The rising artistry of baking at Dorset Rising bakery/cafe
DORSET — In the early dawn hours, Jed Mayer can be found in the dim presence of a crackling wood fired oven and dusty flour bags.
His journey from studying art in college to opening a bakery in his own home has brought him to the newest establishment in town, Dorset Rising Bakery.
The new bakery opened at the end of June and produces fresh, in-house bread for the restaurant at The Dorset Inn. The eat-in part serves breakfast and lunch including pastries, salads, quiches, coffee, wine, beer and more. Steve and Lauren Bryant own the inn, the bakery, The Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden, The Publyk House in Bennington, Barrows House Inn and Restaurant in Dorset and the most recent Lakehouse Pub & Grille in Bomoseen; all operated under 8 Church Street Hospitality.
Mayer was preparing 10 loaves of Rupert Raisin midday on Thursday on a wooden work table blanketed in flour. He rounded the loaves, put them aside on the couches (linen canvas), and prepped the bannetons (baskets). Next he flattened each loaf, brushed on melted butter, sprinkled cinnamon sugar on them and folded them up to sit in the bannetons until it's time for the oven.
"I like the process... There's a lot of steps that get me to a loaf," Mayer said.
He explained that being alone with his craft, involving various steps, is what he enjoys most about the job.
Dorset Rising doesn't use commercial yeast for mass production, Mayer said, rather naturally fermented bread and sour cultures. It's a longer process, but generates a better product.
"What takes time will show in the end," he said.
Mayer grew up in Manchester, attended Johnson State College and later moved to Rupert, his wife's hometown.
They had a child and he started work on the wood fired oven in their home. After his home bakery, Rupert Rising, he created a food program in the Salem school district, Mayer said. He spent a year there and then connected with the Dorset Inn on the new property that is now Dorset Rising. Mayer used to produce baguettes for the inn and already knew the owners.
"We truly make everything from scratch and pride ourselves on the fact that there's history in this," he said. "There's no cutting corners. We put care into this."
For example, the bakery only uses sea salt and uncured meats.
"I've always felt that I could eat better food," he said. "I try to continue that philosophy work-wise."
Mayer's 17-year-old son, Aidan, accompanied him at 3 a.m. all summer working in the bakery. He also works with Pastry Chef Jason Trigg, who has six years of experience in the industry, and Line Cook Logan Patnaude who started in the hotel business and came on last year. Mayer said most of the bakery's recipes are put together by the three of them.
The bakery's marketing manager, Dana Jevarjian, said that when there aren't dishes available that people want, the staff suggests others. She said the establishment's goal is to deliver an experience and turn people onto something new.
Steve Bryant estimates 80 percent of the bakery's customer base to be locals, partially because of Mayer's already existing followers.
"We built on a relationship and connected the dots with Jed," Bryant said. "He's an artist and an educated one. His passion really comes through and that allows us to add additional people who are just as passionate."
He mentioned three additions that could make production more efficient, including dividers to aid in portion control, a retarder refrigerator to control fermentation, and a sheeter for pastries.
On average, Mayer produces 500 loaves per week. When he worked alone at Rupert Rising, he baked about 300 per day and roughly 1,000 per week. Currently the bakery serves in-house and to the Dorset Inn, but there are plans to expand into wholesale in the area. They also sell homemade granola, jams and salsa, and attend the Manchester Farmers Market each week.
"I've done this for about 20 years and I've never fully been able to teach someone," Mayer said. "It's exciting to be at that stage in a larger place and teaching people. It enables us to produce more and a variety of offerings."
Dorset Rising is located at 3239 VT-30 and is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information find it on Facebook.
Contact Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471.
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