n recent years, there has been a strong shift to artisan bread breaking, and the reintroduction of ancient grains has made people fall in love again with the art of baking [bread] all over again.
One of those people is Vancouver-based Tanya Belanger, founder of A Bread Affair, British Columbia’s first Certified Organic bakery. After leaving her job in the tech world to pursue her undying love for bread, she found herself travelling North America, meeting top-tier artisan bakers along the way. One of those bakers, Keith Giusto (a fourth generation baker) at a small Californian bakery, took her under his wing and eventually she brought her fond love of bread and newly honed skills back to Vancouver.
Like many artisan bakeries, A Bread Affair’s bread program relies on a foolproof sourdough starter. Belanger’s starter began with skins from vines in Napa Valley that date all the way back in 1986.
A well-aged starter helps sourdough develop its distinct sour flavour and the airy, bouncy crumb bread lover’s crave, but great bread needs more than just a tried and true starter, it needs quality grains.
A Bread Affair sources grains that are non GMO, chemical and pesticide-free. Their wheat is grown on Certified Organic farms just outside of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley, and they work with local wheat farmers to ensure equal trade and fair compensation based on the grains they wish to bake with. The bakery also offers a specialty loaf made with Marquis Wheat, a far too often overlooked wheat strain that was brought back to life by Belanger and Jim Greibsner-Otto, a farmer from Agassiz, B.C. The flour produced from the Marquis crop is limited, making this loaf exclusive to the Granville Island location.
In addition to artisan loaves, A Bread Affair produces an extensive selection of pastries and savoury food items. Local and seasonal ingredients are used whenever possible.
Local goods are the backbone of the bakery, helping drive their commitment to sustainability.
By supporting local farmers in B.C., they are assisting in creating more sustainable farming practices. A Bread Affair also gives back by partnering with non-profit organizations to donate as much product as they can, reducing waste and promoting food security in their community.
They also put energy into sustainable practices, such as reusing old bread for bread crumbs and animal feed, and having compostable and recyclable packaging.
What started as a whirlwind romance with bread has turned the once small Vancouver bakery into a powerhouse, and you can rest assured they’re spreading the love far and wide. A Bread Affair is available in various grocery locations in B.C., as well as farmers’ markets around the province regularly.