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Behind-the-Scenes Bread Baking at Little Goat

By Sarah Freeman
March 25, 2014
Photo by: Nick Murway

500 buns, 100 pancakes, 90 bagels, 60 tortillas, 60 pieces of naan, 50 loaves of bread, 24 croissants and 20 baguettes. Greg Wade made all of that in one day for Little Goat and Girl & the Goat.

Wade is Stephanie Izard's bread baker. He started out running the bread program at Girl & the Goat, making bread for every section of the menu that's divided between meat, fish and vegetables. When the team opened Little Goat, he took over his own bakery there. His program produces a plethora of flavor-driven breads that are used at both restaurants, as well as for catering and at the French Market outpost. Goods range from squash rolls to the massive miche.

Guests can watch Wade and his team of six work through the window of Little Goat Bread, but we stepped behind the glass to get an up-close look at the master's process.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    It all starts with water. Regardless of how many different types of bread Wade makes, they all require similar ingredients, technique and a deep understanding of the science of bread making.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Meet the sourdough starter. Her name is Anne, and she was born when the restaurant opened. A large vat of Anne is kept on hand at all times, because she is not only used for bread but also for waffles and pancakes.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Anne is combined with cornmeal from Spence Farm, bread flour and barely malt powder. Wade uses an autolyse method for his bread, which allows enzymes in the flour to break down the starch and protein into sugar and finally gluten.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The ingredients are barely combined by hand. The autolyse method means less kneading is necessary because the additional enzymes during the long fermentation will do most of the work that kneading is meant to accomplish.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    It's flour time, and time to form the dough into even balls. It's cut and stretched into the perfect size to fit into Wade’s bread baskets. These ribbed baskets give the bread its distinct concentric circle pattern after it's baked.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The dough is then allowed an initial rise. It will be turned six times over four hours to ensure that it doesn’t settle and create dense spots. After the initial resting period it will be left to rise overnight.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The dough sleeps in the walk-in cooler on the second floor of Little Goat. Speed racks filled with trays of buns and banquettes sit next to shelves of bread baskets with rising dough.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    Wade scores the dough before it enters the oven. This creates an intentional weak spot on the surface of the bread so that it will only crack there rather than burst all over. It also acts as a bread makers’ signature.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The bread is baked for 45 minutes (the time and temperature vary according to the type of bread) in an oven that initially shocks the bread with steam. The steam allows the loaf to expand while also preventing the crust from developing to soon.

  • Photo by: Nick Murway

    The finished bread is dark and crusty on the outside. Wade prefers the old European-style bread that has a deep brown color, and is moist and fluffy on the inside. Whether you are making one loaf or one thousand, there are few things better than fresh bread.

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Places Mentioned

Girl & The Goat

American • West Loop

Food27 Decor24 Service25 Cost$58
 
 
 
Little Goat Diner

Diner • West Loop

Food25 Decor26 Service27 CostM
 
 
 
Little Goat

West Loop

Food22 Decor22 Service21 Cost$28
 
 
 
 
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