Proof. Score. Loaf!

A fire burns behind an unassuming store front on West Parrish Street in downtown Durham. Actually, it’s more like two fires – one in a custom 30,000 pound wood fired oven and one in Loaf owner Ron Graff’s heart. That’s Ron pictured below to the right. It takes dedication to show up with a load of wood, build a fire, mix up bread dough and set it to proof – every day.

Graff has set up Loaf in the European tradition; a neighborhood shop where you pick up your fresh-baked goods, rather than a bakery/cafe. Accordingly, Loaf’s interior might be considered minimalist with a bread rack, pastry case and coffee hot pots.

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Mary Turner

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Minimalist or not, those pastries are amazing! Graff was quoted in The Independent Weekly’s Guide to Dining’s in-depth Pg 16 article, “I like a good, dark, crusty loaf. almost charred.” However he likes it is good enough for me. That Twice-Baked Almond Croissant was probably the best I’ve ever had. Impossibly crunchy on the outside and “bouncy”- fresh inside filled with a generous amount of almond.

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Ron graciously allowed me into the back of the shop, where the action is. Watching Brian Avery work his magic was a treat. First he precisely laid out baguette dough.

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Then scored each to ensure proper baking without crust breakage.

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Slid the batch onto the brick hearth using a traditional wooden peel.

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Ron lit up the oven’s massive interior with a small flashlight (pictured above and below) so I could get a good look.

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And voila! The finished loaves racked and cooling with a “come hither” look that was hard to resist.

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Yes, that’s a cast iron pan full of baked apple goodness below the baguettes.

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On another rack, Bialis.

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111 W. Parrish Street
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 797-1254