Issue #3 – 1/15/17
Happy New Year Bellingham! During this time of transition, reflection, and resolutions, we thought we’d take a quick look back at 2017 and one forward to 2018.
Our highlights from 2017:
- Introducing the Avenue Craft line! As you read in our first edition of The Proof, we started working closely with local producers of flour and malt to add some loaves to our shelves that are crafted for customers most interested in whole foods, concerned about food miles, and focused on nutrition.
- December Donations! We were excited to be able to do December Donations this year; Avenue Bread donated $9,065 by giving 25% of its proceeds to four different local organizations in the county every Tuesday in December, from all four café locations. Through that endeavor, the company supported The Brigid Collins Family Support Center, Skookum Kids, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County, and DVSAS (Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services).
- All our new hires and partners! As it goes in business, we said goodbye to some great workers who we miss having on the team but we were also able to welcome some fabulous folks into our community, as employees, wholesale accounts, and productions partners. We couldn’t have done any of it without the folks that get up at 5:30am to open the stores, the bakers who stay up all night shaping loaves, or the hardworking farmers, growers, millers and other producers who make our work possible.
Avenue Bread and The Filling Station would like to thank Bellingham for everyone’s support this year in providing over $17,000 of donations to various local organizations through Project Kneaded Dough, Give Back Tuesdays, and last month’s December Donations.
Some things you can expect from us in 2018:
- More Avenue Craft! We are excited to keep dialing in our line of craft breads that feature flour from Skagit Valley’s Cairnspring Mills and malt from Skagit Valley Malting. For example, you’ll likely see the phasing out of our Rosemary Petite Baguette to make room for a new Avenue Craft full size ciabatta.
- More demos! You’re invited to join us and Bellingham Coffee Roasters at the Cordata Community Food Co-op on January 20th for a demo from 11-2pm!
- More Project Kneaded Dough! We will continue to donate 25 cents of each loaf purchased in our stores to local organizations. You can find the full list for 2018 right here.
As always, our New Year’s resolutions are to live up to our company’s values to
- use quality ingredients
- value each other and nourish the human connection
- have and inspire community pride
- have minimal impact on our environment by reducing, reusing and recycling
- ensure that both people and profits flourish
We’d be happy to hear from you! Which products do you miss? What’s your favorite? What should we try in 2018
Issue #2 – 12/12/17
The Proof: Holiday Breads
“Oh Buddy, it’s fruitcake weather!” -A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote
Truman Capote’s Aunt Shook in his A Christmas Memory short story declares the beginning of the holiday season with her looking-out-the-window exclamation. Right along with the carols you’re now hearing in the grocery store and the Christmas lights brightening your walk home, our shelves at Avenue Bread are now beginning to fill with the our holiday creations.
While waiting in line for a sandwich, you might notice bakery manager Craig’s bread reindeer’s perched on top of the pastry case, which is now filled with Eggnog scones and Snowflake cookies carefully decorated by Alyssa. The main event, however, are the Stollen and Panettone, robbed of their historic and European identities when your Aunt Sue started calling it “Fruit Cake.” Both are sweet doughs filled with rum-soaked fruit; while the Stollen is filled with a roll of marzipan, the Panettone is zesty and airy.
The Panettone, now a multibillion-dollar industry around the world, hails originally from Milan, Italy. Recognizable versions of the sweet, pull-apart sweet bread can be traced back to the middle ages, but the loaf with rum-soaked dried fruit, as we know it today, was popularized in the 20th century. The story goes that the aromatic Panettone (Pan de Toni) began with Toni the baker’s attempt to catch the attention of a woman who walked by his humble bakery daily.
The Stollen was originally a bland, butter-less and sugar-less (yikes!) bread of Advent among Catholic communities in Germany. Today, a sweeter version is celebrated at an annual festival in Dresden, which produces a giant version these days, and adaptations are popular. At Avenue Bread, we’ve adapted the Dutch Kerstsol version, known for its marzipan filling and cardamom-sugar topping. Between the layers of rum-soaked, dried-fruit-filled dough is a marzipan log, historically symbolizing baby Jesus swaddled in blankets…as you like. Either way, it’s delicious and meant to be shared — tradition says to buy two, one to keep and one to give away.
