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Food Find: Artisanal Bread Handcrafted and Made-To-Order

Posted By Karen Young On April 28, 2013 @ 10:02 pm In Eat,Featured,Features,Food,Lifestyle,Markets,My Daily Find,Other,Profiles,Shopping | No Comments

judyBY JUDITH A. PROFFER

Patrick Renfro at work at home — thanks to the Cottage Law. Photos: Chloe Moore Photography

Patrick Renfro at work in his  home — thanks to the Cottage Law. Photos: Chloe Moore Photography

You’re strolling on the tree-lined street of one of your favorite Sherman Oaks neighborhoods when the yeasty, hearty, warm and swoon-worthy aroma of freshly baked bread stops you in your tracks.  Your head snaps to the right seeking the source of the heady bready scent. Condos.  Lots of condos. And not a bakery in sight. To the left? Apartments, homes and still no bakery.  What is this great bread mystery? And how can you claim a slice or hunk of your own?

Thanks to State Assemblyman Mike Gatto and his “cottage food operations” bill that was signed into law by Governor Brown late last year, video editor and bread aficionado Patrick Renfro can now turn passion into profit with a directive that allows bakers and homemade jam makers to purvey their goods with less stringent guidelines, structures and costs. The Sherman Oaks newlywed was one of the first hobby bakers in the valley to jump on the baked goods bandwagon, and with the blessing of the State of California sets up small shop this week – at home – with his PR Bread.

Kneading the dough.

Each loaf is made in the early morning.

“Hearing the stories of people like Patrick Renfro and his artisanal bread reaffirm my belief that locally owned small businesses are the backbone of California’s economy,” Assemblyman Gatto told My Daily Find. “The California Homemade Food Act was inspired by an artisanal baker, and I am happy that it has made such a positive impact on so many entrepreneurs in California.  Government should not be an obstacle for entrepreneurs, but rather should help facilitate their pursuit of owning a successful small business.  That is what the American dream is all about.”

The San Francisco trained and Paris inspired North Carolina native was first attracted to all things bread when he read how difficult it was to make what he calls  a “decent loaf of bread.”  A bread lover, Renfro says he was “up for the challenge and immediately hooked. My very first loaf was ciabatta. Ugly, horrifically shaped, burned, but it was love at first taste. I knew there was more to this seemingly simple food and I wanted to know all about it.”

Signature bread — SFV Sourdough

PR Bread’s ‘signature’ loaf— SFV Sourdough

Forgoing traditional yeast packets for harvested starters, PR Bread delivers a fragrant loaf with a rustic crust and a perfect bite that’s moist and airy.  His signature loaf is SFV Sourdough, made with organic wheat flour, water and salt.

“I call it SFV because the San Fernando Valley is home, it’s where everything started,” says Renfro.  “It took countless loaves and many variations to arrive at the current formula. Sometimes I’ll even throw in crazy things like guava and lavender when testing, just to see what happens. And what happens is usually pretty wonderful.”

Experimentation also led to his perfect variation on Focaccia, dancing with rosemary and olive oil and dusted with the perfect amount of sea salt.  He rounds out his initial offering with baguettes, perfectly sized for sandwiches or to accompany salads or a bowl of steamy cioppino.

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Handcrafted and made-to-order.

Each loaf is handcrafted by Renfro in the wee hours of the morning, made fresh to order before he turns his attention to his full-time editing job.  He finds the work complimentary. “With bread baking you cannot rush the process, which goes for editing as well. You must have patience.”

Mild-mannered yet deeply passionate about his artisanal craft, Renfro hopes to shift  thinking on the bum rap assigned to bread as a diet breaker and bloat maker.  “In a carb-conscious city like Los Angeles, it surprises me that people have a tough time saying no to my bread,” he says. “I feel the tide is changing. I believe most view breads as vehicles, something you serve with food, not necessarily standing on its own. I aim to change that and reintroduce bread as a staple of our meals, since it is one of the foods that’s helped sustain humans for thousands of years.”

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Order for yourself— or gift others.

For more information and to place orders, visit prbread.com or contact Patrick: patrick@prbread.com.  Orders must be received 72 hours in advance; $7 per loaf.

Judith A. Proffer is Vice-Chair of entertainment/media company Meteor 17. She is co-author of “The Oprah Effect” and founder of Huqua Press, a boutique publishing company.

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