MVT Spotlight: Bill Chillcott, Head Bread Baker at A Baked Joint

Wednesday June 15, 2016

A Baked Joint opened in Mount Vernon Triangle in 2015 to rave reviews, amazing coffee and pastries, intriguing and delicious new takes on breakfast, lunch and everything before and after, as well as a new bread program. Headed up by veteran baker, Bill Chillcott, who oversaw the bread programs for Bryan Voltaggio’s Range and Aggio restaurants, the bread is baked on site in the Bongard hearth oven imported from France. We asked Bill to tell us more about the bread and what we can expect to see coming from the ovens this year.

MVT CID: Bill, tell us about A Baked Joint’s bread program – what types of bread can we expect to taste?

Bill:  While we offer a wide variety of breads, from yeasted sandwich loaves to baguettes to rustic naturally-leavened sourdoughs, our primary focus is definitely on long-fermented, wild-yeasted breads. On any given day we’ll have a selection of four or five different sourdough breads on the shelf along with focaccia, baguettes, ciabatta, and croissants.

It’s not your average supermarket bread; we don’t rely on additives and sugar to enrich the flavor. Instead, through long fermentation and proper dough handling, we unlock nutrients, flavors and aromas from the flour that mechanically mass-produced breads severely lack.

So I would say, expect to taste real bread when you come here.

MVT CID:  What would surprise people the most about the secret to great bread?

Bill:  Simplicity. Keep it simple. Great bread is a result of combining a few simple ingredients: flour, water, salt. From there it’s all about time, fermentation, letting the dough do its thing. For instance, here at A Baked Joint we employ a very gentle and patient technique of bread making. Many of our breads are made entirely by hand. We tend to the dough over many hours, giving it time to relax as we develop the gluten network and allow its components to react with one another. The time allowed for fermentation is key to bringing out the flavors and health benefits of the wheat.

For me, the greatest bread of them all is a simple crusty, airy country sourdough table loaf. It’s so very simple yet so subtly complex, much like the actual process of making bread.

MVT CID:  Will you be changing the varieties of bread you offer throughout the year?

Bill:  Definitely. We’ll keep our staples; baguette, country sourdough, whole wheat, seeded wheat, etc., but we’re always thinking up new breads to try out. For instance, we recently started making a rosemary polenta sourdough, which is becoming quite popular. We’re also experimenting with incorporating sprouted grains into our dough, which adds more nutrients  and a unique flavor profile and texture. I’d also like to start working on some porridge breads in the near future. The list is endless really. There won’t come a time when we say ‘Ok this is it. We’re content now’. There will always be something new on the agenda.

MVT CID:  We understand your bread is coveted by others – – where else in the City will we find it?

Bill:  Coveted is a strong word, but we’re certainly seeing an increase in people who value a good loaf of bread, and who continue to look to us to provide it. So I’m optimistic that the value of real quality bread is something that is catching on with Washingtonians.

Currently, Each Peach Market in Mt. Pleasant carries a selection of our breads daily. We also send baguettes and some loaves to our sister store, Baked and Wired in Georgetown.  We’ll be looking into supplying more local specialty markets in the future.

MVT CID: Thank you, Bill! 

Bill: My pleasure.