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Our Daily Bread

A mid-summer open-face sandwich with a slice of Happy Monk Einkorn bread, a slather of mayonnaise and a juicy tomato. Finished with a few grains of salt and a twist of the pepper mill. This picture courtesy of Carla Babcock. Note the fine Japanese bread knife used to slice the bread.

Anne Sullivan earned a soft spot in our heart last week. She showed up at the Medicine Beach bread pick-up with a warm casserole of bread pudding. Fresh out of the oven! She’d made it just for the Happy Monk Baker!

I’d been asking people what they liked to do with their bread. Anne replied on Facebook that bread pudding is “an amazing way to use leftover bread, especially if prepared with leftover brioche!” 1

And then there I was, holding her bread pudding, breathing in this heady aroma of spiced and baked goodness.

Jennifer and I ate almost all of it for dessert that evening! It was the essence of comfort food! Beautiful spices, beautiful tenderness. A lovely, thoughtful gift!

(Well, we did have a dinner guest, a non-dessert person, who tried some and pronounced it delicious.)

Alas, I forgot to take a picture.

Sharing the Pender tables

Several Happy Monk customers, on the other hand, happily shared their photos and bread stories. Their loaves take a prominent place at the table, and one family even purchased a beautiful Japanese bread knife to cut their Happy Monk bread.

Malt bread memory

A South Pender resident, an anonymous contributor, had a strong memory of a particular bread from his childhood:

In Toronto, as a boy, my parents would buy a ‘malt loaf.’ It was about 12 inches long and 4 inches in diameter, tubular, light brown, and ringed with corrugations. Therefore easy to find the slice lines.

Malt bread toasted with butter was as close to indecency and addiction as a 10-year-old could get. It’s discovery was akin to first hearing Borodin’s orchestral music or seeing teenage girls in tight sweaters. Ahh. And one has been known to eat a whole buttered affliction in a single sitting. Alas… never found its like west of Lake Huron.

The memory, here, carries strains of music and sensuality, at least as he remembers it. Those are the best memories, when the senses are up front and centre as they are here.

Think of Marcel Proust when he tastes a humble madeleine cake in the beginning of his novel cycle, À la recherche du temps perdu. It unleashes a string of memories and story that fills seven volumes! Malt bread could do the same!

You asked for it!

Anne Sullivan’s gesture last Friday brought to mind a bread pudding reminiscence of my own.

Many years ago, I wrote to Gourmet magazine requesting a recipe for a cookie I had tasted at Sooke Harbour House. This was the iconic Vancouver Island inn and restaurant famous for its local and indigenous cuisine.

Gourmet magazine in those days had a regular feature called “You Asked For It,” in which readers could request recipes from restaurants and food establishments. The editors would reach out to the restaurant, obtain the recipe, then publish it in the magazine.

Months after sending my request, I got an answer from the Gourmet editors. (This was before email. I had sent my letter via “snail mail”).

The Sooke Harbour House chef, they said, could not recall the cookie I was interested in. When he made cookies, he just threw together whatever there was on hand. There was no recipe, in other words.

I wanted cookies! I got bread pudding, instead.

The chef, instead, had offered recipes for two different kinds of bread pudding served at the restaurant. Since I had not explicitly requested the bread pudding recipes, Gourmet would not publish them. But the editors did not want to disappoint, so they passed on those recipes to me.

This was no small thing. Sooke Harbour House, at the time, was being heralded as one of Canada’s best new restaurants. One of the most prominent notices came from The New York Times, as I recall. They were an early inspiration for the “local food” movement and still grow much of what they serve in the restaurant. 2

I am sorry to say the two bread pudding recipes were, to me, like a consolation prize. I wanted cookies! “Someday, I’ll make these bread puddings, but not now,” I said, and filed them away. And forgot about them …

The scent of seduction

Until, years later, on an early date with my lovely Jennifer, she told me she liked bread pudding.

It was as if those recipes had been sitting in my back pocket, waiting for this invitation. “Why don’t you come to my place on Saturday,” I offered, not wanting to appear too eager. She accepted.