For the bakery, these seasonal breads mean the smell of booze-soaked fruit and sticky work benches. It means making room on the cooling racks so that, per tradition and necessity, the Panettone can cool whilst hanging upside down, to preserve its shape and airy inside. It means hoping one, just one, might not make it into the delivery van for whatever reason so that we can enjoy one in the break room. In all honestly, it means more effort, but it’s a fun and exciting part of the year that bakers across the world are all working on this month.
Thanks to the boozy fruit, these breads have a tremendously long shelf or counter life and make a great gift for your next holiday party — especially the one you’re not so sure you’d really like to go to, because at least now you have something delicious to go with your wine.
Many people take these home to recreate them into a special holiday morning French toast or bread pudding, perfecting the homemade feeling of the season’s best treats. This is not your grandma’s or Aunt Shook’s fruit cake. It’s a special, flavorful and aromatic bread, available just a few times a year, that we’re psyched to offer at our four deli locations through Christmas.
Issue #1 – 10/16/17
Welcome to fall y’all!
Hi everyone. As we transition into the fall season, we wanted to take a quick minute to share what’s new around Avenue Bread and let you know about the proof we’re putting into the pudding…or pumpkin breads, or new Avenue Craft loaves.
Fall has meant an unfortunate — but temporary! — closing of our James Street location due to a much-needed update to our plumbing system. This briefly sent lots of bread to our Downtown location and an ice machine to the bakery. (Did you know we put ice in the doughs sometime to slow down their proofing on hot, busy days?) The season also brought us some of our favorite customers–students! Who enjoyed 15% off during their first couple days of school, thanks to the Downtown Bellingham Partnership’s Paint Bellingham Blue event. And in the pastry department, it led us to our fall classics like pumpkin bread and cookies.
After a summer of refining our recipes for our small but growing Avenue Craft line, which works with Cairnspring Mills out of Skagit Valley, we now have two breads on a biweekly bake schedule and for sale in our local-favorite Community Food Co-Op. These breads are different in that they start as a grain grown right down the road in Skagit Valley and are milled by folks we know. As traceability and sustainability grow into values instead of simply buzzwords, we are proud to jump on this train of locally-milled grain. As Cairnspring puts it, their participation in this movement is founded on a flour that is more flavorful and nutritious than commodity flour and a commitment to contributing to the revitalization of our farm industry while supporting conservation of the farmland and natural resources where our grains are grown. We are thrilled to work with them, along with the Fairhaven Flour Mill, Skagit Valley Malting, and Camas Country out of Oregon. Camas Country was the first mills of its kind to be rebuilt in over 80 years and started providing grain for the regional market in 2011.
For us, we love the taste, that it keeps us feeling full and healthy throughout our hardworking days, and being able to truly see and experience our whole food system from start to finish. Plus, we are so thankful for the flour’s freshness because it means an astonishingly long shelf life…honest!
Excitingly, we even got some of this healthy, hearty, locally grown wheat into the Whatcom County School District; we baked 3,000 rolls for WSDA’s Taste Washington Day that went straight into the bellies of the many school kids growing strong and smart in our schools.
We also welcomed Trove Coffee into the neighborhood, where you can pick up an Eggenue and to-go snacks, right next to their original Trove Cannabis location on Samish.
As we head into the holidays, we are grateful for our customers, an up-and-running James St, and all our staff who continues to make each of our locations — including the Sunnyland district’s bakery — a fun place to work. We’ll soon be getting to work on stuffing, made of our day-old French bread, rolls for all those many late-fall get-togethers, and then some fun, sweet — and often boozy stuff! — for the holiday season.
Come visit, get away from the rain, and follow us on our social media to get the inside scoop on all this proofing going on.