Twelve years ago, if you’d been invited to visit the skyscraper that housed one of New York’s most powerful Wall Street law firms, you might have seen Emily Price hard at work, helping write legal briefs for multi-million dollar cases. She started work at 10 a.m. and finished, sometimes, long after midnight.
Ask her today what time just one aspect of her job – making sourdough bread – starts, and she’ll tell you it never actually stops.
“This morning at 7 a.m.,” she says, “I mixed the dough. A few hours later, I started stretching and lifting.”
That’s what forms the long chains of gluten molecules, the foundation of baking.
“I never knead or force the dough; I stretch and encourage it,” she says. “After 90 minutes of that, I let the dough rise. There’s a lot of complex chemistry going on, and I’m not a chemist. I learn hands-on. I learned at Stonehorse, and Tim Inman trained me by having me bake hundreds of loaves, five days a week for 3 years.”
A few years before Emily joined her law firm – and on the other side of the country – an Arizonan woman arrived at culinary school in San Francisco. Morgan Barkley realized she wanted to make the world sweeter, so she opted to become a pastry chef.
“People think of baking as something quaint and cute, something girls can do,” says Barkley, 20 years later. “What they don’t realize is that it is very labor intensive and it relies a lot on math and science.”
It look both women some time to get used to the complexity of the form.
“For at least a year, I felt like I was wandering in the dark,” says Price. “After a year of constant failures, it became an extra sense. I could sense when the dough had proofed enough. It’s almost a symbiotic relationship.”
The pair first met in Tulsa’s Stonehorse kitchen.
“We’d bake alone, taking the long overnight shifts,” says Barkley. “We’d know that if something went wrong, there was no one else to help – we must rely on each other. And that was neat.”
After a few years working there, they took off on their own, first as a weekly pop-up sponsored by Kitchen 66, and then as a bakery at Mother Road Market called Bakeshop. Now the team works at Amelia’s in downtown Tulsa, providing a full line of bread, desserts and catering options. They plan to keep the new Amelia’s market fully stocked when it re-opens in a few months.
“Working at Amelia’s and collaborating with [executive chef] Andrew [Donovan] and [owner] Amelia [Eesley] is like coming back to family,” says Barkley. “Andrew is so supportive, so collaborative … and he’s fun to talk food with. And it’s all about respect for food. It’s about listening to the food, bringing the food’s natural flavor out. It’s not about putting yourself in the food. You can’t bake bread if you have a big ego. The bread doesn’t care what you want.”
Price continues: “And then there’s the wonder of it all. What you can do with an egg just blows my mind. I never stop being in awe and wonder about what you can do in a bakeshop.”
Blueberry and Coriander Muffin
Yield: 6 XL or 12 regular muffins.
2 cups AP flour
1 cup Whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons Baking powder
½ teaspoon Baking soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Ground coriander
1 cup Sugar
¾ cup Vegetable oil
1¼ cup Lowfat buttermilk
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
1½-2 cups Frozen blueberries
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line or lightly spray a muffin tin and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine your dry ingredients, stirring well to distribute your spice, salt and leavening.
In a separate bowl or pitcher, whisk together your wet ingredients until sugar is fully dissolved.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir with a spoon or spatula until just combined (small traces of dries are OK, but make sure to scrape along the bottom of your bowl to pick up any pockets of unincorporated flour).
Add the frozen blueberries to your batter and gently fold/stir to distribute. The batter will stiffen up from the addition of the cold berries and, inevitably, become a little blue.
Scoop the batter into your pre-prepared muffin tin and bake on the middle rack for 25-35 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Muffins are done when the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.