With 3400 square feet of customized space, the Manresa bakery is both a marvel of technology and an ode to the traditions of classic baking as exemplified in the breads and pastries which have earned raves and kudos for head baker Avery Ruzicka.
Pastries of superlative quality join the bread line, i,e, the120 loaves turned out daily—from 2 to 5:30 AM—by the 19,000 lb Tag oven dominating this ample, airy space. But there’s a lot to see before we get to this part of the bakery.
In the entry space I notice a large collection of baskets, not stacked but sitting side by side on giant racks to dry out before being used again for the final proofing—the expansion of gas which makes dough rise—of sourdough breads. “We use the baskets for high hydration dough to provide structure,” Avery explains. Sourdough normally sits for 5-6 hours, here it proofs for 18-36, “so you need structure to extend the cold fermentation.”
Turning the corner I encounter giant “platter sheets” of dry butter, i.e., butter with low water content, which is what makes French croissants so flaky. “Really, croissants have only a few ingredients: almond meal suspended in butter, sugar, and eggs,” says Avery. But there are several secrets which she is willing to share: refrigerate the flour, toast the almond meal before making the flour, and add lemon zest. “We can’t control the temperature of the bakery, but we can control the temperature of all the ingredients, an essential part of turning out perfect laminated (thin sheets) dough,” says Avery.
It is now possible to buy European style butter in most groceries: 83-84% fat is what to look for.
Here is Avery’s recipe for buckwheat scones. In true professional baker fashion, the amounts are in grams only. While there are many sites that offer conversions, I prefer gourmetsleuth.com because you can type in the item to obtain specific ingredient measurements. Conversions are Very Tricky: a gram is not always an ounce, depending on the substance.
Buckwheat Scones (all measurements are in grams):
125.7 – buckwheat
242.5 – cake flour
242.5 – all -purpose flour
67.4 – sugar
36.6- baking powder
16.2 – salt
204.7 – butter
420.0 – cream
110.0 – honey
143.6 – berries
Total grams : 1611.2
Makes c. 18 pieces
- Make honey cream: warm cream and honey together until honey dissolves. Cool completely, preferably overnight.
- Sift all flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.
- Cut butter into 1 inch cubes
- Using stand mixer or your hands rub butter into dry ingredients until butter is pea sized
- Pour in cream and mix until soft dough forms / dough comes together. Add more cream if necessary, one tablespoon at a time.
- Remove bowl from mixer, scrap paddle. Mix blueberries into dough, crumbling the dough slightly to incorporate blueberries.
- Chill if you plan to bake later. If baking immediately form dough into 85g loose balls.
- Place on baking sheet two inches apart. Egg wash and top with demerara sugar and chopped buckwheat groats. Bake at 350F for 14 to 16 minutes.
Breads and pastries are sold at their shop:
276 North Santa Cruz Ave
Los Gatos, CA 95030
open: Wednesday-Sunday 7AM-3PM