Sunday will be all about Mother’s Day, but you’ll have to excuse La Farm Bakery’s Lionel Vatinet for feeling like a proud papa over the arrival of his much-anticipated baby: a $115,000 Miwe bread baking oven from Germany.
The old oven was bought cheap, taken apart in a Colorado bakery and reassembled in Cary, where it has been used to produce extraordinary boules and baguettes for the past 14 years. But Vatinet, author of A Passion for Bread
, felt the time was right to acquire what has been dubbed the Rolls Royce of commercial bread-baking ovens.
“We can afford it now and make a better life for the people who work for us and buy bread from us,” he says. “It was getting to the point that we were never entirely sure if the old oven would turn on or not.”
Vatinet says the new system offers the best technology—discrete settings improve outcomes and even shave minutes off the cooking times for various bread types, delivering a crisper crust and moister crumb. Additionally, there are six baking decks instead of four, allowing him to bake more loaves at a time.<
Increased capacity means that Vatinet can provide more bread to La Farm customers and those who buy his products at Triangle Whole Foods stores and farmers markets. Vatinet is seriously considering a second La Farm operation, but says he has no timetable or specific location in mind.
To remove the old oven and install the new one, La Farm stopped baking most breads for about a week. Miniature white chocolate baguettes, one of Vatinet’s signature treats, are being offered to loyal regulars who were inconvenienced.
“Customers have been so kind,” Vatinet says. “They were patient, and now they will be very happy with the look and flavor of the bread.”
La Farm will introduce an expanded brunch menu celebrating the new oven and Mother’s Day. Also, several bread- and pizza-making classes are scheduled in upcoming weeks, both at the Cary bakery and at Vatinet’s home, where he uses an outdoor wood-fired oven. For details about spring and summer events, visit the La Farm website at http://lafarmbakery.com/custom.aspx?id=2
Jill Warren Lucas is a freelance writer from Raleigh who blogs at Eating My Words. Follow her at @jwlucasnc