprouted multigrain sourdough covered with toasted oats and millet that is just perfect with a good olive oil or some local wildflower honey. Sometimes we make fresh herb chimichurri and eat it with the bread.

Earth Sky Time, in our experience, has more of an airy crumb and chewy texture, with a crisp, well-done crust. Also wood-fired and organic, they make a wonderful white Pugliese, whose tender and toothsome slices are amazing with smoked butter. This picturesque loaf often has a “dinosaur fin” running down it. If you can resist the urge to eat the whole loaf, you can use the slices for paninis or avocado toast.

We love that sprouted, whole grain varieties are offered by our favorite bakeries, because that means bread can be healthy again.It’s bread as bread should be made, how it used to  be made until being edged out by mass-produced, nutritionally-dismal product. The use of local grain and yeast is very cool, too – literally a taste of the area. The only problem is, now we’re spoiled and we will never find grocery store bread that holds a candle to these When you have the option to buy a real, local, whole food like these traditional breads, it’s a perfect excuse to eat a whole loaf, guilt-free. At least, that’s how we roll (pun intended).

Vermont bread is also the perfect accompaniment to Vermont beer, and our area is home to some of the best craft brews in the world. If you’re looking for a quick, satisfying dinner for two, you can’t go wrong with a fresh local loaf and a four-pack of great regional beer. My favorite pairing so far uses Earth Sky Time Rustic Rye, local wildflower honey, and the famous Heady Topper IPA. The hearty flavor of the bread, the floral notes of the honey, and the bitterness of the beer play perfectly together. It’s a combination that will get you through the winter by leaving a little taste of summer on your tongue.

There are few things as heart-warming, homey, and wholesome as good bread, and we’re so fortunate to have our local bakeries to fill our bellies through our first Vermont winter.

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