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Orange Boot Is Three! Yippee! Come Celebrate!

Hand painted sign saying Happy 3rd Birthday

Photo Credit:  Transition Heathrow

On Saturday, January 18, Orange Boot Bakery will be exactly three years old.

Three years of great bread and yummy sweets;

Thirty six months working with talented, cheerful and energetic bakers and front staff;

One hundred and fifty six weeks working with caring, professional, ethical farmers, millers and ingredient suppliers;

Seven hundred and eighty days helping charities and community groups across Regina;

And most importantly, seven thousand eight hundred hours spent making new friends and catching up with old friends every day at the bakery.

There are times I think we only wedged in around 32 hours of sleep in there somewhere, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

If you were at the bakery this morning, or haven’t been by in months, I hope you come by and help us celebrate our birthday this Saturday, January 18, 2014 from 9:30AM – 4PM.

We’ll have special treats (sweet and savoury) for everyone who comes by. Ben is working on getting the music together (I’m hoping for a Mariachi band but it’s unlikely.) We’ll be launching our third “True Friends” contest as well. And of course, we’ll have the cases full with our usual selection of bread, pastries, coffee and sweets to keep your belly, and your pantry, full.

One thing is clear: it doesn’t matter how good our bread is if nobody is there to eat it, share it and enjoy it. There’s no way Orange Boot would have made it three years without your support and encouragement, right from our very first day in 2011. So I really hope you can come by for a few minutes on Saturday, even just to say Hi. We’d all love to see you again.

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This Father’s Day, Say It With Bacon!

Father's Day Bread Bag

 This plain brown bag packs a mighty wallop!

Father’s Day is a little extra special in our house because our son Ben was born on Father’s Day 18 years ago. When Ben was little we would often have a barbeque in Candy Cane park for Father’s Day, Ben’s birthday, or both. They were a pile of fun. We’d load up the barbeque, eat like mad, then play catch, or toss frisbees, head to the playground or play soccer on the grass. What a great time.

Those barbeques were the inspiration behind our Father’s Day Bread Bag. We filled it full of great bread that is perfect for the barbeque. We added some awesome sweets for dessert. And we added an extra special loaf, unique for Father’s Day, to say “I Love You, Dad.”

And we put this all in a simple but elegant brown paper bag, because, well, most dads don’t go in for the frilly stuff, you know?

Each Orange Boot Father’s Day Gift Basket is $40 and contains:

  • One Smoky Bacon Sourdough. An Orange Boot first. An amazing Sourdough loaf with roasted potatoes, fresh chives and smoky bacon. Wow!
  • The Ultimate Burger Bun Six Pack, two each of Onion Poppyseed Burger Buns, Orange Boot Cheese Buns and Multigrain Burger Buns;
  • The Country Style Slider Six Pack, six country style pull apart buns that are perfect for pulled pork sandwiches or smoked brisket;
  • The Shareable Cookie Box, a dozen classic chocolate chip cookies and six oatmeal raisin cookies, in a nice box for setting out on the picnic table.

You can order your baskets in person at the bakery, by calling us at (306) 584-2668 or by filling in the form below.

ORDER DATE: All orders must be received by 6PM on Wednesday, June 12, 2013

PICK UP DATE: Baskets are available for pickup on Saturday June 15 at 10AM.

I removed this order form due to spam.  Please use our main order form from now on!

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Order Your Mother’s Day Basket!

a sample gift basket


Here’s a picture of a gift basket we do that is similar in appearance to our Mother’s Day Basket.  But the Mother’s Day Basket is much sweeter!

Update:  The baskets are sold out for this year.  The story is kind of nice though.

When Cindy and I started our family, one of the things I learned early on was there was no way I would ever be allowed to take Cindy to a Mother’s Day brunch.  Cindy just plain refused to head off to a crowded, hot restaurant on ‘her’ day.  So for years now I would look for something interesting and unique when Mother’s Day shopping.  And if her Mother’s Day gift was somehow shareable, so much the better!

Now that we have Orange Boot Bakery, Cindy’s paying special attention to Mother’s Day. It’s her chance to design a Mother’s Day gift that she’d love to receive herself.  This year she’s designed a Mother’s Day Gift Basket that reflects the food she loves and the food she loves to share.

She wanted something we don’t usually make at the bakery, so the basket would be truly special.

She wanted a combination of bread and sweets, because she likes both.  

