Steven Scott: Master Baker

While shopping at Cured Market in Boulder, we came upon Steve Scott’s most exquisite crown loaves of bread piled high on a rustic table. The shape and scent of his bread was unique to us with the crispy bits, like triangular potato chips peeling off the boule, and the tops brushed with lemony butter, sea salt crystals and rosemary sprigs. We became such fans that we decided to meet Steve during baker’s hours (before the break of dawn) to photograph and talk to him as he kneaded dough and pulled crackling hot bread from the oven.

We’ve also caught word that Steve is opening his first bakery in Denver this June. Babette’s Bakery will be located in The Source, a new food Emporium in the River North neighborhood of Denver. It will have an open-to-the-public feel where patrons will be able to view the bakers baking, creating a community around the bakery.

Tell us about the “temple that shaped” you as a bread baker?

In 1995 I was racing bicycles and working as a chef in northern California at a small deli/grocery store not thinking about bread at all. There were plans to open a bakery and at that point decided to retire from cycling and focus on cooking and baking. I soon moved to the new bakery and fell in love from the start. The smell of butter, sugar and flour was intoxicating as well as motivating to a new baker and it seemed like an entirely new world had opened up for me.
I moved around from shop to shop working and learning my new trade, along the way buying books, reading and soaking up all that I could about pastry with the goal of becoming a pastry chef. I eventually did. I enrolled in a small baking school in San Francisco thinking I would fill the pastry gaps, instead I found my true calling. Artisan bread. I lasted another year as a pastry chef and after a two-week course at San Francisco Baking Institute in San Francisco I stepped away from pastry and took a job at Della Fattoria in Petaluma, Ca. The one true temple of artisan bread in the United States! There I found true artisans, working day and night with organic flours, natural leavening, wood fired brick ovens and using their hands to influence the dough, not machines! The folks at Della really shaped me into the baker I am and started the wheels turning for the bread I would eventually create years down the road. Throughout years of travel and working in different bakery’s large and small the influence from Della Fattoria has never left me. From slow mixing to great raw products, long days of hands on production and working with passionate bakers and craftsman, Della was and is the benchmark for great bread!!

What do you mean when you say “bread is a lifestyle?”

When I say “bread is a lifestyle” I mean you can’t walk into a life as a baker without motivation, heavy artisan influence or without an idea of where you want to go or become. The work is hard, the days are long, you’re tired all the time, and motivation can leave you from time to time. But coming to this trade with passion and love for being an artisan and excepting the physical demands as well as the visual and mental rewards day in and day out and striving for the perfect loaf really does become a lifestyle. Staying focused, searching for new ways of mixing or fermenting starters and dough, staying healthy and fit are all part of being a baker as well as surrounding yourself with people that share your motivation and love of artisan baking. As well as a lifestyle it’s also about building a community and sharing ideas and not keeping artisan bread a secret, but teaching and showing the way for young bakers who are just coming into the trade.

Please describe the flavor of your crown boule.

The first scent that hits you is rosemary, then lemon. As you slice into the crown you can smell fermentation mixing with the rosemary and lemon. You also smell wheat. The first flavor I taste is creamy, then I taste the fermented wheat, salt and lemony rosemary of the filling. Finally, all these flavors come together to make a balanced bread that warms the belly as well as the heart through great food! If you let the boule sit for a day, the flavors meld and intensify and become more of what true flavor is about. The fermentation takes hold and works with the lemon/rosemary/salt and becomes more wheaty, creamy and delicious than before. That’s the power of fermentation!

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