City Bakery produced 412,000 pounds of bread dough from its Biltmore Avenue location in 2015, supplying roughly 50 grocers and restaurants throughout the Asheville area with baguettes, French and multigrain bread, ciabatta, sourdough and more. And that number may increase substantially once the company’s new facility in Fletcher opens for production. The 3,600-square-foot building’s shell is complete, and general manager Brian Dennehy expects the interior workstations to coalesce by July.
“With the investment of this new equipment, we’re hoping for some more consistency as far as the production schedule,” Dennehy says, noting that the greatest contributor toward that goal will be a new retarder-proofer. Dough does its rising inside this climate-controlled piece of equipment, which will give the bakers greater sway over their moody ally, the yeast cell. But manipulating the conditions of fermentation (such as temperature and hydration) instead of reacting to those imposed by the weather has implications beyond a more predictable schedule.
“The longer you can ferment something, the more flavor you’re able to draw out of the bread,” says head baker Daniel Goodson. That’s why City Bakery uses a relatively small amount of yeast and aims for a leisurely 24-hour average start-to-finish bread-making cycle. “The increased space will allow us the flexibility to create more loaves … while keeping the process the same.”
“It may allow us to experiment with even longer fermentation times,” Dennehy adds, and that would mean a wider variety of specialty products at City Bakery’s storefronts — “kind of like if you [go] to a brewery, you see their flagships and they have some small-batch stuff.” He’ll also up the quantity of bagels, which are only available at the bakery’s three storefronts and rarely survive past noon. Pastries will get their own corner of the Fletcher facility.
At full tilt, the new space could roughly triple City Bakery’s output and double its baking staff, but Dennehy wants the transition, too, to be a slow rise. He’ll maintain production levels for a period before expanding into target areas, including Hendersonville, Mills River and Fletcher, in the weeks after moving. Meanwhile, workers in the Biltmore Avenue kitchen will have more room to prepare City Bakery’s other menu items such as sandwiches, desserts and custom cakes.
City Bakery currently operates two Asheville locations at 60 Biltmore Ave. and 88 Charlotte St., as well as one shop at 18 N. Main St., Waynesville. The new facility is at 85 Fletcher Commercial Drive, Fletcher. Visit citybakery.net for more information.
Cucina 24 adds lunch and hosts a sour beer dinner
Cucina 24 has added lunch service, which is quicker and more casual than its daily dinners. The midday menu includes 10 thin-crust pizza options with classic toppings in addition to salads and sandwiches. Also recently announced at the Wall Street eatery is an upcoming beer dinner with sour brews from Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium. The first of the five courses will showcase Cucina’s house-made charcuterie alongside three La Bonte farmhouse ales. Remaining dishes by chef Brian Canipelli will come with various sours, including a rare uncarbonated bottle, and dessert will be served with Wicked Weed’s raspberry-infused Red Angel.
Lunch service runs 11 a..m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The beer dinner is Wednesday, May 25, beginning with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. and food at 7 p.m. Cost is $65. Reservations (required) are available by calling 254-6170.
Food writer and educator Sheri Castle visits Rhubarb
Each edition of cookbook series Short Stack is written by a different author to explore the many derivatives of one favored ingredient, with eggs, buttermilk, grits and honey among the past subjects. Sheri Castle, a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains and author of the 20th and most current Short Stack volume, opted to highlight the rhubarb plant and, so, will hold a book signing at the local restaurant by the same name. Castle will lead a cooking demo alongside chef John Fleer at the ticketed event, which includes a copy of her new work. Following that is Rhubarb’s three-course, family-style Sunday Supper.
Castle’s cooking demo with Fleer ($40) is at 5 p.m., Sunday, May 22, at Rhubarb, 7 S.W. Pack Square. Sunday Supper ($35) follows the demo at 6 p.m. Cost for both events is $70. Visit avl.mx/2k0 for information or tickets.
Learn to make medicinal ghee
Ghee is a clarified butter with lots of advantages over its unaltered counterpart: It’s got a high smoke point, does not require refrigeration, and is free of lactose and casein. “It has many other benefits, which we will discuss while we are learning how to craft a delicious ghee,” reads the description of Villagers’ upcoming class on the oil. Goddess Ghee founder Marion Hearth will lead the workshop, covering ghee uses and recipes, including “medicinal ghees infused with herbs and spices in the Ayurvedic tradition.”
The class is 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road. Cost is $20. Visit forvillagers.com for information or tickets.