Monday, August 18, 2008
The very moment a member of the Metropolitan Bakery team called on me to come down the bakery for a visit, I did a happy little dance in my office at MPIP. Being a lover of all things baked, I couldn't believe I was going to get a personal tour of one of the best bakeries in the city.
The moment I stepped inside the bakery, James (pictured above) and the whole staff at Metro made me feel very welcome and not the least bit in the way, though I know I was. The entire facility smells glorious, like baking bread of course, which is one of the most comforting smells in my opinion, but also one that starts my tummy grumbling even if I'm not really hungry.
I took copious amounts of pictures, and would have loved to post them all, but feared this page would take a day and half to load, so I created a few mosaics, like the one above. If you're interested you can check out my entire set of photos from the Metropolitan Bakery here via Flickr.
Over thirty varieties of bread are made at the Metropolitan Bakery. Each and every one of them begins as a yeasty starter similar to the one pictured above. There are faster ways to make bread, but James and Wendy are devoted to the art of Old-World bread making, a process which is slow but extremely rewarding.
Dough is needed by hand and allowed to rise at a specific temperature depending upon the type or variety. The Metro facility, located in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, is chock full of bread in various stages of preparation. I was allowed to help with the production of their Metro baguette, and the Cracked Wheat. All of their breads are made with the finest and freshest ingredients and are handled by bakers who love what they're producing. This is a combination that leads to nothing but amazingly good bread.
It's a three day process from start to finish when it comes to the chocolate croissants. Dough is folded together with butter, rolled thinly, hand cut and then rolled up around a stick of high quality chocolate. The finished product is a melt in your mouth, flaky, buttery, slightly sweet way to start the day, and is available at each Metropolitan bakery location.
I was also lucky enough to get my hands in a dough I'm a bit more familiar with: cookie dough! A huge batch of chocolate chip cookie dough was whipped up while I was in house, so that meant I got to get my hands dirty helping to weight out three pound portions of dough, roll them into logs and wrap them up for storage. This dough is loaded with chunks of chocolate, nuts, and shavings of milk chocolate. If you're in the mood for something sweet and chocolaty, this cookie is sure to satisfy.
In addition the the artisan breads and sweet treats in production at Metropolitan Bakery, one of their latest and greatest additions to the line-up is a healthful and delicious granola. Made with oats, honey, maple syrup, canola oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, milk powder, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and spices, it's as close to homemade as you can get without actually having to make it yourself. You can pick up a bag or two of this granola at any of the retail locations, or you can opt for the bar version which is both crunchy and chewy.
I've completely fallen in love with this granola. As a baker, it's been easy to work this amazing mix of all natural ingredients into a few of my most trusted recipes and come up with new twists on old favorites. I'll be sharing a recipe or two with you soon that utilizes my favorite new granola.