Hot from the Oven
Three local baker entrepreneurs offer great goods to go, and DIY instructions.
Bakers are among the busiest of entrepreneurs, but we found three local pros who took time away from their ovens to share a few words about what they’re making, as well as a tip or two for better home baking.
Wave Hill Breads is the product of a partnership between Margaret Sapir and Mitch Rapoport, after the pair trained in the technique of bread making with French master baker Gerard Rubaud. Launching their first product, the crusty and classic French Pain de Campagne, from their original location in Wilton in 2005, the bread’s reputation grew as Sapir and Rapoport sampled and hand-sold their loaves at specialty shops and farmers’ markets around the county.
Photograph: Pam Einarsen
Margaret Sapir with her signature breads at the Wave Hill Bakery Café.
Winning the praise of Roadfood.com mavens Jane and Michael Stern as “the best bread on the East Coast,” the line has since expanded, and Wave Hill opened its own bakery/café at its new location in Norwalk in January 2012.
The café serves breakfast and lunch; the midday menu always features soup and sandwiches. One of the café’s breakfast bestsellers is what Margaret calls “the ultimate egg sandwich,” made with a remarkable Wave Hill croissant, egg, good cheddar, roasted poblano peppers, and applewood-smoked bacon. It’s heavenly.
So many people have asked for the secret to the croissants that Wave Hill is now teaching customers to bake them themselves. The first class sold out in twenty-four hours; the next one sold out in a blink as well.
“Our second class of 15 students included a 14 yr old boy,” notes Margaret. “We will be scheduling a few classes a month, including seasonal pastries and soups. People who like us on Facebook or sign up for our mailing list will be the first to find out.” 30 High Street, Norwalk, 203-762-9595
John Barricelli earned his culinary chops at such distinguished locations as The Elms in Ridgefield and Martha Stewart’s company kitchens, and has built a thriving business with his fabulous bread and delectable pastry. With a bakery/café he started in a renovated industrial space in Norwalk, The SoNo Baking Company expanded to a second store in Westport a year ago, and a third location will be announced soon. The shops offer breakfast, brunch and lunch, with artisanal baked goods as the centerpiece, and specials that change daily. Right now, breakfast cookies are big. The shops have two types: trail mix, with cranberries, oats and chocolate chips; and quinoa, featuring almonds and cranberries.
John Barricelli, SoNo Baking Company in Norwalk.
John, who’s recently launched his second book, The Seasonal Baker, and is currently on the tri-state book-signing circuit, thinks great baked goods have a place in your home kitchen, too. Fire up the oven and follow his recipe for peach raspberry crisp [see below]. 101 Water Street, South Norwalk, 203.847.SONO
With so much freshly harvested fruit for pie fillings—apples, pears, pumpkin—this dessert is a natural for fall menus, and many Fairfield County foodies find their bliss at Michele’s Pies. Owner Michele Stuart, who with husband Kelly founded her business in 2007, runs two bakeries, in Westport and in Norwalk (close to the Wilton town line on Route 7), where customers can enjoy coffee with a slice, or another baked treat, and take home a whole pie for the family.
Michele’s Chocolate Cream Pie, which won national first-prize distinction this year.
Michele, a baker since childhood, also shares her passion with a recently published cookbook, Perfect Pies, and happily talks about her favorite subject on television and at author events. 180 Post Rd East, Westport 203-349-5312
For home bakers, her tips for good crust follow:
Michele Stuart’s Pie Crust Pointers
For the flakiest crust, use cold ingredients: cold shortening, ice cold water. I even put my marble rolling pin in the refrigerator before I roll the dough.
My favorite rolling surface is parchment paper taped to your counter top. It gives you a non-slip rolling surface and an easy cleanup.
Have patience! Do not get frustrated. Try, try, and try again. It’s not complicated but pie dough requires practice. Feel the love in the dough and you will be able to make the perfect crust!
John Barricelli’s Peach Raspberry Crisp
[ from The Seasonal Baker, courtesy of the author & Clarkson Potter Publishers]
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse slat
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
2 pounds fresh peaches, halved, pitted and sliced into 1/2 inch thick wedges
2 6-ounce baskets raspberries
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375oF. Set a 12 by 9-inch or 14 by 10-inch oval baking dish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone baking mat.
2.To make the topping: In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, quickly work it into the dry ingredients until pea-size crumbs form. Add the oats and toss gently. Set aside in the refrigerator.
3.In a medium bowl, toss together the peaches, raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Transfer to the gratin dish. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the top.
4.Bake, rotating the baking sheet about two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until the juices bubble up and the topping is golden brown and very crisp, 45 to 50 minutes.
Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.