The holidays bring many opportunities to “break bread,” and the La Vernia News open house Dec. 7 provided an opportunity to try something new: breads baked by Wilson County artisan baker Elizabeth Fry.
I sampled some French pan d’epi. It was very good. Then I had some brioche au chocolat and I was hooked.
Elizabeth, 22, is one of eight children; her mother has been baking bread for the family for many years. Elizabeth became interested in specialty breads and noticed there weren’t any available in the La Vernia area, so she started baking her own.
Her pan d’epi, a baguette shaped like a wheat stalk, has won a first-place award. A French patisserie chef gave her the highest marks and told her he would hire her in his restaurant.
Elizabeth also offers Jewish challah bread, which is woven with six different “strands” of dough. It is a lovely creation when it comes out of the oven beautifully golden brown.
Her Italian panettone contains a variety of seasonings and special fruity surprises. The hot cross bun is a favorite holiday treat, speckled with dates and nutmeg, with a lovely crossed pattern in icing.
And Elizabeth’s brioche au chocolat is eye-rolling wonderful. The chocolate ganache melts in your mouth, because it does not spend enough time in your hand!
Elizabeth grinds her own wheat and rye flours from whole grains with a flour-grinding machine in her kitchen. She also uses honey and eggs from local producers.
She takes orders for her specialty breads and will meet her customers with bread fresh out of the oven. Her repertoire includes rye, pumpernickel, Hearty Date’n’Walnut, Mornin’ Sunshine, Italian semolina, and Whole, Whole Wheat, among others. Prices range from $2 to $10.
I took a recipe for pain d’Úpices to her from my French aunt and Elizabeth baked it for us. It was delicious and the house smelled fantastic!
Elizabeth uses a scale to weigh her ingredients, rather than using a measuring cup. The recipe I took her was in grams, rather than cups, so her method of measuring worked perfectly.
In addition to baking superior, tasty breads, Elizabeth also plays piano; she played while her younger sister, Rachel, sang “Pie Jesu” for me.
It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in a warm house with the sounds of the season and lovely aromas of bread baking.
To Elizabeth, her bread is a ministry and just another way to share the good news of Jesus with folks she meets.
Next time you want to “break bread,” think of Elizabeth Fry; contact her at 210-307-7188 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more at elizabethartisanbaker.blogspot.com.