The Our Shared Ground Bread Project is a revenue producing social enterprise baking handcrafted, naturally leavened hearth breads in a mobile wood-fired oven. Consistent with OSG’s mission and goals, the bread program supplements the culinary training and work skills programs teaching students and interns the requisite skills and techniques of artisan baking.
The character of real bread – the texture of the crust and crumb, the aroma, the flavor of the grain, the nutritional value, and keeping quality are all optimized because:
it is made from less-refined, nutritionally superior flour,
with the ancient natural leavening method called “levain”
mixed and shaped by a skilled baker,
and baked in a wood- fired masonry oven.
Bread made with this kind of time and attention calls for stellar ingredients. We start with fresh flour, milled to order from organic, non-GMO grains grown in Pennsylvania and New York. Our miller, Mark Fischer, owner/operator of Castle Valley Mill of Doylestown, PA, is committed to milling whole grains — slowly, at cool temperatures on antique buhr mills, which retains all the elements of the grain – bran, endosperm and germ – and preserves the full nutritional value in the flour.
Slow, cool, natural fermentation – the levain (or sourdough) method is a leavening process that enhances the inherent flavor and nutritional properties of the flour, and builds in excellent keeping qualities in the bread. Baking this way requires skill and experience to balance the many variables in the process including dough hydration and temperature, fermentation time, and the flow of heat in the wood-fired oven.
The Bread Project is led by Our Shared Ground’s Donna Wallstin. A professional baker, and self-proclaimed “bread-geek,” Donna is a trained and educated 20-year veteran of the culinary industry with a diverse range of experience and skill. She began her culinary adventures at New England Culinary Institute, then spent 10 years cooking on the West Coast. More recently, her energies and passions have been focused on the intuitive, hands-on, and dynamic nature of wood-fired bread baking.
Our wood-fired masonry oven was built by William Davenport of Turtlerock Masonry Heat in Vermont. It’s an internal combustion, retained heat oven made of firebrick and refractory mortar. Over several hours, a wood fire burns inside the vaulted chamber – the masonry mass is heavily insulated, and efficiently retains the energy from the fire – later the ashes are removed, and the bread is put inside the chamber to bake. Masonry ovens have a great historic appeal because they are the way bread was baked for millennia. History and traditional methods are part of the definition of the true artisan style breads we bake at Our Shared Ground.
“I’ve certainly eaten my share of bread but have never enjoyed or appreciated any like I do yours. It’s really wonderful. And it’s made all the better by its worthwhile cause!” – Mindy
“The scones were delicious and moist. We loved the lemon poppyseed the most! The galette was yummy. The bread… wish I had bought two loaves, as the first went very quickly!” – Audrey
“I purchased a loaf of the Sourdough Rye with Flaxseed and I am already addicted. The incredible crunchy crust and the soft chewy inside was perhaps the best bread that I have ever had the pleasure to taste. I am already looking for a 12 step program! Thank you for the opportunity to share such an incredible food. You can consider me a groupie!” – Pamela