Melissa Elsmo

Over the past month we’ve noticed Lyman Ave. Bread has been tagging Oak Park Eats in all sorts of pretty Instagram posts. The pictures piqued my curiosity enough to invite myself into a modest kitchen on Lyman Ave to meet the baker behind this bounty of bread.

As we make our way into the kitchen The Grateful Dead plays softly in the background and Tim Giuffi, clad in a tie-dyed shirt and baseball hat, immediately turns his attention toward two unbaked loaves of bread. His daughter Nora, flits about the kitchen happily gnawing on a hunk of bread and chatting about about her day. Giuffi casually slashes a wheat sheath pattern into the proofed dough before nestling each loaf into a cast iron Dutch oven to bake. He picks up a random piece of bread crust off the counter.

“Nora doesn’t eat the crusts,” laughs Tim Giuffi as he pops a morsel of bread into his mouth, “so I eat a lot of crust.”

Giuffi, a Brooklyn native, spent years working in the Philadelphia restaurant scene before finding his way to Lyman Avenue in South East Oak Park. Today Giuffi is a stay-at-home dad to five-year-old Nora and aspiring “neighborhood bread guy.”

Nearly two years ago Giuffi started making pizza dough as a hobby to make mealtime more fun. Overtime his passion for pizza making morphed into a focus on crafting artisan sourdough bread. After learning to bake the bread through 15-second Instagram videos and 18 months of trial and error experimentation, Giuffi, is confident he is producing a reliable sourdough round.

Relying on a home kitchen license issue by the Village of Oak Park, Giuffi’s small batch bakery, Lyman Ave. Bread, is open for business. He will begin offering weekly Community Supported Bread (CSB) subscriptions beginning July 10th. He crafts country sourdough loaves exclusively and hopes to earn enough money to cover the property taxes on his Oak Park bungalow.

Sourdough bread does not require the addition of packaged yeast. The hearty loaves are naturally leavened with a starter. A sourdough starter is a humble combination of flour, water, and salt that can pull wild yeast from the air. Starters are maintained through regular feeding and careful temperature maintenance. Acids produced in the starter give sourdough bread its signature tang.

Giuffi’s starter is six years old and leavens bread naturally by relying on gases produced by fermented grains. It’s an old school technique that traces back to Egypt in 1500 BC and yields a product with higher protein and lower sugar content than other types of bread making it nutritionally dense and easier to digest.

“There is no secret to my recipe because it is impossible to replicate another person’s bread;” says Giuffi, “the bread is of here because the starter lives here.”

In addition to naturally leavening his bread, Giuffi also mills his own flour from locally sourced grains. Giuffi prefers to source heritage grains and mill them into flour just before baking the bread; Lyman Ave Bread is made from an ever-changing blend of local grains. The blend of grains and the freshness of the flour enhance the depth of flavor in each round of Lyman Ave. Bread.

In true artisan fashion it takes 24-36 hours to craft a loaf of Lyman Ave. Bread; the slower process builds big flavor. I savored a super-satisfying slice with a schmear of salted butter.

“I want to be the neighborhood bread guy;” says Giuffi of his simple plan, “I think people want to know where their food comes from.”

The eager baker has a goal of selling 30 loaves of Lyman Ave Bread per week through subscriptions. $35 gets you a weekly loaf of bread for 4 weeks and $100 gets you a 12 week CSB. Giuffi offers hand delivery in Oak Park South of 290 on Wednesdays and pick up between 4-6pm for people outside the delivery area.

Subscriptions start July 10th; email lymanavebread@gmail.com to snag your slot for 4 or 12 weeks. Space is limited.

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