The magical metamorphosis of naturally leavened wheat bread keeps the sole owner of Fiddle & Stone Bread Company, Chris Foley, in a constant state of awe. “Baking is meditative. The world goes away when my hands are in the dough. It’s work that doesn’t feel like work.”
Foley doesn’t seem to mind the 48 straight hours of work it requires to produce enough bread for the market. “Baking is an all day affair,” Foley smiles like a big kid when he thinks of the endless hours spent perfecting the process, “if I’m not working bread, I’m planning my next move based on the oven temperature. I’m constantly ‘fiddling’ with something.” His “fiddling” consists of 10 hours over a wood-fired masonry oven.
His 30 year old sourdough culture requires daily care to ensure the 10 hours spent over the hearth are successful. At a minimum, he spends two whole days regulating the temperature of the brick oven so his dough has the perfect environment to transform.
Foley’s business profile on Facebook further demonstrates his dedication to the craft, as well as his aspirations of sharing the wonders of naturally leavened bread with his customers, “Every batch of dough, every loaf is different. Slight variations in temperature, or humidity can have drastic effects on fermentation, proofing, and final product. I prefer to bake in a wood-fired masonry oven because of the way it bakes, not out of simplicity or ease. All of my breads are long-fermented. All of them contain some percentage of locally grown and milled grain. It is my goal, daresay my mission, to bring quality, nutritive bread down from the unattainable shelf we’ve stowed it and into your hands, homes, and hearts.”
Although he has been baking bread for well over two decades, this is Foley’s first year at the Columbia Farmers Market. When speaking with him, you can truly tell he’s indebted to the art of making bread, but more importantly his passion for sharing his labor intensive process with his customers. Visit Foley's website at FIDDLEANDSTONE.COM to learn more.