She wanted something with real fruit.   Something rich and decadent   And something with a LOT of chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate?

And she wanted a gift basket with lots of neat things inside, so it can be shared.  (yay!)

Each Orange Boot Mother’s Day Gift Basket is $35, and contains:

  • One mini Potato Cheddar Chive Torpedo,  one of Cindy’s favourite loaves;
  • Four Nicer Buns*, extra buttery fancy white buns;
  • Four Hand Made Apple Turnovers, made from home made pastry and real apples;
  • Two Strawberry Whoopie Pies, using strawberries from this weekend’s Strawberry Fair at St. Paul’s Church;
  • Two Hazelnut Linzer Cookies, delightful crispy cookies filled with seedless raspberry jam;
  • Two Black Forest Cookies, two types of chocolate and amazing dried BC cherries.


You can order your baskets in person at the bakery, by calling us at (306) 584-2668 or by filling in the form below.  

UPDATE:  The baskets are all sold out.  Sorry.

PICK UP DATE: Baskets are available for pickup on Saturday May 11 at 10AM.

*Now, you may ask yourself, why do we call them “Nicer Buns”?  Good question!  We had a lady call us a few months ago asking for some buns for a luncheon she was organizing.  But she didn’t want ordinary buns — she wanted “nicer buns.”  So we said OK and proceeded to make a slightly richer white buns that we shaped in a knot and egg washed before baking.  The lady was delighted.  We’ve called them Nicer Bun ever since.  :)




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Bread of the Month: Sprouted Grain Power Bread!

Power Bread

Ever since we opened on Gordon Road people have asked me if we bake anything with sprouted grains.  Usually they ask because of the health benefits, but I also know that sprouted grains bring amazing colour and flavour to bread.  I am so glad that I finally get to say Yes, especially with this amazing, fruity, nutty, delicious loaf.

Our Power Bread is inspired by a forumla shared with me by Didier Rosada in San Francisco back in 2008 and incorporates two techniques that I’ve been wanting to try at Orange Boot since we opened:  sprouting grains and extra long fermentation.

We start with sprouting the grains.  Our miller, Bob Balfour, sent over a large bag of organic wheat berries that we soak in water for four days until they start to sprout.  Then the grain is washed and ground up into a wet, sticky glump in our food processor.   The sprouted grains replace 40% of the flour that we use in making the Power Bread.

After the dough is mixed and we add a big batch of raisins, toasted walnuts and toasted almonds to the dough, we get to the extra long fermentation part of the story.  Our regular bread ferments for a long time to improve the flavour, texture and keeping qualities of the final loaf; typically around 3-4 hours after the final dough is mixed (part of the dough ferments for up to 18 hours, but that’s another story.) The final dough of our Power Bread ferments very slowly, for between 19-22 hours, before baking.

The sprouted grain and the extra long fermentation combine to bring an intensity of colour and flavour to the final loaf that’s way beyond anything you’ve ever tried.  What’s happening?  In simple terms, the act of soaking and sprouting the grains wakes up the enzymes in the grain to amazing levels.  They are on a mission to break down the starch in the wheat into sugars to “feed” the wheat germ as it transforms into a plant.  So the sprouted grains have slightly less starch, slightly more vitamins and minerals, and more sugars that will give you a nice dark crust when baked.  And by fermenting the bread for an extra long time, the enzymes in the sprouted grains and the flour have more time to work their magic.

Of course, a bread this special needs to look special too.  Teisha made some wild Lightning Bolt stencils so you know there’s something interesting going on inside your loaf.  The lightning bolt represents the crazy energy of the sprouted grains, the energy you’ll get from eating them (and the nuts, and the raisins — it’s like breakfast in every slice!) and the energy we put in to making them for you.  Shazam!

Power Bread is available at the bakery every day, starting Tuesday April 30, throughout the month of May. It’s a perfect fit as you get outside, get active and enjoy Spring.

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Praise For The Unsliced Loaf

A little Bootnik enjoying his unsliced French Loaf

Our mechanical bread slicer is on the fritz these days. I replaced the piston that pushes the loaf through the blades and replaced the blades too. 32 steel blades specifically designed to slice crusty artisan bread like we bake at Orange Boot Bakery.

It’s still not working the way I want, though. If I try to slice a loaf that hasn’t completely cooled and set up (ideally 2-3 hours after baking) the bread tries to move through the blades too quickly and gets squashed.