I’ve lost the recipes now, but each of the two bread puddings featured some form of alcohol. One was undoubtedly rum, the other possibly cognac. They were creamy, spiced, and dappled with raisins and other dried fruit. The kitchen was full of intoxicating smells when she arrived. It was the scent of seduction.

Jennifer kicked off her shoes and curled up on the couch. The wine was waiting, the candles were lit, I brought out the two casseroles and dishes, and that is as far as this story goes!

Gratitude!

Many hearty thanks to my Happy Monk friends for sending pictures and sharing stories about their bread. It is humbling and inspiring to see how much our bread is welcomed at tables across the Pender Islands. And it is heart-warming to hear stories about how bread unites us all in a common wealth, in way or another.

To the staff of life!


Moonset and high tide, South Pender Island at 3:50 a.m. 
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 #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #clayoven #clayovenbaking #coboven #cobovenbaking #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

Moonset and high tide, South Pender Island at 3:50 a.m.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #clayoven #clayovenbaking #coboven #cobovenbaking #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 21, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Bird Seed Bread; Blog: Rye Bread: The Agony and the Ecstasy [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - July 21, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Bird Seed Bread; Blog: Rye Bread: The Agony and the Ecstasy [ See link in profile ] ...

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In the early light of dawn, Mildrith oven-springs sourdough, caramelizes crusts gold and brown and leaves heavenly smells as evidence. Inside her hot clay dome, 12 boules of Salish Sourdough are on the final stage of their journey. Behold the steam rising out of the chimney!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #clayoven #clayovenbakery #clayovenbread #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

In the early light of dawn, Mildrith oven-springs sourdough, caramelizes crusts gold and brown and leaves heavenly smells as evidence. Inside her hot clay dome, 12 boules of Salish Sourdough are on the final stage of their journey. Behold the steam rising out of the chimney!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #clayoven #clayovenbakery #clayovenbread #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 14, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye and Spelt Sourdough; Blog: Pleasure and Worry in the Summer Heat; Gratitude for Pender Island Fire Rescue; Happy Monk Search-Ability [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - July 14, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye and Spelt Sourdough; Blog: Pleasure and Worry in the Summer Heat; Gratitude for Pender Island Fire Rescue; Happy Monk Search-Ability [ See link in profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - July 7, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sourdough Sandwich Loaf; Blog Redux: Aunty Betty's "Brown Bread"; [ See newsletter link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - July 7, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Sourdough Sandwich Loaf; Blog Redux: Aunty Betty's "Brown Bread"; [ See newsletter link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - June 30, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Loaf; Blog: These Waters, This World Around Me - [ See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 30, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Loaf; Blog: These Waters, This World Around Me - [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - June 23, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Deli Rye Bread; Blog: Summer Stars; and Who invented No-Knead? [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 23, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Deli Rye Bread; Blog: Summer Stars; and Who invented No-Knead? [ See link in profile ] ...

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Happy Bloomsday from the Happy Monk - June 16, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: An Earthy Olive Loaf; Blog Redux: The Terroir or Wine and Wheat; A Letter from Carrie and Leighton; [ See link in profile ]

Happy Bloomsday from the Happy Monk - June 16, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: An Earthy Olive Loaf; Blog Redux: The Terroir or Wine and Wheat; A Letter from Carrie and Leighton; [ See link in profile ] ...

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Cinnamon-Raisin loaves, they get it on! Can’t keep their hands off each other when they’re a little too close in the oven. Monkey business!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #cinnamonraisin #cinnamonraisinbread #cinnamonraisinsourdough #breadsex #breadporn #showusyourfuckedloaves #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakery #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #bakersandspice #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery

Cinnamon-Raisin loaves, they get it on! Can’t keep their hands off each other when they’re a little too close in the oven. Monkey business!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbaking #woodfiredbread #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #cinnamonraisin #cinnamonraisinbread #cinnamonraisinsourdough #breadsex #breadporn #showusyourfuckedloaves #breadmaking #breadbaking #breadlove #bread #bakery #bakersofinstagram #bakerslife #bakersandspice #penderisland #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #happymonk #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery
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Happy Monk Tidings - June 9, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough; Blog: Chasing the Perfect Loaf - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 9, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough; Blog: Chasing the Perfect Loaf - [ See link in profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - June 4, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Metchosin Wheat and Honey Pan Loaf; Happy Monk Favourite: Salish Sourdough; Blog: Gratitude and the Joy of Chopping Wood - [See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - June 4, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Metchosin Wheat and Honey Pan Loaf; Happy Monk Favourite: Salish Sourdough; Blog: Gratitude and the Joy of Chopping Wood - [See Link in Profile ] ...

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Look what I found in the back of the wood-fired oven last Friday morning. A mighty Seed Feast from last week, no longer so mighty, burned to a crisp. Knew I was one loaf short, but no idea where it went. Mystery solved. The ravens will appreciate it ... it’ll need a hammer to break it up!

Look what I found in the back of the wood-fired oven last Friday morning. A mighty Seed Feast from last week, no longer so mighty, burned to a crisp. Knew I was one loaf short, but no idea where it went. Mystery solved. The ravens will appreciate it ... it’ll need a hammer to break it up! ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - May 19, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Double Fermented Oat Bread; Blog: Dreams of Bread; Introducing a New Way to Order Happy Monk Bread - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - May 19, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Double Fermented Oat Bread; Blog: Dreams of Bread; Introducing a New Way to Order Happy Monk Bread - [ See link in profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - May 12, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Rye and Currant Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: No-Knead Bread Revisited [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - May 12, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Rye and Currant Sourdough; Happy Monk Blog: No-Knead Bread Revisited [ See link in profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - May 5, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Whole Wheat and Spelt Pan Loaf; Blog: This Bread You Eat, This Poem You Digest - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - May 5, 2021 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Whole Wheat and Spelt Pan Loaf; Blog: This Bread You Eat, This Poem You Digest - [ See link in profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 28, 2021 🍞 - Happy Monk Blog Redux: Life in small-town Burgundy: The French Factor; Bread of the Week: Baker's Choice, Purple Barley Bread, PLUS return of the mighty Seed Feast [ See Link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - April 28, 2021 🍞 - Happy Monk Blog Redux: Life in small-town Burgundy: The French Factor; Bread of the Week: Baker's Choice, Purple Barley Bread, PLUS return of the mighty Seed Feast [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings - April 21, 2021 🍞 – Happy Monk Blog: Read about one of my greatest bread teachers: “A Bread Teacher With No Recipe” Also: This week’s Baker’s Choice: Danish Black Rye Bread.
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[ See link in Profile ]
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#teachers #breadteachers #bread #breadlove #breadlife #norecipe #happymonkbaking #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #penderisland #southpenderisland

Happy Monk Tidings - April 21, 2021 🍞 – Happy Monk Blog: Read about one of my greatest bread teachers: “A Bread Teacher With No Recipe” Also: This week’s Baker’s Choice: Danish Black Rye Bread.
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[ See link in Profile ]
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#teachers #breadteachers #bread #breadlove #breadlife #norecipe #happymonkbaking #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #penderisland #southpenderisland
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G&T and HT - C’est necessaire after a long day and night at the Happy Monk Baking Company.
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#ginandtonic #gin #G&T #BoundaryPass #SouthPender #SouthPenderIsland #HappyMonkBakery #HappyMonkBaking #HappyMonkBaker #cestnecessaire #cestnécessaire #cestnecessaire😍

G&T and HT - C’est necessaire after a long day and night at the Happy Monk Baking Company.
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#ginandtonic #gin #G&T #BoundaryPass #SouthPender #SouthPenderIsland #HappyMonkBakery #HappyMonkBaking #HappyMonkBaker #cestnecessaire #cestnécessaire #cestnecessaire😍
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  1. Brioche is a yeast-raised product enriched with butter and eggs and sometimes sweetened with sugar. It often has a flaky, almost pastry-like texture, but can also make for soft, luxurious hamburger buns. Brioche belongs to the Viennoiserie category of bakery products, along with croissants, for example.

  2. A more recent article in the NY Times (from 2000) gives a decent overview of the restaurant as it was nearly 20 years ago.

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