One of the reasons why I came to Toronto is a message I have received a month ago from my friend Caterina. Very simply it said: “Would you like coming to work as a baker/pastry chef in Toronto?”. I got very excited very soon, then started having second thoughts, eventually deciding I would give myself a try no matter what. After writing to Andrea, Forno cultura’s owner, I booked a flight and impatiently waited for my trip. On my arrival I spoke to Francesco, Caterina’s husband, and fixed an appointment to go and talk to Andrea. There we had a chat about bread baking, I had a taste of their lovely pistachio amaretti and set to Tuesday my trial day.
Monday was quite hectic, as you may know Toronto got flooded by a very violent thunderstorm which I personally experienced soaking myself completely, and by the evening I had to move from Ossington to Kensington Market being my friend’s basement flat touched by some flooding. Which was a good thing, sparing me some 15-20 minutes coach ride, even though I felt terrible for my friends. Alarm set off at 5.15, I got ready for my day at the bakery. I took a walk to Forno Cultura just to look at the surroundings and managed to ge there at 6.30, half an hour before my appointment with Andrea. His employee Anna was there and quickly introduced me to the bakery, and we started to prepare different doughs, starting with a brioche dough. We then moved to the breads (we made ciabatta, a French sourdough bread, pizza dough, focaccia with tomatoes and a campagnolo bread). While I was scaling and mixing the doughs Anna would cook the already proofed pastries and while the doughs were resting I filled some brioches with a lemon cream. We left the doughs sit about one hour, folded them and started to cut out 1 pound pieces to shape our loaves. I must admit I had a bit of a hard time shaping the breads, not getting the right consistency, probably due to over workin the dough. But Anna helped me step by step and it got better in the end. Within 7 hours we had made 6 brioches doughs, some custard cakes, some kind of egg and bread muffin, filled 12 little brioches, prepared 6 pizza trays (which I rolled out with a special machine), shaped about 36 loaves, made 5 round focaccia’s. And Anna was obviously checking out all the different stages of proofing and baking the other products that had been prepared previously. And then the power went off, due to problems related to the flooding. Not being able to bake nor to mix dough we started cleaning the surfaces and floors. The power didn’t come back and we left about 14.40, 8 hours after I started working (Anna starts at 6). Andrea left me some bread to taste and I was awestruck. I have no words to describe the heavenly pane oscuro, a dark bread enriched with caraway seeds and nuts, their aniseed loaf is perfect match to a nice goat cheese and some honey and the semolina loaf has a perfect balance of crust crunchiness and soft chewy inner structure.
I really enjoyed my time at Forno Cultura, now I have to really think about what I want to do. This time around I had a different impression of Toronto and really do not know wether I feel like coming over, but I want to take my time and not to rush with my decision. It’s a big step.
È stata un’esperienza molto bella per me, e ora devo pensare a cosa voglio fare. Questa volta, a differenza del primo viaggio 5 anni fa, Toronto mi appare sotto una luce diversa e non sono proprio certa che sia il posto che fa per me. Ma voglio prendermi del tempo per rifletterci e non affrettare troppo le cose.