While I fine tune the slicer it means we might have to say No when you ask for sliced bread, especially in the morning. So it’s a good time to talk about the lost art of bread slicing.

When you buy a pre-sliced loaf, you give up a lot:

  • Pre-sliced bread wrecks your crust. Once we put bread through the slicer, we have to put it in a plastic bag. That is going to soften the crispy crust we worked so hard to make. An unsliced loaf, in a paper bag, will preserve the crisp crust for the first few days you have the loaf.
  • Pre-sliced bread stales faster. All those slices expose more of the crumb to the air, which means your loaf dries out faster. Placing an unsliced loaf cut side down on a cutting board, or placing the heel of the loaf over the cut end will reduce the amount of crumb exposed to the air.
  • Pre-sliced bread must be completely cool. Putting warm bread through the slicer mangles the loaf. Lots of our customers love the way a warm loaf feels, smells and tastes.
  • Mechanical slicers are fixed width. Sometimes I feel like a thick piece of texas toast. Other times it’s a thin slice for crostini. But pre-sliced bread is only one thickness, and rarely the thickness I desire.

I used to be terrible at slicing bread, but I loved crusty artisan bread so much that I taught myself how to be a good slicer. Here are some tips that I’ve picked up over the years:

  • Use a good bread knife. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should have a long, sturdy blade and a serrated edge. I have an Ikea bread knife  at home and we use Chicago Cutlery knives from Walmart at the bakery.  Both are under $20 and work very well, although if the Chicago Cutlery knife was two inches longer it would be perfect
  • Use a smooth sawing motion. Your knife is sharp so you don’t have to work hard. Use long strokes and guide the knife through the loaf.
  • Keep your blade straight. This is easier if you aren’t using a lot of pressure on the cutting stroke. Let the knife do the work and you can focus on keeping the blade perpendicular to your cutting board.
  • Tip the loaf to cut through the bottom crust. Usually this isn’t necessary, but if you are having trouble cutting through the last bit of bottom crust, you can tip the loaf slightly and slice along the crust.
  • Use your toaster as a gauge. While you are learning, there is only one measure of success. If your slice fits in the toaster, you win. If not, shave a little off the thick end and try again next time.

Now I completely realize that people with arthritis need some assistance. And sometimes the chewy crust on our rye can be a challenge. But slicing your own bread is easy and can even be fun. So while our slicer gets a tune up, break out your bread knife and get some practice in!

Thanks to Courteney D and her little Bootnik for this amazing photo!

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Back Home, and Soon to Bake Again

Whole Grain Bread Display

Originally uploaded by madbaker66

I’m back to the land of ice and snow and honestly, I’m very glad to be home. Three weeks is a long time to be away from my family and friends, even when I’m having the time of my life baking every day.

The Whole Grain and Specialty Flour course at the San Francisco Baking Institute was an excellent end to my adventure. If Artisan 1 was elementary school, and Artisan 2 was high school, then the Whole Grain course was bread university! We had a new instructor (Didier Rosada, a world renowned baker and teacher) and for the most part a new group of students as well. Many more professional bakers in this course so we dove straight into advanced mixing and shaping techniques. The teamwork was excellent so we got a lot done each day without getting all stressed out.

The photo represents all the bread we made during the week. From a simple Wheat Germ Baguette, to alternate grains like Corn Bread, Millet Bread and Spelt Bread, to interesting combinations like Buckwheat Pear Bread, Carrot Rolls and Roasted Pecan and Flax bread, to wild shapes like Sesame Flame and Crown of the Great Valley. My head was spinning with all the formulas, shapes and scoring patterns, but I took excellent notes and will be sharing these loaves with you over the coming weeks and months.

As much as I want to get back to baking in Regina, we’re going to take one more week to stockpile some wood, get some supplies (including a bench that’s at the correct working height) and slowly bring the oven up to temperature. It’ll take some TLC to bring the oven out of its deep freeze without cracking the facade, but it can be done.

The next email out will be a ‘baking this week’ note, I promise!

Bread from the Whole Grain Course

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Happiness is Sourdough Bread

Hi everyone. It’s another report from the road as I wrap up my second week at the San Francisco Baking Institute. The Artisan II course is called “Mastering Sourdough” but we did so much more as well.

