Ari’s Pick: Walnut Sage Bread

An Autumn Special Bake

Slices of Walnut Sage bread spread out on a wooden cutting boardThe last time we offered Walnut Sage bread, I picked up a couple of loaves of this terrific Special Bake. If you like good bread as much as I do, hopefully you will do the same when it’s back this weekend! Before the pandemic, the Walnut Sage bread had become one of my favorites. It was a bit of a casualty of Covid but it made a brief autumn appearance this recently and I took home a bunch! Because it’s naturally leavened (no commercial yeast) it lasts a long time. And it’s so delicious I happily ate it all week!

What Makes Walnut Sage So Special?

Everything about the Walnut Sage bread is, I think, excellent! We use freshly milled hard red spring wheat and the super-flavorful, ancient emmer wheat (the ancestor of the modern durum wheat, if you will)—both are regionally grown grains that make a short trip to the Bakehouse.

In an effort to coax out the full potential of the grain, we do a long and slow 20-hour, overnight, natural fermentation of a very wet dough that is dyed purple thanks to the tannins from the skins of the walnuts. The long bake means that caramelization of the natural sugars in the grain creates a marvelously toasty, subtly sweet flavor that holds its own with the boldness of the freshly milled grains. Then there’s the dark, devilish, delicious crust. On top of which, I love walnuts in bread. It’s just such a great combo—the walnuts get toasted in a terrific way while they’re in the oven.

I don’t want to forget the Greek sage leaves. They’re subtle, way back in the mix, but bring an aromatic depth to the loaf that I really like too! The sage comes from our friends at Epices de Cru in Montreal. It’s a rare variety that grows high in the mountains of the island of Chios in the north Aegean. The leaves are handpicked only after the aromatic sage bushes have dried in the sun for months. The whole thing comes together in the form of an earthy, toasty, terrific wheaty loaf!

What do you do with Walnut Sage bread?

Well, obviously, you could just sit down and eat it! Super great with fresh Goat Cream Cheese from the Creamery. A slice of Walnut Sage bread, toasted and spread with the fresh handmade Cream Cheese from the Creamery is something special. When you toast it, the aromas from the grain fill the room. It’s great with blue cheeses of all sorts. If you want to go on the sweeter side, try it with the Creamery Cream Cheese and some dark honey—maybe that Séka Hills honey from California I wrote about a few weeks ago. Makes great crunchy croutons.

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

  • Sign up for Ari’s Top 5 enewsletter to hear more from Ari every week!
  • Want to reserve your Walnut Sage loaves this weekend? Give us a call (734-761-2095) and we’ll get you taken care of.
  • Want to make sure you never miss a Special Bake? Sign up for the Bakehouse Specials enews to stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the Bakeshop.
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Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's

In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.

Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.

Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.

One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.

Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.

Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!

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