Michael Bell’s bread has magic powers.
At least, that’s what neighbor Gail Klaveness says about the Imaginary Baker’s bread.
Klaveness has ordered bread from Bell’s bakery every week since he started.
“It’s lowered my cholesterol,” Klaveness says.
“If you go into a grocery store and look for bread, you’ll see a lot of things that are labeled as bread on the shelves,” Bell says. “But they’re not what I would call bread.”
What makes Bell’s bread magical?
It could be the turkey red mill, a “heritage grain” that Bell uses for all of his bread.
“It’s a grain that was grown 5,000 years ago and ever since,” Bell says. “I think it has superior flavor, and it has not been genetically manipulated in any way.”
He drives 24 hours straight to Kansas and back to retrieve it from a friend who has been growing Turkey Red for about 20 years.
Once Bell brings the mill back, he uses a “slow fermentation” process to create the dough. He needs a few days’ notice to bake his bread.
“I make a sourdough that matures overnight, and that long fermentation develops flavors that you just won’t ever find in an industrial bread.”
Bell then turns on his Belgian Rofco oven, which takes two hours to properly heat up, but it does a “beautiful” job and creates a moist center for the bread.
The Imaginary Bakery’s tagline is, “Bread as you have imagined it,” and Bell aims to exceed expectations of what bread should taste like.
Bell credits his IT background for his love of quality and attention to detail.
“The connection between IT people and baking is strong. Most people would not anticipate that,” Bell says. “There’s something about the skills and the interests that you have to have that attract you to bread.”
Bell’s true passion is bread, but he also creates cookies, brownies and cakes to satisfy his customers’ sweet tooth.
“You may not have any special feelings about bread,” he says. “I do.”
Find more information at imaginarybakery.net