Other people's kitchens: Bread and Butter Farm
“Adam might be the fastest bread baker I’ve ever seen.” I am sitting on my kitchen counter, mashing butter into a hunk of rye bread.
My housemate B. nodded. “I think he bakes like a farmer”.
In a bright, airy kitchen that looks out on undulating pastures, Adam bakes German-style breads in a massive wood-fired oven. He moves quickly and smoothly, sliding loaves in and out of the 600 degree heat. I took 400 photos during two hours in the kitchen at Bread and Butter Farm, and Adam often appears as a streak, a blur in a blue shirt and red hat, swerving past loaves in crisp focus.
I chewed on the bread, thinking of the afternoon when I watched B., a farmer herself, plant our entire garden in 45 minutes of frenzied activity. She knows from farming. “That must be it,” I agreed. “Adam bakes like a farmer”.
And Bread and Butter Farm is aptly named. The farm store is lined with loaves of fresh bread, leaking steam, speckled with flour and seeds. A cooler is stocked with jars of raw milk from the herd of jersey cows grazing in the fields below, whose milk is a rich yellow topped with a generous line of cream. All of this- the farm, the bread, the milk- have a solid, sustaining quality to them. There is also a clean, simple aesthetic woven through the entirety of the beautiful working landscape that Adam, with partner Erik and co-farmers Corie and Chris, have created.
When I arrived at the farm on a chilly spring morning, Adam and Erik were shaping dough at an expansive table. The oven was a blistering 639 degrees when Adam swept the remaining embers with a long-handled mop. The fire had been burning since the day before, with 12 hours for the oven to “mellow”, for the heat to sink into the walls and distribute evenly to the farthest corners.
After the first loaves had finished their long proof, Adam slides them into the deep oven using a home made belt loader- a beautifully simple mechanical system for evenly and gently placing loaves in the oven. He lays the dough out on a kind of cloth conveyor belt, then draws it back, dotting the oven floor with floury rounds. Once the cycle begins, bread comes in and out every 6 minutes, and Adam lines the cooling racks with blistering hot loaves. Erik works in tandem, using a huge brush to sweep flour from the steaming rounds.
The timer counts down a final batch, and Adam dons a sturdy jacket, warm hat and rubber boots. If he bakes like a farmer, it’s for a good reason. Once the farm store shelves are lined with loaves, he heads to the milking barn, where huge-eyed dairy cows stand patiently under handpainted name tags. They have gently curved horns and glossy coats. As they emerge from the barn one by one, they turn curious looks in my direction, then trot ahead.
With coats in the same golden and nut brown hues of baking bread, the jersey cows file across the pasture. Adam, a baker and farmer, moves behind them, walking fast.
In addition to their amazing bread, milk, veggies, and meat, Bread and Butter Farm has a burger night with delicious food and music. Starting in May, they will add a Monday burger night- good news for Saturday morning bakers like me!