The bread in the picture is from Wednesday when we made four different sourdough loaves using different formulations. Just like the baguettes we made last week, the baker can make several adjustments to get different flavours from a sourdough loaf. He can use a liquid starter to get more lactic acid development for a yogurty, buttermilk-y sour taste. Or he can use a firm starter for more acetic acid development and a vinegary sour taste. Then he can adjust the number of times the starter is fed, and how much starter is put in the final dough, to manipulate the flavours even more.

The result? A wide variety. The loaves in the lower left are your classic San Francisco sourdough like you’d get on Fisherman’s Wharf. High acid content and a vinegar-sour flavour. The loaves closest to me have a much milder flavour and is closer to the mild sour taste I prefer. I’ll make them both for you when I get home so you can tell me what you like best!

We didn’t stop there, however. There was sourdough rye to make, sourdough whole wheat, and then some variations of regular yeasted dough like Ciabatta (I now know what an ultra-wet dough looks like), olive bread, walnut and raisin bread, and regional decorative breads. I can tell my Vivarais from my Auvergnat, but I can’t always pronounce them properly!

One more week. Just one more week till I’m back home and firing the oven again. But first I need a crash course in whole grains and specialty flours with guest instructor Didier Rosada. The word is that he’s a Very Special Bread Instructor so I’m really looking forward to meeting Didier and learning from him. I’ll keep you posted.

Until next week!


PS — For those of you who can’t get enough dough — Daily updates from San Francisco are at mymadbaker blog. More photos are on flickr. Click the links for more.

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Orange Boot Update: Artisan Baking in San Francisco

Day 4

Originally uploaded by madbaker66

Hi Everyone,

Week 1 of my journey at the San Francisco Baking Institute is over, leaving me exhausted and energized at the same time. It was a very good first week — we deconstructed every component of bread making and assembled the component parts in a whirlwind of combinations.

Mixing techniques? Pick from short, intensive or improved mixing.

Flour? Do you mean bread flour, high-gluten flour, rye, or whole wheat?

Water? Simple enough, but do you want a stiff, medium or high hydration?

Pre-ferments? You bet! But should I use pate fermentee, poolish or a sponge.

Even salt was discussed at length — what kind, how much and when to add.

By the end of the week we had created seven different kinds of baguettes, all with the same four ingredients — flour, water, salt and yeast. I’ll never look at a baguette the same way again.

We also made several other types of bread which are in the picture above. Let me tell you, the multigrain batard in the front row is the best tasting loaf of bread I have eaten. Ever. Three days later I get misty when I eat a slice. It’s that good, and I can’t wait to make it for you when I get back to Regina. The whole wheat boules in the background are amazing too.

The best thing about the course so far is that I have a much better understanding of the fundamentals of bread baking. This knowledge builds a platform that will allow me to experiment for years to come. It will take me at least three years to exhaust the potential of this week.

Tomorrow we throw commercial yeast back in the cooler and dive into the amazing world of wild yeast, or sourdough, breads. I sampled some sourdough at lunch last week and I can’t wait to learn more about this complex topic.

I have energy like never before and wish there was a way to bake for you all over the weekend while I wait for the next class to start. I hope you are all well and I look forward to talking with you all in a couple more weeks.

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Orange Boot Update: Time to Learn

Hello Everyone,

Last Friday was exactly like the picture I had in my mind about baking in winter. Mild, mostly sunny, but with a delicate snowfall off and on throughout the day. Huge snowflakes piling up on my staging table that were easily swept off between loads. It was beautiful and relaxing – completely unlike the bitter cold, windy mess we have outside today.

We’re not baking this Friday, or for the next few weeks, as I’m off to San Francisco for some serious training at the San Francisco Baking Institute. Serious in that I fully expect a hard three weeks spent investigating each part of the baking process in detail, from the basic ingredients through mixing, fermentation, shaping and baking. I won’t be surprised if every part of our current technique is broken down, modified and rebuilt. It will be worth it if, when I get home, I can improve our existing varieties and bring you some new recipes too. I’ve got my chef’s jacket and check pants packed and ready to go!

My time at SFBI is actually three separate courses:

Artisan I is focused on the basics of bread making and will form the foundation for the other courses. I expect we’ll be making as much bread in the first five days as we’ve made at Orange Boot since October.

Artisan II is all about wild yeast breads aka sourdough. Our wild yeast loaves haven’t scaled up as well as I’d like compared to the small batches we’ve made over the past 5-7 years, so I’m eager to get some good theory and practical experience working with large batches of wild yeast dough. And if you’re going to learn about sourdough, San Francisco is the place to do it!

