Baking Bread in the Backyard: Silverlake’s Mark Stambler

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Mark Stambler has always had a passion for bread, specifically fresh baked artisan breads. Although he had no real professional baking experience (Mark is self-taught with the exception of a couple courses with a master baker in Vermont), his passion for bread drove him to hand-build a masonry wood-fired bread oven in the backyard of his Silverlake, California home.

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Mark’s been baking since 1972, but it was here in Silverlake that he began to create in the traditional French method ‘travail sur trois levains’ using a few simple ingredients: organic artisan flour and grains (which he grinds himself into whole grain flour), distilled water and sea salt.

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So popular is his traditionally crafted Pain Levain within the Los Angeles locavore movement that it’s now being sold through Silverlake Farms CSA. Those who are lucky enough to nab a bâtard are few and the waiting list is long as Mark can only produce a few dozen loaves a week.

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I was fortunate enough to spend a day photographing Mark baking, which was impressive to say the least. The dedication, timing, care and focus he demonstrated showed a genuine love for the entire process and craftsmanship that it takes to create these coveted treasures.

×Stephen and Jodi Zeigler

5 Comments

  • Reply April 23, 2011

    Jennifer

    Just heard Mark interviewed on 89.3 KPCC-FM in an Off Ramp segment titled Eat LA. He was speaking about his bread oven and I have to say his dedication to the craft of bread never ceases to amaze me. Woo hoo Mark Stambler!

  • Reply March 15, 2011

    idealalma

    I am also one of the lucky ones to have his bread at home on weekly basis; I just signed up for a new round with the SLF CSA and I hope that he’ll keep baking this amazing bread for a long time to come.

  • Reply February 26, 2011

    Rock Star

    Mark makes the best bread i have ever tasted. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones who has had plenty of this “Bread of the Gods” he creates, and I believe this is his religion. Mark Stambler is the Pope in the Brick Oven.

  • Reply February 26, 2011

    Stephen Roff

    Lucky me, I’ve enjoying Mark’s bread for decades. It’s the best ever! Steve R.

  • Reply February 26, 2011

    Sue Becker

    Love his bread and love him!

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