Meet the Baker Behind the Loaves Podcast: Daniel Leader of Bread Alone

Welcome back bakers!

It’s been a while, almost nine months in fact, since I’ve conducted and posted an interview of a fellow baker. However, I’m proud to share that I’m back with an interview of the baker and author of my favorite bread book Living Bread aka Daniel Leader of New York’s Bread Alone bakery. Being that Living Bread inspired me to start this series, I made sure to gear a fair amount of my questions and comments towards what I learned and enjoyed most about the book (stories and recipes). Furthermore, I chose to expound upon lessons that I learned from the book and discuss topics often discussed within the sourdough baking community (see notes below). From growing and milling to baking; delving into Daniel’s 40 years of baking experience during this interview left me even more inspired to continue learning, sharing, and baking. I hope that you have a similar experience while listening to it. Happy Baking!

Episode Notes: The following topics were discussed during the course of this interview…

[0:00-1:15] Episode Intro: A passion for sourdough baking inspired by land stewardship and fellow bakers such as Living Bread’s author, Daniel Leader aka this episode’s featured baker.

[1:16-5:46] Daniel’s personal baking history aka “gaining a PhD in the back door school of baking.”

[5:47-6:25] The initial growth of Bread Alone bakery and building of its wood-fired ovens.

[6:26-8:48] The role of the oven in the modern commercial sourdough bakery: old world tradition vs. consistency and efficiency.

[8:49-11:49] Home and professional bakers milling their own flour: Does it make a significant difference in flavor? / How home milling fits into one’s regular consumption of whole foods.

[11:50-16:10] Two wheat farming related experiences that stand out to Daniel, one of which is written about in Living Bread and the other which will be written about in his upcoming book.

[16:11-17:04] Where Bread Alone currently sources its flour from.

[17:05-21:31] What makes a loaf of bread truly nutritious? / What is the impact of common commercial additives on on gluten sensitivity in the US?

[21:32-23:59] Having been exposed to so many types of bread during his travels, what does Daniel enjoy baking the most? / Are 100% whole grain breads an acquired taste?

[24:00-25:06] The translation of Living Bread into other languages, the awards and reviews it has received since its release, and what it has felt like to have his book be so revered and regularly utilized by so many bakers.

[25:07-26:02] What makes a bread baking book worth reading? / Stories, valuable information, and recipes vs. mainly recipes.

[26:03-27:05] A Slow Rise. The book that Daniel is currently working on. Bread Alone’s yesterday, today, and future. Plus bread and pastry recipes coupled with memorable bread related experiences from over the years i.e. “a greatest hits of his 40 years of baking.”

[27:06-29:20] Roller milling vs stone milling: Examining the benefits of both methods for optimal flour flavor, color, nutrition, and dough performance using Daniel’s experiences in the US and abroad as examples of quality not being compromised by scale.

[29:21-32:40] What should go into a home baker’s decision of what type of starter to maintain? / Tips for maintaining a healthy starter (temperature, using a hydration as tool, keeping it simple).

[32:41-33:29 Keeping it simple and baking the same recipe repeatedly in order to develop one’s personal baking process and ensure its reliability.

[33:30-35:20] Electric mixing vs hand mixing of dough. Daniel’s perspective changing as a result of following the growth of sourdough baking over the current pandemic.

[35:21-36:40] Maintaining a passion for all things bread baking and its impact on one’s quality of life.

[36:41-39:40] Daniel’s definitions of “living bread” and “living food” and how they’ve evolved over time. / The people behind the bread and the significance of bread in society throughout history.

[39:41-41:48] Who/what are Daniel’s sources of baking inspiration nowadays: People, places, and specific breads.

[41:49-46:54] The landscape of American sourdough baking vs that of countries such as France and Germany / Paths paved by bakers without any formal baking training.

[46:55-end] Episode conclusion / Parting remarks.

About Barry W

NJ (formerly NYC) based home brewer and fermented food enthusiast sharing his brewing, cooking, and baking adventures on thebrewedpalate.com.
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