Stick Boy Bread Company

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Stick Boy Bread • If you are looking for a real bakery, you are in the right place. Everything is made right there in their bakery using the best ingredients and methods. Stick Boy is a small, family-owned artisan bakery where high quality baked goods and great service come together to create a special experience.

Stick Boy offers everything from fresh baked breads, steaming cappuccinos, delicious cinnamon rolls, and decadent chocolate tortes. The best part is that everything is made right here in our bakery using the best ingredients and methods. Nothing that we serve is shipped in frozen from thousands of miles away like in most "supermarket" bakeries.   Nothing is taken out of a box, put in the oven for 10 minutes, and then labeled "fresh baked". This is the real thing. We promise – and we promise that you will be able to taste the difference.

The Artisan Difference

Compared to the bread you can buy in the grocery store, Stick Boy’s bread is remarkably different. In fact, our bread has more in common with the breads made in Europe for most of its history.

And as bakers we have more in common with those traditional bread artisans of the Old World, who used just their hands and a few basic tools to craft their breads from start to finish. Indeed, the life of a Stick Boy bread draws on this history. We would like to tell you a little bit about this process, then you can taste it and decide for yourself.

At Stick Boy Bread Company all of our yeast breads are made from scratch every day. Some places say that their products are baked fresh, but that doesn’t mean that they actually made them—they just put the frozen loaves in the oven. We actually start with flour, water, yeast, and salt – not complicated to understand, but you’d be surprised how rare the bakery is that operates like this. The difference, however, is not difficult to taste. The taste starts with the flour. We use only unbleached bread flour and whole wheat flour. Our flour is made especially for making artisan breads. It has a little less protein than other "bread flour" and has a little more of the bran left in it, which yield a bread with a beautiful creamy color rather than the bleached white look of many store breads.

Don’t tell anyone, but the secret to great bread flavor comes from the pre-ferments. A pre-ferment is a mixture of flour, water, and sometimes yeast that is mixed ahead of time, allowing complex flavors to develop. This pre-ferment is then added to the final dough, giving a finished product with much more flavor than one made without a pre-ferment.The two types of pre-ferments we use at Stick Boy are sourdough starter, and biga. The sourdough starter is maintained by daily "feeding" ("feeding" simply means replenishing the starter with some more flour so we don’t totally run out of our starter) after use, while the biga starter is mixed fresh every day and allowed to ferment for 16 hours before use. This long fermenting process breaks loose all the great, complex flavors from the flour, changing it from a tasteless powder to a fully flavorful dough that produces a seriously great loaf of bread. It’s a long process, but you just can’t get the same flavor without it.

After mixing and proofing, all of our breads are hand-cut and scaled, then individually hand shaped. That’s why none of them look exactly the same (would you really want them to?). The loaves rise on linen cloth until they are ready to go into our huge, three level stone deck oven. It’s big enough to bake 100 loaves in it at one time (let us know if you get that hungry)! Then our bread-head baker uses a special French razor blade called a lame to slash the crust of the breads and load them straight onto the stone decks of the oven with a huge blast of steam from our steam generator. It actually sounds like an airplane taking off as all the steam pours into the oven.

The result can be different, depending on the type of bread. Our pan breads tend to have a softer crust and a uniform crumb (that’s what the inside of the bread is called), while the free shaped breads (like baguettes and sourdough rounds) have a thicker and crispier crust and more holes in the crumb. That’s what most people usually call artisan bread, but frankly if it is made in the traditional way, baked in a stone oven with steam and in a pan, we think that still qualifies as artisan bread too. Of course none of our breads have any preservatives or additives (who needs that junk?).

If you are used to eating bland and soft Wonder Bread that magically stays fresh for weeks (you "wonder" what ingredients they use to do that), and you really like it, well, that’s great! But we think you’ll agree with us that you can taste the artisan difference. We have certainly noticed that when most people are exposed to what we call "real bread" they tend to like it a lot. Drop by Stick Boy anytime to conduct your own taste test.

Stick Boy
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The Mast Farm Inn, Historic North Carolina Country Inn & Restaurant, Valle Crucis, NC