– The third week is focussed on whole grains and specialty flours. We’ve had several requests for whole grain breads along with lower gluten flours like spelt. Here’s a chance to get skilled in this new and exciting area of artisan baking.

As an aside, have you noticed how whole grains are ‘new’ and the current hot topic of nutrition? That’s one of the ironies of what we’re doing at Orange Boot Bakery — taking ‘old’ ingredients and techniques to make better bread. When you’re not making 50,000 loaves per day you can focus on flavour and nutrition which means going back to the way bread was made over 100 years ago.

My evenings will be spent making some changes to our website and email lists along with sending you the odd update from the field. Don’t worry, I won’t plug up your inbox, but if anything especially interesting goes on I’ll let you know. I’ll be describing things in more detail on my personal blog.

On the weekends I’m hoping to head up to the Sonoma Valley north of San Francisco to see the bakeries I’ve only read about. Places like Artisan Breads, owned by world champion baker Craig Ponsford, Della Fattoria, who use two huge Alan Scott ovens just like ours, and Schat’s Courthouse Bakery in Ukiah, whose owner wrote the best book on running a bakery that I’ve ever seen. There are 6-10 others I want to see too. I’m taking the camera and laptop so hopefully there will be some nice pictures to share with you.

I’ll be back in Regina on the Feb 23rd, hopefully with big burly shoulders and a head full of new ideas. If everything works out I hope to get back baking in time for all your Leap Year parties on the 29th!

Best wishes,

Mark, Cindy, Ben and Robyn

skype: Mark Dyck

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Of Dough and Wind Chill

Hi Everyone,

When I built the brick oven in our yard, one of the questions people asked (and I asked myself) was “Will it work in the depths of a prairie winter?” I always figured we’d be OK so long as we didn’t let the oven freeze solid but until last week I admit I felt a little trepidation. Well, things went amazingly well, even with temperatures around -25C and the wind chill at -40C. A couple notes:

  • The oven heated up pretty much as usual. Maybe a little longer burn, but nothing too crazy.
  • The oven did cool a little quicker than normal. Once the mass is saturated, it usually cools about 10F per hour. In the freezing cold last week, the temperature dropped 20F per hour, which is still very manageable
  • The door is still the biggest source of heat loss. I had to switch the loaves around a bit but, again, given the temperatures outside it was more than acceptable
  • Whoever thought to position the oven so the back blocked north winds was pretty smart! We were as sheltered as possible, without having the oven indoors
  • I can load the oven really, really quickly when my hands are freezing
  • Those human interest stories on the news are true — exposed flesh does freeze in a minute or so. I got a mild case of frostbite on my hands by the end of the bake day. Nothing too bad but I had purple fingers for a couple hours.

So all in all, a great learning experience and I was really pleased with the quality of our midwinter bread. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed baking it for you.

I’m really excited about introducing some new bread to the list over the coming weeks, but this week we’re going to stick with some old standbys to keep your bellies full during the short days. Comfort food to enjoy wrapped in a blanket, in your favorite chair with a good book and a cup of tea…

#1: Orange Boot Multigrain Loaf: Our best seller, this large loaf is bursting with corn meal, rolled oats, brown rice and local organic unbleached flour. A touch of honey and plenty of buttermilk gives a touch of sweetness and tang too!

Orange Boot Multigrain LoafOrange Boot Multigrain, 800g Batard, $4.00

#2: Potato, Cheddar and Chive Torpedo: This is a huge favorite with the folks who like cheese bread (like, everyone in our family for example.) With real potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese and a healthy portion of chives in each loaf, I think of it as ‘perogie bread’. Either way it’s a really tasty treat and is great on its own or in a funky sandwich.

Cheddar ChivePotato, Cheddar and Chive Torpedo, 750g Batard, $5.00

As is our custom — please order by 6PM on Wednesday by sending an email to or calling 522-1592. Your bread will be ready for pickup between 3PM and 6PM on Friday and can be picked up at 2904 Wascana Street. If you need the bread delivered I can do that after 6:00PM Friday but please call in advance to arrange for delivery.

Robyn promises to reply and confirm every email order we receive. So if you don’t hear from us within 24 hours please call or email again.

Best wishes this week!
Mark, Cindy, Ben and Robyn

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