The International Breads of Nomad Bakery

Nomad Bakery offers breads from around the world like Persian flatbreads, holiday challah bread, ciabatta and more
Nomad's holiday challah bread is ripe with golden raisins.
by susan laughlin

Start small. That’s how tapestry artist and now-baker Cheryl Holbert weaves her two worlds together.

Holbert started baking artisan breads a few years ago for family, and with encouragement started marketing and selling her Old World breads via the Derry Farmers’ Market.

The arrangement gives her time to weave tapestries on her floor loom — a very basic tapestry loom used in ancient times. Now, her micro-bakery also reflects simple forms and ageless techniques.

Using just water, freshly ground grains and salt, Holbert coaxes flavor into the final product by delaying the rise with temperature change, natural leavening and artful handling.

The natural, wild yeasts are encouraged with proper temperature to a long, slow rise. The benefits are multiple. The friendly lactobacillus bacteria create better gut health, the bread retains its moisture and keeps well without refrigeration, and simply, it tastes better.

She makes four types of bread. The levain is a chewy, crusty bread sometimes loaded with toasted sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and a mix of organic cracked rye and hand-ground, organic whole wheat. Holbert sources organic wheat berries and grinds them just before they are mixed into other ingredients to maintain peak nutritive value. Her NH Live Free Levain is made with Brookford Farm’s wheat berries. When white flour is necessary, she uses King Arthur because it is free of GMOs.

The Barbari is a Persian flatbread somewhat like a cross of a French baguette and Indian naan. It can be used as a base for a pizza, as a base for a  spread or enjoying with a meal.

Occasionally, she’ll make a Parmesan-coated ciabatta — a perfect combination of taste and texture.

The fourth type of bread is a challah. Yes, a girl with Iranian heritage making a Jewish bread. She also makes other breads with the addition of milk and eggs, including babka and mini rolls with cinnamon. One very popular mini bread is the challah au chocolat. Now the French are thrown into her world mix. Other versions with a sweet touch include the apricot chocolate levain with chewy whole grains, Belgian chocolate and unsulfured Turkish apricots. Three cheers for cross-culturalization.

Holbert will not be at any winter markets this season, but continues to sell from her home and via a delivery route to Manchester. Her Facebook page and e-mail list are the marketing tools. Breads range from $4.50 to $7.50, and mini loaves and small desserts, including galettes, are $2.50. She is willing to spread the joy by offering occasional baking classes. The January 11 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) class is called "Breads and Threads" and will feature tea Persian-style and weaving while the pita bread is rising ($50). See what you can do in a home kitchen. Find it all on Facebook.

Categories: Features