Let the Dough Rise
Artisan breads earn baker Local Hero Award
When you request a baguette at Artisana Bread, owner Rosemarie Abbouchi will likely ask a question: What color do you want your crust to be? It is one of the many considerations that brings bread alive to Rosemarie—winner of Edible Houston 2015 Local Hero Award for Food Artisan—and her staff of bakers, Valerie Rangel and Geri Terry. They produce approximately 600 loaves each week for the Urban Harvest Eastside Market, the retail shop on Pinemont and their increasing number of wholesale orders.
Her personal tastes run to the darker crusts. “I want to see that caramelization, which is a sign that the flavor is going to be deeper. The paler ones are good if they’re going be heated in the oven, where they will crisp up beautifully.”
Rosemarie’s Local Hero Award shows how much Houstonians want good bread—and want to establish a connection with the baker. The relationships that she developed with customers at the farmers market were one of the factors in her decision to open a bake shop. Now people from across Houston are making Artisana Bread a destination bakery. People in the neighborhood are coming, too.
“We’re really excited about the award,” she said. “It’s been really rewarding to see people’s response to what I do and gratifying to have so many repeat customers. We have customers who walk over here every day with their dogs. We’ve become part of this neighborhood.” The staff keeps a water bowl by the front door for the dogs and the occasional bird that finds it.
She named her shop after her favorite store in Lebanon called Artisana, which sells handicrafts from around the country. Rosemarie admires the amount of work people put in to crafting their wares. The same effort and creativity go into her breads and pastries, each with an individual crumb, feel and taste.
“Our foods are artisanal because we shape the breads by hand. You can see the individual look of each loaf. Everything is as pure as we can make it. We buy ingredients that give consistent results. We don’t use any kind of shelf-life stabilizer,” she said. The only preservatives in Artisana breads come from those already present in cured meats that are used.
They also invest a lot of time and don’t hurry the bread. The breads are given a long rising period to develop the flavor, from 24 hours up to five days depending on the type of bread.
Even though bread baking is a precise science with the scaling and the interactions, Rosemarie finds much room for creativity, such as the loaf with dark Belgian chocolate and orange peel, the fragrant onion rolls and the Italian bread with salami and cheese baked throughout called casatiello.
As Rosemarie breaks open a baguette, she says, “Smell this. See the color and its creamy texture? Those nice air holes mean it has a high hydration.” Then she tastes the deep, rich flavor. “It’s so nice to have a well-made baguette.”
>Artisana Bread: 965 Pinemont Dr, Ste. 800, Houston; 832-940-2129; artisanabread.com