North Carolina should change its nickname from the “Tar Heel” state to the “Artisan” state. And Asheville, NC might rightfully lay claim to the Artisan Bread Capital of the World. Nowhere else will you find such a assemblage of talented bakers and quality hand crafted breads.

AABF_LogoOnce a year, most of these bread artists gather at the Asheville Bread Festival to showcase their goods. The event is busy and there’s a lot to take it, yet it’s still intimate enough to enjoy interacting and chatting with the bakers. This years festival also attracted some of the most respected big name bakers in the US — Craig Ponsford, Peter Reinhart, and Lionel Vatinet. Several workshops and lectures could be attended for $10 each, representing one the greatest bargains in the history of the world (don’t tell the event organizers).

I attended both of Craig Ponsfords excellent classes. I’m a big fan of Craig and love what he’s doing with with whole grain flours. Assisting Craig was fellow bread savant Mike Zakowski (check out this cool video). Meanwhile, Denyce enjoyed Peter Reinharts class on gluten free baking.

Asheville is a great town in its own right, so plan to go next March and spend a day in artisan bread heaven. For us, it was an absolutely wonderful day.


Breadtopia Visits the Asheville Bread Festival

Earlier Comments

20 thoughts on “Breadtopia Visits the Asheville Bread Festival

  1. Mario

    Hi Eric,

    Don’t know if this is a dumb question but, is it possible to freeze dough for baking at a later time?

    • Hi Mario,

      Not a dumb question at all. Whenever I make pizza dough, I make extra and freeze a few balls of dough. I mix up the dough and let it proof for an hour, then divide it into about 10oz balls and wrap well in individual plastic bags. When I want pizza, I just have to let them thaw and proof for a few (to several) hours and they’re ready to bake. They’re probably good in the freezer for at least a couple months. I suppose you could do the same with bread dough. I think most people bake bread and then freeze the finished loaf to thaw and reheat later. While freezing dough works fine for pizza, I’m kinda thinking you might not get great oven spring out of frozen bread dough. Others no doubt have more insight and/or personal experience with this than I do.

      • David

        I also freeze pizza dough, and find it just about as good as the first batch. I have frozen uncooked rolls before and got zero oven spring out of them, though they still tasted good, they were a tad “dumpy”……..better to cook and then freeze….

  2. woody osborne

    i love homemade bread! been making it for about 14 years. i have used a simple white loaf recipe for my 3 sandwiches i usually eat out on the road(truck driving cuisine! lol.). i have loved the recipe’s results for years and family still does BUT i have just simply gotten so used to the taste i do not enjoy it any more. french toast rules though!
    looks like artisan recipes may be in my future. i doubt i have bought 200 loaves of store bought bread in the 13 years i’ve been in hickory. don’t miss storebought breads at all except for some rye and pumpernickel breads.

    • Yea, could start a whole new tradition. You might want to give sourdough a try too, it’s pretty hard to beat.

      • woody osborne

        LOL!! i actually just put some sourdough starter in my oven to come to life! looking forward to using it. love sourdough pancakes(my favorite pancake), biscuits and bread.

  3. Susan

    Yum! Those breads look wonderful. We bought a couple of loaves at a farmers market in Asheville last summer. The only thing missing from this artisanal bread festival is the phenomenal craft beer that is brewed in Asheville… 🙂

  4. Ann Shoshkes

    So inspiring! and looks like a lot of fun, too. I definitely would love to go next year. Are there any similar festivals in the Middle Atlantic states?

  5. Leonard Bibbo

    Its tough to comment while you are still salivating.

    We live in South Carolina. Wish we had known. Keep us posted as to when. See you in Ashville next year, God willing and the rivers not to high to cross.


  6. Susan

    Nice video Eric and Denyce. Thank you for sharing your experience at the festival!

  7. karin

    What a great idea a “Bread Festival.” I know a lot of home bakers would love to attend and learn more about bread baking.

    I wish we had the same festival up her in BC, Canada. We have so many wonderful bakeries in Vancouver. They need to celebrate their crafts. So I hope you BC Bakers are listening. lol

    Here’s to the love of great tasting bread, cheers,

    • margie

      One coming in Sept. to Mt Vernon, Washington. Pretty close!

  8. Great video. Do you have the formula for the 100% WW ciabatta?

    • Hi Michael.


      It’s kinda simple really. Only handling the dough after the long fermentation so not to deflate it too much was tricky for me.

      Mix up:

      100% whole grain flour
      110% water
      2% salt
      .2% instant yeast

      I’ve found the following quantities suitable for my wife and my needs:
      380g flour
      418g water
      7.6g salt
      .7g saf instant yeast (about 1/8 tsp)

      You pretty much have to have a microgram scale to do this in small volumes. Ponsford is making large quantities at a time I suppose.

      Fold it a few times at 15 minute intervals (4 of those). Put in fridge from one to a few days. (I’ve found a couple days is much better than one taste wise). When ready to bake, take out of fridge and let come to room temp. Turn out onto well floured counter and cut into desired size pieces. There’s no shaping involved to speak of. Handle the dough as gently as possible so not to degas it. Bake on stone with steam at 500 until done. I think it took mine somewhere around 15-20 to bake.

      I’m going to do a video on it but it’s going to be a while as I have 2 others to get done before that.

  9. Verne

    You guys are sooooo lucky I would love to be there with all those great bakers. 😀

  10. Got your e-mail/newsletter/reachout… and stopped by to watch the video as I am crazy over artisan bread, and making it. Great video! Wonderful opportunity for so many locally. What an incredible event. Thank you for sharing… (and a little bit of exchange – liked your FB page, hope you do the same back – and we can keep in touch.)

    • I Liked you… and I still do ;-).

  11. Diane

    Love your website and the work you put into creating such beautiful food.

  12. Looks like Bread Heaven~ Lynn

  13. Linda Sapp

    I’m glad to say that I’ve enrolled my daughter and myself in one of Lionel’s bread baking classes for next month. I live in WV and she lives in Apex, NC. I grew up as a child in Germany and have sought after European-style breads. Terry worked at Whole Foods for a period of time, in the bakery, at Cary, NC. There she discovered his breads and soon after she introduced me to the breads. They are out of this world! So when I found out he offers classes, I jumped at the chance and enrolled the two of us. I have a friend here in Charleston, WV, that I recommended his bakery to and they want to also take his classes after sampling his breads. I can’t wait. Usually things I’d like to do are so far away that the time and money spent would not be worth it but this one I will not miss!!! If even half the breads you discovered were as good as Lionel’s, then I agree that North Carolina should also be called the Artisan state.

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