Those of us who think that some of the finest things are often the simplest things, will be pleased to welcome Sprout to downtown Kelowna. You know those beautiful plump miches and chewy baguettes you have to drive around the valley to procure? Those glorious golden domes, sometimes bursting, artfully flour-dusted, or scored and patterned prettier than a hipster's cortado? Well, just a bike ride away, we have the talents of Peter van Boekhout in town pulling yeast-free, organic, and delicious breads and pastries from the oven.
In a beautifully airy space on Cannery Lane, renovated to expose super-high ceilings, an all-white colour palette set off by sexy concrete floors and counters, and sunlight pouring in, the vibe is clear: simplicity is celebrated here. And naturally so, since its proprietor's mission, as an artisan breadmaker, is to turn just a few simple ingredients into manna from heaven. Anyone who's glanced through bread master Chad Robertson's, Tartine, and its hundreds of photographs from years of testing, teaching, and recipe development has surely been struck by how elemental breadmaking is.
And getting down to the elements, on the flour Peter uses, he says it's the nicest he has ever worked with, "you pick it up and you can feel the difference in your hand, a beautiful whole grain flour, so it has the wheat germ in it - the fatty part of wheat which most places sift out". And that's saying something given that he has been at it for six years, with the last three and a half as head baker at Vancouver's artisanal bakery, Beyond Bread.
While the grain he's using has him jazzed – it's from Creston BC's Treasure Life Mills ("about as local as you can get for grains in BC", he says) – consumers, the gluten-concerned, and their tummies will be happy too. Their ancient and heritage grains are found grains of the type that were growing in Canada 150 to 200 years ago, but were phased out for hardened varieties of wheat that withstood the industrial milling process better. Modern wheats are really hard as rock, and the body has trouble processing those types of grains. Moreover, when commercial breadmakers add yeast to speed up the process, our bodies (and taste buds) suffer the consequences.
Yeast-free breads (also known as sourdough or levain) are made with a slow fermentation process that gives gluten starch and wheat time to break down and process, so your body doesn't have to.
FREE GLUTEN 🌾 In one study published in 2007, research showed that sourdough bread made with wheat can be “gluten free”. With a particular strain of lactobacilli present in the fermentation process, sourdough bread has been shown to have gluten levels of 12 parts per million. Anything less than 20ppm is considered gluten-free, and the same bread made without lacto-fermentation had levels of 75,000 ppm.
Bread Breakdown: What Sprout's Baking
Of course Sprout will be producing a majority of classic sourdough – mainly white but also whole grain. There will be baguettes, which is a relief to anyone tired of playing guess-which-grocery-store-will-have-a-fresh-baguette-today (or hasn't hit up the inconveniently located Okanagan Bakery in time), pretzels, croissants, Danish inspired rye loafs ("really seedy ones using sprouted grains and beer"), a rye stout hazelnut raisin (are beer-bread collabs far behind?), and fruit breads – a good variety.
When I told my SO that Peter was going to be making miches, she was stoked. Constantly on the hunt for that Poilâne perfection (the Parisian bakery that made the rustic sour ball of bread famous) she's always going on about how miche, not the industrialized and refined baguette, is the "real French bread". And to be fair, in all the boulangeries I've been to in France, it's all about the "tradi" baguette (yeast-free) these days, not the white one. So get ready to slice that baby and tartine it up!
Creative Loafin' Around
Downtown and downtime denizens can also take note that this beautiful space won't be wasted on quick shopping jaunts, rather they plan to offer their breads, pastry and coffee along with a small menu (toast, granola, salads, sandwiches) to enjoy on the slow, in-house. They have café seating, a number of plugs so people can hang out and work on their devices, and some comfy seating to chill out in.
And not for nothing, the coffee comes correct as well. Sprout serves coffee from Social Coffee in Vancouver, a relationship he continues from his days at Beyond Bread. This is the first time Social Coffee is represented in the Okanagan – they are of the ethically sourced (yay), lighter fruiter roasts (not-so-yay) ilk, but they do understand the darker, richer, earthier palette as well, and thankfully this is what Sprout features, but they're open to that fruitier, complex-tasting lighter roast if so requested.
While Sprout looks to be a gleaming industrial-modern shop, it's definitely of the new school of Kelowna purveyors, notable for their great products, but also their soul – something lacking in many a tourist-craving outlet. For Peter, the goal is to bring people from the neighbourhood together. After all, back in the day in France that was literally what bakeries did – folks would bring their breads to communal ovens to bake. Okay so that may be a bit of a stretch but the local hangout focus is no by-product for him, there are 50 to 60 seats on the regular, and they have the capacity to host decent-sized events - he is even hosting his own wedding reception this month in the space. Talk about homey.
Fairly new to Kelowna, he sees the burgeoning local artisanal moment as an inspiring time to build a food business here, "there's a lot of cool stuff going on in Kelowna at the moment, and I like to be a part of that and help to support that, the local food movement", and to that end he's retailing some local fare like Canoe Coffee, jams, honey, and for you at-home DIYers, flour.
Perhaps we'll see some local brewers in there soon as well – while he's committed to the dough life, he indicated that pizza may not be far behind, therefore naturally beer. But for now, Kelowna can be happy with dreamy, creamy crumb breads, pastries, and good coffee. Sprout opened August 8th and their hours are 8am to 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday.